Philadelphia born Indie Soul R&B singer Tessa Kaye unlocks her shimmering music box with her whimsical new single titled “You Know Who You Are And I Hate You”. The sophisticated new track has Kaye confronting the messy effects of her lifelong struggle with anxiety. From the very beginning, the eccentric warm soup of electronic, Indie pop elements begin to float up to the forefront, leaving listeners spellbound with the unusual way the colorful sounds begin to swirl inside your mind as Kaye’s confrontation with her anxiety ascends to exposing heights.
We had the great opportunity to chat with Tessa Kaye in the latter part of 2020 about quarantine, the importance of making music that speak to the black women and having open conversations about mental health in these unprecedented times.
The never-ending twists and turns of our current times has flipped daily life in unforeseen ways. For music artists like Tessa Kaye it has proven to be a time to keep busy, writing music, catching with friends/family and injecting her creative juices in different art mediums such as painting and makeup TikTok videos. “Quarantine has been treating me okay haha. I’ve tried with everything in me to make the best of it. It has just looked like me chillin inside my apartment in LA. I pass the time by writing, singing, doing make up on TikTok, facetiming my family and friends wayyy too many times a day so shout out to them for putting up with me. I’m happy there are coloring and doing diamond paintings to take up time as well.” Kaye confesses she is looking for what lies ahead in the future, “I think like all of us, I’m looking forward to life getting somewhat back to normal. Although who can say when that’ll be I’m staying positive! I’m looking forward to just being with people again.”
Quarantine has brought on new dilemmas for music artists such as making the decision of whether to release new music while most of the world is going through difficult times. Music has always connected people and with the absence of person to person connection, music serves as a sense of community for those struggling with worries or anxiety. She recalls how challenging it was for her to decide whether she was comfortable with releasing new music. “It was soo hard for me to decide on whether or not I was going to release new music these last several months. I went back and forth more times that I can count. It all just came down to the message of the song being something I think the majority of us relate to this year especially. It’s been an anxious year for everyone I know, so I wanted to go ahead with this release to let my listeners know they aren’t alone in this struggle.”
In our current world events of social, environmental and race issues being on the forefront of every conversation, Kaye finds it important to speak on issues in her own music while keeping an eye on herself to prevent a full consumption of the issues on hand. “Yes, it definitely does. However it’s difficult for me not to get consumed in social issues, especially when it comes to race. I’m still working on finding the right balance for myself and my art in that aspect.”
Kaye’s new single, “You Know Who You Are and I Hate You,” speaks directly to her inner demons, revealing the everyday struggles of battling with anxiety. Kaye reflects on the undeniable impact of creating the track had on her, “Yes, absolutely! Writing and recording this song was so cathartic for me. I had been wanting to write about my anxiety for quite some time, so it’s been incredible for me to get it out of my head and into my music. The title “You Know Who You Are and I Hate You” is speaking to or calling out in a sense, my anxiety as if it were a separate person outside of myself. Sometimes I’ll have those harder anxious days that do get the best of me and just leave me feeling so angry at my anxiety for derailing that day, plan, interaction,etc. So I wanted to keep it real about all aspects of that and it felt so good to do so.”
Kaye is an avid advocate of sharing accessible stories about unspoken personal struggles aimed for people of color who feel uncomfortable to face these overwhelming emotions. The new song has given her an opportunity to tackle the sigma of not discussing mental health openly; “I think it’s incredibly important. For this song in particular I definitely wanted black people and especially my black women, to feel seen and validated.”
One of the most prevalent stereotypes in the black community is black women in particular is are labeled as women stronger than most inflicting suffocating pressure to not feel any vulnerabilities, “The idea of the “strong black woman” can be so damaging because it strips us of the right to be a human being in every other form. We’re allowed to be soft, vulnerable, feel weak, have days when we’re down etc. There is nothing wrong about that, so I wanted to share my struggles because I think there’s a beautiful and different type of strength that’s found in vulnerability.”
A year long lockdown has taken a toll on everyone’s mental health, forcing most people to isolate from each other while giving us time to self reflect and work on our negative coping mechanisms. Kaye realizes how the world is universally mourning with massive Covid-19 death casualties, the loss of economic stability and political turmoil has triggered depression and anxiety in most individuals; “I think we can all agree that this year has been the weirdest/hardest for all of us. I’m quite the introvert and homebody already, but this year I have spent more time all alone than ever in my life, and it’s been a trip. I’ve gotten to learn a lot more about myself which is cool, and has helped me evolve as an artist cause I know that it’ll all show up in my writing/my music. My mind has expanded in ways it never has and although really uncomfortable and even painful at times I’m grateful for the opportunities it’s provided for me to grow. I know that I’ll be reflecting on this year and the lessons it’s taught me for a very long time.”
Kaye encourages her listeners to feel their unsettled emotions without self judgement. “You’re okay right where you are. I see you, I love you and your feelings are valid, so please allow yourself to simply exist as you are in each moment, no matter how that looks! You don’t have anything to be ashamed of, you’re human. We’re all dealing with heavy shit. Oftentimes we’re so understanding of others, but refuse to give ourselves that same grace. We need to be more gentle with ourselves, and not shame ourselves on top of the battles we’re fighting because honestly? How exhausting.” Kaye reminds us it may not to seem like it, most people are collective feeling the tortuous emotions as you are, “Please lean on your friends and family too because chances are they’ll understand more than you think. Find ways to express yourself and release the negative energy so that you’re able to make more room for positivity inside of you!”
As the New Year begins, the ray of light slowly begin to peek in, while it is destined to be another uncertain year, Kaye promises to continue release more of her sparkling R&B music in addition to visuals, content and possible live streams in the immediate future. “The future holds SO MUCH more music coming in 2021. I’m writing all the time and am just so excited to get more stuff out. Visuals are also one of my most favorite ways to be creative and express myself, so I’m looking forward to many new shoots and videos. I would love to possibly do some mini livestream shows as well! I am just getting started and honestly can’t even wait for everything that’s to come. Manifesting all of the amazing things!”
Photo credit: Rachel Green