Luke and Tess Pretty, otherwise known as Tennyson, are a brother and sister electronic music duo from Edmonton, Canada. Since 2012, Luke has been producing electronic music with a unique and earthy tone, comparable to Boards of Canada, met with a complex flair of digitised jazz. Tess on the other hand, being a talented drummer and percussionist, fills the groove with chopped and sliced beats that flow in syncopated rhythms to provide a solid bed for Luke’s fluid arrangements.
Recently, the siblings self-released their “Like What?” EP for free on Bandcamp.com. The 20 minutes of music translates to months of gruelling hard work for Luke and Tess – Luke does the majority of composition and production and Tess has to learn the complex drum patterns for their live performances. “It’s almost painful.” Luke says, in an interview with Yours Truly Creative. “I feel guilty that I don’t enjoy it all of the time. It seems like you have to. But it’s definitely more like the only source of stress that I have. There’s just some times when you’re so discouraged.” He explains that it is difficult to create what his audience wants while also satisfying what he wants. He says that he came to the sudden realisation that the problem he was facing was far less significant than he thought at first. “Woah, you can just make it. You don’t have to worry about it.” He says, “It’s probably better if you’re not worried the whole time you’re making it.”
The opening and title track, “Like What?”, sets the scene almost literally with impressive sound design that ‘follows’ the listener through a series of hallways, opening doors on various melodies and timbres. The music begs to be listened to through headphones. Tiny details throughout the entire EP are barely noticeable unless you are listening on headphones such as a quiet “umm?” in your right ear in a gap between chords, bass, and drum hits. In their single “For You” you can even hear a cat purring in many parts of the song. The music video for “Like What?” directed by Fantavious Fritz is fantastic. He played the song for Nikita, a 12-year-old blind girl, and asked her what came to mind. After that he filmed everything she could see in her mind.
The six track long EP is truly magical to sit and listen to. It is, in my opinion, music that demands your full attention – like a lot of jazz influenced music does. L’oiseau qui danse is a perfect example of this – just listen:
01:56 of brilliant melodies intertwining to form a playful euphony of sound. “The dancing bird” is a perfect visual representation of the song.
The bright young duo gained traction initially with songs released in 2013/14 that were shared by popular electronic artists such as Wave Racer and fellow Canadian Ryan Hemsworth. Hemsworth even signed Tennyson’s “You’re Cute” to his Secret Songs label and used it as the very first release of the imprint. It seems that they will continue to do their thing, and do it very well indeed.
Perhaps soon we will be lucky enough to hear Tennyson collaborate on releases with more popular singers and influential artists.