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San Francisco, California, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2016

San Francisco, California, United States
Established on Jan, 2016
Solo Pop Electronic




"Exclusive Stream and Review of Polarity"

T3TRA’s debut EP, Polarity, provides a rich and dynamic sound that moves beyond electro/synthpop thanks to deep sonic undercurrents and brutally honest lyrics. As T3TRA notes, “Sex, pills, cheap thrills: I write songs about the things nobody and everybody likes to talk about.” With driving beats, hints of retro synth and T3TRA’s signature raspy vocals, Polarity provides a strong dose of danceable angst. - Kill the Music

"New Music Critique: T3TRA"

Tess Dunn is T3TRA, whose dark, soul-baring statements are as candid and relatable to millennials as her hooks are sharp and memorable for all listeners. Her expressive voice has a bubblegum quality that belies the bitterness of her message. Targeting miserable relationships, Dunn often places herself squarely in the crosshairs, as in “Oxy” where she admits an “addiction to my vices.” She further explores her appetite for dysfunction on “Slum It,” which is ironically her catchiest song despite its downbeat self-flagellation (“my misery loves your company”). She gets sultry and breathy—is more of a singer—on “White Lies,” which has another solid chorus. Labels and music supes, do check out this artist! - Music Connection

"T3TRA illuminates Tess Dunn with album release concert"

If you haven’t heard T3TRA, you don’t know the singer-songwriter that Tess Dunn has become. After three albums – her debut when she was 14 – and touring for seven years with Vans Warped Tour, the Santa Cruz born musician decided in 2016 that it was time for a change.

“I chose the dark name T3TRA because I felt it encapsulated all the negative emotions I was having. But in a cool way!” she explains, laughing. “It was a way for me to write about the darker undertones and not worry about what other people would think. I decided to just write for myself, for once.”

Now 24 years old, T3TRA (Tess Dunn) has found a new sense of freedom in her music and on Saturday she’ll be celebrating the release of her new EP “Lightswitch” at Kuumbwa Jazz Center. Drummer Carl Ward will join T3TRA on stage along with brother Jake Ward on guitar, who also produced the “Lightswitch” EP. Watch Me Breathe opens the show at 8 p.m.

In her video for the title song “Lightswitch,” T3TRA twists and turns with hair tossing wildly while the lights flicker. She then touches her hand to her forehead and sings, “Swinging from victim to villain and I haven’t slept well in nights.” T3TRA’s 2016 EP “Polarity” had songs like “Oxy” and “Slum It” that pointed to difficult emotional times and Lightswitch continues descending deeper.

T3TRA offers, “When I was Tess Dunn I was the inspirational singer-songwriter overcoming adversity with a zest for life, and always optimistic. That became really hard for me because I was very depressed but I didn’t feel I could share that with anybody. When I wrote ‘Polarity’ and chose to go by T3TRA it was because I wanted to separate myself from that and give myself the freedom to write in a brutally honest manner. It was a big leap for me but it has been so rewarding.”

“Something I’m still working on is my mental health, which I sing about in ‘Lightswitch,’” says T3TRA. “I’ve been chronically depressed since I was a pre-teen, a teenager. When you’re so young dealing with that, some people tend to fall into unhealthy coping mechanisms. I definitely was guilty of that. I was 20 when I was diagnosed with bipolar one disorder. I was doing things that would feed into the depression and the mania; I wouldn’t sleep and eat when I was upbeat and then I wouldn’t leave my house, my bed when I was super depressed.”

T3TRA found relief through therapy, medication and making music. “I’ve been finding balance and healthy coping mechanisms. I got very lucky to have this (music) as a healthy outlet. I’ve had CF (cystic fibrosis) my whole life so even days where I don’t want it, I’m used to it. Whereas I was diagnosed with bipolar at 20, so that’s still a new thing I’m figuring out.”

While her lyrics on “Lightswitch” are personal, T3TRA feels the themes are universal. “Perhaps it’s more intense when you’re bipolar, but I think everybody has moments where they swing back and forth from feeling happy to sad. I think everybody is used to that, especially as you’re growing up and in your 20s.” With a sigh of relief, she adds, “Now I’m writing authentically about what’s really happening. I always say, “If I don’t laugh about it, I’ll cry.” So, might as well pick the better of the two.” - Santa Cruz Sentinel

"Santa Cruz’s Tess Dunn Returns As Alter-Ego T3TRA"

Oscar Wilde didn’t know a thing about electro-pop music. But if he were around today, the 19th-century playwright and legendary wit would totally get Tess Dunn. It was Wilde, remember, who once said, “Give a man a mask, and he’ll tell you the truth.”

That applies to Dunn, a 24-year-old singer-songwriter who has been performing and recording since the age of 13. Not because she wears a mask on stage, but because she has taken to recording under an alter ego named T3TRA (pronounced “Tetra”). And it’s through T3TRA that she’s telling her truth.

The Santa Cruz native returns to her hometown for a performance as T3TRA at Kuumbwa Jazz Center on March 16. She’ll be showcasing a new album of original material called Lightswitch.

“It’s one of the best ideas I ever had,” she says of her on-stage persona.

Throughout her adolescence, Dunn performed and recorded under her given name. That changed once she reached her twenties. Lightswitch is now her second effort as T3TRA.

