Many songwriters go through a period of change, but few emerge sounding quite as different as Tessa Rae Jackson, aka Someone. While previously, even Tessa herself described her sound as, “a cutesy singer-songwriter”, four years on from her debut release, (Songs From) The Sandbox, Someone returns an altogether more intriguing and sophisticated proposition. As Tessa set out to write the follow-up, she realised that when it came to cutesy pop songs, the well had run dry. As Tessa herself matured, so had her songwriting; a broader palette of influences emerged and an intriguing second EP was birthed.
Recently ahead of her upcoming EP’s release, Someone has shared the latest taste from it, Forget Forgive. The track showcases a subtle, delicate and thoughtful side. A bassy-guitar line rings out full of gloomy atmospherics, reminiscent of Joy Division at their most sedate and impressive. It’s a track loaded with personal questioning; as Tessa admits playing it live can feel, “a little icky, like reading an excerpt of my diary out in public”, tapping into universally recognisable ideas of battling your demons, attempting to get past them, and figuring out how they make you the person you are today.
Today ahead of revealing more details about her upcoming album, Someone was kind enough to answer our questions, discussing her love of the EP format, the influence of film composition and why the Someone pseudonym allows her the freedom to express herself.
FTR: For those who don’t know, who is Someone?
Someone is the name of my new project, me being Tessa Rose Jackson. I am a British artist, born and raised in Amsterdam, where I spend most of my time holed up in my home studio. Someone is about creativity, and exploring that in all its different manifestations: be that artwork, or animation, or music, and preferably: combining them all together!
FTR: What’s the story behind the name?
I wanted a name that said: ‘don’t worry about who I am. Just check out what I make.’
Because I make a lot.
I’d grown tired of this whole ‘image’ discussion and the importance that the press and social media lend to an artist’s looks and personal life. It’s not like I’m trying to hide any of that, in fact I’m quite open about myself and my life. I just don’t find it very interesting, and it’s certainly a lot less interesting than all the colourful, otherworldly stuff I really want to show people.
Since the project revolves around creativity, and not necessarily persona, I think it’s a super interesting concept to explore whether Someone always has to be me. Maybe at some point someone else can be Someone? Who knows. But for now, I’m at the wheel.
FTR: You’ve recently recorded your second album what can you tell us about the recording process?
Second EP, actually. At the moment the concept of EPs is much more exciting to me than an album. Just because I like to really immerse myself into a certain vibe or sound-world for a short, focused period of time, and then be like: ‘Okay that’s great! Lock it up, on to the next one.’ And 5 or 6 songs, for me, is the perfect format for that kind of musical exploration.
I record all of my stuff at home (though I did recently track actual live drums for the first time at a friend’s studio). But everything else is just me and my ridiculous synthesizer collection, mostly. The production process is the funnest bit for me. Writing always feels a bit scary, like: Argh, maybe this time I’ll get stuck, or maybe this time it won’t be good. But production always feels like a playground of thousands of options, one equally good as the other, and it’s all about creating a sound-world.
A lot of the time, production is actually a big part of the writing process for me. I like using it to inspire myself, figuring out the perfect bass-sound or synth-scape can push me to write a different kind of melody or choose my words differently, for example.
FTR: There’s a notable change of direction on this album, what brought that about?
I think just time, really. I was 19 when I wrote my first album for my previous project (under my own name). But I’m 25 now, and I think I’ve just grown up musically. I feel less pressure to stick to a certain style or sound, and I’m much more interested in making the whole thing fun and inspiring for myself, and veering off in a different direction if I feel like doing that.
FTR: There seem to have been a number of Dutch musicians emerging in recent years, what do you think the Dutch music scene is getting right?
Ooff.. they eat a lot of liquorice? No, just kidding. I think because the scene in Holland is so small, there’s a lot of interaction and contact between bands. So we tend to inspire each other and support each other in a very cool way. There’s a big 90s grungy triphoppy revival going on that I’m really digging, too. Check out EUT, they rule.
FTR: You’ve been working in film composition, what did you learn from the experience?
Oh, so much. Film is a huge, huge passion for me. It’s my secret (actually, it’s totally not a secret) ambition to find a cool, upcoming director (like maybe the next Mike Mills or Coen Brother) and compose the full soundtrack as Someone, in close collaboration with the director and tailor-fitted to the film. Like Air did for the Virgin Suicides. That’s a big dream for me.
I work a lot for commercials, which is fun, so I already knew a lot about shaping my composition to support the imagery and story-line, but film just takes that to a whole new level and adds so many dimensions to it. Working in film, I learned how to space out your compositions, not giving too much away and keeping it exciting and interesting through-out the full length of the film. And the details of it, having a certain little synth sparkle that only happens when a certain character is around, and using that little sparkle to suggest that person’s presence in a scene before he or she is in the shot. It’s super fun. I’ve also learned a lot about the importance of silence. Kind of shooting myself in the foot there, but it’s true. A scene can become so much more intense or emotional if there’s no music in it.
FTR: What can people expect from the Someone live show? Do you have plans to tour the UK?
Lots of colour. Lots of energy. Hopefully, an all-round experience in which the music and the colourful animations tie together and create an hour of pure, honest entertainment. And some corny wise-cracks inbetween songs, I can’t help myself.
We’ve just played our first show in Amsterdam in a sold-out Cinetol which was just so much fun, so hopefully we can cross the border somewhere in 2018 and repeat the whole thing in the UK. Stay tuned, I’d say.
FTR: What are you ambitions for this record? Do you see music as viable career?
Oops well I sure hope so. I never finished high-school so it’s kind of my only bet. No, just kidding. The music scene is tough. But what I’ve learned so far is: be versatile, and you can make your living off of it. Maybe Someone won’t be my bread and butter, but I’ll compose for commercials or create artwork for some people, enough to support my own musical adventures without having to compromise for the sake of money. It’s okay, I don’t really need sleep anyway.
FTR: What’s next for Someone?
More, more, more! More videos, more artworks, more music, more shows. Early 2018 you can expect the first EP (I’m just finishing off the second one now!) and then hopefully later that year, the second EP and possibly even a third, if all pans out well. A few shows, but not that many. I’d rather have a small group of people that are really into it and communicative with me, than loads of people that don’t really get it. I like the interaction.
Lots of content. Lots of pictures of my Star Wars paraphernalia. Maybe some cat pictures, I won’t say I won’t. Keep your eyes peeled on my Facebook or Instagram page and you won’t miss a beat!
Forget Forgive is out now via [PIAS] Holland. Click HERE for more information on Someone.