Thursday, May 30 2024

Hailing from the vibrant music scene of Chicago, TE/MO has released her EP, ‘The MOTHER,’ a deeply personal narrative woven from the threads of her own struggles and triumphs. Born out of a harrowing medical journey and the quest for self-discovery, this collection of songs delves into themes of healthcare mistreatment, identity crises, and the enduring spirit of resilience. Join us as TE/MO shares the emotions and inspirations behind her music, offering a glimpse into the transformative power of artistic expression.

Hey TE/MO, thanks for joining us and congratulations on the release of the new EP.
 ‘The MOTHER’ explores personal struggles like healthcare mistreatment and identity crises. How did you ensure your own story remained relatable to a broader audience?

I’m lucky in that sense because so many people experience invisible diseases like endometriosis, so on that physical level a lot of people already could relate to my story and the pain that came with it. But, the unexpected beauty of telling my story in this way was that I discovered that even people who were in perfect physical health could relate to the struggles that came with having a crisis of identity, and having to pick apart what parts of you are innate and what parts of you were put there by years of social conditioning and external voices. It’s a process that I think everyone goes through in one way or another, and as important as it is, it’s also often incredibly painful. So since the ‘MOTHER’ EP was me documenting my process with that in real time, I think a lot of people could see themselves in it.

The EP blends various musical styles. How did you choose these styles to match the EP’s themes and emotions?

Ha! To be honest, I often let the story tell me what it wants to sound like. It always starts with a feeling for me, then usually a lyric (or several), and then I start hearing what it wants to sound like in my head. So that’s where all of this started with ‘Mother I’… but then as the EP evolved from there I started to find more moments for musical motifs, and to add symbolism to sounds – the best example of that is how traditional/classical instrumentation was used to represent old ideas/dreams, dissonance and static was used to represent shock/trauma, and more modern pop instrumentation is used to represent rebirth and finding new ways to move forward and reshape your identity. I was so lucky to have INCREDIBLE collaborators and producers – JP Warner and Joey Grace – who helped me to discover what that soundscape was like. 

Chronic pain and healthcare trauma are central to your EP. How did you translate these experiences into music and lyrics, and what impact do you hope they have on listeners?

It honestly felt like the only way I could adequately translate them was through music. In the doctor’s office, I was often being gaslit. At work, I was being brushed aside. My family and friends were a miraculous support system, but there were pieces of my pain that they just couldn’t empathize with because they had never experienced it. So the only place that it felt like I could fully piece through the entirety of my experience was through song, and creation. So the main thing I hope listeners will gain from this EP is that they are no longer alone in that. The main thing I always want to do with my art is make people feel less alone.

‘Mother I’ depicts a crucial moment in the EP. Can you discuss the process of creating this track and the emotions you wanted to convey?

I wrote ‘Mother I’ the day I got my first diagnosis. I was so shell-shocked that I came home and was simultaneously numb and filled to the brim with emotions. I couldn’t get anything done, I couldn’t talk about it yet, I could barely even stand up. But what I could do was write. So I sat down and I wrote almost 6 full pages of thoughts and feelings I was having. That 6-page journal entry turned into the lyrics that make up ‘Mother I’. But then even after I’d gotten it all out, I didn’t feel better. So I sent the document over to JP and said “I don’t think this could ever turn into something releasable. But I think I have to make it into a song anyway.” And I have never been more grateful than when JP wrote me back, right away with a piano loop attached, “Then let’s do it!” From there, I threw myself into perfecting and finishing the track – first remotely, and then in person – until we had the version you hear today. And that creative purging and renewal kept me going in one of my life’s darkest moments.

The EP concludes with ’12/22,’ reflecting on healing and self-discovery. How does this track sum up the EP’s message, and what do you hope listeners take from it?

This one ended up being my personal favorite on the EP, and it was never supposed to exist in the first place. ‘Mother III’ was originally the EP’s closer, until a year out from when I got my initial diagnosis, when I woke up with this intense, unshakable anxiety. I had no idea where it had come from, until I looked on my snapchat memories and realized that I’d be in the waiting room of the hospital around when the anxiety had begun. That’s when I realized that healing is not a linear process, and sometimes it’s not one that ever ends. And after that experience, I didn’t feel like the EP could end on pure inspiration anymore. It had to embrace the continued struggle and the messiness, and the acknowledgement that even when you’re getting “better”, you’re still growing. Therefore there are still going to be growing pains, especially since the body’s memory is so much longer than the mind’s is. So I hope my listeners take comfort in that – that there is no one right way to heal. 

With ‘The MOTHER EP’ now out, what’s next for TE/MO? Are there any upcoming projects or plans you can share with us?

Well now that I’ve started writing, it feels like I can’t stop! so i’d say not To worry… A lot moRe sOngs To come. 🙂

And, finally a lighter-hearted question for you… If ‘The MOTHER EP’ were a movie (or musical), who would you cast as the lead, and why?

Oh my gosh… what a great question. Saoirse Ronan, maybe? I think she’s one of the best actresses of this generation. She can do pretty much anything. 

Thank you so much!!

As our conversation with TE/MO comes to a close, we want to express our sincere appreciation for her honesty and openness. With ‘The MOTHER’ EP, TE/MO has not only created powerful music but also provided a platform for shared experiences, sparking important conversations about healthcare, womanhood, and resilience. We’re thankful for the opportunity to explore her world. Thank you, TE/MO, for sharing your voice and your story.

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About Author

Matt Warren

Matt Warren is a Cheshire based musician who studied contemporary music and composition. When not writing for The Indie Grid he enjoys watching 'Breaking Bad' on continuous loop and going to gigs. Since a youngster his fave band have been 'The Beatles' (with 'Cardiacs' in at a close second)... and this still applies to this day.

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