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"TECLA Interview"

I remember the first time I met TECLA. She was sitting with three girls on a couch in an oversized pre-war apartment on the Upper West Side that belonged to a rich white guy from her school. When I walked in I remember she looked up at me and smiled. After that we’d run into one another intermittently, but there was always a sense of familiarity, a sort of casual and subtle understanding that we had a shared experience. TECLA’s mom is Haitian and her dad was Italian. Both immigrants. Mine aren’t but they are black and white respectively. Once we really started hanging out I got to know a lot more about how that unique experience—that we share—of being biracial in our predominantly white world informed who we are and what we do.

Collier Meyerson: Can you tell me a little bit about how that experience, the one of growing up brown—not quite black and definitely not white—effects how you make your music?

TECLA: I remember looking up and smiling at you that day. I remember thinking “whoa! Another girl who looks like me and doesn’t quite know what to do with her hair but is so adorable and doesn’t even know it” because that was me back in high school. The whole process of my tragic mulatto “neither here nor there” upbringing in America has everything to do with my music. I still feel like I don’t quite fit into any musical category. I pick out bits and pieces of what i like about music and mesh them together into one song. I take the inspiration of the opera and Haitian voodoo music I grew up listening to and make them accessible within a danceable American pop song, if you can call it that. But also my lyricism always goes back to my childhood story. I was always different, and it’s what makes me different as a musician now.

CM: You play a lot with performing identity. Sometimes you “play black” and sometimes you “play white.” Where does this come from and what is the significance of it? What are your thoughts on performing identity?

T: To be blatantly honest, in order to fit into multiple circles, conversations, personalities, and scenes in NYC and throughout the world you have to perform identity in some form or another. I have super hood broke friends, and super wealthy sheltered friends. I try not to judge anyone, and form my opinions based on character. However, there’s a certain level of common sense that goes along with being adaptable, showing the different sides of yourself to different people, and if college wasn’t good for a single other thing, it taught me how to have comfortable intellectual conversations with a plethora of human beings. It’s not just black and white, sometimes I play Caribbean, sometimes I play Euro. They’re both a part of me, and by the way I AM white. - Art Haps


"21 QUESTIONS: TECLA"

The rapper/producer/writer/songstress answers our deepest inquiries.

Sonic multi-hyphenate and New York City native, TECLA began exploring her musical talent at a young age studying classical piano. The child prodigy has since expanded her repertoire to a battery of genres, ranging from hip-hop, to reggae and even punk rock.

TECLA recently dropped We Are The Lucky Ones, her second full length-studio album this March via Mayimba Music and has gotten more than a little play around the LAC office. We got a chance to catch up with the princess of underground, and here’s what she had to say:

So, what’s up? Chillin…just trying to keep this PMA

Can we get you something to drink? Always. Its 12PM somewhere

What are you wearing? Something that I got from the thrift store that looks hella expensive but is really under $10

Are you single/taken/heartbroken/hopeful/bored? Pretty much married without the ring (I hate diamonds)

Are you interested in anyone right now? Tupac

Do anything last night? I DJ’d at The Blind Barber actually. Had people rocking till the lights came on OF COURSE

How late did you stay up? 5am…every time I tell myself its gonna be an early night its not

Meals or snacks? I love a hot meal, snacks are annoying

How often do you consume alcohol? Somehow a beer or wine has been creeping into my mouth every day…I don’t know how it got there

You kissed a girl and liked it? Love girls

Please don’t touch that. I touch whatever I want

What’s on your feet? Nada! Keep them bare like a true Haitian

Blue or black ink? black

Ever sit down in the shower? Hell yeah. Especially in my “woe is me” moments feels so dramatic.

When was the last time you really froke out at someone? I don’t know what froke is but probably yesterday

What was the first thing you said aloud this morning? Cleared my throat and said “can I talk?”

Are you listening to music right now? Listening to the birds outside my window. Its actually a true hobby of mine

Will you text the person you like today? Everyone I text I like

If we gave you $50, what would you buy? Probably like 10 outfits at the thrift store, or some good food, or dranks

Last 3 google searches? I don’t google

What are you doing later? Getting Thai food in Jackson Heights for Pegasus Warning’s birthday…you should check him out. And check out Thai food in Queens in general.

