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Interview with Little Tealeif
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I got into music by chance really, I happened to see a school musical and realized that I wanted to play guitar and I quickly became obsessed and tried to learn everything I could - I still feel that way. It's now branched out into producing, mixing, and mastering. If I wasn't doing music I would...I was previously working in a bakery in Paris so maybe that. Or, years ago I was working in a hospital laboratory in London, wearing a lab coat and testing the patients’ blood.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I watch a lot of random films. Over the last couple of years, I've learnt to appreciate "old films" and now understand why the classics ARE classics! Other than that I don't do much else other than music - I am in recovery from alcohol and drugs, so I attend meetings. That gives me clarity and the ability to BE creative and to keep my mind open to inspiration which can come from anywhere at any time.
How long have you been making music?
In total, I've been making and playing music for 20 years since I was 13. However, I did take a long, long break during my 20s while I was working some things out.
Where are you based and how did that influence your music?
I'm based near Medway in Kent, so there's always been an artsy/musical vibe and an underground music scene that I was very much a part of when I was younger. I was going to lots of punk and ska gigs as a kid, and then was putting on my own shows with various bands over time. And most of my friends are musically inclined so it's everywhere I look.
Tell me about your most memorable shows, if you haven’t played live what is your vision for a live show?
My live shows as Little Tealeif have been the best of my life, just actually being there to play music - no parties, no distractions, just simple, live music. I'm there to play music and I'm in control and so it's just about enjoying the moment, singing songs with people. I feel there's a lot of love in the room when I play.
My live setup is fun, I'm singing, playing guitar, and playing a midi synth, with the bones of the songs backing me up from my laptop. I'm a solo musician/composer, and at the moment I'm happy this way. I write every single beat and notes and I think my passion for it shows.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Specifically, at the moment it'd be downstairs at The Brunswick in Brighton - it's a room designed for small, sweaty, loud gigs, they are my favorite. But I've played a few lovely venues this year, like in a church, which felt holy.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
Any lineup?!! It would have to be a festival or something with lots of variety, that way something chill like Rhye or Joanna Newsom or Willy Mason could play in the afternoon, and then it'd be something a bit heavier like The Growlers. Then the Shins and Modest Mouse and then would gradually get bigger until Hot Chip are on before Slipknot and Eminem co-headline and smash it. I would play whenever!
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into making music and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
If you think there's something special in your songs, then there IS something special. Explore that and see where it takes you. And just keep writing songs, and write down every idea! I have notes and notes and notes for lyrics and songs. And back-up your hard drive or phone, I've lost a lot of music over the years.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
Pedestal People is quite a "serious conversation with myself" type of song, so that stands out. But there are threads within each song on my EP that mean different things to me. Scents, for example, was inspired by some graffiti on the wall in a pub toilet (it said "don't worry you look very lovely tonight") and it's kind of silly but it probably made some people feel good about themselves if they read it. Graffiti in Parisian toilets is often really nice, inspirational stuff. Haha.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Capital Letter probably. I usually close on that song. It starts with a sample of some women chanting, and becomes a very wordy song with a big chorus, and a big guitar solo! Also my song Holy Water, it's energetic and I just love playing the intro and the outro on the synth, it gets me pumped.
What is your creative process, and what inspires you to write your music?
Inspiration comes from everywhere, that's simply the truth. I write things down all of the time, whether it's something my mum said or something I read or saw on an advert. And musically I just blurt it out on a guitar or piano through my fingers. I try to make an effort to catch everything I come up with, and then afterwards if it's rubbish I move on, but I still keep it because often I'll come back to it and have a new perspective on how to make it better.
Do you have messages that you like to get across in your music, if so please tell me about them?
I just write about my experiences - experiences that I'd imagine many people have gone through, break ups, addiction, normal boring life stuff. I also like leaving little 'nods' to musicians or songs I like throughout my songs, like referencing Bob Dylan, or taking an obvious Modest Mouse line and tweaking it, it's my way of showing them love.
A couple of tracks have been focused on a particular topic, for example about a difficult break-up, which is on the EP. I have another song about terrorism, as that affected me quite badly and so I felt the need to write something super serious and thoughtful - I'd like that song to be heard by a few people one day. But generally, my songs are pretty multi-faceted.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I have just released my debut single 'Pedestal People' and my EP ‘Charcoal’ is out this Friday (25/11/22)! So promoting that, and playing the last few shows of the year (Manchester, then Brighton), and then continuing to write the next EP and including those songs in my current live set.
How can your fans best keep up to date with you, any socials you want people to check out?
I am @LITTLETEALEIF on all social media, Instagram’s the main one, but I want to get into using Twitter more - I like the idea of just posting a sentence about nonsense out into the ether.