Thought-provoking indie-pop singer-songwriter Trishes joins us at Coffee Fix in Studio City, CA for an in-depth discussion of her debut release Ego, the real-life structures and issues that inspire her artistry, and finding balance between art and life.
So you had recently released your debut EP Ego. Wanted to say congratulations!
Trishes: Thank you!
I also wanted to ask you, for those of you who have yet to discover it, what type of lyrical themes and instrumental elements should we be looking forward to?
Trishes: So ‘Trishes’ in and of itself is a concept project that’s based on the three constructs of self, in which Sigmund Freud called them the id, the ego, and the superego or the primal self, the conscious self, and the spiritual self. I use different vocal effects and vocal looping to bring each of these selves to life as well as to give them space in the real world. That’s just sort of how I process things. The first release is Ego, the conscious self, and it’s based on things that we’ve created to separate ourselves from the primal self. The topics I decided to focus on are: Government, money, language, self-awareness, and creativity. There are five songs on the EP, and each of them corresponds with one of these themes. I also use the visual art, spoken word, and videos to elaborate on those themes.
And which song was your favorite to write and record? These could be different, I know that the processes are different.
Trishes: Yeah! *laughs* My favorite song to record was probably “Caesar.” I got to work with my friend, Jordan Waré, and he’s just a really fun and warm person who’s full of joy. He’s not afraid to do sort of weirder things or to experiment musically, so I had a great time recording with him. “Caesar” ended up being my favorite songs on the EP because it just has this indescribable life to it that I love. So that was my favorite song to record, and then my favorite song to write was “Language,” which I wrote with my best friend Shannon Campbell. We’ve written together for years and years, and we actually wrote that one in an hour. Honestly, I think it’s one of the best songs that we’ve ever written. *laughs* Initially we set out to write a country style song that would be translated to my sound, and I just think we executed it really well. It’s hard to say though, because most of the other songs I wrote throughout time, sometimes throughout months and months, are simply just written in my head. Like, I don’t take the time to sit down and write very often. In terms of what the most fun process was, it would have to be “Language” because it’s the only process that I can narrow down mentally to a set time and space.
How was this songwriting and recording process for the EP similar or different from that of the past work that you’ve put out?
Trishes: So for this one I worked with two different producers. Previously to releasing this, I only had two singles out. But I’ve recorded pretty much all of my next album, so I guess I can compare the EP to what I have coming up. *laughs* For the most part, the full-length album was recorded in a bedroom, and then we cut the vocals and piano at a studio. It was just a really organic, home-grown process with me and a producer who’s phenomenal and a very fun person to work with. Whereas for Ego, the process was all done in studios. They were both very different, but I think there are benefits to each of them. So yeah, Ego was recorded in studios in a more sporadic timing and then my next album was recorded every single day for a few months in a home studio.
Cool! So apart from “Money” and “Hydra,” if you had an unlimited budget to make a music video right now at this very moment in time, which song would you choose and what kind of concept would you want to do?
Trishes: Eventually all the songs are going to have videos. I already have the “Language” video already done, and we’re working on “Saraswati” right now, so the only one left would be “Caesar.” *laughs* It’s actually funny that you ask that question, because the concept I have for “Caesar” would require the biggest budget. I’m still going to try to figure out how to do it though, because I have this theory that if a vision is placed in your mind and burns in your heart, then you have to bring it into fruition. It’s almost like a responsibility.
It’s a sign from the universe in a way! You have to do it!
Trishes: Yeah exactly! I would like to shoot “Caesar” in a museum, and that alone costs a lot of money. I would also want dancers to, so part of that budget would definitely go to them. So if I had an unlimited budget, it would definitely be for “Caesar.” But again, I’m still gonna figure out how to do it without that unlimited budget.
Well when you finally bring it to life it would be really cool to see!
