Artist Interview: Tender Glue

New York City’s alternative-folk artist Tender Glue has just released his first single, “With You Here,” taken from his upcoming album Closet Leftovers. The singer-songwriter has made the decision to take a different route with releasing his newest album by setting up his own record label “Don’t Label Me Records.” Closet Leftovers will be released monthly over this coming year while the lead single “With You Here” is now available for purchase.

First we’d like to start off by getting to know a little about you. When did you first become interested in music and what about it made you decide to dedicate yourself to this form of art?

When I was young, I used to play a few music channels like MTV, Viva and Viva 2 (which were German television stations for music). I would flip through the channels and when I saw something I liked, I put it on full blast. I often think about the first time I realized creating melodies came easy to me. I remember one time when I was about 9 years old and was sick, I looked out my window and made up a song about how I couldn’t go outside. I thought to myself “If anybody could hear me sing this song, I would be so embarrassed.”, but I didn’t stick to it because it wasn’t something I initially nurtured or thought about much. I got my first computer when I came to the US at age 17 and that’s when I started listening to less main stream music, usually through skateboarding videos. I would find the song from the skateboarding video, download the whole album and from there I would find bands and discover new music. I guess that whatever I listened to probably affected me somehow. I decided to dedicate myself to music when I was around 25-26, after learning a couple of chords on the guitar and started singing. I would record myself to see how I sound and was ashamed, but at the same time I would be obsessed with getting to the point where my singing would reflect my real voice.

What instruments do you like to include in your music or on stage? 

The instruments I like to include are usual band instruments like drums, guitar, bass and occasionally keys/synth. I also have one song called ‘Both’ from the EP Wait For Steady Light where I play a harmonica that I put some effects on and it kind of sounds like the horns of a ship sailing out. But for now I don’t really have anyone else to play with so if I play live, it might be with just one other person.

As a musician, what type of impact or impression do you hope to leave on your listeners? What is it about your music that you think will urge people to listen again or share your music with others?

Most of the time when I’m making music it’s just coming from my guts, I’m not trying to analyze what people would like or dislike, I just rely on my instincts and that’s all. Whatever impression people want to take from it is ok with me, I guess, as long as it makes them feel something. Maybe it’s all about knowing that we are not alone. People can associate with that sound or the feeling that the songs present themselves with and I think they can sense these emotions or the melodies that get to them.

I understand that you created your own label “Don’t Label Me Records.” What made you decide to go with this path? What was it like setting things up in the early stages of creating your own label?

I’m basically still in the early stages of creating this label. In the beginning, I reached out to a few labels that I thought my music would fit in both musically and aesthetically. I knew there was a low chance I would get a response back, but I did it because I didn’t want to say I didn’t try. I’ve always been against the idea of having connections and treating people based on the circumstances they’ve found themselves in and it feels like this is how things are in today’s world, especially in the music industry. It seems like no one wants to help musicians without wanting something from you or treat your music as a product or a source of income. I decided to create “Don’t Label Me Records” and possibly in the future help other musicians as well. I want “Don’t Label Me Records” to be for artists, not the other way around.

Can you give us some details on your latest live project “Smartphone Sessions” and how you came up with the idea?

Like most of my ideas, “Smartphone Sessions” was spontaneous and I just went for it. I had only gotten my first smartphone 3 years ago, which is pretty late. The idea came from this attitude of “why not do it yourself” and use something that is available in the palm of your hands to document a memory of live music. The latest project on Smartphone Sessions was a song called “Las Pinas” by Janise Lazarte, which we partially filmed in a taxi cab. The song she wrote was about her first visit to the Philippines as an adult. She had taken some videos from her trip that I edited in the Smartphone Session video. We’re also working on a project together on “Don’t Label Me Records” for her first EP.

Please tell us about your latest single “With You Here.” What does this track mean to you personally?

Five minutes before going to work, I started playing my guitar and wrote down the lyrics for “With You Here”, not really thinking about anything (I ended up almost late to work that day). Later on I realized that the part of the lyrics when I say “I’m so slow, I can barely see”, had to do with the time I lost partial vision for a moment, probably due to an unhealthy lifestyle. At that time in my life, I wanted to get healthier, so for me the song is about that. During the recording process, I sat down in my closet/recording studio, and started with vocals and guitar in the same take. Then I added the second guitar, drums, and bass. The whole process took a few days because I was only able to mix part of it when I had the time. Usually it was late, after work around 3am.

“With You Here” is taken from your forthcoming album ‘Closet Leftovers.’ Are you still in the writing process for this album? Where do you tend to draw inspiration from while writing?

It’s more of light changes in the writing process. I basically still have to record 5 more songs, which seems like it’s going slow at the moment. With a full time job, I’m sometimes demotivated. Whatever comes out of my mouth while I’m striking chords and making melodies is basically an inspiration. Sometimes they don’t make sense and I’m just putting everything together like a puzzle. Somehow these ideas are registered subconsciously in my brain and whenever the moment comes, usually when I’m playing my guitar, I just put it together so it makes sense. You know, it’s a mystery for me too and as I said, most of what I do is in the spur of the moment.

You’ve also decided to release this album monthly over this coming year. What made you decide to do this instead of releasing the album all at once? 

Actually that was the first idea I had just because I know my music is like a needle in a haystack. I feel like a lot of those songs from the album could be a single but I think I might back out of this idea because it’s too difficult with my situation to get everything done in time for the album release. I’m definitely going to release 4 singles for now, plus I’m planning on releasing some videos, which I still have to find people to help me with. I don’t have the right resources at the moment, but I’m planning on releasing the album around fall.

Before we come to an end, is there anything about ‘Closet Leftovers,’ or about yourself that you’d like to share with us?

Thanks for your interest in Tender Glue music and if I can take this opportunity for anyone who reads this in the NYC area who plays drums or guitar/bass or knows of someone who would be interested in playing together, contact and for whoever is interested in working together on videos or on the label as well.

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