Tessa Lena is a strongly opinionated musician living in New York. She is a classically trained pianist and singer, born and raised in Moscow. Her bio reads like a movie script.
As a teenager, Tessa had the honor of performing her own composition (entitled ‘In Defense of the Environment) at the Moscow Conservatory, and wanted to be a geneticist.
As her interests expanded to Tibetan music and language, she headed to Lhasa with a backpack to do enthomusicology research.
After being attacked by a sex trafficker in Tibet and successfully fighting him off, Tessa settled in Chicago.
In Chicago, during the Bush administration, Tessa was wrongfully arrested on allegations of ‘espionage’, and spent a month in jail (the peanut butter sandwich that the FBI folks fed to her was yummy; the rest of it, not so much. The agents wanted to know what she was doing in Tibet, and she wished they had some imagination… oh wait, they did).
Once the charges were completely cleared, she started a band working with her hero Ian McDonald of King Crimson and Foreigner, and drummer Alan Lake, who has played and recorded with Madonna, Brian Ferry, Julian Lennon, Ministry, Brian Wilson and Sam Moore from Sam And Dave.
After a few years in Chicago, Tessa moved to New York and started a new band, Tessa Makes Love, along with occasional collaborations by Ian McDonald.
In 2013, her music video “Spente Le Stelle” received over a million very useful views on YouTube although the jury is still out on how many people realized that the video was a satire making fun of sexual objectification. Alas, the world keeps spinning, and it is still imperfect!
In 2016, Tessa started Coalition for Artistic Dignity and organized a conference in Brooklyn dedicated to artistic dignity, social power and corporate responsibility.
In early 2017, she released an album titled ‘Tessa Fights Robots,’ you can listen and buy it here.
Since the English language only has so many words, her blog is also called ‘Tessa Fights Robots.’
Both the album and the blog are about being human in the world of technology, big data, and machine-like people.
Photo credit: Tessa Makes Love at Webster Hall, New York. Photo by Dani Ynad
Art is a microcosm of how we, people of the 21st century, are forced to walk in two worlds.
In one world, we have marketing briefs, Google, Instagram, Grammy Awards, Tinder, and CNN.
In another world, we are five years old, we are lying on our back on the green grass, and nobody can hurt us.
The healthy apologize to the sick,
The ones with a heart
Dance for the robots.
What is this?
Certainly, not the world I live in. No.
Please like me!
Please make me useful!
Please give me meaning!
Please make me feel good!
Please make me famous!
Please guide me!
I need my bearings,
I’m lost without you!
I love you.
Please don’t forsake me,
It’s you and I now…
Before the music was stolen,
Before it was tied to bed
By a nurse with a china head
Whose lips were bleeding with honey –
Before her throbbing composure
Was kindly helped to its knees
And even allowed to please
The Master Decapitatress
Before a thousand ants
With eyes of perfect amber
Were summoned into the chamber
To witness the final bliss –
And then, she was painted over.
A cold, and sightly tickly brush running between her shoulder blades,
And then, down her spine, and then –
It was over.
And where she used to be,
There was this giant smiling boob,
Ready to please the whole town,
Ready to drown in piss and drool.
Before the music was murdered,
I was not homeless.