Trishes: Yeah! I love museums! I wrote the very first song that I ever released, well, really the second song that I released, but it was the first song that I wrote for a project, “Animal,” in a museum. I wrote “Money” in a museum too. Yeah, I guess you could say that I love museums. *both laugh* I love connecting with humanity throughout time and understanding what continues to be uniquely and inherently human. I feel like in a museum you can really feel that connection with humanity as a whole, both throughout time and across cultures.
Also, the artistic aspect can help with finding inspiration.
Trishes: Yeah, there’s that too. But what I like the most is what they would have called “primitive art,” or more “ancient art.” I think they actually stopped using that term. But I think there is a connection between the art and the humanity that I feel that’s a little more visceral, especially with approaches to modern or classical art.
And speaking of different art forms, you’ve also released some accompanied artwork and spoken word for Ego. What made you decide to also include these, and where did you draw the artistic inspiration from?
Trishes: I think these concepts are very dense, hard concepts to grapple with as a human being because they are such a large part of our collective consciousness. I can’t dive into that as much as I would like to in one song, so I would say that the songs are the thesis statements. Thesis statements need to be fleshed out by details and thoughts and feelings, and I think that the spoken word and the videos are my way of describing and elaborating on these statements that are showcased in the songs.
It’s almost like an artistic essay.
Trishes: Yeah! That’s really funny that you say that because I tend to start most of my songs start off as essays. *laughs* Most of my songs just start as me wanting to figure out how I feel about a specific concept. And then later on, I want to figure out what and if I want to put something out into the world that has to do with this theme. So it goes from essays, and then spoken word, and then eventually synthesizes into song form.
Right now, with social media being the most prominent form of marketing, do you think it makes it easier or harder for independent artists to market themselves to an audience?
Trishes: I think it makes it easier for specific kinds of artists, but I can’t say for certain whether it makes it easier for me or for anyone in particular. It’s just very different. I think social media tends to respond best to specific, visual, content depending on the platform. It’s also hard to say because I’ve never been in an age without social media while also pursuing a career as an artist.
Plus it’s always changing, so sometimes it’s hard to have feelings about it. *laughs*
Trishes: But really though! *laughs* In all honesty, I don’t really like social media because there’s so much pressure trying to make everything look nice so people could be interested in you.
That actually rolls into my next question. Do you sometimes feel social adds on this pressure for artists, or anybody really, to have something going on all the time?
Trishes: Sure, but I think it’s more than that. If you look closely, there are paths of less resistance that you take on social media to which you popularize yourself faster and more efficiently. When that plays a role psychologically or in your art creation, I think that’s where it becomes detrimental because you’re not creating art for the sake of the art you’re creating, you’re creating art for the sake of popularity. Some of the most popular art wouldn’t even have been popular if the artist was thinking about, ‘How am I going to be able to popularize this quickly?’ I think social media sometimes takes away from artistry. It’s not for everyone, obviously, but I think you have to be stubborn for what it is your art says and why you’re putting out the art.
I totally agree. I feel like that idea is most prominent in popular radio music. Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely been getting better over the years with how we now have artists that are actually trying to make strong statements and showcasing more positivity.
Trishes: Yeah! It’s awesome!
I love it! But like one example is Ariana Grande…
Trishes: Right! *laughs* You know it’s interesting, because her first two singles off of that album were….
“Thank U, Next” and then “7 Rings”…
Trishes: Yeah, and “7 Rings” is just this trope of extreme wealth. But then “Thank U, Next” is an up close view and commentary on her relationships. It’s interesting. And I don’t judge anyone for the art that they’re making, but I do feel that there are more interesting and intricate things that the masses would respond to if they had time to breathe.