Listen to TECLA’s music here: - LA Canvas


"TOOTHPASTE: '1996' (Mixtape) (Prefix Premiere)"

As you may have learned when we premiered "Daytona 900" on Monday, 1996 is a new project from Kassa Overall and TECLA--together known as Toothpaste--that reimagines some of the year's classic hip-hop songs. While that track was a spin on Ghostface, the mixtape also makes use of the instrumentals to the Fugees' "Ready or Not," Jay-Z's "Can I Live," Outkast's "Elevators" and, thankfully, Ginuwine's "Pony."

There's also Akinyele's "Put It In Your Mouth" and interludes featuring--separately, unfortunately--both Bill Clinton and Tupac. Features include Chaz Van Queen--who also appears with the six other guests on "900"--Spaceman Shinobi, Tavi and Big Baby Gandhi. The latter feature, though, is a real standout as Gandhi, Kass and Tec spit three superb verses over Lil Kim's Hard Core number, "Big Momma Thang."

There are a few other surprises, but yeah, 1996 is pretty well stacked. If you've got the slightest bit of nostalgia for either the original artists or these beats, do yourself a favor and download the whole thing here and its individual tracks below. - Prefix Mag


"Take Aim: Amy Sciarretto vs. TECLA"

Amy Sciarretto's latest Take Aim opponent is Tecla.

Check out her track "Fake Tears" and find out why we invited her in to our lair aka the ring for a discussion.

Twitter-size your bio - 140 words or characters, your choice- of what we need to know?

It would probably be something like: Tecla is a Haitian/Italian pianist songwriter singer rapper producer. With an affinity 4 foreign horror & film score her music and imagery encompass a dark eerie beauty while still managing to make audiences dance. Is that 140? its hard for me to explain myself in a million words, let alone 140.

Any non musical hobbies, skills, talents?

I have a new obsession with backyard gardening. Actually, Kool AD gave me the rap nickname "Young Horticulture" because of it. There is something super meditative about gardening for hours. Something about pulling out weeds, digging in dirt, and planting herbs and flowers really quiets the mind. I am also a very healthy eater so being able to grow my own vegetables in healthy soil with no pesticides is a plus. I'm also a super foodie and love to cook. Growing up I had a weird affinity for watching cooking shows and torturing my family by making them eat my experimental recipes. It's true. You can ask my mom.

Pick ONE song on your album and share a writing or recording story. It can be funny, silly or serious. Just has to be something we'd only know since you told us.

Okay, so the song "Wake up" has a funny story behind it. I was at SXSW with Gordon Voidwell about two years ago and Me, Kassa, and Gordon had to share a Super 8 hotel room for three days after the festival was over in order to get a cheaper flight back to NYC. In those three days we managed to completely wreck the room (and brake our precious Oberheim Matrix 1000 rack) with water fights, foot powder fights (yeah...) and general debauchery.

Anyway, after having nothing else to do, we started a beat-making competition, everyone had to make one beat in an hour and we shall see who's the best was. I'm not saying mine won, BUT it did turn out to be the skeleton beat of "Wake Up," over which I recorded Kassa Overall on live drums, Rafiq Bhatia on guitar, Edward Goldson on bass, and Arnold Lee on horns. It's the biggest live band track on the album I'm sure no one would have guessed it started in a smelly kitty-litterbox motel.

If you were not doing music, you would be...

A horticulturist and holistic healer on some obscure Caribbean island. Or Asian Island... or any perma-hot non-American island.

Finish this sentence: More money, more...

...opportunities. lucky you...
- Artist Direct


"Tecla, ‘Fake Tears (Gordon Voidwell Remix)’"

Just last week, New York native Tecla dropped her debut album, but she’s hardly green. The multi-talented artist is known across the five boroughs as a singer, MC, DJ, prodigal pianist, producer and songwriter. Proving that hard work really does pay off, she toured for years as a side musician before garnering the attention she deserves and landing a deal with the cult indie label Mayimba Music to release her full-length debut, ‘We Are the Lucky Ones.’

From that album comes the Gordon Voidwell remix of ‘Fake Tears,’ a glitchy ’80s throwback track built on the the full-bodied voice Tecla spent has her life fostering.