Beginning with 2009’s Darling Just Walk, the artistic persona Dunn presented under her real name was a specific thing. “She was always optimistic. She had a zest for life, wouldn’t let anything get her down,” says Dunn. “And all that was true when I was teenager.”

That changed, she says, when she began experiencing exhausting mood swings, from manic episodes of activity and creativity to shut-down periods of depression. Eventually, she was diagnosed with bipolar-1 disorder. “I wanted to write about it,” she says, “but it felt weird doing so as Tess Dunn, because I already had a reputation under that name. It didn’t feel right to write about how depressed I was. Also, at that age—19, 20—I was experiencing adult things like lust and love that I didn’t really understand at 15 or 16.” On top of that, she was wary of disappointing an audience who had come to expect a certain spirit in her music, a spirit that suddenly felt confining.

It was time for an artistic reset.

“It was really refreshing, and it’s given me a huge dose of freedom,” she says of her decision to become T3TRA. At the same time, she was beginning to be seduced by the beats and textures of electronica, and a break into a new alter ego allowed her to change up her fundamental sound from bright and buoyant power-pop to a darker, synthetic vibe.

As a result, in a Wilde-ian sense, Dunn is now telling her truth in a way that she had not dared before. The title track of new album Lightswitch is a particularly emotionally naked stab at grappling with the disorienting mood swings of bipolar. “It’s probably the most honest song I’ve ever written in my 10 years of songwriting,” she says.

Facing a bipolar disorder is burden enough for anyone, but Dunn has also been dealing with other serious health issues her entire life. Namely, cystic fibrosis (CF), a devastating chronic disease that primarily affects the lungs and demands intense day-to-day treatment. Mostly as a result of her CF condition, she’s also had to face epilepsy and diabetes. Life expectancy for those with CF is somewhere in the mid-40s, but that number has been steadily moving northward thanks to improvements in treatment.

Because she’s lived with CF her entire life, Dunn is intimately familiar with a certain live-for-today impulse. Last year, she graduated from Sonoma State University and shortly thereafter began work as a writer where she now lives in Marin County. A severe flare-up of CF symptoms sidelined her and forced her into freelancing.

“In that case, getting sick was definitely a blessing for me, because it pushed me to turn back to my music and say to myself, ‘Yeah, that’s really what I want to do with my life,” she says. “If I had continued to work as I was doing, I would have let my music sit on the back burner.”

Cystic fibrosis has given Dunn a considerable headwind in her life and career, and she’s always felt that she’s had to cram a lot in what she believes will be an abbreviated lifespan. But being involved in the CF community has allowed her to keep a valuable perspective.

“I have this weird sense of guilt,” she says. “I mean, I have friends with CF who are in the hospital every other month. And though I’m feeling bad a lot, numbers-wise I can’t complain because I’m doing so well.” - Good Times

"T3TRA Releases Upbeat Summer Hit “Angel's Wings”"

T3TRA’s most recent single “Angel's Wings” is a refreshing take on modern electro-pop genre. T3TRA contributes to the fairly more prominent category we’re seeing in music nowadays in the most complementing way. This track catches your attention with underlying upbeat tempo present throughout. - Buzz Music

"T3TRA – “Angel’s Wings”"

Angel's Wings begins with thick layers of tones that set an emotional vibe. The drums kick in with a tribal rhythm while her soft voice starts telling the story of a new love. The beat intensifies as the song grows into the chorus. The catchy melody and rhythmic patterns of the vocals give the song its infectious hook. - The Music Butcher

"T3TRA Can’t Hold Us Down With Her Latest Single “Ohmygod.""

T3TRA's honest vocal performance shows off what she is capable of. Not even for a single lyric does she hold back on giving her fullest amount of attention. - Buzz Music

"T3TRA Shares Her Story with the World"

T3TRA is a San Fran artist on the rise. That artist, also known as Tess Dunn, is creating music on her own terms, enlightens and delights with her new singles 'Ohmygod.' and 'Yours.' - The Indie Source

"T3TRA Brings Her Soul to Life"

“As T3TRA brings a dreamy landscape to the table, this year has seen her releasing epic new singles such as “Ohmygod.” and “Yours,” in which she recently released a video as well this month. On each piece she delivers a bold and textured sound that brings her soul to life.” - The Noise Gate


Lightswitch - March 2019
Polarity - October 2016



Since early 2016, Tess Dunn has performed and released music under the name T3TRA, a choice she says liberated her from past expectations and demons. Reviewers and fans continue to describe her as fearless, a creative wunderkind, a dynamic performer, a passionate advocate, and a compelling example of gritty girl power. 

Thanks to her take-no-prisoners zest for life in the face of intense life-threatening health challenges, Tess has been the focus of Vans Off the Wall TV and numerous articles and podcasts. She has toured the West Coast, and is endorsed by Onstage Stands and Lanikai Ukuleles.

T3TRA’s music explores themes of love, lust, and loss with an unwavering eye. As she notes about her lyrics, “I write songs about the things nobody and everybody likes to talk about.” With pulsing beats, layers of lush synths, and compelling vocals, T3TRA’s music is a blast of danceable angst.

Band Members