It’s almost like there’s the timing pressure too, especially nowadays. As a regular music consumer, I feel like every time there’s something new, there’s another new thing from them like a month later, or when it comes to like an album it’s like every year. And then I’m over here like, ‘When could you possibly have the time to do all that?’ *both laugh*
Trishes: Sometimes we really need to ask ourselves ‘It that really what I have to say?’ I feel like so many people are saying things for the sake of saying something? It creates a lot of noise, like, can we just be still for a moment? Is this something that really needs to be out in the world? Has someone said this already? Is someone going to say this better? And I feel like so much of it is unintentional too, all because we’re in this era of ‘Oh, you have to put lots of content out.’ I’m just not sure how productive that is for our minds, you know?
Yeah, there’s a lot to weed through now. I feel like we need to have a clone in order to do all the things we want to do.
Trishes: Yeah, there’s definitely that. You just need to make time to bring certain ideas to life, but you also need time to live life and journey through these things that happen. You can’t fast track maturity and development and growth as a person.
You could try, but that might not necessarily work.
Trishes: Like, that’s just not how we function. We have these awesome people who are just total geniuses and have these fresh ideas that really need to be put into the world, and a lot of times they do end up finding their way to the top of this industry. But then again, there are so many other people who just don’t have that much of anything to say, and they too can become really popular. I guess I just value thoughtfulness more than overall popularity.
Agreed. So speaking of taking time to enjoy things, you recently did your first immersive art experience to coincide with Ego’s release! How did the opportunity come about and what inspired the direction to kind of create that kind of event?
Trishes: The opportunity didn’t really ‘come about’ perse, it was just an idea that I strongly wanted to pursue. I’ve been doing small tours for the last few years and I absolutely love playing live, but I wanted a chance to really immerse myself in each community a little longer and spend a few days in each city. That idea was particularly important with Ego, because Ego showcases my relationships with the structures of government, and money, and language, and so forth. As a woman of color and a daughter of immigrants, I feel like Ego really helped me express those relationships and emotions accurately and thoroughly. However, there are so many other relationships that people have with these structures that are equally as important to mine, if not more. I really wanted to make this a space where we could talk about other things. Take language for example, there are so many ways that it can be used as a tool of oppression, especially in the LGBTQ community and the black community, that I didn’t get to touch on in the song. I really want to create a conversation in which we are able to acknowledge the different relationships that minorities have with these structures in a way I couldn’t do in my own.
That’s super awesome that you want to create a community aspect to it as well. You don’t really see a whole lot of events like what you’re trying to accomplish.
Trishes: I’m really excited about it! The first two were in Oklahoma City and Kansas City. Then we’ll do L.A. later in the summer, and New York and a few other cities after that.
Everybody, keep an eye out!
And if you could choose three artists to go on a world tour with, who would you choose and what would you name your tour?
Trishes: Oh gosh! *laughs* The first one would be St. Vincent, she’s always been my dream to tour with. I’d love to have Regina Spektor on there too, I just love her. And then, hmm, three artists, I need one more, I’d probably go with FKA Twigs or Banks, one of those two.
*replicating Old El Paso taco shell commercial* Why not both? *both laugh*
Trishes: True! I can have a five person tour! *laughs* I can’t think of a tour name though.
It’s ok! Sometimes the best ones are the ones that come spontaneously!
Trishes: Absolutely! I think it also depends on where I am in terms of this journey of the selves.
Definitely makes sense. So modern music listening has been focused on the streaming aspect for the past couple of years, which includes a lot of focus on single and EP releases. Why do you think that is?
Trishes: I honestly have no idea. *laughs* I personally like full projects and complete concepts, as well as fleshed out worlds and experiences. Right now, I think we like things that are easily consumable and just quick, you know? Diving into an entire ethos is hard, especially when the world is already hard. I think a lot of times we just want our entertainment to be ‘easy.’ I don’t think that’s bad, it’s just not would I say would interest me as a consumer. I like the Walt Disney-s and the George Lucas-s, because they create these elaborate worlds that take time and thought, maybe even years and generations to develop. I’m not sure why the world is the way that it is when it comes to entertainment, but I think that we as a society just lean toward things that are quick and easily consumable.
