TYSM Scares Up A Good Time On ‘Ghost White Dress': Interview
TYSM rips the skeletons from her closet, carves them into homespun rattles and lures you into her haunted soundscape on "Ghost White Dress."
Even in the bright light of day, the single is chilling. Ghostly chuckles spook the arrangement into low-budget, indie horror movie territory (think V/H/S or even John Carpenter’s Halloween). The pop upstart, one of the prized jewels on Felix Snow’s record label, EFFESS, is coming off millions of streams for her debut single “Honeymoon Phase,” a jittery and sugar-sweet club track. She is strategically building an illustrious empire of her very own.
When you ask her when and how she settled on a specific style of pop, she is quick to correct you that it wasn’t exactly her decision. “It found me... and still is. My passion for music is constantly morphing and evolving,” she shares. “I’d hate to be painted in a corner to anything too specific. I love surprising people and even more so, surprising myself.”
Things clicked into place when she randomly ran into producer Felix Snow at the Rose Bowl. She only had a few spare moments to leave an impression, and what did she do? She powered through a snippet of Etta James’ classic “At Last” right into his ear. “To be honest, I don’t remember [his reaction]," she admits. “You see, we were at Vegan Beer Fest...but I think it was positive, because he hit me up two days later.”
The hard part was finished. The Texas native caught his ear, and while there was “never a plan other than just making music,” the creative synergy ran between them like lightning. She may have been “serving tacos and doing music every second [she] wasn’t serving tacos” at the time, but it was evident her destiny for grander things was unfolding before her eyes.
Below, TYSM discusses working with Felix Snow, playing with silence in music and her desires to go country.
When you started working with Felix, what was the creative energy like?
Very respectful. Felix has a very special gift of summoning the best out of people. He changed my life, and he has a habit of doing that for people around him. The energy was always very positive. Our first session together we wrote acoustic. Just me, him and the guitar, which is how we still write. I had never actually ever recorded anything at the time, and it was new for me. I’ve sung all my life. Live shows were my thing, being that I had a musical theatre background, so getting in a booth was a completely new experience. Felix guided me through it. I would come over to his place after work almost every night to write. I didn’t have a goal in mind at the time other than to make music as much as I possibly could. I just knew I wanted to learn from him and work with him every chance I got. There was never any pushing or pulling, just creating and learning.
What have you learned from him?
To always move forward, failing is necessary and good, and to be fearless and decisive.
What was your journey leading up to "Honeymoon Phase"?
I had been writing a ton with some people around town. I wasn’t really focused on doing an artist project when I started. I was doing a lot of writing for other artists and placement pitches and just trying to gain experience. “Wraith” was basically the birth of “TYSM.” Wraith was written before “Honeymoon Phase” and was kind of the loose guideline of how I wanted to develop the first cycle of songs. There is beauty and so much risk with being minimal. In musical theatre it was always “be bigger, be louder.”
While recording “Wraith,” Felix kept telling me to sing quieter and quieter, dropping the key lower and lower—until I was singing in a place I wasn’t used to singing, but something special lived in that place and Felix said to me, “This is your sound.” There is something fascinating about playing with silence in music and the vulnerability of soft vocals. I am planning on continuing to play in that space.
Are you working on either an EP or album?
Yes. I will put out a body of work. Lately, I have been focused on single releases. I wanted to give my audience a chance to get to know me and build trust before I just drop a bunch of music at once. I don't want anything slipping through the cracks.
What themes have you been exploring?
I like keeping the writing as close to home as possible. I explore whatever is going on in my life that day or that season. I love working with other writers and combining their ideas with my reality. Having other perspectives is important to me.
How has the process aided your personal transformation?
I don’t really look at myself and think I have a “process.” I just make music. I don’t believe in rules or formulas. I believe in feeling. If it feels good, I wanna sing it. “Wraith” is a great example of that.
"Rearview" feels very much like a country song, lyrically, dressed up with glossy pop production. Being from Seguin, Texas, were you ever interested in doing straight folk or country music?
That’s because “Rearview” is a country song. Felix and I live in Nashville where we have developed a country project together called “17Memphis,” and at the time, I had just come back to L.A. to write, so I was in a country music state of mind. I have always loved how honest country is and wanted to combine that somewhere in my project.
Being from Texas, country music is just in my blood, so it had to surface somewhere. I have to explore, and I could never be consumed by just one genre. I am pulled to so many different styles of music and feel very blessed and fortunate to have the ability to do more than just one thing. “Rearview” is my favorite song, by the way. So, to officially answer your question, yes, I am interested in becoming more involved in the country community.
Do Southern rituals guide your songwriting?
I tap into my Texas upbringing when it makes sense, but there are so many other moments and seasons in my life I spent away from that that I write about so it’s really hard to say for sure if they do.
When did you know you wanted a music career?
I didn’t know this was what I wanted until I started writing songs. I went to school for musical theatre in Boston and had dreams of Broadway. I had no idea my journey was going to land me here. It’s wild and very much a God thing.
One takeaway from your singles so far, especially on "Wraith," is how adventurous and fearless you are. Were you always that way?
I try my best to stay open-minded and remind myself I don’t know anything, and I am not important…I think fearlessness lives somewhere in there as a result.
What role does faith play in your music?
Without my faith, I don’t think I'd be here answering these questions.
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