Who TF is Tornsey?

We had a chat with authentic and engaging queer singer-songwriter Tess Schoonhoven about her new project Tornsey

Having spent the last two years establishing herself and carving out a reputation for her authentic and candid charm, singer-songwriter Tess Schoonhoven has debuted her new project Tornsey, an alternative queer pop-rock band that prides itself on its ethos of freedom of expression and self.

The first release from the project is the 80s-tinged debut single ‘I Feel Fine’, a retro, synth-pop banger that dissects the feelings you’re left with following the falling apart of a relationship. Bleak humour and soaring, melodic sounds are found in equal measure on the new release, with the artist immediately establishing their fun sound and personable and thoughtful lyrics. We had a chat with Tess about the exciting new project and what we should expect from the self-acceptance championing outfit going forward.

Who TF is Tornsey?

A band exploring identity. An artist project that prioritizes freedom and honesty. It’s my band, created after spending the past two years writing music and touring under my given name (Tess). It’s an open space for creativity, and self-defining expression that isn’t bound to past versions of myself.

How long have you been making music?

As a career, a little over two years. In general, since I was 8-years-old. That’s when I started to learn the piano, and I feel like I can say it truly did start back then.

Why do you make music?

It’s the only thing that truly fulfills me, and gives me a way to communicate and connect with others. My life has been a long progression is discovering who I am, what I think, what I want to do, how I can love other people, how I relate to other people, what I stand for…and everything in between. Art, and in particularly music, has been one of the longest standing guiding lights if you will as I’ve accepted my true self and found joy and peace. If I can be a part of contributing to that light, and maybe even those open spaces for love and acceptance that other people need, I certainly want to.

What are your biggest influences?

Currently, it’s been a lot of interpersonal transformation I’ve undergone. I recently went through a really difficult friendship break-up, I also came out as queer this year, and over the past two years slowly “lost my faith” and left behind a lot of harmful beliefs I was taught from a young age. I can’t help but be influenced by these things – wanting to scream about them, cry over them, but also proclaim my power and freedom in the midst of them and on the other side of them. Artistically, some of my influences are Fiona Apple, Elton John, Billy Joel, Queen, MUNA.

What would you say has been your best moment so far?

I truly believe my best moments are still to come, and I’m so excited for the future. But recently I got to play my first show as “Tornsey” as a part of a pop showcase hosted by Know Name Alternative in Nashville, TN, and that ruled. It was great to ring in pride month, and the launch of this new era, with a room full of my friends.

How would you describe your sound to somebody unfamiliar with it?

Alternative pop/rock, with a splash of retro synths and music theater songwriting styles. It can be fun, with dance rhythms and lyrics you want to scream in your car, but also dark, emotional, and intense.

What’s your dream “I’ve made it” moment?

Right now, I’d say if I got to point of playing a full length, headlining tour – I’d be pretty stoked. My dream is to really just be able to play music as often, and as long as possible.

We love your new single ‘I Feel Fine’, what more can you tell us about it?

This one is fun because the story behind is a little comical, and the sonic attitude is very high energy, which is a shift from music I was making under my previous project. Lyrically, the song talks about feeling “ok” after a break-up, not really being torn up about it, but just letting it go, and how that can almost feel wrong, like you should be devastated. I wrote it after I broke up with my last boyfriend, and in retrospect, I think I was totally ok with ending the relationship because I just truly didn’t want to be with him, or any man in fact. I wrote it with my friend Ty Combs and we both have a little bit of a laugh looking back on our perspectives when we wrote it, which was now almost two years ago.
I wanted this song to be bold, especially as it’s the first single from Tornsey. I’m confident it accomplishes that goal.

What else do you have planned for the near future?

I’ll be releasing lots of new music this year, so stay tuned for that. Hopefully lots of shows too, and of course all the ridiculous TikTok content.

And finally, who is your biggest fan right now?

I can’t say yet, buuuut I’m pretty sure if the MUNA crew were to discover my music, they’d be pretty hyped on it. So, Katie, Naomi, and Jo – if you’re reading this, what do you think?