“The Gordon Voidwell remix of ‘Fake Tears’ feels like the culmination of two brother and sister artists who have been working together for what feels like forever,” Tecla says. “While ‘Fake Tears’ has such a strong presence in instrumentation and song form, Gordon Voidwell managed to deconstruct the song into a new progressive sound, taking it out of its genre without stripping anything away. His sound is so distinct, as is mine, yet somehow, we managed to let both shine together in the same sonic space.” - Diffuser.fm


"V Exclusive! TECLA "Fake Tears""

Fresh from MayimbaMusic is a new track from a new artist. NYC-bred Tecla has traded in her classic piano keys for ones of a more synth-based influence, taking on all the top genres including hip-hop, reggae, punk and electronic. Her recent single "Fake Tears" is a new track off her upcoming album We Are The Lucky Ones, and serves as the first taste of what Tecla has to bring to table. The result? Like taking the first sip of a refreshing, cool island drink that is spiked with electro-pop elements. Its steady tribal-beat melodies and harmonizing vocals combine to transport the listener to the world's trendiest night spots, making us eager to hear what the rest of the album has to offer. Get an exclusive first listen through VIBE below. - - VIBE


"NEW ARTIST TECLA HITS THE NAIL ON THE HEAD"

In Spanish, the word "tecla" means "musical instrument key" and "dar en la tecla" translates as "to hit the nail on the head." And, after coming across the New York-based singer-songwriter of the same name, the idiom seems to befit her music. TECLA deftly blends electro-pop with tropicalia, hip-hop, funk and R&B, creating an awesome stew of dance music fresher and more original than much of what we've heard lately. The daughter of Italian and Haitian immigrants who grew up in Hell's Kitchen, TECLA (who also happens to be the sister of actor Giancarlo Esposito) got her start collaborating and playing shows with Chairlift, Gordon Voidwell and her fellow Wesleyan alums, Das Racist. And, on March 19th, she's breaking out on her own with her debut album, We Are the Lucky Ones.

Ahead of the record release, we're excited to premiere the video for her single, "Fake Tears," co-directed by TECLA and photographer Bek Andersen (and featuring a split-second cameo by former Das Racist member Kool A.D.). "The concept is 'Alice in African Wonderland,'" TECLA tells us. "The styling represents the Afro-Caribbean style of the 1950s with a modern-day flair. We wanted to represent myself visually the way I represent my music -- something reminiscent of the past, whether it be doo-wop, Haitian voodoo chant or Cuban percussion, and modernize it electronically and visually." To that end, look out for shots of cool chicks in high-waisted shorts and pin-up 'dos dancing in an alley and the singer falling down a wishing well where she's transported to the surreal "African wonderland" previously described. And, fun fact, the "oracle character" you see throughout the video (and riding in a boat with TECLA) is the artist's mom!

Celebrate the video's release with TECLA at a party tonight at NYC's Blind Barber from 7-10 and catch her live at BAMcafe on March 23 and at her album release party at Joe's Pub on March 26. - Paper Magazine


"Check Ahead: Tecla, 'We Are The Lucky Ones'"

“I was born for this,” says the singer, pianist, producer and DJ Tecla, as she sits at Soundcheck’s Steinway piano. The New York native explains that “la tecla,” which her dad shouted out at her birth a couple of decades ago, is Spanish for piano key. Despite the fact that her mother may have had other plans, name-wise, “Tecla” stuck -- “and that,” she says, “was it.”

There’s a lot more than a prescient name, though, to the story of Tecla. The daughter of Haitian and Italian immigrants, she’s drawn on a host of sonic traditions, from opera to Hatiain vodou chant and Edith Piaf, to create a sound that she calls Tropical Electronic Pop. Her second full-length album, We Are The Lucky Ones (out March 19th) is fierce, personal dance-pop with serious piano chops --and highly melodic and compelling vocal manipulation.

“We are the lucky ones, “ she sings on the opening notes of the album, “so don’t ever complain or forget where you came from.” And over the course of 10 songs Tecla explores personal identity and shared history, including that of her own family. “I would travel to Haiti with my mom every summer, and people didn't have shoes, couldn't go to school if they wanted to,” she says. So “I always want to pay homage to my ancestors and people who came before us -- they created this foundation for us.”

