I'd like to think that the universe brought us together, only because I wouldn't know where I would be if I didn't meet her. Teresa Vicinanza was one of my first lady moons in Houston. A lady moon, as I like to call them, is a woman who beams so brightly with influence, creativity, and confidence that you can't help but be drawn to their radiance. We got to know each other in an art history class at the University of Houston and have been orbiting around each other ever since. I first saw Teresa take on Houston's music scene with her local indie band, Rose Ette in late 2015. In only a short year, she shapeshifted from her guitarist role to a darkwave celestial being, also known as Tee Vee. Debuting last year at Houston's Day for Night, a winter light and sound festival, Tee Vee became one of Houston's coolest performing acts. She performs, alongside Daniela Hernandez, irresistibly catchy electro pop songs in an alternative world stemmed from her mind. This past April, the duo performed tracks from their 5-track debut EP Soft Spot at Civic TV Laboratories in Houston's East Downtown neighborhood. That night, angelic characters surfaced with synth sounds and ethereal beats. Our hearts were beating as one. The community experienced the talent and illumination of our exceptionally hard working, infinitely kind, fierce friend. I felt honored to have witnessed Teresa evolve to this point of her artistic journey. We can't see the heaviness of her heart, we can't watch what goes inside her brain, but we can hear the echoes of her deeply personal thoughts and memories through her music. She is alive, living her dream, and I'm here for it.
I find it fascinating when artists perform with distinct and unique monikers. Not only are "T" and "V" your initials, "Tee Vee" is like a play on "tuning in" to watch a show (television). Did the name come naturally to you? How was Tee Vee created? What was the motivation for starting this project? My motivation for Tee Vee initially came from the desire to have full control of the song writing, production, and recording of a musical project. I think since it has become a lot more for me. I have been able to channel a lot of emotions and unwanted negative energy through creating and performing. I started calling my project Tee Vee for a few reasons. One reason being that most people who know me pretty well, call me TV. Another more urgent reason was that I had a few shows lined up to play and didn’t have a name yet. I think I used “Tee Vee” as a placeholder until I found a name that fit. At some point I realized this project is officially called “Tee Vee.” It kind of just stuck for me, because it is me.
Would you consider Tee Vee an alter ego? Do you ever find yourself losing touch between who you are and who Tee Vee is? Like in your song "Crystalline," you say "it's not easy, caught in between what's real and what’s real to me." Or is Tee Vee another part of you that is now emerging? When performing, especially recently, I have found myself losing touch with who I am vs. who “Tee Vee” is, which is maybe speaking in opposition to what I just mentioned above. However, I believe these things are eternally evolving. The lyrics in "Crystalline" speak to that directly. It’s a perpetual struggle for me; the blurred lines between reality and fantasy or imagination.
The experimental sounds you create are captivating. I find myself jamming out to them all the time. I've always been interested in artists that are both producers and performers. Do you care more about the production of your work or the creative persona you embody? I also realize that no one else can take control of this besides you. Both seem important but which one motivates you the most? Is one more fun than the other? It seems fun to use both fantastical sides of the brain. For me, both production and persona are equally important. I don’t really know if I would call myself a producer because I am just ~ b a r e l y ~ testing the waters. I am not sure what I am doing most of the time. I do think production is extremely important to the dynamic of a song, and I like to think I can sonically portray whatever emotion I am feeling using production.
Embodying a persona is just as important in my opinion but it hasn’t been something I’ve spent a lot of time trying to create (or maybe subconsciously I have?). Throughout the years, I feel I have evolved as a performer. I think this evolution has become my persona. It’s subject to change.
Are there any associated acts or artists around Houston that you collaborate with? Who are they and how do they support your vision? Well my #1 collaborator is Daniela Hernandez, who also plays in Tee Vee. We are in constant collaboration. I honestly couldn’t do any of this without her. Also, my friend Michelle Miears (of the project Miears) and I have been tossing around ideas of a collaboration. Michelle is such a positive force and if you spend just one second around her you can feel it.
What are the motifs of your first release, Soft Spot? What is the personality behind the EP? I started writing Soft Spot at a very mentally challenging time in my life. I think a recurring theme is loss of control. A lot of the lyrics stem from irrational fears and superstitions I had at the time and was fixated on. I couldn’t control myself or my thoughts. I even created fictional characters, angels, in my songs, that would tell me “I’m okay” and “I’m safe.” When I finished writing, I realized how vulnerable and exposed I felt and I think that’s where Soft Spot came from.
When I see you perform live, I witness your evolution. You seem to become more comfortable each time. I love it! Do you have any stage presence idols? I admire many people but all for different reasons. I’ll start with a friend of mine, Mlee Mains, from the band Hearts of Animals. I remember seeing her get angry on stage once because of the relentless sound issues and she ended up kicking the monitor off the stage. I think seeing her do that, made me feel her frustration. I also think it made me realize that I could possibly be free to express the raging emotions I had inside as well. Aside from her, I love the energy of bands like Big Bang, Grimes and St. Vincent. I also really admire the poise and gracefulness that Solange brings to the stage. Also, I will always and forever love Bjork’s live presence. She is always able to shock the listener/viewer with her performance; you never know what she’ll do and that’s exciting to me!
Your lyrics seem dreamlike and often vague, leaving listeners wondering ... where do these thoughts come from? What kind of reality are you trying to mold through your lyrics? The lyrics are quite vague and often their meaning is ever evolving, even for me. Sometimes I’m not sure what the lyrics mean for months and then randomly while rehearsing I’ll sing a line and realize “wow, I know what this is about.” My emotions and feelings are buried so deep. Sometimes I just have to let the random neural processes of my brain tell me what some of the lyrical content should be, while other times I know exactly what I want or need to say.
What was it like to release your first music video, "Angel Eyes?" I know for me (I danced alongside Tee Vee in the music video), I didn't want the night to end. Every time I rewatch it I think, "let's go back to that night." Shooting the music video for “Angel Eyes” was surreal. I didn’t want that night to end either. I felt the warmth, comfort, and understanding of friendship that night. I had a pretty clear aesthetic idea for the video, but couldn’t have achieved it without the help from my talented friends (Trey Ferguson, Daniela Hernandez, Jessie Baldauf, Andi Valentine, and you). It is extremely hard to take an image or scene that you have constructed in your mind, explain it to a group of people and then make it real. I feel like, together, we did beyond that.
What's can we expect from Tee Vee in the future? I am working on some new songs and would love the opportunity to release a fulllength LP within the next year.
IMPOSE MAGAZINE - WEEK IN POP: GARY’S HOUSE, KEITH MORE-FIRE, TEE VEE
FREE PRESS HOUSTON - TEE VEE GIVES YOU A SOFT SPOT ON DEBUT EP
HOUSTON PRESS - MIEARS TREATS WHITE OAK CROWD TO ELEGANT, URGENT EP-RELEASE SHOW