Tess Roby: The WL Interview

Purveyor of: Dreamy art pop meets classical opera
File next to: Beach House, Joanna Newsom
Playing: Wavelength Monthly: Tess Roby w/ Bernice and Dorothea Paas, Saturday April 21st at 918 Bathurst. Get your tickets here!
Montreal singer-songwriter Tess Roby is releasing her debut LP Beacon on April 20th via Italians Do It Better. Her wistful tunes and longing vocals easily lull listeners along a dreamy path. She’s playing the April Wavelength Monthly Series as part of her album release festivities this Saturday April 21 at 918 Bathurst, and for this show, we asked the three artists on the bill to interview each other for the Wavelog! Dorothea Paas caught up with Tess Roby to talk about the inspiration behind Beacon, her musical training, and their mutual love of The Killers.

Was there anything (book, movie, plant, etc.) that was inspiring you while you wrote this album?
Much of Beacon was written after a long and thoughtful trip, so a lot of the writing was a way to process those feelings and views. The landscape of Northern England was also very present in mind. I’m always inspired by what I’m reading at the time – that summer it was Murakami.

Aside from opera, did you have any formal training or did you teach yourself?
I taught myself to play piano in my kitchen growing up – I never had any formal training. I always thought I was going to study music in school, until I realized how much I failed to understand the theoretical side of music (the theory and sight-reading) so I turned to study photography and pursue music on my own time.

How does your photography practice inform your music and vice versa?
The visual aspect of my music is so important to me – album art, videos, and photographs all work to support and emphasize the music itself. My photographs often inspire lyrics, a visual poetry of sorts.

We knew each other when we were kids, like 10 years old. How are you different and how are you the same since then? Do you still love The Killers? (I do!)
I still love The Killers!! I think when I was 10 I was proud that I sang opera but listened to Brit-pop and rock music, that I strayed a little bit from “the norm” of other kids. Today I’m grateful to know so much and appreciate many different genres of music – I love to DJ and that knowledge totally informs that.

What is your favourite colour at the moment and why?
This is a surprisingly hard question! Lately I’m obsessed with wearing this plastic orange bag with this green fur coat. Those two colours together are pretty cool, and they’re the colours featured on the Beacon album cover. I’ve said that blue is the colour of my music – a rich midnight blue… I also love dressing in monochrome. Colour is so amazing, it can evoke so many feelings – whenever I wear yellow I feel on top of the world 🙂

P.S. you can also read Dorothea Paas’ Wavelog interview here.