This comes up, too, in “Tragic Mulatto,” where she looks at her own heritage through the 19th and early 20th century trope of the same name -- and also through the lens of the iconic actress, singer and dancer Josephine Baker. In both cases, the so-called tragic mulatto is tightly in control of her image.

Throughout, Tecla also has a sense of play in her production. Synths weave to and fro, beats compel, and an 8-bit cameo cascades like an electronic waterfall. Her vocals are almost always effected -- with autotune, chorusing and other manipulation. But in spite of, or because of it, her voice -- and all of its twisting and re-shaping -- feels warm and organic throughout.

Above all, We Are The Lucky Ones is a celebration -- a shared one. "I'm psychic, I'm perfect, I'm worth it. Need some of my mantra?" she sings on "Fake Tears." "Believe in your own mantra." - WNYC: Soundcheck


"TECLA: There's Something Beautiful About Making People Dance"

New York native Tecla makes a style of music she’s called “Tropical Electronic Pop.” It’s a blend of all the diverse sounds and traditions this first generation American has come across over the years. This includes the soundtrack of her childhood -- from Italian opera to Haitian vodou chants -- and the work of her friends and collaborators, including Das Racist, Gordon Voidwell, Charlift and others. The singer, producer, rapper and DJ has a new album called We Are The Lucky Ones. She plays live in the studio.

On using vocal effects:

I love to effect my voice because I want to set myself apart. I write, I compose, I play piano. I really enjoy exploring tricks with the vocals. For live stuff, there's so much that you can translate. You can do anything, you can sound like you have a 20 person chorus with one pedal. I don't want to take that stuff for granted.

On her name, 'Tecla' which means piano 'key' in Spanish:

I was born for this. My dad is Italian and he named me. Apparently, in the birthing room he just screamed out "Tecla" and that was it. My mom was like, "we had other names planned!" And he was like "no, that's it."

On what she listened to growing up, with her Haitian immigrant mom and Italian immigrant dad:

I listened to a lot of opera and Haitian vodou chant records and French children songs and Edith Piaf. That was my kid music growing up. It was not the average American child's household...I've been playing piano since I was three. The piano was the centerpiece of our house, it was like playing make believe.

On her album title, We Are The Lucky Ones:

In the title song I say "where our parents parents didn't have any school or any shoes" I used to travel to Haiti with my mom every summer, and literally people didn't have shoes, couldn't even go to school if they wanted to. And back in her day, women had to learn in secret. African American history is very similar. And I always love to pay homage to our ancestors and people that came before us, in this music. Because they created this foundation for us to take it to this next level, like -- using an auto tune pedal is a privilege. The title is referring to this sense of: don't forget where you came from and appreciate what you have. - WNYC: Soundcheck


"TECLA'S DEBUT RECORD BLENDS SO MANY GENRES THE SHORTEST WAY TO DESCRIBE IT IS THIS: AWESOME. #SOUNDCHECK"

So I was starting to write about 'We Are The Lucky Ones', the debut album from Electro-funk/neo-soul/Afro-pop/glitch/RnB singer Tecla and my opening line was going to be about how the only genre she doesn't touch on is French Cabaret, and then I got to the stunning ballad “Moi” and that went pretty much out the window. This is a preposterously ambitious debut from a preposterously talented woman. Her sound melds the electronic and organic into a captivating cyborg. Synths burble beneath Caribbean percussion while Tecla presides over the beautiful chaos with the voice of a pop singer from back when pop singers actually sang.

The big highlights are lead single “Fake Tears” (whose video features the one and only Kool AD, and was recently remixed by the also one and only Gordon Voidwell...) “Money” and the album closer “Fiction Fairy Tales of Love.” Her songs blend surprising arrangement choices with unpredictably catchy melodies. Once the shock of hearing something so unique wears off, it's clear that the songs are actually rooted in some traditional RnB songcraft. This is the kind of solid oldschool songwriting that's likely to still standup once the wobbly basslines of the early 2010s give way to whatever's next. But whatever's next it's clear from her debut that Tecla will be there pushing buttons and pushing boundaries. - Afro Punk


"TECLA: Tropical Pop For The Technicolor Future on MTV IGGY"

Name: TECLA

Where She’s From: New York City, USA

When She Started: 2008

Genre: Electronic Tropical Pop

For Fans Of: Santigold, Gordon Voidwell

Sounds Like: Somebody brought 10,000 analog synthesizers and a liberal arts decree into a Kingston dancehall and made the gyals wine.

