Spotlight features interviews with musicians and industry professionals who contribute to our success.
This week we’re proud to feature singer-songwriter Tekla Waterfield. We talked about Tekla’s new album, her Kickstarter campaign for said album, her musical coming of age, and much more!
Artists like Tekla are performing for Gigs4U every day in the Seattle area. If you book corporate events, private parties or just need top notch musicians and sound professionals for a one-of-a-kind concert experience, fill out the form at the bottom of this page for more information.
Photo: Ernie Sapiro
How did you get your start in music? When did you start playing? What was your first instrument? Was your family musical? When did music become your primary focus?
First of all, thanks so much to Mr. Patrick Galactic for honoring me with this Spotlight artist feature! I saw Patrick play at his release show just recently and was just blown away. You’re so incredibly talented!
Thank you! It was amazing to have you there and an honor to share such a special moment with you.
I’ve always been involved in music, from a very young age. My mom played in bands and taught my sister and me how to harmonize when we were 3 and 4, which is when we sang at our very first gig: my uncle’s wedding!
I’ve always been a singer, primarily. I learned a bit of violin when I was little and saxophone in middle school (Lisa Simpson was the inspiration there), but wound up choosing choir in high school because I couldn’t do both band and choir, and I’ve always felt such a strong call to sing. I’m so glad I did! My choir instructor, Denise Hedlind, became a life-long dear friend and I learned so much about blending my voice with others, and lots of classical vocal techniques from her. I went on to sing in the university choir and in a vocal jazz ensemble in college. It was after college that I joined my first band, Blvd Park, primarily singing backing vocals, but then quickly delving into writing songs and picking up the guitar. It was this band that I made the move to Seattle with in 2010, which was also around the time when music became my primary focus.
How long have you work with Gigs4U? How did it come about?
I heard about the Seatac Airport music program from my dear friend Gary Clark. I found out I had to submit and audition through Gigs4U. It took several months before I was able to get a hold of someone but I eventually did, got to audition, and was added to the roster! I think this was in 2015? I started playing at the airport first, then gradually at the other places Gigs4U books.
I was really still kind of a beginner guitar player back then. I absolutely credit the three hour sets at SeaTac, approximately once a week for about five years now, with helping me improve my playing, sound and style by leaps and bounds. So HUGE thank you’s to Gigs4U for their support and for all the opportunities they work super hard to find for working artists.
What is a strange/funny/crazy thing that’s happened at an airport gig?
So many things!
I met a man who claimed to be Willie Nelson’s long-lost son… I let him play a song on my guitar and he sounded just like Willie! He wanted me to sing/tour with him. At first I was excited, but quickly realized he was nuts. (Long story…)
Speech from the 90’s band, Arrested Development stopped by one time, threw me some bucks, said he loved my sound and told me to call him. At the time I didn’t recognize him but I looked at his card, freaked out, called him and left a message, but never heard back, ha!
One time a pilot in uniform pulled a violin out of a case and played a handful of songs with me! The crowd we had that day was insane!
Another time the mom of a childhood friend happened to be passing by. We had a very sweet reunion. She wanted to support me in my musical endeavors, didn’t have any cash, so she wrote me a check. I looked at the check later and about felt my heart stop… it was for $500!
I’ve had multiple people throw a $100 bill in my guitar case. And lots and lots and lots of very sweet kiddos often stop to say hi, dance, smile and even tell me they love me during my SeaTac sets. I get notes too, pretty often, thanking me for my music and my voice. It’s kind of the best gig ever.
It’s amazing to connect with such a diverse audience, especially kids when they are so impressionable. It keeps your on your toes and raises your confidence. Speaking of connecting, you are currently raising money for your 3rd album on Kickstarter. What can you tell us about the new music and what are some of the perks for supporters?
I recorded the bulk of my new album with an artist assistance grant at Jack Straw Cultural Center, laying down basic tracks with my dear friends, Ryan Burns, Eric Eagle, Andy Stoller and my hubby, Jeff Fielder. We did some additional tracking at our home studio and brought in Kate Olson on horns for a song, and Elise Suttie, Amanda Winterhalter and Melissa Montalto, for some lovely vocals and harmonies. We also had Daniel Walker put down some organ parts which he tracked at his own studio. And we were lucky enough to have David Salonen on upright bass for a few songs as well.
