Tei Shi Discusses Her New EP and the Language of Music

Tei Shi Discusses Her New EP and the Language of Music
Photo: Eric White
Valerie Teicher has lived a very nomadic life. The Argentinian-born artist, who goes by the moniker Tei Shi, has moved around a lot, from Vancouver to Montreal, to Boston and finally her current home in New York City. Her ever-evolving sound of minimalist R&B and pop-influenced electronic melodies is just as shifting as the person behind the music.
"Everything I put out will be different than the last," Teicher tells Exclaim! "I think of the releases I've put out as marks of a process where I'm developing, becoming more assertive and confident in myself. It's not necessarily 'finding myself,' though; it's more of-the-moment than a defined thing."
Although Teicher has yet to put out a full-length album, she has taken some "baby steps" in the form of two EPs: 2013's soft and simmering Saudade and her newest release, Verde. Where Saudade achieved a consistent tone in Teicher's meditative, lush melodies, Verde takes more chances and veers in more adventurous directions, from bubbling synth-pop to gallant vocal acrobatics.
"This EP is more true to my sound now," Teicher says. "The approach was to not have five songs sounding too similar or fall into the same category, but a snapshot of the different sides of me at the time."
While Teicher maintains a fluid sound that's malleable and always taking new shapes and sounds, writers have amassed a precise vocabulary when describing the music of Tei Shi: angelic, delicate, pretty. Now how often are these words ascribed to women compared to men?
"It's true that these words apply to female artists more than male, but you just have to let the music speak for itself," Teicher says. "At times, it's been frustrating to have my music be described as 'sensual,' which is one of the worst for me because there's not any point in which I'm making music and I have a sensual intent. I think music in general is a very sensual experience, but there's a lot more thought and detail than just a sensual voice.
"At the same time, I'm grateful that at least it's been positive words. It's never been anything infuriatingly untrue. The labels can be limiting, particularly for women, but just let the music speak for itself and those labels will eventually fall away."
Teicher may have opinions on some of the aforementioned descriptors, but she will add that she doesn't mind "pretty" as much, as an overall aesthetic.
"I appreciate the aesthetic quality of music," she says. "There are different layers in which we choose to appreciate music, some are very deep and some are very superficial, and I definitely look at the aesthetic of a song sometimes, the way it feels and the shininess of it. There's value in appreciating the quality of it."  

Verde is out now in Canada via Arts & Crafts.
Tour dates:

04/29 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom ^
05/08 San Francisco, CA - Rickshaw Stop %
05/14 Brighton, UK - Komedia (The Great Escape)
05/15 Brussels, BE - Beursschouwburg
05/17 Amsterdam, NL - Paradiso Nord (London Calling)
05/19 Paris, FR - Pop Up du Label
05/22 Manchester, UK - Dot to Dot Festival
05/23 Bristol, UK - Dot to Dot Festival
05/24 Nottingham, UK - Dot to Dot Festival
06/02 Bournemouth, UK - o2 Academy *
06/03 London, UK - o2 Brixton Academy *
06/05 London, UK - Shacklewell Arms
06/06 London, UK - Field Day Festival
06/07 Manchester, UK - Parklife Festival
06/12 Toronto, ON - Bestival Toronto Island
08/08 Squamish, BC - Squamish Valley Music Festival

^ with Shy Girls
% with Lapsley
* with Jungle