What are the chances that Tecla Esposito’s parents would name her with the Spanish word for a piano key, and then she would grow up to be a keyboard tickling synth-goddess?

TECLA is a Hatian-Italian New Yorker, songwriter, sometimes rapper and futuristic music creator. For the last several years, she’s been hopping on stages with some of the more notable talents to emerge in Brooklyn’s experimental pop scene, holding down keyboards for Gordon Voidwell and touring Asia as an opener for the rap band formerly known as Das Racist.

TECLA has been drizzling out great solo work for years now and she’s just dropped her second album, title We Are The Lucky Ones. Throughout, she grafts the gloss of bubblegum pop onto Caribbean drum patterns, and holds it together a joyful orgy of synthesizers. The mixture is topped with sing-songy melodies reminiscent of nursery rhymes and lyrics that cover everything from the politics of gender-bending to getting shushed by Lindsey Lohan.

Anyway, you should try it out. We Are Lucky Ones is on iTunes, and you can watch the video to the album’s first single, “Fake Tears,” below. - MTV IGGY


"New Music: Money by TECLA"

"Being a full-time self-employed female musician is no joke. I had a serious ramen noodle $5 a day budget phase–which wasn’t cute,” remembers Tecla, the New York City-based, multi-talented musician (she sings, raps, DJs, and works as a producer). But turns out, all those cheap meals paid off: The experience served as the basis for “Money,” off of her new album We Are The Lucky Ones.


“The inspiration came from knowing that I could come up out of the trenches myself and finding a positive spin on the fact that I had no financial help and really had to figure out my life on my own,” she adds. Indeed, the track’s chorus repeats the line, “Why you mooching off your man, girl?” drives the point home. “I truly am not trying to insult anyone in particular with these lyrics, but I have the utmost respect for females who have the motivation and talent to make their own living, create their own enterprises, and build themselves up on their own financial accord. I understand that we are not all privileged enough to have proper careers and jobs, and women who use rich men as their main source of income are also ‘getting their money right’ in their own way, but there is something so annoyingly distasteful to me about a woman who doesn’t do a single thing during the day besides receive an allowance for their laziness,” says Tecla.

Despite the political stand she takes with the track, it’s as much an admonishment as a party track. As Tecla explains, “Out of all of the songs on the album, this one has the most Caribbean feel, and lends itself to the reggae genre the most, which I think is very representative of [me] as an artist.” Which is another way of saying, turn up your speakers and press play! - Nylon


"TECLA: Best New Music"

Best New Music: Tecla Esposito May Sing About Your Deep-Seeded Issues, But At Least You’ll Be Dancing Along

It’s the first unseasonably hot day of spring, and the walk from the L train seems endless. It’s not even June, and someone has already tried frying an egg on the asphalt.

But Tecla Esposito, the Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter—and sometimes rapper—known as Tecla, has already reached higher heats at her Bikram yoga class. “My ideal day is to get up, run to yoga, garden for a little, and then cook an amazing meal,” she says in her raspy voice. “Later I’d like to get drunk and party.” In her two-floor Bushwick apartment—with its massive outdoor space and piles of records—all this is possible.

Born to Italian father and a Haitian mother, Esposito is a first generation American who grew up studying classical piano and listening to a variety of music: opera, classical, Caribbean, calypso, as well as voodoo chants. As a result, her own high-energy, socially conscious songs have a tendency to mix these distinctly different sounds. “People can’t put their finger on it,” she says of her music. “I’ve called it tropical electro pop just for the sake of having a genre.” Others have called it alternative soul, alternative R&B, and new wave dance, among other half-way there combinations.

But what makes Tecla’s genre-defying music even more complex are the provocative lyrics she lays over her upbeat, dance hall sounds. In just one 10-track album, she takes on the subjects of body image, gender norms, racial stereotypes, privilege, and more: “The unspoken things that people don’t really like to talk about,” she says. But once she gets going, even the heaviest topics are composed to make her audience dance—and even laugh.

