Unwrapped: Tess Becket – Toxic

We had a chat with emerging artist Tess Becket about her stunning debut single ‘Toxic’

Having already began to establish a following on social media thanks to her affable personality and humour, Tess Becket has released her debut single ‘Toxic’, a powerful and raw indie rock ballad with a poetic, emotional edge.

The track has a real air of darkness and danger about it from the very offset, exploring a problematic relationship through the artist’s thoughtful lyrics and the poignant, emotive nature of her captivating vocal delivery. ‘Toxic’ immediately establishes Tess as an artist with a flair for immersive songwriting and storytelling, diving into the deep end with a track steeped in gravity and rawness. We fell for the artist and her sound almost immediately, and have had a chat with her about her process, the story behind the track, and what else she has planned for the near future.

We love your debut single ‘Toxic’, what more can you tell us about it?

Thank you so much! I wrote “Toxic” during a really awful year of my life. After a major family conflict and a breakup, lightning struck my house. While I lived in a hotel with my mom due to the damage, she fainted and needed open heart surgery. It was a lot. Once things settled down, I moved back into my house, took my guitar out on a beautiful Pennsylvania day, and started to process those difficult situations. This song is the first from those sessions. It’s about a loved one having a downward spiral. I kept getting burned, but I returned to help, hoping things would improve. A part of me figured that since I didn’t walk away, I must like the chaos. This thought led to the chorus, which turned into a simmering indie rock song.

What was the process like putting it together?

Even though it’s an emotional song, I had so much fun producing, engineering and recording it. I work in multiple recording studios as an audio engineer and have some space to work on my own music. Quickly after writing it, I produced an electronic demo and brought it to life with my friends and talented collaborators, Zach Savage and Holden Cowburn. We have an awesome time in the studio — there’s always playful arguments and joking around. I mixed “Toxic” with some feedback from them and my girlfriend, lilacjack, who writes gorgeous lofi music. I connected with a really cool mastering engineer, Piper Payne, through Soundgirls (a network of female/nonbinary audio engineers), and she mastered the track.

How have you been inspired by other queer singer-songwriters and producers when creating the track?

I really love artists who produce and write their own music, like King Princess and Julien Baker. They have an impressive command of their craft and inspired me to engineer and produce. Some artists I respect resent being categorized or labeled by their orientation, and that’s understandable. But, as a kid growing up in a rural area, I found and connected most with artists that lived through similar things to me. To me, those labels signal an emotional depth and sense of struggle typically understood by queer artists. That vulnerability and rawness, which I hear often in queer music, really influenced my writing and vocals for “Toxic.”

There is a really dark and emotional edge to the track, is that something that you’re going to continue to explore going forward?

Absolutely. Because I write as a form of therapy, I think my music will always have that emotional edge. I continue to explore some painful experiences in my next batch of songs. I love darker sounds, and my lower vocal register lends itself to that. That said, I have some emotional songs coming out that are sonically lighter than “Toxic,” and I can’t wait to share them soon.

What else do you have planned for the near future?

I have a lot planned for this year. I’m releasing a music video and two more singles in the next couple of months. I also started rehearsing for live shows with the same group that worked on this song. I had a lot of experience on stage before the pandemic, and I’m getting back into the groove of it now. I’m really excited to perform again.