An Interview with Tekla Waterfield: Part I

Longtime Bushwick performer Tekla Waterfield is making a new album and has launched a Kickstarter in support of it. With just nine days left in the campaign, I talked with Tekla about the project. Here is part one of our interview.

KG: Why did you decide to go the Kickstarter route?

I chose to do a Kickstarter campaign both to help with the financial aspect, and also as a way to engage with the community. I believe in the strength of community and know that our music community in particular here in Seattle is very strong. I have found so much support here and fully believe that when asked, people want to help others achieve their goals and dreams. Kickstarter is a wonderful way for folks to create and for folks to help others create.

As anyone can probably guess, making a quality, professional record can cost upwards of $10,000-25,000 and even higher. I’ve enlisted the help of some incredible Seattle folks to work on this album including:

Jeff Fielder on multiple instruments and as producer, engineer Eric Eagle (who has worked with Seattle musicians Jesse Sykes, Wayne Horvitz, Band of Horses and more), master engineer Martin Feveyear (Brandi Carlile), Aaron O’Neil – drums (Star Anna, Sera Cahoone), Daniel Walker – organ/hammond (Ann Willson of Heart), Andrew Joslyn – strings (Mackelmore).

KG: Your kickstarter mentions some new sources of inspiration for the album including synth sounds on the show Stranger Things and the music of the French band, Air, What led you down this path? How do you harness this inspiration and turn it into music?

TW: There’s something about the music for the show Stranger Things that just reminded us of our childhood, you know? Remember that show on Nickelodeon, Are You Afraid of the Dark? Lots and lots of other shows from the late 80s early 90s that had that kind of feel, like Twin Peaks. It felt nostalgic and awesome with the heavy bass and weird synthy mellotron stuff.

Air had similar qualities in that there was this sort of mysterious, zoney quality to the music with some acoustic instruments and lots of beats and synths. Well it just so happened that right around that time, Jeff went down a rabbit hole and started seriously digging deep into all of that kind of gear. His collection grew, he started making beats and the rest is history!

I would write a song, chords and lyrics and all, then basically hand it over to Jeff, with communication between us in terms of what kind of mood and vibe we wanted to go for. And really, I just let Jeff be free for the most part. It was fun for both of us, I think! I’ve always wanted to team up with a producer and Jeff’s done quite a bit of arranging and some producing, but not to this extent. Having such free reign was awesome for both of us!

KG: Is it new for you to have a song-creating partner? How is your collaboration with Jeff working on the album?

TW: I haven’t really created songs with a partner before. I have been writing and writing and writing these songs but they’re really just like the bare blueprint or sketch. I play them and flush them out with live instruments when I perform out with a band, i.e. keys, drums, bass, lead guitar, but this is the first time I’ve flushed them out with a producer, rather than a band.  It’s been a really cool process. Plus Jeff and I get along really well, we communicate really well, we have lots of things in common musically, so it works.

KG: What excites you about the album creation process?

TW: Every time I write a new song, I can hear these faint ideas of strings and piano and guitars and those kinds of things like off in the background. I’m always excited and looking forward to recording a song, as soon as I’ve written it! It’s exciting to make an album. It feels right. It’s fun working with lots of talented musicians and engineers and sound people and just sort of putting our heads together and going through a creative process together. It’s just really quite wonderful.

Thanks for sharing with us Tekla! Look for part two of our interview on Thursday. Support Tekla’s Kickstarter and let us know what excites you about her upcoming album.