10 Questions With Tei Shi, The LA-Based Singer-Songwriter Crafting A New Kind Of Pop
Tei Shi is a pop star worth getting excited about. Born Valerie Teicher, the 30-year-old songstress has spent the past seven years building a repertoire of cracking tunes, bubbling with catchy choruses, dreamy instrumentals and intimate lyricism akin to romantic Spanish lovesongs of the 1970s and ’80s. Born in Buenos Aires to Colombian parents, Teicher spent most of her adolescence in Bogotá, before her family relocated to Vancouver. She studied in Boston, Massachusetts before making the move to New York City. After a slew of notable EPs, a cover of Beyonce’s “No Angel” and a feature with indie outfit Glass Animals, Teicher released her debut album Crawl Space back in 2017.
Interwoven with childhood recordings and cutesy confessions of hoping one day to be “like Britany Spears,” the singer-songwriter laid all her personal fears on the table – telling tales of bad relationships and inner demons in both English and Spanish. Another move – this time from New York to Los Angeles – inspired Tei Shi’s sophomore effort La Linda, where a new sense of freedom for the singer was enlightened through glistening synths, Brazillian-inspired instrumentals and truly infectious hooks – in particular, lead single ‘Even If It Hurts’ featuring Dev Hynes, A.K.A, Blood Orange.
“I think we just connected over Instagram and started talking that way,” recalls Teicher of the pair’s first interaction. “The first day we met up, we wrote the song “Hope” which ended up on his album Negro Swan. From there we just hung out and started working on stuff whenever we were in the same place – he’s one of my favourite musicians in the world and collaborators to work with.”
Back in July, Tei Shi released Die 4 Ur Love, a collection of five songs the songstress has lived with “almost every day of this year,” born out of a break-up with a former record label. With a stay-at-home release rollout, Tei Shi streamed live gigs from her bedroom and self-shot the video for the EP’s self-titled, frankly faultless, lead single – which featured Teicher washing the dishes, burning sage in the bath and eating her dinner on the toilet. Each to their own…
In the middle of boxing off all these house chores – whilst simultaneously carving an exciting, new pop landscape – we managed to catch up with Tei Shi for a quick chinwag.
1. What’s your favourite memory from making the Die 4 Ur Love EP?
“Probably the last night of my writing trip, when I wrote the title track “Die 4 Ur Love”. I had been at a ranch in Texas for a week writing the EP with my friend Daniel Ledinsky and on the last night, it was one of those magical moments where something just clicked. I remember us sitting on the floor of the studio singing ideas along to the beat and all of a sudden we both arrived at that “die, die, die, die, die 4 ur love” line in the hook at the exact same time. We couldn’t stop laughing, we were just so excited at the catchiness of that hook idea and how we had both kind of arrived there simultaneously. It was just one of those memorable, exciting moments where you write something that’s almost dumb in its hookiness. I’d never made a song like that before.”
2. What can one expect from a Tei Shi show?
“Vocals!!! The last few performances I did were with two other singers singing with me on stage – that’s my band now. So there really is a focus on live (*non auto-tuned*) vocals and that kind of symbiotic energy you get from multiple people singing together. It’s a really intimate show because of that, but also really fun, there’s some choreo in there and it feels kind of like a tribute to the idea of a girl group. That was my inspiration in putting this most recent show together. Sound-wise, expect the music to really bang because it’s basically the recordings live mixed to the room. You’ll dance and move around but also have some more surreal, mesmerizing moments. So, pencil it in for 2021!”
3. If you could have any designer in the world to design your tour outfits, who would you choose?
“Custom Mugler would be amazing. Their use of shapes and silhouettes is really cool and I just love the gothic chic vibe of their last few seasons… Everything’s very geometric and fitted which I think would work really well for the stage. I think we could do something like Cruella De Ville bodycon, haha!”
4. What’s one thing you can’t live without?
“At least eight hours of sleep every night. That’s my baseline. I have always needed a lot of sleep… Everyone in my life knows I’ll always be the last to wake up.”
5. If someone gave you a limitless credit card but only one place to spend it – where would you go?
“I would need it to be somewhere that isn’t gonna lead me to become an extreme shopaholic/hoarder/hyper-consumer, so I wouldn’t do somewhere like Amazon as much as that would be the most convenient… I would want it to be somewhere that’s worthwhile, so I think I would do like an international airline that flies all over the world, so I would never have to pay for travel again and could always fly first class. I think that would dramatically improve my quality of life.”
6. Which song do you wish you wrote and why?
“Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams”… Stevie Nicks wrote classics and it’s just one of those songs that are so fun to sing.”
7. What was your go-to look whilst recording the Die 4 Ur Love EP?
“Pretty much just sweatpants and oversized t-shirts, comfy studio wear. Anything that feels like it could be a PJ but is appropriate to wear out. I wore these Maisie Wilen matching sets a lot because, on top of being cute and coming in lots of different colours, they’re really comfortable, light and easy to travel with.”
8. What’s your pre-show routine?
“I have a pretty chill pre-show routine. I drink throat coat tea with whiskey and honey and I put on a playlist of songs I like to sing to. I’ll just warm-up that way while I change and get ready. I just need some alone time before shows to get into the headspace, that’s basically my only requirement.”
9. Who should we be following on Instagram?
“I thoroughly enjoy every post on Jeremy O. Harris‘ Instagram.”
10. What has been your lockdown guilty pleasure?
“I started watching the Spanish Netflix show Elite and whenever I just feel like killing an hour of my life it checks a lot of boxes. It’s not a bad show honestly, I don’t feel guilty about it, but it’s one of those super dramatic teen dramas.”
Die 4 Ur Love is available on all major streaming platforms now.