Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Moon in the Gutter Q&A with Musician and Artist Tess Davidson

I love young artists and have a great admiration for anyone with a creative fire inside them. I first came in contact with Tess Davidson a couple of years back via my Nastassja Kinski site and she has proved to be one of the most interesting friends I have ever made online. I didn't realize Tess was a musician until earlier this year, and her band An American Werewolf is just the kind of fascinating project I would expect from someone with such exceptional taste. I always like to highlight new talent here when I can so I am happy to present this interview with Tess, an artist I expect great things from in the future. Thanks to her for for agreeing to do this (and for realizing how great both Die Hard III and Nina Persson are) and for supplying such interesting answers.

Moon in the Gutter: Tess, thanks so much for taking the time to do this. Can you tell us a bit about your background?

Tess Davidson: I grew up in and am still residing in a tiny town in Massachusetts. I never finished college. I am basically a failure. I'm also an identical twin, she is much more successful in life than me. I'm trying to figure out how to switch places with her.

MITG: So I know we both share a real passion for film and music. What got you interested in both and what are some of your earliest memories that fuelled your passion?

TD: First I'll start with my love of film. My father let me watch almost anything when I was young. I know my mother wasn't a fan of him doing that, but I sure was. He 's into pretty much everything non mainstream. The first real memory I have of watching a film was the scene in Night of The Living Dead when one of the zombies is biting body part like it was a piece of chicken. I thought it was the greatest thing I had ever seen at the time. I remember watching films like Paris Texas, My Life as a Dog, 2001, The Red Balloon. I vividly remember my mom being pretty upset when my dad came home with Freaks after work one night. I only remember two films he was adamant about me not watching, Badlands and A Clockwork Orange.
I would say my passion for music was directly influenced by my older brother, Sam. He is also a musician and has been ever since I can remember. I remember sneaking into his room when I was young and listening to Nirvana on tape. When he caught me he wasn't mad like I assumed he would be, he asked me if I liked them and I said absolutely.

MITG: We’ll discuss music in a bit. Tell me first how film has influenced you and what are some of your favorites?

TD: Films influence me heavily. I can't imagine someone not being influenced by a great movie. You just get completely lost in it. I like to pretend I am my favorite character while watching a movie and tend to think that way hours after it's ended. I'd say my absolute favorite films as of right now are Badlands, Amelie, Paris Texas, And God Created Woman, Memories of Murder, Kill Bill (I like to count the two halves as one whole), Slither (James Gunn's horror/comedy), Betty Blue, and Die Hard III. It's always changing, but Badlands consistently sticks at the top.

MITG: Okay, tell me about American Werewolf?

TD: An American Werewolf is a girl who makes music deep in the woods. She lets the beast out in her songs. You'd never be able to meld her with me in everyday life. She's so different from me. I don't know where she came from. I'm painfully shy in person, which is something I am desperately working on because people need to interact with people. It's important. Wow this sounds pretty pretentious, but it's the best way to describe it.

MITG: On to musical influences, who are some artists that have and continue to inspire you?

TD: Karen O is a major influence. She is everything I have ever wanted to be. I have to be careful not to mimic her, it scares me that I might. I'd say Yeah Yeah Yeahs are my favorite. My ultimate band. I was really into The Beatles during high school. It's all I would listen to. John Lennon is indescribable to me. I'd call him a musical god, but he probably would just laugh at the notion. The Cardigans are the band I've been listening to the longest. I absolutely love them. Nina Persson is incredible. I love how they were so sweet in the beginning of their musical career and continued to get darker, and I'd say better. The passed couple of years I've really been getting into Fiona Apple. My sister has been a fan since Tidal, so I guess I could say I was too but she never really affected me until later in life. The Clash, Talking Heads, and The Cramps are all huge influences. Lou Reed too. Oh god, Regina Spektor too. She's great! Also The Strokes and The White Stripes. Jack White just seems to be unstoppable. I've been in love with him since high school. Elvis Costello is a big one for me as well.

MITG: Can you talk a bit on how you mix your interest in both film and music with American Werewolf?

