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Meet Tessa Mouzourakis: Student and Singer Songwriter

I recently had the chance to sit down with 18 year-old, second year UBC student, Tessa Mouzourakis. In addition to studying History and English, she is a talented local singer-songwriter who spent most of the summer in Nashville. I talked with Tessa about her experiences:

HCUBC: When did you first start song writing?

Tessa: I started writing lyrics when I was eight. At the time, I didn’t play an instrument,  so I called them [my writings] songs but they weren’t really. I hadn’t learned how to organize a song yet: chorus, verse, that kind of stuff. So I’d say the first time I wrote a song beginning to end,with music, was probably around when I was 10 or 11.

HCUBC: You recently spent a few months in Nashville, what made you decide to make the move?

T: Well, Nashville is called ‘music city’ for a reason. I’d actually never been there before – I’d never visited – and I didn’t really know anyone before I went. I just knew that’s where I needed to go, so I did. It was so much fun and it really helped me expand on my co-writing and learn how to collaborate with other people and artists from all different backgrounds. That’s really what I loved about Nashville, was how everyone was from all over.

HCUBC: Was it hard being so far from home?

T: Definitely. The first two weeks were really really tough, especially because I was alone in this new city and I wasn’t going to school or anything, so I had no real organized activities to meet people. So, I had to go to shows and sit next to people and try to talk to them and ask complete strangers if they wanted to write. It was really scary but it definitely taught me a lot about making new friends and new colleagues, and being more confident.

HCUBC: What would be your advice for other people who are thinking of moving away?

T: Not to psych yourself out obviously! First of all, I’m definitely very anxious about a lot of things and this was one of them. I used to get super homesick when I went away from home. So this whole idea of moving was like the scariest thing ever but I don’t think it really hit me until we crossed the border and I realized what I’d gotten myself into! I think my biggest suggestion would be not to freak yourself out and have faith in yourself and what you’re able to do. And know that you can do this, try not to get too overwhelmed. It was scary but it was also one of the best experiences of my life.

HCUBC: For anyone who’s planning on visiting Nashville, do you have any favourite spots that you’d recommend?

T: Well, the Bluebird is always a good place to see good songwriters and live music – but it’s really really busy!  My personal favourite place to go to meet other songwriters, and to meet other people, is the Listening Room.

HCUBC: What is Nashville like? 

T: [Nashville is] awesome! Not just in terms of music but the city is really cool to begin with. The pedestrian bridge is really cool and I know everyone likes to go down Broadway to see all the Honky Tonks, the cowboy boots, the cowboy hats and everything like that. Which definitely was interesting for me, being Canadian getting to check out the South for the first time. It’s a really cool and vibrant city. There’s so much to do. But if you’re going to go definitely check out the music! There’s live music 24/7.

HCUBC: Did you get the chance to see any of your idols live while you were in Nashville?

T: Yes I did! I went to a show almost every night that I wasn’t performing. It was one of the things I loved about Nashville. There are so many amazing artists and they’re so accessible in concert. I got to see one of my favourite Canadian songwriters, Donovan Woods, perform  in a winery and it was very intimate setting so I got to meet him afterwards and that was so cool. I also got to go to the Grand Ole Opry and see some really cool performances. I also got to see Maren Morris at the CMA (Country Music Awards) fest. There’s just so much talent in that city.

HCUBC: Do you feel going to Nashville helped you grow as a songwriter?

T: Totally, yeah. Going to this city, this music city, with such a large concentration of songwriters in a kind of small geographic area made me realize how much I needed to learn. It also gave me the chance to collaborate, co-write and learn from other people, and learn what I’m up against in a sense. And to learn to be more confident and to stick out. In Vancouver especially, it’s a fairly small music scene compared to Nashville. In Nashville, you have to work really hard for people to notice you. And for you to get that gig, you have to go out and talk to people. It really taught me a lot about confidence.

HCUBC: Are you planning on going back to Nashville soon?

T: Yes, definitely.  It’s definitely something I want to pursue. I love the city, I love the music, and I totally see myself living there one day.

HCUBC: Are you releasing any new music soon?

T: Hopefully, yes. I’ve been writing all the time and I’m in the works of getting a new EP or some sort of recording organized. I think this new project for me is important because I want to be putting my best work forward. I’ve been writing a ton and I’m just waiting till I have those favourite five tracks that I want to record.

 

HCUBC thanks Tessa for this awesome interview, and we hope you check out Tessa’s Instagram, FacebookTwitter, and website! 

 

 

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