Where the hell have you been (in quarantine), loca?: Tessa Violet talks ‘Twilight’-inspired music video, TikTok, touring

Photo of Tessa Violet
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Back in winter 2008, Tessa Violet leaned back in a plush red theater seat and watched the first installment of the “Twilight” series. Fast forward to 2021, Violet, now an alternative pop singer-songwriter, stars in her very own music video inspired by the popular romantic drama.

“To be honest, I think I’m more a book stan over a movie stan,” Violet admitted in an interview with The Daily Californian. “I think the movie did Kristen Stewart really hard … (and) Edward is very uncomfortable in the movie, whereas, in the book, you’re like, ‘damn, sexy vampire!’ ”

Set in a field saturated in stark blue, Violet’s music video recreates the film’s iconic baseball scene for her most recent remixed release “Games,” which features lovelytheband and crafts a delightfully dramatic faceoff between the artists. Oh, and Peter Facinelli’s in it, too.

Though her video features a misty storm on the horizon, the future of Violet’s career is quite bright. The artist has certainly made the most of quarantine, keeping busy by planning her May 12 and 13 concert livestreams as well as releasing collaborative remix singles from her 2019 debut album Bad Ideas.

“I love all of the rereleases more than the original,” Violet said. “It’s really fun for me to get to hear the song through someone else’s voice. I’m like, ‘Wow, yeah, I’m a good writer!’ ”

Violet has been steadily releasing music since 2016, but Bad Ideas was the first project where she felt she had a true sense of self.

“That idea is just the first time I was brave enough to be like, ‘Yeah, I really want this, and I have big ideas, and I want to do everything I can to execute (it),’ ” she said. “That’s beautiful.”

Violet deeply loved music from a young age, and she remembers singing and dancing to her mom’s CDs with the couch as her stage.

“It was funny, I didn’t even have the sense of like ‘I want to be a singer,’ it wasn’t connected to any sort of career path,” Violet said. “There’s just so much healing and joy in music and like, even in the melodrama, the sad songs — I loved that.”

Although Violet pursued singing in high school theater, she felt as though her talent didn’t live up to her passion, and she deemed this realization one of her “first heartbreaks.”

“I remember feeling angry — like why would I have this desire, if I’m not good enough? — and kind of putting that to rest and being like, ‘Okay, what else do I like?’ ” she said.

As high school winded down, Violet translated her passion for storytelling into other mediums, turning to a YouTube career with a focus on vlogging and directing music videos. But when she was 23, music found its way back to her. A few years later, her friend moved away and left his guitar in her car (which, for the record, she did try to return to him).

“I’d never played guitar before, but I was like, ‘Yeah, why not, I’ll take up this hobby,’ ” Violet said. After learning Death Cab for Cutie’s “I Will Follow You into the Dark” on guitar, she began writing original songs.

“It was a hope fulfilled, it was like, ‘oh my god, here’s this whole new venue for me to get to sing and perform.’ And it’s better than I ever could have imagined because now I get to tell my own stories,” she shared.

And clearly, Violet’s stories resonate with people. Effectively bridging her music and video interests, the artist, like many others, turned to TikTok as a quarantine pastime. Her song “Wishful Drinking” went viral in August with one of her TikToks garnering more than 5.7 million views.

With nearly two million subscribers and more than 177 million total views on her YouTube channel, Violet’s no stranger to internet fame, and she’s worked a long time to keep her relationship with the internet healthy.

“I try to see social media as a tool, so it’s not positive or negative,” Violet said. “I try not to ever passively use social media, so I don’t scroll just for something to do or to fill time or to fill space or to escape emotion.”

While social media can help shine light on underrated music, she added, it’s important to be aware of how media can impact one’s perspective on art. “If you are too focused on algorithms, being like, ‘will this work on the algorithm?’ That’s death to art,” Violet said.

Spending time online might not compare to performing live, but Violet looks forward to being able to perform live again — “That’s what I love to do more than anything,” she emphasized — especially since the pandemic forced her 2020 tour postponement. However, Violet does appreciate how quarantine has given her the opportunity to connect more with her fan base.

“I think the past year for me, it’s just been realizing like, there doesn’t need to be a wall up,” Violet said. “I can just be who I am.”

Contact Taila Lee at [email protected].