“For me as a person, the taste of something is never enough. I always want everything to be the most,” said LA-based singer-songwriter, Tessa Violet, in an interview with The Daily Californian. “When I can’t have that I end up feeling lonelier than if I had nothing at all.”
Just a year after YouTube’s launch in 2005, Violet got her first taste of fame on the platform under the name “MeekaKitty” and regularly began uploading vlogs related to her geeky interests.
“As a lonely teenager who just moved from her hometown and didn’t know anyone, I was so isolated. YouTube was a conduit to other people and to make friends who had similar interests as me,” said Violet.
Quickly becoming enthralled with creating music videos catered to her fans, Violet began to share her original songs with her platform of fans — which is currently approaching 1.5 million subscribers.
At the moment, the content on Violet’s channel promotes her highly awaited sophomore album, Bad Ideas.
“Right now the plan is to release the album one song at a time,” said Violet. “It was really important to me, if we were going to do this release plan to do them in the order that they’re on the album because I feel it’s a story that’s being told.”
The music video for the first single for the album, “Crush” has already received over 26 million views within the first six months of its release. More recently, Violet teamed up with director, Jade Ehlers to create the infectiously colorful and quirky “Bad Ideas” music video. From parading around in a series of monochromatic jumpsuits to actually cutting her own hair, it’s clear that Violet’s energy is anything but dull.
“I wanted there to be a moment in the music video where I just cut my bangs on camera because what girl at 2 AM hasn’t thought, ‘Ooh, would I look good with bangs?’” said Violet. “So I did it for the music video, and it just made sense to bring it over into the album cover too.”
Never failing to embrace her authenticity, Violet places emphasis on confronting her own daunting thoughts.
“Just write what’s true. No bullshit songs.” she said. This sentiment resonates through her music’s sound, which conjures elements of pop through dry vocals and experimental production.
“The songs always start as just me and guitar, or me and piano. They have a simple base … Then I work with my amazing producer, Seth Earnest. Our job is always to try and find what the song wants to be, you know, just to guide it. I feel like sometimes the song already exists, you just haven’t found it yet. It’s like being an archaeologist brushing away dirt from the stone,” she continued.
As for her unapologetically awkward lyrics, Violet admits that “A lot of things that I just say in life, things I say to other people, end up within my songs.” This explains how clumsily-cute lyrics like “But I wanna makeout with you” and “But I could touch my face to yours,” both found on her single “Bad Ideas,” came to be.
Regarding her most popular song on Spotify, “Crush” Violet says, “That summer I would spend every day at my piano writing. That specific day I spent like two hours scrolling through this guy’s Instagram instead of writing. And I was like ‘Oh my gosh I can’t focus on what needs to get done’ – it was just something I said out loud. And I was just like ‘I guess that’s a good starting point!’”
Despite her often mawkish lyrics, listeners shouldn’t confuse Violet for another lovey-dovey artist. She’s keen on dismantling the patriarchy and constructing her own narrative — one not dictated by relationships. However, she acknowledges that boys are a mere part of the equation.
“Things don’t come from nothing,” said Violet. “Everything is an amalgamation of what you’re going through and the things that you love, the art that you love. In that sense I think it takes some pressure off of people who are creative and trying to write.”
For Violet, her musical endeavors aren’t about achieving mainstream success. Instead, it is the entire ordeal of making and sharing her songs which motivates her to continue pursuing music. A great deal of that ambition can be credited to one of Violet’s greatest influences, her mother.
“She’s just a lady that gets shit done in a really impressive way. She has so much grace and has become a really patient person, which I find super inspiring,” said Violet. “I want to absorb as much understanding and wisdom of the human process that I can, but I’m not hugely patient with myself.”
Rarely does one come across an individual that is curiously both as straightforward and emotionally precocious as Tessa Violet. That complex dynamic is present on Bad Ideas, which will be split into three EPs: ACT I, ACT II, and ACT III and released in full throughout the year.
Contact Christopher Chang at [email protected].