Tete Essein is a new London-based artist that brings a lot of different textures to his music, check out our introduction to Tete below, and don’t forget to give him a follow on his all-important socials…
What are the origins of your act, how long have you been playing together?
With this being the first time I’ve expressly set out as a solo musician, the people in my camp and I set out building a catalogue of music to start with, partly because I don’t know too many other musicians, but also so I’d have something to show for myself when it came to putting together a live collective. Fortunately for me, the few people I know and who I’ve played with before were quick to offer themselves up for my project, which is great because I wouldn’t wanna play with anyone else. We’ve not long assembled but I’m happy with how it’s come together and I’ve got high hopes for how it ends up sounding. The songs are great innit, so that always helps.
How did you feel performing your first gig? And how was it?!
First proper gig I ever played, I just remember being well excited. My only anxiety came from the fact I’d been in Sheffield that day for a university open day and making sure I was back in Bromley on time. We packed out this pub with a bunch of our mates. I turned up well into the evening so by that point they were already lit enough for anything we ended up playing being enough to impress them. It couldn’t have sounded that great either, vocals cut out a lot, but it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had; the perfect start.
What should people expect when they check you out? How would you describe yourself?
The things I’ve got out at the moment are the more guitar-driven sounds I dip into. I’d say they’re inherently simple ideas, sonically and lyrically, but they do themselves justice in being that. They’ve got big guitars in the exterior, the bass is a constant pulse and the drums knock hard, especially in the car, but in between those layers, there are subtle textures that knit it together. Never wanted to make plug-in-and-play music, I think that would be selling ourselves a little short, so it’s the details that we’ve laboured over. In terms of subject matter, I’m a believer in the ‘copy who you like, but write about what you know’ approach, so they’re mostly about the people I’ve seen, the places I go, and the things I’ve done.
The new music scene is bursting at the seams with fresh talent, in what ways do you feel that an artist has to stand out from the others trying to build a name?
I’d love it to be the case that it was solely about making music because I still think that good music travels, but I also know it’s not that simple. People are just as keen to talk about social media following and who you’ve networked with so I’d be lying if I said that stuff wasn’t important too. Don’t get me wrong, I know the score, I just know that isn’t my expertise. Fortunately, I’ve got people in my corner who know their way around that track better than I do, so I can focus on the things I really care about. Nothing stands out more than something that’s original. That can be in sound or promo strategising. If it’s something the people haven’t seen or heard before, and not just different for difference sake, if there’s intention and conviction to it, I think that sets itself apart. Easier said than done, sure, but you wanna call yourself a creative, you’ve got to earn the moniker too.
What are you working on at the minute that people can check out?
I’ve got a single waiting in the wings, to follow up the last two when the time is right so I’m excited about getting to showcase that. There’ll also be a video for “Runaway” coming soon so keep checking your wing mirrors for that.
What band out there at the minute do you feel that you would be best suited to open for?
I’ve got a couple in mind. I’ll pick two, as not to be greedy. Nothing But Thieves and Wolf Alice, feel free to ring man.
Who do you feel is the next band to break out?
I really like Baby Husband. Played a small show with them once, time ago, and I’ve been on them ever since. I’d like to see them continue going from strength to strength and I think they will.
What are your first musical memories? And what was the light bulb moment that made you go “I want to do that”?
My first memory of music is being in nursery and playing musical chairs to “Mambo No. 5”, can’t remember if I won though. Beyond that, I listened to a lot of music in my mum’s car around that age too. She’s big into her R&B, there’d be some UK garage and hip-hop too. I was kinda raised on beat and that’s left its mark on me. By the time I was 16, I’d started messing around with my own stuff, I’d bought myself some records and was piecing things together for my own amusement. I then got to see Arctic Monkeys at Finsbury Park; I remember getting halfway through their set and thinking to myself “I’m about this, this’ll do me”. I think up until then I’d wanted to but after that, it was like I’m going to.
What was the last gig that you attended as a fan?
I think it was in Kingston to see my friends band, Pilhouse. That was good and then the party after wasn’t bad either.
The album that you have in your album collection/Spotify playlist that would surprise most people?
I do have every Lana Del Rey album saved on there. I don’t know how surprising that is, I mean it won’t be to my friends, but maybe the people on the outskirts will pause to that.
What are your plans for the remainder of 2020?
They were different at the start of the year than they are now, for sure. I laugh now that I even had any going into it. One thing that doesn’t change is I’m always writing with the intention of putting things together for a release. That itch of mine is immutable, I scratch it almost every day.
How active are you on social media and where can people connect with you?
I try to be active semi-regularly on there. It doesn’t really come naturally to me, and I have to remind myself to go on sometimes but I dance the dance when I can. My handle on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter is @wheresyourtetat. Look me up if you venture that way.