There’s something about springtime that just screams “do something new.”
This week, Team Tinsel is giving 200% to springtime’s call with a new series on new musicians. First up: Tenille Tomengo, a soulful songstress from Central Florida. “Feel Free” to check out her new single, out now on iTunes and Spotify.
You’re going to be the first interview in our series. You really embody what we’re doing with Tinsel. You’re young, you’re cute, you’re trying stuff out. That’s very much in the spirit of Tinsel , The Dipper, and start-up culture. We are very pumped about this.
Oh, man, thank you. I’m excited too.
Let’s start with an intro. You’re 21 and from the suburbs of Orlando. Tell us more about the city you’re from and how that has influenced your sound.
I’m from Oviedo, Florida. I grew up not really listening to a lot, actually. My music influences came from my friends. Whatever they were listening to, I kind of just caught wind. If we were at my house, we were listening to gospel all the time, but I got a lot of different genres thrown at me from being around so many different schools, and walking around talking to people. It was a good diversity for me; I got really different angles on what to listen to.
So, what did you listen to? What do you listen to now?
Country is actually my favorite genre. People don’t expect that, but one of my friends’ older sister would listen to country and told me “men love women of diversity.” I was really young when I heard that, and I went “Hmm, let me pick up country” And I love country now.
Have you picked up country influences in your music, then?
I do have some acoustic music. It’s not released yet, but it is on my SoundCloud. I want to go more into it and do a little more literal country music, but for now it’s just the acoustic sound that appeals to that audience.
Who are some specific artists who have influenced you? You definitely have a little gospel in there, a very soulful sound, but who do you want to be among when people talk Tenille?
I love Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, and India Arie; I like that live music sound. I do like Beyonce because of her spice - that fierceness, confidence, and strength, and as far as other music influences go, to go back into country, I would say Miranda Lambert. I love that she has a beautiful voice, and her lyrics are telling stories, talking about love and life. She pretty much nails that. Her, Carrie Underwood, and I love Taylor Swift - her lyrics are great. I take a lot from lyrics. Oh! I like Chance The Rapper too, he’s FIRE.
So would you say you’re more of a lyrical artist then, or are you more about production?
When I mention Bruno and Justin, that’s a lot about their sound and production, when it comes to the music behind their lyrics. They do well where I’m trying to do well right now. I wouldn’t say I’m a huge lyrical artist right now, but there are some things about my lyrics that are really important to me. Eventually, you get the privilege of lyrics that get into the soul and messages, the kind of thing I wanna do, but for right now it’s about trying to appeal to a wider audience. I probably don’t have the sickest lyrics out right now, so my big priority is making sure they’re not negatively influencing the world. I’m trying really hard just to put something positive out there.
How do you feel about that part of the music industry? The fact that you have to answer to the masses like that until you get "found"?
As long as it’s you, it’s fine. I feel like it can be frustrating to appeal to the world — not a lot of people can do that well. As long as an artist can be honest with who they are as a person, who they are as an artist, and is making music around that, even if it’s designed to appeal to the world, it’s alright. If you have a lot of people influencing your sound and you’re not really sure where you want to go, that’s where it can kind of get, you know, nerve racking. I personally have been able to stick to myself. My music comes from a place inside of me and nobody has really been influencing my sound, my style, my look. It’s all me.
So, let’s talk about Tech. Tinsel is all about mixing tech, style, and being on the go - things you are certainly familiar with. What are some of your favorite tech tools in regular life that you can’t live without?
My phone, computer, and definitely my headphones. I used to cry in high school if I left my headphones at home. And that’s forreal.
I’m not honestly huge into other tech gadgets, but my phone and computer do everything for me. Everything else I have is kind of just to cater to using those two.
When I’m singing in the studio, there are professionals who handle most of that. But in my personal life, it’s about the audio. My headphones, a great pair of bluetooth speakers… as long as I can hear music, that’s me. I want wherever I am to be able to have it, listen to it, practice and be a student of music.
As far as in your singing life, you're in that recording season, but it's all pretty new for you, right? What kind of interactions with tech are you seeing in the studio?
Yeah, since January 2015 I’ve been recording pretty consistently. I’m still learning what all the controls are like and the production tools they use. For me, as the singer, what really matters is what my voice is going into, so our microphones, and being able to hear myself back and tweak that. As far as production, it’s just a lot to go into. I’m trying to learn more of that stuff right now. You start to look over people’s shoulder and learn bit by bit. There are some artists that don’t care, but for me it’s important. I like to learn, and I’m still learning as the days go by. And every engineer does something different, so you never stop learning about it. And eventually, it’s about you as an artist knowing yourself and your voice and being able to really contribute to those enhancements and get the sound that you want.
You do a lot of live shows too, though, right? How is that different than being in the studio?
That’s what I love. I would pick a stage over the studio any day. (why?) It’s just the music and my band and the energy. The more emotion that goes into a song the better, and on a live stage you have me, my emotions, you have the drummer, Deonte, maybe he had a horrible day and he’s lending his emotions to the song, you get Max, my piano player, and he may have had a happy day and he’s throwing all of that into the song, you never know what you’re going to get, and that feeling is just great. In the studio, you’re trying to make a certain sound. It’s you and the mic. I used to not like it but now it’s obvious it’s necessary, it’s a skill you have to master to be a great artist. You can be great live, but if you can’t record behind the studio mic, 9 times out of 10 you won’t go where you want to.
That's a really interesting take. On that note, do you think the studio has changed your sound at all?
No, not really. I try to connect to the music in the studio. Take as much in there with me as I can, and then put all that I can in there. You have to kind of envision the song and pull those emotions, and I haven’t always been that kind of person. I like to be present and do the song the way it feels to do the song right then, but the studio has made me have to learn to identify myself and bring that person in with me. It’s also nice to be able to give yourself criticism and hear yourself, change things up.
Tinsel’s Slogan is “Shine. Don’t Settle.” What does that mean to you?
Be who you want to be, who you know you can be, and don’t let other people tell you different. Just be a light, and whenever someone tells you there’s something you can't do, your light will go past them. You’re making steps past that.
Yes! Now it's time for you to shine. This is your time for a shameless plug. Go for it, pop off:
Shout out to my make-up artist at KulturesKouture, she’s beautiful. She does it all, makes me look pretty for everything and everything. Shout out to my band, and to Empire Tattoos, and a definite shout out to Lipstickroyalty and MYG Media. Check out my SoundCloud, my song “Feel Free” is available on iTunes. I hope my music lifts people, that’s what I want, I’m real chill, go listen!
Wait one more thing… sell us The Dipper.
Y'all sell me The Dipper; I'm waiting to get one!. Hold on, let me get on my game face. (Tenille put on what is, apparently, her game face, and a 1950's ad voice) Women of America, don’t you get sick and tired of reaching into your purse and having your headphones in three knots when you put them in there perfect? (She starts laughing).
Really, though, everyone has this problem! Nobody knows how they end up like that, but you put your headphones away and they come out a mess every time. It’s so nice that The Dipper doesn't go into knots, you never have to put it away, and it’s so cute!
(Pulling out her headphones.) Look at these. They’re white, they’re slim, they’re nice headphones, but they sure don’t look good! If you have something that sounds good, keeps straight and looks good - so you don’t have to worry about taking them off or losing them - why wouldn’t you get those? It’s a problem everyone has, and it’s kind of an honor that you're solving it for women first. I feel like men should be a little jealous. We get to listen in good fashion and not have to worry about it!
You heard it from an artist and work of art: "Why wouldn't you?" Order your Dipper today!