Northern Transmissions spoke with Teeny Lieberson of the band TEEN. Their album The Way and Color comes out April 8th on Carpark Records.
Northern Transmissions: The band has definitely moved into a more synth-heavy sound [from previous records]. What prompted you to move in this direction?
Teeny Lieberson: Honestly, I don’t know. I’m really a keyboard player before I am a guitarist: I am really obsessed with many types of keyboards. I guess it all happened in a natural sort of way, I think it was a mood thing.
NT: You recorded the new album The Way and Color with a new member, bassist Boshra AlSaadi. What kind of impact did she have on the recording sessions?
TL: Well, she comes from a completely different background. She played in a West African band before she joined TEEN. She really understands hip hop and soul, which was a huge part of the album. She turned out to be a big fan of Outkast and D’Angelo, [who] we love as well. She really understands rhythm and how to play, her sensibility is quite amazing. We were introduced by friends, it just turned out she played the style that we were looking for. The whole thing was really serendipitous.
NT: What’s it like playing in a band with your two sisters?
TL: You know, we’re really close, so it’s really easy spending time together. Writing is easy as well, we grew up with many of the same musical references, so that part seems to always go smoothly. Obviously there are sibling dynamics, but in our case it actually works out for the better.
NT: Does the new album feel like it’s a bit of a coming out party for you vocally? Your singing really stands out, especially on the tracks “Rose” and “More Than I Ask For”.
TL: Kind of, yeah, I used to sing like that when I was younger. It’s actually kind of a regression, when I think about it. On our first album, I was really quite nervous about singing. I think I even tried to hide my vocals in the mix a little bit. On this album I really wanted to sing, I felt quite ready. I think on the other album, I might have tried to sing more straight-forward, where on the new album I wanted to sing in a more acrobatic style.
NT: You guys live in Brooklyn presently, but you actually grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the hometown of Sloan. Can you tell us some fun or interesting facts about the city?
TL: Ellen Page came from Halifax. My parents are Buddhists, their teacher thought it was a magical place and suggested they live there. There is a major retreat in the city and many other ones in the surrounding areas. Halifax is really a great place, it’s beautiful. The people are really kind, there is a serenity about that city. I think about it and miss it all the time. We try to make it back for summer visits.
NT: You put out a really cool 90 second video teaser for the release of The Way and Color. Were you involved in the production?
TL: No, the artist put it together completely by himself. His name is Jake Fried, he is a friend of ours from Massachusetts who we went to school with. He does most of his art with white-out, coffee, and a ballpoint pen. We were very lucky that he decided to work with us, he doesn’t work with that many people.
NT: Which five albums are inspiring you these days?
TL: D’Angelo – Voodoo, Kate Bush – Hounds of Love, David Bowie – Hunky Dory, Stevie Wonder – Talking Book, and St. Vincent – St. Vincent.