Yeah. I definitely saw the transitioning from when LimeWire came around. I think a good, current example of time investment is the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Like, it was twenty-two movies until the big showdown, and people heavily invested a lot of time into it. Hopefully there are pockets of people that, like you said, are looking for the full, complete picture instead of a one and done kind of thing.
Trishes: Yeah, I think it’s interesting because we really do see that a lot in film and TV. I mean, we just finished Game of Thrones, and whether or not you liked the last season, it was still a world that was built and felt by the audience. I’m not sure why we do that so much more in visual arts like film and TV, but I wish it could be just as popular in music. There’s still artists like Kendrick Lamar and Beyoncé who do these deep and emotional collections, so there’s still people at very high levels who do try to do that. I think we just see less of that when it comes to music, but hopefully it will change.
I hope so too. Now as a female musician, do you feel that women in the music industry need to portray themselves in certain ways in order to find success in their careers?
Trishes: No, absolutely not. I think that maybe there are ways that are easier than others if you conform, but I don’t think it’s necessary.
For sure. And how do you balance your personal life with your professional life?
Trishes: I don’t really separate them very much. *laughs* I work with my friends, or I guess the people I work with have become my friends. My life has turned into art, so without living my life, there’s no art. Art is a cathartic experience, and I strive to have a healthy relationship with it as opposed to putting a lot of pressure on it. I feel like it comes when it’s supposed to come. I may have a fraught relationship with business and success, but my relationship with art is very healthy and I don’t think I would be able to separate myself from it. My life and my work aren’t separate in any way to me because of the connection with art.
You’ve achieved what most people have trouble achieving — a work/life balance.
Trishes: Yeah! *laughs* I really do love making things, and living my life, and traveling. As silly as it may sound, I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to do the things that I want to do. My parents didn’t push me to do any art growing up, and I think that’s probably the reason why I have such a healthy relationship with it. Art is my exhale, it’s my way of thinking, and it’s my way of digesting.
That’s such a great way to put it! So if you could give your younger self some advice in regards to what you’ve experienced so far with music, with art, with life in general, what type of advice would you give her?
Trishes: I would tell her to start playing shows as soon as possible. *laughs* I really didn’t start playing shows until recently. I went to a performing arts high school, and I did a lot of performances, but I didn’t go out in the world to actually play shows. That’s one thing I would tell her. The other would be, ‘Focus on your purpose, because your purpose is fulfilled in a lot of different ways.’ To me, purpose and success aren’t necessarily always the same thing. I’ve found that if I focus on, ‘What am I here on this earth for? What do I have to say?’ then everything’s ok. But when I start thinking about ‘success,’ then I get anxious and worry a lot more and that’s not where I want to be. So focus on your purpose, and play a bunch of shows as soon as possible.
What do you hope your audience will take away from your music?
Trishes: With Ego, I want people to have conversations about minority relationships with these structures that I have brought up in the songs. With the overall, overarching ‘Trishes’ concept, I hope it helps people deal with their own internal pull between the primal self and the spiritual self, because I think all external conflict comes from a deeper internal struggle. Those are really the two main things that I hope they can take away.
And to end this off, apart from your interactive experience and riding the highs of the release of Ego, and a new album that you mentioned is on the way, what other big and exciting things should we be expecting from you?
Trishes: Well, I’m releasing my next music video on June 20th, which is World Refugee Day. I’m part of a group that resettles refugees in Los Angeles, and the video features one of the families that I’m particularly close with, so it’s very special to me. In July, I will be playing in Eastern Europe, primarily Belgrade, Szeged, and Budapest, and then playing a festival in Sarajevo, or I guess I should say a little outside of Sarajevo in Bosnia. Then in the fall we’re going to be doing some more Ego Experiences, but I will also release a few more videos in between that time.
Trishes: Yeah! So I’ve got a few things happening. *laughs*
Well it sounds like a lot of fun things coming up. Can’t wait for it!
Check out Trishes on her Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Spotify!
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