Tea Eater Turn Darkness Into Light

Tea Interview with Northern Transmissions by Conor Rooney. Band member, Tarra Thiessen talked about their forthcoming album Obsession
Tea Eater photo by Michelle LoBianco

In the haunting abyss of the COVID-19, where time elongated and our existence morphed into a surreal reverie, lockdown meant ample time for reflection, preparedness and a healthy dose of mental fortitude. For Brooklyn-based Tara Thiessen, this also meant finding strength and creative inspiration from both a local and digital community.

As a true multi-hyphenate, Tara does it all: she is half of the Brooklyn-based punk group Sharkmuffin and percussion / vocals in the jangly art rock outfit Gustaf. Now, Thiessen is at the helm of her new project: Tea Eater. Written mostly during lockdown, Tea Eater’s newest single ‘Double’ is a no-frills, garage punk jam that’s impossible not to groove to. The band’s debut, ‘Obsession,’ is out October 6. Northern Transmissions caught up with Tarra of Tea Eater to chat about the single, music video and much more:

Northern Transmissions: Firstly, thank you for speaking with us! I wanted to start by talking about where most of the songs from the forthcoming Tea Eater project came from. Specifically, I wanted to ask how you pulled inspiration from both the local Brooklyn music community and the digital music community on Twitch. Have you found that each influences you differently creatively?

Tarra Thiessen: Thank you for the interview!! I am so grateful to have been surrounded by so many amazing musicians in Brooklyn who I’ve played in many different projects with in the past decade. Some songs on the record that were written pre-2020 were inspired by members of the bands Kino Kimino, Gesserit, and Gustaf. Lyrics to some songs on the record were taken from bits of conversations we had and situations we were in. Playing in bands is like being in a polygamous marriage to the same dream, so if you’ve ever seen Sister Wives you know the kind of drama that can happen. lol

NT: When we retreated into our 2020 bubbles, Vram and I started a Twitch channel called MamajoeVramajoe and I started a solo channel where I did guitar/vocal karaoke over old Sharkmuffin instrumental tracks and new demos I worked on. On Twitch, we discovered a very special community of weirdos who we chatted with basically on a daily basis over the course of the next year. Some of them suggested specific song ideas- which turned into the songs “Obsession” and “Fuck the DMV.” The Twitch community also served as a barometer for the new songs I was working on. Tracks that got more of a reaction or requests ended up making the cut for the record.

TT: I feel like the songwriting for “Obsession” was a combination of processing my anxieties through the lens of my bandmates, and how I coped with the new experience of staring at myself on a screen for hours. After a couple years of reflection, I can say I’ve found new ways of connection and collaboration online and IRL, and these sources of inspiration can feed each other.

NT: Jumping over to the music video for ‘Double,’ it looks like it was a blast to shoot. What stands out to you from shooting this and putting it all together?

TT: The famous little white dog from our merch table drowned. RIP. Vram is hilarious as a box of wine. Tine from Gustaf was a great director with a great vision! Expect more music videos from her soon.

NT: How did you connect with Drew Vandenburg (Faye Webster, Of Montreal) for this project?

TT: I met Drew in 2018 when I traveled to Athens, GA to record in a church with the band Gesserit, which I was playing bass in. That record, I Roam the Purple Evenings Alone, turned out really beautiful, you can listen to it here. We all really hit it off during those sessions and became great friends! Drew even officiated Vram & my wedding in NYC this past May so we’re basically fam now. I’m so happy we stayed in touch after those sessions and got to make this record.

NT: Many of the songs from the forthcoming debut ‘Obsession’ were written during COVID. Did the lockdown affect your relationship to songwriting at all?

TT: I realized that when I’m put in stressful uncertain situations the way I cope is to dive into songwriting to find a sense of purpose. I’ve always done this to varying degrees, but during lockdown it was so much more so that it resulted in reclaiming my sense of self and starting this new project.

Tea Eater play a record release show on August 12th at Ripper’s in Rockaway, Queens NY. special guests include Wild Yaks & Skorts. More info HERE


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