Who in the world are Tess & Dave?
You may better know Dave as David Vandervelde, the producer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist known for his solo career and collaborations with the late Jay Bennett (Wilco). At age 20, Dave moved into Bennett’s Pieholden Suite Sound studio. While there, he blossomed under Bennett’s tutelage, writing and recording tracks for his debut solo album and co-producing Bennett’s The Magnificent Defeat. In recent years, Dave has toured the world playing guitar in Father John Misty’s live band. He has also toured in support of Centro-matic, Spoon, Richard Swift, Magnolia Electric Company, Blitzen Trapper, and Dr. Dog, to name a few. Those years and experiences were home to creative discovery via collaborations and the rise and fall of relationships, which rendered Dave ready for something more.
But that was the Dave before there was a Tess. And there was a Tess before there was a Dave.
Tess Shapiro has been making music since the age of 16, first focusing on guitar and vocals, then adding synth and percussion through the years. Inspired by Joni Mitchell, she is self-taught and primarily plays by ear, which lends to her music a creative, unexpected sound. That sound is what led Tess to collaborate with many bands through the years, including Los Angeles-based Two Sheds, and Toy Pony.
Tess & Dave as mutually exclusive units ceased to exist the first time Dave saw Tess on stage with Two Sheds. The moment he saw her perform, he knew he had to start a band with her. Through their collaboration, Dave has experienced a creative rebirth, one that has allowed him to explore new styles and depths that might never be possible as a solo artist, and certainly not as imaginable without Tess.
“The only difference between our on stage and off stage life together, is that on stage we have our clothes on.” —Tess & Dave
Together, Tess & Dave create songs that are simultaneously familiar and curious. “Social Chess” initially plays along as a sad breakup song at the surface, but it blossoms as a happy song of self awareness and personal freedom in the vein of Harry Nilsson. The lush, psychedelic “Take a Dip in My Dreams” harkens back to the heyday of Jeff Lynne; its lyrics carry the listener through a journey that straddles both the mundane and the whimsical, resulting in a phantasmagorical love song.
In Spring, Tess & Dave took their show on the road, supporting Father John Misty across the entire United States, playing to sold out rooms, and making a few thousand friends along the way. Tess & Dave’s eponymous debut EP will be released on Friendship Fever on August 26, and their debut LP is expected in early 2017.