Connecting via Zoom, we’re usually robbed of the details that help bring these words to life, but ever the storyteller, Teezo kindly fills in the blanks. “It’s like a $5-a-night motel,” he drawls on his current backdrop in Dallas, with a distinct Texan twang. “I was awakened by a car alarm at six in the morning. The floors are a little moist and the sheets are too, I’m not sure if there’s a little mould going on here. Also the room smells like onions because we had Whataburger.”
Simultaneously revealing and concealing, he often interviews as one of his alter-egos Eugnious Hanes – his “left- and right-hand man” who speaks with a Nasally southern accent – but today is totally Teezo, face obscured by sunglasses, a mousy brown wig, and a hat that has been nailed within an inch of its life. “It’s very personal,” he shares on his signature style. “My dad is a maintenance man, so I got the nails and chains from his house. It’s very DIY.”
Much like his looks, Teezo’s music is a mind-warping blend of indie rock, trap, rap, ska, electropop, country, throwing in the kitchen sink for good measure too a sound he’s been concocting since middle school, when he started experimenting and produced his first song. “My dad was DJ and I remember in fourth grade I learned how to do this new technique called chopping and screwing, where they slow down the pitch and repeat it,” he recalls. “So I started DJing and then in middle school my dad built my home studio, it was just a box, but that’s when I started production on raps songs.”
Bouncing through sounds from track to track, “Social Cues” answers the burning question: ‘What would an uplifting indie rock anthem sound like if it was made in the 80s?’ over which he croons, ‘I may be missing a few screws/ I may miss a few social cues, I’m so confused’. The funky mellow ska-inflected “Strong Friend” reminds you to check in on your strong friend, while “Bad Enough” melds country and rock with Teezo appearing in an outfit that looks like a high school jock and emo had a baby. In fact, the only constant is the graffitied garage doors that act as the backdrop of Teezo’s lo-fi music videos.
“I always hear there’s nothing new under the sun and I try to challenge that every day,” the artist muses. “Before they invented rock and roll, it wasn’t there. So I just feel like I’m chasing, I don’t know what I’m chasing, but I’m chasing something.” As hard as you might try, Teezo is unbox- able, it’s like trying to fit a square peg in a Tetrakaidecagon-shaped (14-sided polygon) hole, i.e. impossible. “You don’t have to con- fine yourself to alternative. I think everyone is alternative, there’s no other person like you and you’re not going to find no one else like you, so you are the alternative. There’s nothing exactly the same so everything is alternative to me.”
Fully aware of his lane and what he has to offer, Teezo’s Instagram bio reads: “Don’t worry you’re early,” a tongue-in-cheek nod to those only just getting on board. When will people be ‘on time’? Never. “There’s always going to be someone who doesn’t know who I am. I’m a new artist to someone every day, you never stop being a new artist,” he explains. Obsessed with music, interviews, and research, the artist himself is still discovering new old talents, referencing iconic Black British photographer Dennis Morris – known for his iconic portraits of Bob Marley and the Sex Pistols. As the interview wraps up, he reveals his own “interviews’ he wrote about himself years ago -there’s that storytelling again - from the depths of his iPhone notes.
Where next for the Texan native? “Tomorrow, the unknown of tomorrow,” he says is what he’s looking forward to. “I just bought my first guitar, my first guitar amp and speakers. What I’m excited about is learning to play and getting a good show to give to the people who are invested in me or people who don’t know who I am and giving them a great show. I’m excited to be the best performer that I can be and the best songwriter that I can be. I’m excited that I’m still growing and not complacent. I’m still learning and I still get excited for ideas, so I’m excited for tomorrow, whatever it is.”
The conversation ends with a short story, sage advice from Teezo’s father on making it in the creative industry. “On Monday, my dad woke me up at 6:45 in the morning and said ‘Yesterday, y’all sat there and did nothing, just watching shows. If you wanna be famous, you gotta do famous shit.’ And that was the most productive day I’ve had in a long time. So I can’t wait to go back home and do more famous shit.”