Seattle’s Tekla Waterfield is a thoughtful, introspective songwriter who seeks evolution and to touch new creative ground with each project she involves herself with. Her latest effort is a 10-song album, The Curtain Falls, an inspiring and uplifting album with songs born from personal experiences that range from joy to sorrow, completion to confusion. But Waterfield has more in store for her followers.
On March 16th, the songwriter will release a stunning video for her single, “Nice Try,” which was conceived and directed by Emerald City standout, Ryan Jorgensen. To celebrate these achievements, we caught up with Waterfield to ask her about the new video, her inspirations behind her album and much more.
You said you wrote the song, “Nice Try,” while feeling socially frustrated and dismissed. How did you feel about your orientation to these emotions after finishing the recording and video?
I suppose every song has, when you’re writing it, the immediate feeling that you are expressing and exploring. And that will always be there. But then over time as you perform it yourself or with different people, it can kind of shift. It’s therapeutic. That feeling that you had already shifted into something else and then it just becomes a piece of art that marks that moment of your life. I was super happy with how the song turned out. And the video, I’ve been waiting a while to see it and so I’m just so happy to see it come to life. I don’t know if the whole thing carries the idea behind it from the viewer’s standpoint, but it’s always going to be that initial feeling for me.
In the song, you sing a lyric about coming to the realization that people can’t really do whatever they want. Is that what you believe?
I think it was, again, a fleeting moment of feeling defeated. I go through these times – and I know lots of other people that do – when you’re going strong for a while. Like, “Yes, I’m doing all these things, achieving all these goals. It’s going great!” Then you go through a day where you’re just faltering and everything seems to shatter. Like, “I don’t believe in myself, I don’t believe in anything, I don’t believe in the world.” For me, those are usually fleeting moments but [when I wrote the song] that was definitely a day when I was feeling super defeated and, like, “What is the point of everything?” That comes and goes for me. But I do believe that we can absolutely do everything that we possibly can and do our best and go for everything and make it happen.
The end of the song features a very knowing whisper, “Nice try.” It’s as if you’re acknowledging a breakup from an idea. Is that how it felt?
The ending of it is very sarcastic. I guess it’s sort of a pessimistic song, really. Like someone going, “Nice try!” to you but you didn’t do it. It’s like that voice in your head, that voice that comes around those days when you’re feeling defeatist. That voice in your head, your ego voice, that little devil voice that tells you you can’t do stuff or you’re not good enough. There’s another song on the album that has a similar theme, the “Stand Back and Fall Down” song. But it winds up ending with a sort of, after all of that defeatist stuff, jump up and stand tall is the message at the end. There’s an optimistic ending. But “Nice Try” stays with that dark-voice-in-your-head-vibe.
The song itself is slow and stretched. What went into the production?
The vibe of the production was a nod to the French band, Air. That moody orchestral swelling ethereal vibe. It just seemed to suit the feeling of what the song was about. So, it just happened naturally.
What was it like working with your husband, Jeff Fielder, on the record?
We worked together on the whole album and that all came together organically. Gradually, Jeff has been building interest in production and this one was definitely a big Jeff production. A lot of the record is his ideas for production, which I appreciated. The other record I put out, I used a live band with just a little bit of overdubs. But really it was a live sound. And I’d been thinking what would it be like to have a more produced sound and work with someone about ideas for production. It all happened naturally. Jeff played a big part and he also played multiple instruments on the album.
Your new record, The Curtain Falls, on which “Nice Try” appears, is rather uplifting. Why was this the album you wanted to make?
I think I’m leaning that way more and more with my writing. Part of that is because I’ve gotten a little bit more of a calm home life now than I did a few years ago. But it’s interesting to hear you say that it feels more uplifting.
I guess that makes sense in a way because I tend to, even though when I’m looking at things through a negative lens, then I always come back around to the positive side and looking at the best possible outcome. I’m an optimist, ultimately. I don’t know if being inspirational was intentional.
For me, I haven’t gotten to the point where writing is a concept thing. It’s more of an impulse thing where I just feel the impulse to make stuff and pull from all different parts of life. It can be hard to make it come together into one message or theme because it pulls from so much. But it’s interesting to hear you say you think it sounds inspirational!
Tekla Waterfield celebrates the release of the “Nice Try” video with a live show at the Tractor on March 16. Marty O’Reilly and the Old Soul Orhcestra and Ben Morrison share the bill. Tickets available here.