“You Don’t Have Set Working Hours. You Could Be Working with Someone from a Completely Different Time Zone… but You Have to Make It Work.” An Interview with Tequisha

“You Don’t Have Set Working Hours. You Could Be Working with Someone from a Completely Different Time Zone… but You Have to Make It Work.” An Interview with Tequisha

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When Tequisha’s teachers were working to get her into an academic University to study English, it was her parents who intervened and gave her the reinforcement to pursue her dream. Now with 2million Spotify streams under her belt ahead of the release of her debut EP, she talks to Cleopatras about navigating that journey.

Tequisha lovely to be chatting to you. Can you start by sharing when it was you were first drawn to music and what it was that you saw that really inspired you? What was the hook?

I’m actually probably going to have such a strange answer to this, but it was my parents. My dad used to DJ for Ministry of Sound, and my mum’s Indian-Spanish so we always had Hindi music playing in the House. In Bollywood films, the music goes on for hours, so I was surrounded by that and then I had this kind of French Funk-House that my dad was playing. There was always music everywhere.

I think they really inspired me and showed me that world. I mean my mum would argue about this, but when I was young my dad would take me to different venues where the DJs would hang out and I’d be in the booth with him looking out at everything. That, for me, definitely inspired me to find that love for music and I gravitated towards it.

Did you learn an instrument first or start singing?

I started singing first, probably when I was about three. It’s the cliche – the little mermaid was on, and I was going for it, I used to love all the songs in that. And then obviously as I got older, I just had such an interest for it. I think I’ve tried… not succeeded, but tried!… playing everything from Recorder to Double Bass and finally chose Guitar. It was funny though – I really don’t like when someone tells me there’s only one way to do something – so I ended up quitting the lessons. I picked up the guitar again one day in my room when I was about 13/14 and fell in love with it all over again, and never put it down

Yes! I gave up piano because my teacher told me to cut my nails and I hated the lessons.

When someone’s telling you: “it needs to be done like this, you have to play this note this way” I just really don’t work well with that. I like to be expressive and free. I ended up actually finding… I’d call him my mentor, Mr Guy. He was my music teacher from around secondary school. I had this love for music, he was really encouraging me to just go for it and he’s kind of been there ever since pushing me to do it. He encouraged me that you don’t have to just play in a set way.

I did music technology in sixth form and fell even more in love. I remember, we had to record three songs. Two originals and one cover, and we had to engineer the session ourselves, do the mix ourselves, and obviously at 17 I had no clue what mixing was or how you do it, so that probably gave me an understanding of the more technical side of music.

Such a good foundation to have as an artist.

I think in music, and I’m sure a lot of people say this but it’s genuinely true, being a female, a lot of the time you can be perceived as just a singer, only writing lyrics or just singing a song but there’s so much more to it than that. Women in music are really crafting their skills and they know just as much as anyone else. Gender shouldn’t matter but I think learning the technical side isn’t something that is pushed towards you, as a female. I feel like understanding that side has really benefited me now because I can go into a studio and understand how the room works and what everyone is doing in there. It’s like an even playing field – there’s kind of more mutual respect there, I think, if you take the time to learn that.

I absolutely agree. I think you’re protecting and future proofing yourself as well. And one thing I wanted to ask you is I know you studied and have a music degree. Did you come out of that feeling sure you wanted to be an artist, and how did you navigate that? 

So I’ve always been very academic and I actually planned to study English, but both my parents sat me down and said: “you have to do music, it’s your passion, it’s your love, you have one life… we believe in you so much”. Maybe too much! *laughs*. They always told me, you just have to try and live for your passions. When I say we argued, my mum came to a parents’ evening and sat down in front of the teacher that was trying to help me get into these, you know, really good universities to study English and told her: “you’re doing something wrong here, you should be telling my daughter to go into the music and follow her dream”. I was literally mouth open. Shock. 

“my parents sat me down and said: ‘you have to do music, it’s your passion, it’s your love, you have one life… we believe in you so much’.”

That’s literally giving me goosebumps, I can’t believe your mum did that! <3

We argued so much after that, but she was like, just go to some Open Days, I’ll take you and just see how you feel. At the time I was really, exactly as you said, navigating it. I was concerned as to how you can navigate a career in music. At the time we weren’t aware that there were so many routes you can take in music – it’s a whole industry. 

I knew I wanted to do it. I just said to myself, if you’re going to do this, you have to go for it and give it everything. You can’t look back. 

I remember reading once someone saying that if you want to go into an industry, you need to make sure you understand how it works commercially. The challenge in the music industry is that the way it works commercially seems to change every five years. But still, you’re putting yourself in the best position to go after what you love, but also to understand how the pieces fit together.

Exactly, I think that was really drilled into us as well – it’s an ever-changing infrastructure. It’s always going to be changing, always developing, and is actually one of the fastest developing industries.

What are some of the things that you do find challenging and how do you cope with those?

One of the main things I would say is how demanding being an independent artist is.

Being in music is one of the most time consuming careers you can get into. I think it’s really difficult because a lot of the time you try and explain that to people, but they might not quite grasp just how much time goes into it. You don’t have set working hours. You could be working with someone from a completely different time zone, they’re just starting their day, yours is just ending, but you have to make it work. Or you know your friends might be planning a weekend away but you’re waiting on a mix to come back or something so yeah, I think the time consumption is really the difficult part. And explaining that to people – no structure.

Do you have any rituals you do? 

One of my rituals, it’s a bit strange… I love books of short stories. So I’ve just finished a book called Modern Love, which is a book by the New York Times, full of essay submissions from people writing about their experience with love. And what I do is, I have tons of books or short stories that I randomly pick from every day. Pulling words from the stories that I connect with most on that day for inspiration. 

I have a document on my laptop with something-like 15,000 words and when I’m in a [recording] session and we’re writing, I’ll get the feel of it and then I’ll just highlight random words that link with the sounds I’m hearing, and somehow at the end, they all kind of piece together into a song.

That’s a creative tool that you’ve really created yourself! And then my final question is… so there’s a device I use when I want to work something out. I close my eyes and I’ll imagine mentors – it could be anyone from any kind of field, any profession, and ask for their advice. If you had like a dream/in-your-head mentor panel, who would be on it?

Oh, my gosh so is this music artists or is it just in general?

I would say in general, but I would think a couple of music people might be in that.

Okay, the first one has to be my mum. I’m going with someone I know, but she is my go-to with everything. If I don’t know what to do, she’s the first person I’m calling or messaging. 

Secondly, Chris Martin.

Oh good one.

I love Coldplay. I think Coldplay are my favourite band in the entire world. I just love the meaning behind their lyrics and the sounds they create so I feel like he would be really intuitive and a little bit spiritual. 

Okay strange one; Sam Cooke. Again, I love his music and I feel like he’s such an idol. He went through so much in his life and had so much struggle, but he found this outlet of positivity through music and getting out there and making change through his sound… he’s untouchable, so definitely him. 

And then, I would actually say Katy Perry. Because you know she’s a mum now as well and I feel like she’d just be like “go for it, do whatever”. I feel like she’d have good advice. 

And then how can I not; Taylor Swift, you can’t beat Taylor Swift, let’s be honest.

You’d get a great range of advice with that panel!

You’d hope so

Tequisha’s new single Maybe One Day is out now and available on all streaming platforms and you can find her on Instagram, Facebook and SoundCloud

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