When and how did you discover your passion for music and songwriting? What made you want to pursue music as a career?
I was around eleven years old. I was really into Broadway music and showtunes. I had such an admiration for composers such as Andrew Lloyd Webber, Stephen Schwartz, and Alan Menken. Broadway, Disney…really great songs with big orchestrations. My mom and I loved listening to Broadway soundtracks in the car. My dream was to compose larger-than-life songs for film, television, and Broadway. I went down to the town library and checked out all the books I could find on songwriting. I read for weeks and months and gave it my best shot. The first songs I wrote were a work in progress, to say the least…but you just keep practicing and hope for the best.
My grandmother was a concert pianist, my dad plays the drums, my mom was a ballet dancer, and both of my brothers are talented musicians and artists. Our family is definitely a creative one! I decided to pursue a career in music because I wouldn’t know what else to do. It’s all I could ever dream of since I was young.
How have you progressed as an artist and writer over the 15 years of your professional career?
I’ve been fortunate enough to work with really wonderful, talented musicians, producers, and artists over the last fifteen or so years. I’m in a constant state of learning. I try to surround myself with humble, talented people who inspire creative energy. The ones that push me to work hard and challenge me to continue to grow. You’re only as good as your last song so you just strive to create something good and hope people like it.
It’s important when you’re writing to speak to what you know. Your experiences whether good or bad are all life’s learning lessons and make for the best songs. I think of myself as a storyteller sometimes rather than a songwriter, because you’re telling a story through your words and through your melodies.
Who have been some of your major role models and influences?
Women trailblazers and pioneers such as Diane Warren and Linda Perry. Female composers and record producers that have opened the doors for other female writers and producers, like me. Those women began their careers at a time when the industry was primarily male dominated. In a lot of ways, it still is, but thanks to the #MeToo movement, the narrative has changed and has allowed for us women to exist in those same spaces as men. I applaud and give endless thanks to those women for helping to change the power dynamic.
How does your sound compare, differ, and blend the likes of other musicians?
I grew up listening to music from all genres and walks of life. I love music that has a message and has a story to tell. I have been influenced by everything from 50’s jazz, 70’s folk rock, 90’s pop, early 2000’s alternative and of course Broadway music! I just love great music. My music reflects the array of different genres and styles that I listen to.
I try not to compare myself to other musicians, as the artists and songwriters I admire to have big shoes to fill! I look forward to continuing to grow and learn, as I expand my own catalogue of music.
What led you to write, perform and co-produce “In These Dreams”? And what is the song about?
“In These Dreams” is a song about taking chances. Knowing that there’s always a place you can go in your dreams, to hope, to wish and to see all the beauty that life has to offer. Even when you don’t feel like life is going the way you had planned, you can always start over and begin again. I think subconsciously I was talking to myself when I wrote this song. I think I needed to hear that at that time.
I remember waking up in the middle of the night and having the words “let me fly, a hundred thousand dreams gone by…” I grabbed a pen and started jotting that down in my journal. The next morning, I headed to the piano, and the melody just poured out. Within an hour I had written the entire song, melody, lyrics, and all. I recorded a voice memo on my phone, sent it to my co-producer Jake Siberon and he had the same vision that I did. BIG! Strings, piano, glockenspiel, a larger-than-life orchestral sound. Whimsical. The next day I went into the studio with Jake we spent the entire day just adding layer upon layer to the song.
I was so grateful that my friend, Grammy Award-winning producer, and engineer, Mario McNulty, provided the mixing for “In These Dreams”. It really brought the song to life. Mario is one of the kindest, talented, and most humble people I’ve met in the music industry. It’s so rare to find someone like that. Dave McNair did such a wonderful job with the mastering of the record, and I was so happy to have him involved as well.
Knowing your vision for what is to come with your music, what can you tell your followers regarding what you will be creating through the rest of 2023?
I look forward to creating songs that inspire people to feel good. I think the world needs music that can uplift and inspire us right now. I’m really enjoying being able to connect with my younger self. Having studied violin when I was young, it’s exciting to incorporate those orchestral elements within my work. I’m definitely a music nerd, but a proud one!
I love being hands on, not only when it comes to composing, but also the arranging and production side of things. I am in a truly happy place in my life right now, and I think my music will continue to reflect that.
How can our readers find your music?
“In These Dreams” is now available worldwide on all major streaming and digital platforms, including Spotify and Apple Music! They can also visit my website zoeytess.com to find links to listen to my music and connect with me on social media! I love connecting and talking with people through social media, it’s so great to be able to connect with people from all over the world.
Thank you so much for your time.
Thank YOU for sharing your space, I greatly appreciate it.