I wanted to create a more raw, acoustic, stripped-down vibe with this album. I worked with my hubby a lot to flush out ideas. He’s a wonderful partner, multi-instrumentalist and producer and I feel incredibly lucky that I get to work with him.
There are some real slow burners, some mellow rootsy tunes, also one or two of my sort of signature more produced alt/folk pop kind of tunes. Oh! And there’s an old-school style country duet featuring Luke Abbott, aka Drifter Luke, which I’m reallllly excited about. I met Luke several years ago at the open mic I used to host and immediately fell in love with his voice! It’s hard not to cry when I hear this beautiful love song that I wrote, being sung by such an incredible singer as Luke. It just feels like such an honor.
I’m excited to share the album!
That sounds like a hell of a record! You have successfully crowdfunded a few records now. What advice do you have for people contemplating doing the same thing?
There are so many ways people are crowdfunding records now! People are putting on house shows to raise funds, utilizing platforms like Patreon, and of course, Indiegogo and Kickstarter. I think crowdfunding makes sense in a lot of ways. It’s an awesome way to pull your community together, get word out about your project, build excitement, anticipation and even press. It’s also practical because the costs incurred when creating a quality recording can be out of reach for a lot of people, which absolutely shouldn’t stop us from being able to create art!
I’d recommend to folx who are attempting a crowdfunding campaign for the first time to reach out to others who are in a similar genre or who are also DIY, and see if you can get a sit down or coffee chat to ask questions. I’ve found this is the best way to learn how to do something I’m trying out for the first time, and that most people are 100% willing to share and help. Online musician groups like the Womxn In Music group are a great place to connect with others if you’re not sure where to start. Taking a bit of time to read other successful projects, watch the videos they’ve created, see how they’ve laid out their project, rewards etc, can also be really helpful. Online indie DIY blogs are also useful for researching and gathering info.
Over the years of creating Kickstarters, I’ve learned how to more narrowly define what my project is, what exactly I’m creating and what exactly I’m asking for, as well as narrowing down the cool rewards I’m offering my community of supporters.
If you could do a duet with any artist, dead or living, who would it be?
The first artist who comes to mind is Prince, followed by D’Angelo, then maybe Jeff Tweedy and/or Jim James or Matthew Houck from Phosphorescent!
You’ve toured, had some high-profile song placements, released a number of well-received albums…what advice do you have for someone considering music as a career?
Two things: start at the beginning, and start at the end.
Think about what you want out of a musical career. This will likely change as you gather more experiences and evolve and as the world evolves around you, but it’s a good idea to have a starting point. Do you want to sing and dance in musical theater shows? Do you want to learn an instrument or multiple instruments and really dive into music theory? Are you motivated by helping others learn and want to teach or go into music therapy? Would you want to work with adults or kids? Are you interested in learning production or sound engineering? In creating soundtracks for TV and film? Are you motivated by putting on festivals and shows or by working with artists? If so, working in production, curation, artist relations or for a record label might be a great music career for you to consider. If you want to create music, what kind of music do you want to create? Gather some personal heroes and learn their music, figure out how they crafted it, take notes and feel free to reference them when you’re making your own music!
For me, I’ve always been most interested in singing, followed by writing so it made perfect sense that I’d dive into the world of singer/songwriter. When I was just getting started in the band world, I put the word out that I was interested, then was quickly asked to join a band as a backing singer. From there I went on to write, record, collaborate and tour with said band. I started hosting an open mic, which is a great way to meet other creatives, and is where I really started trying out my own original songs. The folx you meet at open mics could very well be your long-term musical community and peers, so it’ll behoove you to be genuinely interested in their ideas and projects. Support them by going out to their shows as much as you can. Treat these relationships with love and care and you’ll be rewarded in kind. Community is key for growing as an artist. Why go it totally alone, when we’re so much better as a whole, lifting each other up?
I’d also suggest trying different things… Take lots of gigs and you’ll pretty quickly discover which ones work and which ones don’t. Join online groups, attend meetings and conferences and talk to people!
That’s great advice, thank you. What do you have coming up aside from Kickstarter?
I’ll be at the Royal Room February 20th for a full band show, which I don’t do all that often. So come out to that one, if you can! Kathryn Claire from Portland will be there as a trio and my hubby Jeff Fielder is opening solo, which he rarely does.