In an exclusive interview, the Los Angeles-based singer shares how she’s been coping with quarantine, details her upbringing in Boston, MA, and opens up about her artistry.
Hailing from Boston, Massachusetts, TeaMarrr is a dynamic singer-songwriter who specializes in penning music about relationships. Her range encompasses the sticky, tender and sweet moments found in love. She also digs into the not so pretty parts too that are messy breakups, cheating and attempting to manifest a partner.
Raised in a strict Haitian-American household, over the phone TeaMarrr shared her early life was fun and she enjoyed growing up in Boston. She added she wasn’t allowed to listen to secular music and couldn’t watch TV Monday through Friday. “With that upbringing, I think it enhanced my creativity and my imagination, she shared. “I don’t think my heritage is heavily influenced in my music but I think it’s heavily imprinted in my image and visuals.” Like most creative kids, she grew into her quirks and began to embrace them, this led her to chase her dreams in the music industry.
Two years ago she began taking her love for singing and writing music to another level and made the move to Los Angeles. She linked up with her current manager, Kareem James and the two began a collaborative partnership writing and producing songs together. During this part of her journey, she recalls being shocked that popular artists don’t write their own music. At one point, the duo sent a track to Rihanna’s team, they didn’t bite but she held onto the song.
Thanks for the Chapstick, her debut EP arrived in 2017 (she first began dropping music in 2016). It set the stage for her original penmanship. This project expresses her innermost thoughts on moving past dark moments and finding her true self. “In My Mind” was a heavily streamed track off this EP.
In 2018, TeaMarrr caught the attention of Hollywood’s Issa Rae with her single “One Job.” Fast forward to last October, and the singer was announced as the flagship artist marking the introduction of Raedio, a new label co-founded by Issa Rae. Her single “Kinda Love” dropped the same day alongside a creative visual featuring Rae.
When naming her musical inspirations, she notes Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Amy Winehouse, and Billie Holiday. The legacies they left behind are what she constantly finds herself going back to. Over the years she says fans have told her that her sound is reminiscent of Sinatra, Winehouse, and other artists with soulful catalogs. To describe her own sound she said, “I think if Amy Winehouse and Biggie Smalls had a baby it would be me.”
With her newest EP, Before I Spill Myself, TeaMarrr hopes to leave fans feeling as though they’ve been in a therapeutic session. She believes her music is healing which is fitting during the strange and somewhat discouraging moment the world is coping with currently. “I want people to heal themselves with my sound,” she shared. “My catalog will heal whatever mood you’re in.” The EP comes with features by SiR, D Smoke, and Rapsody.
In our latest interview, TeaMarrr shares thoughts on her latest project, her soulful inspirations, and how she’s coping with quarantine and social distancing. Take a look at her new “Chasing Amy” visual below.
How have you been feeling recently with quarantining amid the pandemic?
Staying hopeful. Finding ways to stay creative by redecorating my home, painting, vocal practices, and hiking.
What’s it like out in Los Angeles right now?
It’s a jungle out here to be honest, but I’m learning to survive and that’s mind, body, and soul training.
How was it growing up nearby Boston? Do you think your Haitian heritage influences your music, how so?
Growing up in Massachusetts was cool. I had a fun childhood, although my parents were strict and very religious. I wasn’t allowed to listen to secular music, which meant American and Haitian secular vibes and no TV Monday through Friday. With that upbringing, I think it enhanced my creativity and my imagination. I don’t think my heritage is heavily influenced in my music but I think it’s heavily imprinted in my image and visuals. I make it a thing to visually [represent] Haiti and will sonically incorporate [it] in the future.
What has been the best part about shifting and molding into the artist you are right now?
Just adapting to the changes around me while staying true to myself really is the only way you can shine in this. You don’t want to lose your purpose. So remembering who I am is a big deal as an artist, and how I want be and to know that it’s always changing so there are a lot of moving parts to becoming the artist I am today.
What do you hope fans take away from your new EP?
I want my fans to be able to self-reflect while recognizing the parts of them in love that need to go in order to grow. Just watering parts of themselves sonically.
What’s your favorite song on the EP?
It’s a tie between “Tick” featuring SiR and “I’m That” featuring Rapsody. I love “Tick” because it’s so passionately charged. I love SiR and he basically ate the record. And “I’m That” because I got the queen Rapsody breaking down my entire concept in one verse.
Stream Before I Spill Myself below.
Robyn Mowatt is a staff writer at Okayplayer where she covers culture, music, and fashion. You can see what's on her mind @robyn_mowatt.