I had the privilege of seeing one of my favorite YouTubers in concert over the weekend, and it reminded me once again why I love Tessa Violet so much and how she inspires me. So in the spirit of inspiring others, I thought I’d share some of her wisdom with you.
Tessa’s a bit of an interesting bird. She started out as a vlogger on YouTube–a bi-product of her international modeling stint. It later morphed into directing music videos and writing and acting in comedy sketches. And then in the last few years she made the transition to singer/songwriter, which is a surprising change in genre for an online content creator. Very rarely does an audience resonate with a content creator in such a way that they can follow her through such dramatic shifts in genre and style. But Tessa is different. She’s that quirky girl-next-door. She’s that friend who gets all your issues with anxiety and self-loathing. She’s the banner holder of all the outcasts and loners and people who feel like they just don’t quite FIT. In fact, when people ask me who my favorite YouTubers are, I almost always list Tessa first because I know if they also know her and like her, then we’re definitely going to be friends. There’s a kinship between people who connect with her work and brand that’s nearly indescribable. But I’ll try to give you a little peak into what I think makes that connection.
One of my favorite songs off Tessa’s first album “Maybe Trapped Mostly Troubled” (and I think one of the most universally popular songs as well based on downloads) is “Make Me a Robot.” If you listen to the original album version, it’s electronic and loud with a powerful, sing-along worthy chorus. But it’s also admittedly a rather bleak song. It’s about feeling so worn out with your emotions and anxieties that you want to disappear–or in this case, become a cold, emotionless robot. And unlike most happy-go-lucky YouTube songs addressing these kinds of feelings, it doesn’t have a resolution.
At the concert this weekend, she played “Make Me a Robot,” but it was in its most subdued version. The keyboardist and drummer left the stage, and it was just Tessa with a guitar and blued lights performing an acoustic version of the song. And she also told the story of where this song came from. How she wrote it after having finally decided to go to therapy to help deal with her intense anxiety, but still feeling and fearing that she was a burden to others. That no one really liked her. That it was all lies to save her feelings.
The venue got so quiet in that moment as she outlined her past struggles, and I knew that most everyone there was feeling exactly as I was–that we know that struggle. That we have those fears. That we’re somewhere in our journey of trying to tear ourselves away from giving up. Because if you’re a Tessa Violet fan, I’d put money on the fact that you’ve probably wanted to be made into a robot at some point in your life. You might even feel that way right now. The reasoning behind this desire will vary, but we’ve been drawn to Tessa because she’s put into words the disconnect we’ve felt with this world for so long.
So “Make Me a Robot” isn’t a super hopeful song. But it’s a time capsule of a feeling, an experience that Tessa had, that many of us have had too. And Tessa’s work and success is the resolution that isn’t present in the song. She’s the living embodiment of why you can’t give in to the cold, emotionlessness of a robot’s existence. You have to keep fighting for you.
So every time I hear Tessa and see her perform, I get a little more hopeful for my future and for all the others like me and her. We’re works in progress. But we’re damn amazing.
If you’ve never heard of Tessa before but are interested to learn more, check out her YouTube channel here.
Also, she’s just released a new EP, and these are the song’s she’s released music videos for so far. I was just going to link one, but after watching them all, I realized I love them all for different reasons and you should watch them!
I think “Dream” is my favorite visually. Like this is the aesthetic that I want to make all my videos in!
“Not Over You” has an amazingly cute and fun color palette and the song’s just so awesome!
“Haze” is an example of how a “lyric” video is still super beautiful and well-directed when it comes from Tessa.
Tessa’s acoustic cover of “Make Me a Robot.” If you want to hear the original electronic version, you’ll have to listen to the album.