Tei Shi

Masquerade Presents

Tei Shi

Sun · September 10, 2017

8:00 pm

$15.00 - $17.00

This event is all ages

Tei Shi
Tei Shi
Crawl Space documents Tei Shi’s transformation from the cautious and
curious new kid on the block to a confident, self-possessed artist.
Written and recorded over a year and a half, the album traces a much
wider arc, from Tei Shi’s earliest musical explorations to this, her
first long player. Growth is never easy, though, and if the title
makes the process sound difficult, even claustrophobic, that’s because
it was. In fact, there is a palpable physicality surrounding this
record, and it reveals itself everywhere: from the album’s song titles
(Keep Running, Lift Me), to its rhythms, to its astonishing cover art.
Constant motion is a fact of life. A real, physical crawlspace fits
only one person and demands that person move forward, out and through
it. Tei Shi’s debut evokes that feeling and the experience of
centering oneself, changing focus.

Born Valerie Teicher, Tei Shi remembers composing songs as early as
eight years old — sometimes in a diary, other times recording herself
on tapes (some of which are featured on the album) — setting down
phrases or melodies as they came to her. Born in Buenos Aires and
growing up between Bogota, Colombia and Vancouver, Canada, she began
dreaming of herself as a singer, a performer and an

artist. Perhaps symbolic of this newfound determination, around the
same time, she struggled with an extreme fear of the night and entered
a period of insomnia. To combat this new fear of the dark and unknown
she forced herself to hide inside her family home’s crawlspace for a
minute each night, in order to confront her fear. This crawl space
became a sort of symbol for her at this formative phase of her life.

Teicher treated her musical aspirations the same way for some time –
comforting and important, but still secret, still too personal to
really show the world. “For the first year or two, I was testing the
waters,” she says. “I wanted to be in the background a bit, to put the
music out there and have it be more of an abstract thing. All of the
earlier artwork was a little more ethereal, too; it didn’t have me on
it.” Even as she began to study and release music, this instinct to
hide kept a hold on her.

With each new song and performance, however, successes and
encouragement began to pile up and while at the beginning Tei Shi
flourished in a collaborative and peer-based environment she realized
over time she needed to reclaim her own singular creative space. “I
started to realize I didn’t have a clear sense of myself as an artist
independent from the people I was surrounded by,” she says. Ultimately
it took the end of a relationship that had begun around the inception
of herself as Tei Shi to spearhead her own musical development. “That
relationship was not only a huge part of my life, it was an integral
part of the identity I had formed around Tei Shi,” she explains. “It
had spanned my whole experience as Tei Shi and had been very
interwoven with it.” That breakup came to a head partway through
recording the songs that would come to make up Crawl Space, and while
the relationship is deeply embedded into the album, the songs explore
something less like heartbreak, something closer to the deconstruction
of identity.

Throughout every song, Tei Shi brings a remarkable clarity to the very
act of vulnerability, to exposing oneself and inviting others in.
Album opener and lead single “Keep Running” is as telling a song as
any, balancing futuristic, deconstructed pop with an expert dash of
something new wave, almost italo-disco. Tei Shi’s voice cuts through
with a sweet melody and a warning to “keep running, keep running for
me.” It is as much a command as an act of mercy, and the urgency is
met with the finality of a refrain that “time is up.” “How Far”, a
song Tei She describes as among her most personal and fulfilling, is
minimal but bent on pushing maximal limits. As Tei Shi’s soprano
reaches dizzying heights, “How Far” explores what we to do when a
relationship becomes destructive, when you’re trying to change one
another into something the other person simply can’t be. Here, Tei Shi
wonders aloud how much can one person or even one bond between two
people take before it falls apart, as she asserts that “If it pleases
you to see me struggling, I will…If it pleases you to see me sorry,
I’m not.” “Say You Do” follows immediately and doubles down. Tei Shi’s
voice is crystal clear and unaffected here, her self-awareness front
and center.

“Earlier in my career, I hid because I wanted first and foremost to be
seen as a creative person making music. I thought that if I presented
myself as a singer people wouldn’t get that I write, that I produce
too. “People have this idea that you can only check some of the
proverbial boxes as a creative woman, that you can’t be attractive and
sexual and a great singer and a solid performer and a great writer and
be in control of your creative space, as if some of those are mutually
exclusive for a human woman. My ambition is to represent all of those
without having to sacrifice one for the other.

Like the album’s themes, its visual concepts reflect Tei Shi’s
personal sea changes. Visual nods to motifs like Flashdance were never
intentional, but make sense in hindsight. “I wanted something more
raw, feminine and sexy but still real,” says Tei Shi. She counts
artists like Fiona Apple, Debbie Harry, and PJ Harvey among her
inspirations — women who sexualized themselves in a way that wasn’t
contrived but instead elevated each’s independence and creative
authority. “For this record, I definitely realized I want to be
identifiable as me, my personality and my music. You want that
connection, you want people to get who you are, so you have to show
them.” Similarly, Crawl Space would be incomplete without the gorgeous
“Como Si”, a nod to Tei Shi’s childhood in Colombia and her bilingual
upbringing. Originally written as a poem before she set it to a
melody, it is the first song Tei Shi has ever released in Spanish. “I
really wanted to do something in Spanish because it’s such a big part
of my identity. I love the language and it’s a way of preserving this
part of myself.

Crawl Space traces the arc of major changes across every facet of Tei
Shi’s life, and embodies the sound of an artist creating and
commanding her own space. And while the process can be claustrophobic,
Tei Shi proves that it can also be liberating, even exhilarating.
Venue Information:
Aisle 5
1123 Euclid Ave NE
Atlanta, GA, 30307