Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with the Bay Area’s Tess Posner. Together we discussed their musical potion, their songwriting process, their EP “One Thousand Petals,” and so much more.
1.Mustard is thankful to have you join them. How are you doing today?
Doing great, thank you so much!! I appreciate you having me here.
2. You told the Hollywood Digest that music has “infinite possibilities.” How do these possibilities help shape your creative process?
It helps me remember to never give up. The creative process always has more to give. If I feel like I am stuck on a song, a melody or lyric, I remind myself that there is always something more I can tap into to find new ideas and inspiration.
3. Additionally, music is your alchemy. What elements of music would you use to craft a potion?
Great question!! The beautiful magic of music is that the elements are so vast, including melody, rhythm, lyrics, phrasing, instrumentation, sounds. So in my “laboratory” my favorite ingredients include cinematic piano, kick drum, haunting cello, and vocal harmonies. I throw in a story, visual, emotion that feels meaningful and important, and voila, there is the start of a potion 🙂
4. Mustard has had the pleasure of speaking with other artists from the Bay Area. How does it feel to be a part of such a thriving music community?
I love the Bay Area! So much great music and community here, and a rich history of great music. In fact, one of my favorite places to record is Hyde Street Studios, San Francisco’s longest running multi-studio recording facility. There is a great history of musicians that have recorded in the studios including the Grateful Dead, Herbie Hancock, Jefferson Airplane, Santana, John Lee Hooker, Tupac, Dead Kennedys, Green Day, Train, Cake. When I go there, it feels like this history and the music recorded there is haunting the walls
5. What is your songwriting process?
It depends on the song but usually, I start with finding the SOUL of a song, which usually starts with the idea of what the song is going to be about and the general theme or story. Sometimes this hits me like a lightning bolt as a phrase or a word out of nowhere, or from journaling. Then once I have that “soul” I start writing chords and lyrics on piano, and often bring in a basic drum beat. Then I start to build out the arrangement of the song and how to tell the song’s story through the lyrics and music. Then I continue to flesh out the vocal melody and the lyrics, and bring in additional instruments or sounds to flesh out the arrangement, often collaborating with other artists and producers to bring the song to completion.
6. Who (or what) influences you?
Classical music really influenced me early on when I was first learning the piano. Also, Radiohead, Fiona Apple, Labrinth, Bob Dylan and the Beatles.
7. As a teenager you performed in coffee shops. Could you share what this experience was like? How did it help you later on as a performer?
Yes! It showed me how powerful it can be to share our voice and our story with others. Live music has such a potent magic to it. That experience at a young age helped me with future performances, but also public speaking and self-confidence.
8. In 2018 you released your EP “One Thousand Petals.” Could you describe how it feels to have your art out in the world?
It’s such a joyful feeling. I’ve written songs about things inside myself that I could never put into just words. Music has helped me heal pain, bring out what’s in the shadows, and find new joys I never knew. To me, it has an infinite potential for discovery. As we grow, it grows with us, and helps us keep growing.
9. Nature is a motif throughout your music and cover art. How does nature inspire your art?
Nature has endless resources to provide inspiration, and also get me out of my head and into a flow state. Taking a walk in the woods, or looking out at the water helps free my mind and get in touch with myself. I also find nature has a lot of metaphors that can represent the human experience. For example, i wrote my song Supernova about how they – in dying- give birth to new universes. I think this is just an amazing idea to represent the process of healing and growth.
10. “Party at the End of The World” has been described as the anthem of 2020. Could you share more about the process of writing this song? Are there any plans to extend the story of the last night on earth?
I wrote this song in the middle of fire season in Northern California when I was almost evacuated. It felt very apocalyptic to be in this experience during a pandemic, with so much uncertainty in the future. I ended up blasting music and dancing to release some of the anxious energy, and then I wrote this song. The song is playing with the idea of the phoenix, that although everything seems to be burning and collapsing around us, we have to get up and find solutions anyway. Because it’s a dance song, I hope people can feel that energy of catharsis and release that I felt when I wrote it. When I released it, I crowdsourced a playlist of songs that people would want to hear on their last night on earth. I hope to keep this dance party going!
11. What’s next for Tess Posner?
Yes I am so excited to share that I am working on an album coming next year, the largest project I have worked on so far. It will be out in 2023, and I just launched an VIP Inner Circle that will follow the album and includes behind the scenes footage, voice memos sharing the raw songwriting creation process, and first listens to all the songs before they come out. If you want to check it out, it’s at www.patreon.com/wildflowers
12. Where can readers listen to your music?
You can find my Livestreams on YouTube, or on Spotify here. Thank you again for having me!