Photo by wsteaway
Queer Next Up is a series originally posted to our Instagram. We feature smaller queer artists who we think deserve your love, support, and dedication.
wsteaway (Tea Wise, they/them) is a 21-year-old nonbinary singer, songwriter and producer. Taking influence from the sounds of 90s rockers The Smashing Pumpkins and modern anti-pop star Ecco2k, wsteaway oscillates between gritty, alt-rock shoegaze and pulsing hyperpop. Their breakout single “Losing Sleep” with Geller recently hit 300,000 streams on Spotify and the singer has since hit a career high of 90,000 monthly listeners.
What is your earliest memory of wanting to be an artist?
When I was a kid, maybe around 9 or 10, I dreamed about being an artist. I always grew up around music: my mom and uncles would give me CDs, I had my own Hello Kitty radio to listen to music, and eventually I was given my first iPod Shuffle. I was also in orchestra for 6 years, and wrote poetry and songs all the time. I gave up on the idea for a while after I lost years of my writing that was saved in my notes app, plus I didn’t have the confidence to finish my song ideas and bring them to life. But I’ve grown out of that since then! I’ve learned it’s cool to rework things and not always expect to have the best idea right away. It’ll come when it needs to!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I would tell my younger self that they’re capable of creating, doing, and accomplishing anything they put their mind to! Whether it means dressing however they like, creating art in the form of writing, getting into college, or telling silly little jokes. I’d also tell them to be kinder to themselves, show more compassion both inwards and out, and do things that make them happy. Live life for yourself — not others!
What have you learned about yourself though the artistic process?
I have the most fun when I don’t limit myself to one specific sound! As an artist, it’s important to venture off into whatever realm I have interest in, creating whatever I believe will capture the essence of what I’m writing about best. Even if it’s a completely different sound from the last project! I’ve also come to realize how much fun I have creating different aspects of my artist project myself — whether it’s a song entirely from scratch or a music video I record and edit on my own.
Why do you create art?
My main reason for creating art is to give myself an outlet to express and vent about any issues I don’t typically give myself the time or opportunity to think about (or talk about, for that matter). A lot of the music I’ve been writing lately has been expressive of the hardships of my early 20s — learning how to cope, adjust, and process previous hardships. Facing them head-on rather than running away from them. It’s like I’m bringing out the things that I’d rather not, and bringing them to the world to hopefully relate to in case anyone else needs to hear it too.
Can you give us a sneak peek of what’s to come?
One of my upcoming songs “Bloodsxcker.” It’s the product of a creative collaboration between wsteaway and producer Wxmell. Keep an eye out for it this upcoming year :)