Written by Kate Paterson

We got to catch up with one half of the flourishing duo Girlhood, Tessa Cavana about the pairs inspirations and the story behind their song ‘It Might Take a Woman’ which features on their recently released self-titled LP

With their modern take on neo-soul/R&B melodies, Girlhood have created a very unique and recognisable sound. Although the pair exude an unmatchable connection, Tessa explained to us that their friendship stemmed from a moment that can only be described as serendipitous. ‘We met when Christian heard me singing as I was walking past his houseboat. He asked if I wanted to have a go singing over some instrumentals he was making and the rest is history.’

After telling us that each of the pair have vivid memories of music from a very young age, in the form of lullabies and listening to music on car journeys, we got onto the subject of inspirations. Tessa explained that while she believes that music was what she was made to do, her inspirations come from a number of different places. I’m not sure… I think it’s just what I was born to do. There has always been music in my life and it’s such a nice way to communicate with others. Music is a conversation you can have with someone even if your mother tongues are totally foreign to one another. My mum and friends have always been so supportive of my music and have always encouraged me to sing and write songs and perform.’

Although Girlhood’s music itself is upbeat, catchy and in some cases invokes feeling of nostalgia, their lyrics take their listeners on a number of vivid and emotional journeys. We asked Tessa to describe the process behind writing each of their songs. With Girlhood, the process is usually Christian will send me a piece of music or a sketch of an idea with the music, then I start trying out some vocals and lyrical ideas. Sometimes I’ll select one part of the music he’s sent and I’ll loop it so i have a pattern to work with and write to. then we send things back and forth to each other until it’s sounding like a finished song. Then we go in and record the final song. The process consists of ALL the emotions’, she laughed. ‘But this often allows the songs to be real and reflective.’

Since releasing several singles and an EP, the duo released their self-titled LP towards the end of October this year. The uplifting yet emotional LP consists of eleven tracks that tell stories of different emotions. One of the tracks that has become most popular from the LP is ‘It Might Take a Woman‘. Tessa explained to us that the track has a lot of layers in it including thoughts about genders and their qualities. It Might Take a Woman’ came from a place where I felt I needed to restore the balance of the genders. Life is all about balance. In music I sometimes feel that I work with so many white men and my point of view gets lost or isn’t understood. So instead of backing away from how I felt, I decided to double down,’ Tessa laughed. ‘I think for all humans it’s important to have an equal balance of feminine and masculine qualities, and there are so many times where femaleness can be considered as a weakness, by both women and men. This Song is a recognition and celebration of the femaleness in all of us as human beings.’

Having magazines and critics draw comparisons of the duo to legendary groups such as The Avalanches, The Fugees and Moby, it’s not surprising that the pair have an eclectic music library. We asked Tessa to name some of the artists she is listening to right now. While naming some well-known and emerging musicians alike, Tessa also named several creatives in different fields. This included authors, activists and drag queens that she has been admiring recently. Oooh ok so right now I’m listening to Shygirl, Arca, Sampa The Great, Crywank, Greentea Peng and NoName. I’ve also been listening to lots of amazing talks by Bell Hooks, Jill Soloway, Monét Exchangé and Bob the Drag Queen. To me they count as artists!’

Tessa went on to make a surprising revelation that other than live shows, she in fact is quite scared of singing in front of people. Which meant that our questioning of what her go-to karaoke song was took some thinking. ‘I’m actually shy to sing in front of other people. Live shows are different cause the lights are bright in your eyes so you can kind of pretend no one’s there’, she laughed. ‘But at the right level of intoxication, I’d say my karaoke song would be Lil Kim- ‘Came Back For You’.’

With such a wide range of musical and artistic influences that reflect in their songs, it’s hard to exactly pinpoint their music to a genre. Rather than limiting their music to one specific genre, we ended with Tessa giving us a sentence to sum up how she views their work.‘I guess I’d say, Girlhoods music is fun, silly, sweet, sad and human.’