“I feel like the only way to get through to people is with a grain of salt,” she says. “I like to make people feel good, and make people think about what I’m talking about, but not in a righteous way.”

The result is two albums worth of up-tempo, body-moving beats mixed with sensitive, hyper-aware lyrics—an unusual combination in pop music these days. “There’s a reason Lil Wayne an Nicki Minaj and Fun are in the spotlight, and it’s not because they're trying to force people to feel their message,” she says.

As complicated as this combo might seem on paper, it’s the mixture and tension that defines much of her own life, making the musician exactly who she is.

After all, what makes Esposito’s first name the perfect calling card for her music is its cross-cultural mix of meanings: The word “tecla” is the name for a Catholic saint—who, ironically, is an ascetic role model for women—an Abyssinian Queen, “piano key” in Spanish, and a shamanistic chant to ward off evil spirits, she explains. “Just chant my name and everything will be fine.”

Either that, or blast some of her music and get to pondering—while dancing, of course.
- Lifestyle Mirror


Discography

LPs
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"We Are The Lucky Ones" (2013)

"Strangers In Masks" (2010) 100% self-produced
Stream on Bandcamp: http://bit.ly/140ZaU8

Singles
************

"Fake Tears" (Remix by Gordon Voidwell)
Soundcloud: http://bit.ly/18Cqm1Y

"Money"
Soundcloud: http://bit.ly/11c2ywT

Mixtapes
************

"Cabin in the Woods" produced with Kassa Overall
Stream: http://bit.ly/17JXDXI

"Thanksgiving"
Download: http://bit.ly/175P0Y9

"1996" produced with Kassa Overall (rap mixtape)
Stream: http://bit.ly/12qbFvw

Rap Features
************

“Out Yo Head” Kool and Kass “Peaceful Solutions”
http://bit.ly/10fDp5N

“Going On Tour” Fat Tony + Tom Cruz feat. TECLA
http://bit.ly/160845s

“15 Minutes” Iron Solomon feat. TECLA
http://bit.ly/10fE0Es

Photos

Bio

“We Are The Lucky Ones” explores the past, present, and future of music and culture. Reflecting on my past, I realize that I, in fact, am extremely lucky to have been born into a time where a biracial woman can explore her creativity and gain respect without having to sell herself short. Following in the footsteps of Josephine Baker – it is rare but it has happened in this album for me, a modern day Tragic Mulatto. I am attempting to abolish the notion of genre by exploring various sounds within this album. A woman should not be limited to simply one talent, I write, compose, produce, and sing on every song on the album.”
-TECLA on her new album “We Are The Lucky Ones”

NYC sonic renegade TECLA released her second full-length studio album, We Are The Lucky Ones, on March 19th via Mayimba Music. We Are The Lucky Ones is a kaleidoscopic album that evinces the spectrum of Tecla’s life and musical journey from a child piano prodigy to years singing, rapping, djing, and producing in New York’s underground. We Are The Lucky Ones’ was entirely written by Tecla. The album’s genre-defying sound infuses Tecla’s uncompromising songwriting and rap lyricism with tropical, Caribbean, pop and funk elements.

TECLA is a first-generation New York City (Hell’s kitchen) native-born of Italian and Haitian immigrants. She has gone from being a classically trained child pianist prodigy to versatile performer in hip-hop, reggae, punk-rock, electronic, & funk bands. She has toured throughout the U.S. Canada, Europe, and Asia with Chrisette Michele, Das Racist, Gordon Voidwell, Chairlift, and more.

Exploring her talents on a variety of synth keyboards she discovered and developed her own modern musical sound.
TECLA is understood and known for her genre-mixing melodic compositions, danceable afro/funk/caribbean/tropical/pop production style, and boundary-breaking songwriting and rap lyricism. TECLA has been described as “the new freak Lauryn Hill”, “SWV on acid”, “the Rocktronica Black Cinderella”, “Ritchie Valens meets Pagliacci”.

It is hard to think of anything that TECLA cannot do as a pianist, composer,producer, DJ, singer, and rapper. As the most un-apologetically complicated gender-boundary-breaking female in the pop music circle today, TECLA will only continue to rise to a place where no one has gone before. Stay tuned.