Tecla: There's Something Beautiful About Making People Dance

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Tecla performs in the Soundcheck studio.

New York native Tecla makes a style of music she’s called “Tropical Electronic Pop.” It’s a blend of all the diverse sounds and traditions this first generation American has come across over the years. This includes the soundtrack of her childhood -- from Italian opera to Haitian vodou chants -- and the work of her friends and collaborators, including Das Racist, Gordon Voidwell, Charlift and others. The singer, producer, rapper and DJ has a new album called We Are The Lucky Ones. She plays live in the studio.

On using vocal effects:

I love to effect my voice because I want to set myself apart. I write, I compose, I play piano. I really enjoy exploring tricks with the vocals. For live stuff, there's so much that you can translate. You can do anything, you can sound like you have a 20 person chorus with one pedal. I don't want to take that stuff for granted.

On her name, 'Tecla' which means piano 'key' in Spanish:

I was born for this. My dad is Italian and he named me. Apparently, in the birthing room he just screamed out "Tecla" and that was it. My mom was like, "we had other names planned!" And he was like "no, that's it."

On what she listened to growing up, with her Haitian immigrant mom and Italian immigrant dad:

I listened to a lot of opera and Haitian vodou chant records and French children songs and Edith Piaf. That was my kid music growing up. It was not the average American child's household...I've been playing piano since I was three. The piano was the centerpiece of our house, it was like playing make believe. 

On her album title, We Are The Lucky Ones:

In the title song I say "where our parents parents didn't have any school or any shoes" I used to travel to Haiti with my mom every summer, and literally people didn't have shoes, couldn't even go to school if they wanted to. And back in her day, women had to learn in secret. African American history is very similar. And I always love to pay homage to our ancestors and people that came before us, in this music. Because they created this foundation for us to take it to this next level, like -- using an auto tune pedal is a privilege. The title is referring to this sense of: don't forget where you came from and appreciate what you have.

Set List:

º Fake Tears

º Money 

º Tragic Mulatto