TD: They definitely collide together when I create. A few of my songs have come out of watching movies, even television. My song "No Telling When" is about Lost. Hey, it's a good show. I actually came up with the song "12 Monkeys" after watching the film. I had been humming a melody throughout watching it and knew that it was going to be more than just another rambling thought. Sometimes while making a song I wonder how it would fit a scene in a film. I believe the soundtrack is one of the, if not most important, element to a film. While I am making music I've got tons of images going through my head, almost like little music videos. I think music is as visual as it is audible.

MITG: Talk a bit about performing live as opposed to recording. Do you prefer one over the other?

TD: Right now I am in a place where I need to learn to relax onstage. Like I said, I am extremely shy and tend to dwell on things I shouldn't. I find recording much easier than performing at this point. My nerves get them best of me when I play live and I think it really shows. Maybe it doesn't, who knows. I can only imagine what I look like up there.

MITG: Where can people interested hear or see American Werewolf?

TD: They can go to my myspace page or official site. I have only ever played in the Boston area, so I guess come to Boston! The more of a demand I gain the more I'll get out. I'm still straddling the local music scene.

MITG: What are your plans and hopes for the future as far as your music goes?

TD: I hope to reach a wider audience. That would be nice. I hope to get better as time progresses. I started out by just grabbing an old mic and tapping my thumbs on a notebook. That was my first song. I wish I still had it. I was amazed at the reactions it was getting on myspace when I first started a profile. I am still shocked and flattered when people tell me they are fans. I think the most surreal moment came when I got an email from Zach Galifianakis telling me he loved my stuff last winter. He's trying to help me out now and get my music around LA or NY or wherever it's supposed to go. I would be satisfied with him just being a fan and nothing more. He is a swell guy. Very kind.

MITG: Okay, a bit of fun here hopefully…five films, five actors (or actresses), Five bands and five albums you can’t live without.

TD: Okay, I will list them out here. I want to be fair so I will list five actors and actresses.

Martin Sheen
Jack Nicholson
Adrien Brody
Paul Newman
Gael Garcia Bernal

Jesus, that was tough. I'm not sure I want to stick with that but I will.

Charlize Theron
Audrey Tautou
Ellen Burstyn
Brigitte Bardot
Nastassja Kinski

Yeah Yeah Yeahs
John Lennon
Jack White
The Cardigans
Elvis Costello

Show Your Bones (Yea Yea Yeas)
Long Gone Before Daylight (The Cardigans)
Plastic Ono Band (John Lennon and Yoko Ono)
This Year's Model (Elvis Costello and the Attractions)
Extraordinary Machine (Fiona Apple)

Thanks again to Tess for doing this. Tess' An American Werewolf can be found here for those interested in exploring more of her work and it contains all the necessary links to her sites...


Anonymous said...

Interesting. I take it her band's name is from the John Landis film? I'll give the links a look.

Jeremy Richey said...

I am sure that's how Tess came up with the name of her I said, she has great taste! Thanks again and I hope you will check out her links.

Arbogast said...

She's cute as Hell!

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Arbogast,
She'll appreciate that. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment...much appreciated.

Joe Valdez said...

For the first time in recorded history, I wish I lived in the Boston area.

Top notch job of posing questions that let your subject expose how creative she is. You also didn't take over the interview, as if you were working for Rolling Stone.

More of these Q&As, please.

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Joe, I really appreciate that and thanks for commenting. I must say that I really enjoy doing these so I hope I can keep finding interesting folks willing to talk to me! Thanks again...I know Tess will appreciate the comments, as do I.

anamericanwerewolf said...

I just want to add that I don't blame my mom for not wanting me to watch some of the stuff I did. She was doing her motherly job!

Jeremy Richey said...

Hey Tess,
I thought it was great that you mentioned the two films you weren't allowed to watch (and that one of them is now one of your favorites). I had a similiar childhood where I was allowed to watch just about everything with the two exceptions I remember being BODY DOUBLE and CRUISING (both of which are now personal favorites). Thanks again for taking the time to do was a pleasure.

James Hansen said...

Great interview Jeremy!

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks James for reading and commenting...much appreciated!

Chris Quartly said...

Nice interview Tess, love your work as always :)

Jeremy Richey said...

Thanks Chris for the comment and for reading.