Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Jessi Teich Has A "Twisted Soul"

I had the extreme pleasure of interviewing the mega talented Jessi Teich recently. Her upcoming album which she recorded in Paris, Twisted Soul is due March 3rd and it's amazing!

Not familiar with her? Well let's get acquainted with the Jazz's time to know more about Ms. Jessi Teich!

JT: Hi Michael, this is Jessi Teich

MS: You and I were just in a Twitter frenzy.

JT: Yeah, that's exactly what was happening. (both laugh)

MS: I really loved Twisted Soul and the fact that you were Magna Cum Laude from the Berklee College of Music was not a real shocker.

JT: Awwwwwwww, Thank you. It's such a nice thing putting something out there that people respond to in a positive way. It means so much, it's great!

MS: The music biz is so up in the air it's the more unique artists that seem to be catching on.

JT: I tried to make this album accessible as far as the musicality of it. I know with jazz it's really easy to go into an eight minute solo...Not everyone wants to geek out on jazz. (laughs) People like simple music, I like simple music. I gravitated towards that with the album, I think it's a great marriage between jazz and simplicity. 

MS: Twisted Soul is described as "Poperatic." 

Jessi Hitting The Keys
JT: The story of it is autobiographical. Actually the booklet that is coming with the CD, each song is going to be presented as a chapter in the story and I do a little narration in each song. It's in third person, between a male and female character. This is all based on a previous relationship I was in which was emotionally abusive. The CD talks about how I was in the relationship, how I was able to break free from the relationship and how I was able to succeed in finding my own way, my own voice and emerging victorious. This is a very positive way in dealing with a terrible situation.

MS: I love your quote about "vomiting crazy emotions" out of yourself.

JT: (both laugh) I'm always afraid I'm going to gross people out when I say that, but it's true! It's like I am purging myself of these crazy feelings. It feels like vomiting, it's weird. (laughs)

MS: Yeah, it's like when I write. Something comes out that's so loopy I keep it because it's so cool.

JT: Yeah, it's you, it's unique. I think that is what people graft onto in this day and age. They want you the person, not you this unattainable artist. They want to be able to relate to you somehow. That is part of the reason I chose not to remain silent about my situation, not only does it help me, but I feel like it could help a lot of people, feeling they could live through this and get through something horrible.

MS: What I find interesting when artists do speak about these things is, it's not going to stop it. But it will help people.

JT: If I can benefit one person, I've done my job. When I was going through the worst of it, I really grappled onto who else has been in a similar situation to me. One things I did was I called one of the abuse hot lines. I talked to them about my options and protection and what I could do...because I was very scared. When I was able to reach out to somebody else, people that knew how to deal with situations like that I felt like I had a community. It was an amazing feeling. 

MS: You also had to overcome a cyst on your vocal chord.

JT: That was pretty intense. I was diagnosed with a cyst on my right vocal chord a few years ago. It was something that really kind of jilted me into reality, like oh my gosh! I might not be able to pursue my music career. When I was diagnosed I was teaching forty vocal lessons a week, eating pretty much what I wanted. I questioned myself first, and I asked my vocal therapist: is it me or my technique? She said: No absolutely not, this happens when you overuse your voice. I did everything I could for a while, speech therapy, singing therapy, changed my diet, everything that could be a trigger and the cyst went down about fifty percent, but it didn't go away so that's when I decided to have the surgery. But before the surgery, you're going to laugh at this, I still went to work and carried around a white board and wrote everything down, people did not know what to do with me. People thought I was deaf or mute, they thought I didn't speak English, even though I had a name tag and a white board that said: Hi my name is Jessi Teich and I'm on vocal rest. (both laugh) It really opened my eyes to how important your voice is. The only other universal language other than music is a smile, so I just smiled a lot, people were like: OK she's happy even though she's not talking (both laugh)

MS: It's interesting to me that you covered Justin Timberlake's Cry Me A River.

Jazz Baby

JT: Yes. I grew up listening to Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Janis Joplin...My Dad had this amazing vinyl collection. I still was a child of the 90's and I listened to Justin Timberlake, he was on the radio, he was my guilty pleasure. It seemed to fit the album. I've always liked covering pop in a very different way. 

MS: When I first saw the song on your album, given your background. I thought it was a cover of the Arthur Hamilton version.

JT: Oh yeah the jazz standard. I think I have been throwing a few people for a loop, because they expect that. Then they hear Justin Timberlake  and they're like whaaaaaaat?! (laughs) 

MS: Throwing people for a loop is a good idea I think.

JT: I do too, and I do it on a daily basis anyway, why not do it on my album? 

MS: I loved your poetry on the title track of Twisted Soul

JT: Thank you. I could literally sit down with you and go through every line of that song, and really any song on the entire album, it all means something. Every lyric is prepared for a very specific reason. There are long and short stories behind each song. The album was so cathartic and so therapeutic, to write these songs and get them out in the world. I appreciate your compliments, it's so nice for me to get them out of my system. 

MS: You really love jazz, touch on that some before we say goodbye.

JT: Some of my greatest music teachers were Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington...I grew up listening to these women. Here I am this little white girl, so cool, all my friends are like: I listen to Brittney Spears, I listen to Christine Aguilera. I'm like: I listen to Billie Holiday. (both laugh) They would all look at me like: Who's Billie? (laughs) who is he?! I was such a different kind of kid I really walked to my own beat. 

Walk to your own beat with Jessi Teich at:

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