Tess Tyler


Tess Tyler: “I haven’t had a chance to express myself authentically until now”

Tess Tyler‘s imaginative score and latest single ‘7ero’ immediately caught my imagination: it’s a surreal, stunning blend of classical, orchestral styles with electronica, something unique and inventive.

In the course of listening, I learnt that Bristol based Tyler has also collaborated with Rory Friers, from one of my favourite acts And So I Watch You From Afar, on the record, which, despite their disparate backgrounds, makes an odd kind of sense as Friers branches out into new styles more similar to Tyler’s. I caught up with her ahead of the release of the album, Fractals.

First of all, congrats on the single. I understand it’s the lead into a double album, which sounds ambitious! Tell me about the two sides of things….Are those ‘two sides’ reflected in the two versions of the single, too?

It is. ‘7ero’ is one of 5 tracks from Fractals Vol. 1 that also feature on Fractals Vol. 2. The first volume being piano with electronics, and the second, experimental classical interpretations of my graphic scores performed by The Spindle Ensemble.

You merge classical and more contemporary styles in your music. How do you find that mix when it comes to finding a niche to perform and record in?

I’ve always been drawn towards interesting combinations of sound, so I guess it just comes down to experimentation for me. I keep playing with different palettes of sound until I get that feeling of ‘Yes! That’s what this track is meant to sound like!’ Even though I almost always start writing a piece with piano first, the textural / sound-based element of my music is super integral to the composition process. All the sound design is pretty much fully formed before I get to recording the piano properly. I need to know that it all blends nicely before I commit with recording. 

When it comes to performance, I haven’t actually performed any music from this record yet, apart from ‘Sell The Sky’ for a live video release. I’m super interested to see how the intricate piano will work against the grit of the electronics and kit in different spaces. I’m lucky enough to work with great engineers who know what they’re doing!

Tell me about your work on Lego Avengers and Human Fall Flat – how does that kind of stuff come about, and how does it differ to your normal writing?

In all honesty, I stumbled into composing for games. When I graduated from my masters, I emailed everyone and anyone about jumping on any existing projects as an assistant or orchestrator. Rob Westwood happened to be completely snowed under and needed some help with scoring Lego Avengers, where I ended up with a co-composing credit. It all went from there really! 

Composing for media is wildly different from writing your own stuff, from a conceptual perspective. When working in film / video games etc., it’s important that your music aligns with the intent of the director / game developer. In other words, the music is there to support / enhance something that already exists.

When you’re writing a record, you’re starting with yourself, and that’s it. I guess when you’re working to someone else’s vision, it’s more obviously a job, as you have to make sure that other people are happy with what you’re creating. When it’s your own stuff, I find it’s more important that I, myself am happy with it. The pressure comes from different places. For me, they’re completely different disciplines, but I love doing both. They tick very separate, yet satisfying boxes for me.