By David A. Mitchell
Tearist: Let The Movement Begin
It was Rolling Stone.com that stated, “Tearist’s sound and live image is about pushing people out of their comfort zone to the point where they question their own existence.” Yet, asking Tearist to describe their uniquely dark and hypnotic sound would be an exercise in futility. The duo comprised of electronic synth/bassist maestro William Strangeland Menchaca and vocalist/percussionist Yasmine Kittles are an entity unto themselves. As collaborators, performers and friends, coming together in 2009, they are one of the hottest underground alternative bands to come out of Los Angeles in some time. Through their connection with fans that support them online and attending their standing-room only shows, like an Occupy Wall Street protest, the Tearist movement has begun.
“I wanted to create something that didn’t sound like anything else,” says Yasmine. “I didn’t know how that was possible. We were trying to start our own movement. The word Tearist would describe everything we were trying to do, and not have to justify any genre. When we came up with our sound, I was kind of afraid of it; I think we both were… What does this even sound like? Not even realizing we were creating exactly what I wanted my whole life. It became this scary thing because we couldn’t figure out where it would stand, where it went. It’s not the kind of music you would play during Thanksgiving dinner.”
This eclectic sound that Kittles speaks of is no more evident than in the pair’s nine-song project Living: 2009 – Present (Thin Wrist Recordings), recorded live over a two-year period at various locations around Los Angeles. Both onstage and off, William and Yasmine display a symbiotic connection, responsible for their inexplicable sound and energy. “We really go for it when it comes to collaborating and performing,” declares William. “We’re really honest with each other that it’s almost improvisational; no two sessions or shows are ever alike.”
Speaking of shows, they remain on the road constantly—having played at conferences such as SXSW and CMJ and taking their performance art to stages in Los Angeles (where they played their very first performance at the Gold Room), Boston, New York, Texas, and across Europe.
Tearist share a series of live videos posted on YouTube, but the Elizabeth Skadden-directed “Disposition” with its flashing frames, and Yasmine’s Siouxsie and the Banshees-like vocal yelps, rightfully capture a fraction of the duo’s essence; a clip that could assist in growing their underground fanbase. But even with a coveted front cover of the L.A. Weekly publication, commercial success isn’t necessarily the goal with Tearist.
“That’s a false hope,” says William. “Obviously you want it, but this isn’t why we’re doing this…whether one person cared or a million people cared, I’d be doing the exact same thing. I’m doing what I love to do and feel appreciated especially when people like it.”
Tearist are busy at work recording songs for a full-length album to be released this summer and producing an official video for their fan favorite, “Headless.”