INTERVIEW. Teresa Bergman
Teresa Bergman's two latest singles deal with frustrating topics in a playful manner by using historic parallels, thoroughly crafted visual language and channel both her inner pain and her inner New Zealander. We spoke to the artist about the stories behind the compositions and her songwriting process.
— You latest videos for So Many Men and 33, Single & Broke are both built around the image of you that is an unforgettable combination of artificial and organic – a historic wig and elaborate make-up are a striking contrast with bare feet, natural face expressions, dancing and the whole chilling on the couch thing. How did you come up with it and what does it have to do with the songs?
— I love that you felt the contrast between the ostensible image of "Marie" - my album's protagonist – and the realness of what she is going through and how she acts. My upcoming album is called "33, Single & Broke" - just like it's first single. The title is uncomfortably honest and very on the nose. But that's life sometimes! I found myself at the start of the pandemic – 33 years old and suddenly without all my normal work and life as a musician. On top of that I experienced a break up 1 week before lock down started - the timing was horrible. It felt like everything was striped away and all I had was my honesty, my feelings and my guitar. So I made this album to tell my story - and a big part of that was dealing with all the pressures that women face in their thirties. There is a very strong societal picture of where one should be at this age – if you not hitched up, with kids, highly successful and making good money, somehow you're made to feel like you a lacking. Not good enough.
I decided to tell my story honestly with this music, in the hope that my vulnerability might help to break down some taboos and create a feeling of solidarity for those going through the same things. I created a protagonist to tell this very natural and honest story who would contrast with it strongly. I wanted to be provocative and visually impacting and to give my topics a historical lens as well. My initial thought was to depict myself as some form of royalty in an oil painting for the cover - because that would contrast so well with the title. The more I researched looks of glamorous historical royalty though, the more Marie Antoinette came up – she is everywhere, she is legend. The most interesting part though is that she is also widely misunderstood. She was forced from childhood onward to play a part – to fulfill her role as royalty – as a women - doing as she was told. She was frivolous and opulent by all accounts - but wouldn't any bored teenager with the equivalent of an unlimited credit card be? Her image was sexualised and instrumentalized during the french revolution - she was slut shamed, she was abused. I really felt for her - trying to make her way through all the expectations handed down to her. So .. I decided to catapult Marie into 2022 and create her modern counterpart – to tell this story and give it the weight of so many generations of women going through similar problems with different labels.

On a side note – I always sing barefoot on stage – so that part is all me. :) It's probably the New Zealander in me.
— What usually comes first for you – words or music? And was it the case with the singles?
— It's always a mix for me. Sometimes a guitar riff comes first or sometimes it's a melody swimming in my head. With the two last singles the melody and a few catch phrases came first. With 'so many men' I had the whole melody and lyrics already before touching an instrument.