An Interview with Tekla Waterfield: Part II

We’re back with part two of our interview with artist Tekla Waterfield. She is making a new album and has a Kickstarter project in support of it. There are five days left to support her campaign.

On to the interview:

KG: How did you get your start as a musician?

TW: My mom played music and brought my big sister and me to gigs when we were little and lived in Alaska. We grew up going to folk festivals and were singing and harmonizing when we were as little as four and five years old. I played saxophone in middle school because I idolized Lisa Simpson. I switched gears to singing in choir in high school. Pretty sure that was a pretty direct influence from the 90s movie, Sister Act, which came out right around then. (I graduated high school in 99.)

After high school, I almost went down the classical route to study voice and go into opera, but, after getting accepted to California State University, Monterey Bay for voice and bombing an entrance examination on the piano which left me feeling completely stupid, unworthy and unprepared, I put the brakes on hard core. A couple of years later and I was back in a vocal jazz ensemble at the community college and eventually found my way into my first band, Blvd Park.

KG: After spending so much time with classical influences and study, what was being in a rock band like and what did you do next?

TW: Blvd Park was a fun-loving, whiskey drinking, rowdy group of mostly boys. I sang backing vocals and banged away on the tambourine. It was then that I started picking up the guitar, as a late-bloomer really at the age of 27, and started writing songs. When the band split in 2013, I really started writing songs of my own and not limiting myself in terms of genre, taking inspiration from relationships mostly at first, but then gradually expanding into observing behaviors and themes of loneliness, despair, depression, obsession, oppression, and so on.

At first it was mostly for fun, but as a year or two went by, and I was heading down a path that I felt certain was the wrong one, I made a u-turn, went back to waiting tables and really started delving into the possibility of pursuing music as a full-fledged career. Waitressing is NOT glamorous. Sometimes it’s hard not to beat myself up a bit like, I went and got a college degree so I could wait tables? But it allows for flexibility and left-over energy to devote myself to making music and focusing on the business side of things that having a full-time, demanding career might not.

KG: In addition to your work with Bushwick, you’ve been plenty busy. What other projects have you worked on?

TW:  I’ve taught with Songwriting Through Youth Literature Education, hosted an open mic, taught at Rain City Rock Camp for Girls, played tons of hours at SeaTac Airport, sung with the Seattle Rock Orchestra, and put out my first full-length album of original music, which received radio play on 91.3 KBCS. (Awesome!) I’ve worked by butt off, even for a period of about eight months experimenting with saying “yes” to every single gigs I got offered.  Needless to say, that got old pretty quickly.

KG: Do you have any crazy or weird stories about performing at the airport?

TW: People are funny! I love that us airport performers get to meet and interact with people from all over the world! That’s the coolest part of it. It felt pretty strange at first. There were times when I felt like I was on display like for some strange indie music museum or something. I’ve gotten used to the idea of the performance being mostly ambiance and it’s really been a huge help in terms of practicing, getting more comfortable with new songs, and selling cd’s really. But crazy? Hmm . . .
The coolest thing that happened recently was that a videographer came up to me, said he loved the tunes, wanted to know if I ever needed music videos made and then told me he’d worked with Macklemore, Brandi Carlile and more. I was blown away! We’re talking about doing something together. Also one day a pilot came up to me asking if he could jam with me on his violin. He had the violin with him and was in his uniform and man . . . the people walking by LOVED that! Also an old friend’s mom I hadn’t seen since I was little came up and said hi and then put a check in my tip jar. You can say it was a bit of a “scholarship” (it was a lot more than the usual $5-10). I’ve also had someone hand me a $100 tip two times. One saying, “I want to hear more.”  The other saying “Congratulations!” Ha! I think she was foreign and that what she meant was “well done!”

KG: What’s your favorite Bushwick song and show?

TW: I think the most memorable song I did with the Bushwick Book Club was for the Walking Dead show. They had just started experimenting with the idea of having a choir and I was one of the members. We did a little intro thing where we all walked out mumbling as zombies and a little skit type thing where we acted as though we were shot and lay writhing on the floor. It was quite fun! I enlisted the zombie choir to sing with me on my song which ended up being the finale of the night.



KG: What do you like most about your work with Bushwick?

TW: I love the challenge of writing a song within the parameters of “being inspired by what I’ve read.” As I’m reading, my mind is thinking about that idea and is constantly scanning information, images, and emotions. Finally something clicks and an idea comes to mind. It’s really quite a wonderful thing. I also love seeing the incredible variety other folks come up with. It’s really just an amazingly fun idea and I’ve loved being a part of it over the years!

Thanks for all your inspiring music made for Bushwick, Tekla! Support Tekla’s Kickstarter and tell us your favorite Tekla performance.