Queer Pop Singer Tornsey Debut Celebratory Single ‘I Feel Fine’

Tornsey” is the stage name of the American alternative queer pop/rock band, Tess Schoonhoven.

She expresses the creative process via upbeat, celebratory sounds, freeing lyrics, brutal honesty, thought-provoking imagery, and raw emotion. Musically, the music of Tornsey refers to pop/rock luminaries like Fiona Apple and Sara Bareilles, as well as the likes of Ben Folds, MUNA, and Queen.

In a lengthy interview, Tornsey discusses her current album, “I Feel Fine,” as well as her career in music. With a proclamatory, high-energy vibe that finds the comedy and acceptance that may come when a relationship ends and you simply, feel great about it, “I Feel Fine” was a song that kicked off the summer season.

After publishing and performing under her own name for the previous two years, Tess has a fascinating narrative to tell about how this new endeavour came to be. When she came out as gay, left religion, and found divinity in her own right, she became a true advocate for radical self-acceptance.

What is your real name?
Tess Schoonhoven

What’s your official Showbiz name?
My artist’s name is Tornsey!

How did you get into music?
When I was 8 I started playing the piano – that’s the very very early introduction. But fast forward about 14 years and that’s when I entered the music industry as a keys player and songwriter in 2019 when I moved to Nashville. It’s been a long process since then to be where I am today, but I couldn’t be more thankful!

What field or genre are you into and how would you describe it?
My music is in the alternative pop/rock space. It’s a little in between genre-wise, doesn’t quite fit straight-ahead pop, but isn’t in line with classic indie rock either. I draw lots of inspiration from artists like Fiona Apple, Queen, and Kate Bush, as well as musicians like Julien Baker, MUNA, or Fickle Friends. I’d describe my music as retro, theatrical, intense, and exciting.

What was your first project and the people you worked with and which year?
In 2020 I started working on my first studio single “Good For Nobody” with producer Parke Cottrell of the band Colony House.

I released that song under my previous artist project and it was such a fun learning curve. Before I made that jump and decided to collaborate on a song with Parke, even though we did everything remotely because it was during the first lock-down, I had not been honest with myself about what it was I wanted to do with my life.

I was playing keys for people, doing work as a music journalist, and writing for other groups when really I had all these songs and ideas I wanted to share, I was just too afraid.

Queer Pop Singer Tornsey Debut Celebratory Single 'I Feel Fine'
Queer Pop Singer Tornsey Debut Celebratory Single ‘I Feel Fine’

Who or what inspires you or motivates you? And why?
In songwriting, it’s typically my life experiences that inspire me, because writing has always been the best way for me to process life and humanity. I also fully believe that it is so important to share our struggles, pain, and processes of healing with the world because people need to know they aren’t alone, and that they are ok.

I can’t even begin to count the number of songs, stories, and people who I’ve connected with at the darkest moments of my life and seen hope and belonging in their experiences. I can only attempt to be a part of that circle with my own art, but I find that gives a pretty undeniable motivation.

Any models you look up to? With reason(s) why?
Fiona Apple is my icon artist. She is so radically herself, no matter the inconvenience it might bring, or the difference in success it might affect. Her writing style is one I’ll never stop learning from – she is truly a path paver in female-fronted, piano-centric, rock n’ roll.

What do you look out for in this line of business?
Honest people – authentic people who are actually in your corner, not just in the business of getting what they want from you. Thankfully Nashville has quite a few of those people who have found their way into my life and I’m forever grateful for that.

What are some of the challenges you face in your career path?
Self-doubt has been a big one. Also, feel like I’m behind. But those things only happen when I compare myself to others, so as long as I stay focused on my art, my lane, my people, and my community…things seem to feel better, hopeful even!

How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?
Oh definitely. But I also think it’s what you make it – meaning that I see the internet (and let’s just say social media for specificity here) as an opportunity I can utilize as much as is good for me and my health.

As long as I keep it centred on that, I feel like I’ve done ok. I’m just overly confident – probably – that what’s meant for me will find me as long as I keep doing my thing, making art I love, and being the most honest, loving, bold version of myself I can.

Do you have any advice for aspiring songwriters?
Just start, and try, and keep trying. And get people in your life who will tell you what’s up. Work on your craft, and work on you. Anything I’m proud of writing has come from the moments of radical honesty with myself and just letting go of expectation and really opening myself up to whatever my heart wants to create.

What is your current project about?
“I Feel Fine” is about feeling ok after a relationship ends, but not really knowing why. It’s about the duality of feeling good about something coming to an end, but wondering if there should be a lot more pain or struggle.

It’s the first song I’ve released under “Tornsey,” and it sets the tone I think for what this project means to me.

It’s open-ended, it’s honest, it’s fun, it’s not too serious, but it’s intimate as well, and maybe unsettling, in a good way. I’m just really excited for the rest of the music I’ll be putting out this year and I think this song is a perfect beginning.

What are your hobbies?
When I’m not working on songwriting, I’m writing in a different profession – the journalism industry. I love telling other artists’ stories, just as much as I love getting to tell my own through my art.

I write for a couple of outlets based in Nashville and I plan on this side of what I do sticking around for a long long time. My dream is to be a 65-year-old retired musician who still does interviews and blogging in their free time. That would be so fun.

What do you do aside from this profession?
As I mentioned above, the journalism aspect is huge for me. But I am also a barista, walk my dog a ton, do yoga, take care of my many many plants, and probably lots of other things I’m forgetting right now.

What is one message you would give to your fans?
Embracing who you are in the most divine path anyone can take. I hope you choose to do so, and I hope to keep walking that path with you.

Also to get specific here since it is pride month – stepping out and living your truth is beautiful, and if you’re in a moment where you don’t know if choosing authenticity is worth it, let me tell you as someone who left behind a whole other life to honour myself and my queerness, it’s worth it.

It’s worth every second of freedom and beauty you’ll find, and people will find their way to love and support you. You’ve got this, and I love you.

MrrrDaisy is the Owner of Music Arena Gh.  As a graphic designer, blogger and social media expert, he is a confident and creative designer who is self-motivated, self-sufficient and comes to you with a strong background in both print and digital media. He currently lives and studies Digital Media at Nottingham College, United Kingdom.

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