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