Artist Spotlight - Tess Guthrie
(Photo Credit - Tom Dunphy)
We had the opportunity to speak with rising alt musician Tess Guthrie on the back of the release of her new single "Fairy Lights". Tess challenges gender norms with her unique voice in her music and provides a powerful message for survivors of gendered violence. Check out her music and be sure to check out our Artist Spotlight interview below!
1. How did you come to pursue music and how long have you been at it?
"I think I mainly make music to make sense of all my jumbled thoughts and emotions, so I’ve been doing it pretty much since I’ve been physically capable of having existential crises… so my mates would give me shit and tell you that that’s been quite a while."
2. Could you walk us through your process of writing music?
"Step 1: feel feelings
Step 2: feel too many feelings such that brain can’t process properly
Step 3: sit down with guitar or vocoder-mic-combo (‘Messina’-type-thing) and play random notes together to make chords (don’t worry about what those chords are)
Step 4: sing jiberish until something sounds decent like a melody or hook
Step 5: figure out what word best fits that jiberish and how it links with your feels
Step 6: repeat steps 3-5 until you have decent sounding song
Step 7: play song to your mates
Step 8: ask your mates to tell you which bits they like and what sounds like shit and what just makes 0% sense
Step 9: revise steps 3-8
Step 10: complete song process when you feel like your feels have been captured and/or you have something fun to jam to"
3. What artists have inspired you in your career?
"Eva Cassidy - amazing voice and makes legit everything sound better always.
Bon Iver - like every other human being probs, but the ability to capture feels if just so bloody good. makes me feel nostalgic for things I’m not sure I’ve even experienced.
Jeff Buckley - voice. so damn interesting and expressive.
Angie McMahon - blend of folk and rock and sheer woman-power-badassary
Phoebe Bridgers - feels. so many feels. such clever writing.
Hannah Campbell - her whole life philosophy and how this comes through her music."
4. Do you have any favorite music gear (guitars, amps, effects pedals, keyboards, etc.) that you love to use? If so, what’s the story on them?
"When we first went to translate Fairy Lights from the production that All Our Friends, Gormie and I had done to a live context in Melbounre, Libby Ferris and I were trying to figure out a guitar tone which would be offensive and disgusting enough to represent how we were feeling about the patriarchy. Finally after much testing, she asked how much dirt I was looking for for this guitar tone and I said ideally if we have to mop it off the floor later maybe that would be enough. So she went out the back and pulled out a red cloned rat pedal, which she said was barely tamable and might just work. We paired that with an octave pedal and the result was pure blood-curdling-brain-frying-feminist-rage-juice and we’ve stuck with it ever since."
5. Can you describe the vibe at your live shows? Also, what do you enjoy most about a venue when you do a show?
"I think the vibe people were mostly reporting back from the Gaso gig in Melbourne in July was that everyone felt really close by the end, like everyone was out to look after each other. Which I think is really beautiful. I try to keep things honest when I’m talking about the songs which can be a bit nerve racking but I think it creates a bit more of a safe space for people to feel their feels and think about their own experiences while they’re listening to the music. I really enjoy a venue where people can listen to lyrics and hear them clearly, but also have boogie. Our sets tend to range from songs that you can cry to to songs you can boogie to so it’s a big win if we can pull that whole spectrum off at one venue."
6. What is one thing that you want the public to know about your music?
"Oh good question. I mean it would be awesome for people to have a think about the lyrics if they like the songs and maybe how it related to their own experience. But I think it’s also important to say that I’m coming from only one standpoint which happens to be white-middle-class-cis-educated etc. and so listening to other voices about things like gender equality and the experiences of women is super important. In particular if you haven’t already I’d go check out amazing first nations artists such as Thelma Plum and Alice Skye."
7. Do you have any upcoming projects you would like fans to know about?
"Super excited for a show in Torquay which you can sign up for here: and we’ll send you the location in the days before it (it’s on the 16th of Nov)."
"Other than that - I’m just really pumped for the next month’s shows with the band and to hear what people think of Fairy Lights which was out on the 30th of October. Feel free to get in touch with me if it meant something to you because I love to hear about that stuff :)"
Also if you want to check out Tess' single "Fairy Lights", feel free to visit here!