Teaadora wraps up Flat Black Studio session, plays the Trumpet Blossom Friday

Teaadora Nikolova of Teaadora practices a vocal track during recording sessions at Flat Black Studio in Iowa City Friday afternoon, November 1, 2013. — photo by Bill Adams


Trumpet Blossom Cafe – Friday, November 8 at 9 p.m.

The Trumpet Blossom Cafe is hosting a very special free show with Mission Creek Artist in Residence Teaadora Friday. A soft-spoken singer with an ethereal voice, Teaadora Nikolova has been playing a minimalist, mystified music for a few short years, releasing cassette tapes and CDRs here and there, including her A Jamais Vierge/Virgin Forever LP in 2012 that received critical acclaim from pretty impressive ears.

The album is melancholy at times, playful at others. And while the music could be described as minimalist and bleak, her vocals are warm like orchestral strings and the emotion in her lyrics is dense and layered. Her style is in tune with a smoother Laurie Anderson, Jarboe of the Swans or melodic noise gurus like Terry Riley or David Berman. But there is also an underlying modern folk sense at the same time. Nikolova also has a refreshing, child-like approach to very heavy topics, which erases any kind of pretentiousness from the otherworldly approach she has to her music and conversation.

As a conversationalist, Nikolova is warm, challenging and engaging, but guarded in a sense until she feels comfortable. She then communicates as if she was talking with an old friend. We quickly left the casual realm and dug in, sharing our fears about the link between writers block and depression.

“It’s hard sometimes for me to write music,” she said. “Kafka said the only way to get out of hell is to write yourself out of it. There’s a pain that takes over. It’s overwhelming and writing is really the only way out.”

While searching for meaning behind her often cryptic songs, specifically the emotionally charged and haunting (a word that keeps appearing in descriptions of Teaadora’s music) “The Only One” from the A Jamais Vierge album, Nikolova said, “You know how friendliness can be worn down by changing your view of how you see someone? Life happens and things get in the way. It’s a song about love and trying to catch something from real life.”

After a short time, a very conventional plan for a telephone interview boiled down into a conversation about fading love and depression. She was more interested in a new-found friendship than a magazine article and managed to turn a very dull day into an inspiring one by agreeing to answer only one more question.

LV: Can you explain the genre ‘vie fausse?’ A false life?

TN: “’Vie Fausse’ is a very important concept within my music, it is about a repressed sexuality that has been painfully concealed within the music and never really spoken about in the public until maybe now. “Vie Fausse” does mean false life, it refers to the images people take on when they become celebrated. My fake life is the life of Teaadora. Teaadora is not my real name. It is a slightly changed name from a girl I was in love with through the internet, who now lives in Kyiv, Ukraine. The fake life is also the straight male life of Matthew Donovan, who is afraid to come out as at times a transgendered bi-sexual. You can choose. I was born Matthew, but I feel more resonance with Teaadora.”

Teaadora’s music reflects her struggle with grace and grandeur. There is wonder there, an otherworldly spirituality at times. But the androgyny in the voice and style is not projected in the way David Bowie used vie fauuse to promote a glamorous celebrity from outer space.

Teaadora’s live act is subdued but powerful. Her current band includes Mark Grieff on guitar and bass, Alex Kim on cello and Nikolova on guitar and vocals. Expect soaring melodies and a fearless outpouring of emotion.

As a Mission Creek Artist in Residence, Teaadora came to Iowa from their home in Bloomington to record several songs with Luke Tweedy at his Flat Black Studios last week. A quick listen to rough tracks sounds like the session yielded some very powerful stuff. The plans are to shop for labels to put out the songs, or to possibly release them on their own with the Mission Creek stamp. But, make sure you don’t miss their performance Friday at the Trumpet Blossom Cafe.

Past Mission Creek artists include Dirty Beaches and Erase Eratta, who also performed live and completed a recording session at Flat Black Studios. Both bands are set to release their Mission Creek sessions very soon.

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