We had the good fortune of connecting with Tessa Karrys and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tessa, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
As a mom of a two year old and a six month old, my work/life balance has changed a lot over the last few years. After I first became a parent, I felt like I really had to let go of everything and then put the pieces back in a completely new way in order to redefine balance in my life. Having kids made it more challenging to play shows frequently and carve out time for myself to write but it encouraged me to get back to the root of why I write songs and play music and appreciate it in a new way. Parenting has helped teach me the invaluable lesson of not forcing things and finding balance by working with the natural flow of life. I incorporate playing music and singing into my time with my kids, even if that means most of the requests I get at home are for songs from “Frozen”, and rather than worrying about finding shows that work with the kids, I’ve seen time and time again that the perfect gigs fall into my lap (aka email inbox) when the time is right. The way I think about balance now is basically “how can I do what I love (writing songs, performing, spending time with my kids and family, etc.) without taking the joy out of it and spreading myself too thin”. It’s a delicate balance, but it comes along with the feeling of becoming the woman and artist I am meant to be.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I think what sets me apart from others is the story I have to tell. For me, writing songs isn’t just about creating something that sounds good and that I think other people will like; it’s about sharing my experiences, making sense of life, healing, connecting with others, and sharing my heart. I put so much of myself into my music that I don’t feel like someone really knows me until they’ve seen me sing and heard my songs. There have definitely been challenges along the way, but I got to where I am today by saying yes to the opportunities that came my way, putting myself out there, meeting like-minded artists, and by having an incredible support system of family and friends who’ve loved me and encouraged me along the way. One of the main lessons I’ve learned is how to ask myself what is most important in my life and be willing to let go of the things holding me back. Are my insecurities more important than sharing my music? Is the fear of failure more important than putting myself out there and connecting with people? Are the challenges of early parenthood greater than the example I want to set for my girls showing them that I can both love being their mother and love being my own woman with dreams and talents and the desire to grow? If there’s one thing I want the world to know about my music and story is that I would feel incomplete if I didn’t get to share what I create as an artist and I’m forever grateful that I get to share my music with all of you.Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My best friend visiting and us going to all of my favorite AZ spots sounds like everything I’ve been dreaming about for the last year! We would, of course, start the days as all days should begin: with coffee. We would visit Pair Cupworks in Downtown Mesa as well as Early Bird PHX while we shop at the Mesa Farmers Market and Flea. We would eat at some of my favorite restaurants including Worth Takeaway, Jewel’s Bakery, Backyard Taco, CIBO, and Crescent Ballroom (followed by a show of course). Then, we would pack a picnic with some local Cider Corps ciders and make a day trip to Canyon Lake to enjoy the amazing AZ sun, beautiful cliffs, and wildlife. We’d leave the next day for a short trip to the Verde Valley and enjoy wine tastings at the local wineries including AZ Stronghold and Page Springs Cellars, hike the creeks and Sedona’s red rocks, and enjoy dinner at Bocce in Cottonwood. After a lovely night at The Tavern in Old Town Cottonwood, we would take the scenic 87 route home stopping at Pine’s lavender farm, antique shops, and Old County Inn for pizza and drinks. We would spend one final day before they left walking through Downtown Mesa and visiting some of my favorite shops including Barrel and Bloom, Soul Center, and Buckhorn Vintage, to get some souvenirs and goodies before the trip comes to an end. I always feel like the best places, people, and things to see are the ones that are unique to where you are and have a fun or heartfelt story behind them. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to give a shout out to my mom who was the kind of parent to ask me when I was going to quit my day job to play music rather than the other way around. She was a single mom of 4 as well as an artist herself and I got to witness her in all her glory and struggles taking care of her family and responsibilities as well as doing what she was passionate about and being true to herself. I learned from her that life isn’t handed to you and if you want something you have to make it happen. She would send me information for music workshops across the country, with ideas to apply for scholarships or offer to work in trade for attendance. She would tell me about every new restaurant/venue she went to that had live music and hand me the manager’s card (who she just happened to have talked to about me). She would rearrange her schedule to go on mini road trips with me as I played 3-4 days in a row out of town. Even after I had a baby, she repeatedly reminded me that whenever I was ready to play shows again she would come and hold the baby the whole time while I played. She taught me how to say “yes” to opportunities and how to get out of my own way. My mom passed away last year and I’m forever grateful for the support she gave me and how she taught me to go after what I love. Her encouragement and presence was such an important part of my life, but honoring her through my music and making her proud will forever be one of my greatest motivators.
Rebekah Sampson Photography, Bill Goodman, Mike Roessmann