Raspy-voiced singer-songwriter Tess Dunn has accomplished more in 20 years than many performers with decades behind them. A six-year veteran of West Coast Vans Warped Tour dates who was named one of the top Bay Area performers by a leading S.F. radio station, Tess has already released three albums of her original music, while reigning over stages from San Diego to Orlando to Seattle. Reviewers and fans have described Tess as fearless, a songwriting phemon, a creative wunderkind, feisty, witty, a smartass. With her passion, drive, and stunning talent, Tess takes girl power to a whole new level.
Tess is noted for her powerful vocal range that goes from unique raspy lows to crystal clear highs. She is also a talented keyboardist, keytarist and ukuleleist. She started writing songs at 11, and took to the stage at 12. She released her first album of original music when she was only 14. Tess’ most recent EP, Daydreamers, was recorded at the legendary Jackpot! Studio in Portland with award-winning singer-songwriter Ari Shine and engineer Sean Flora (The Shins, The Black Keys) and showcases Tess’ mature talent. In its first review, Daydreamers was praised as a “compilation of some of the best sounds and hooks to show up from the "underground" side of the pop-rock genre in quite a while.”
Her previous EP, Honesty Box, released in 2012, was produced by Ari Shine and Noah Shain (Skrillex, Dead Sara, Secret Handshake). Jenna Brogan of the Good Times wrote, “While Darling Just Walk was an opportunity for Dunn to show off her songwriting skills, her uniquely raspy voice and vocal range…Honesty Box kicks up the tempo, production value, and girl power.” Eric Berg of KUSP FM noted that Honesty Box has “a great caffeinated garage sound not too dissimilar to the punk bands of 30 years ago.” Wrote another reviewer, “With lyrics dark yet hopeful, Dunn plays a range of songs that hit with the energy of Blink 182 and the emotional intensity of a Fiona Apple ballad.”
"Shame To See," the first single from the EP, was recorded at the legendary EastWest Recording Studios in Hollywood. The accompanying music video won a San Francisco Bay Area contest for Best Local Music Video, and Tess was named one of the top eleven S.F. Bay Area artists of 2011 by 99.7 FM NOW Music.
Her 2009 EP, Darling Just Walk, was recorded in North Hollywood with a host of internationally-recorded musicians, including Carina Round, Adrienne Pierce, Ari Shine and Adam Topol (Jack Johnson’s long-time drummer). A reviewer wrote that Tess’ lyrics, “…delve into deeper and darker spaces than the pop stars of her time.”
Dubbed “the young and the fearless,” due to her fierce battle with cystic fibrosis, epilepsy and diabetes, Tess says “it’s almost like having a clock ticking over your head, but it has a way of putting things in perspective." She adds, “What pushes me is when other people think I can't do something. I'm very defiant.” An affecting advocate for anyone battling life’s challenges, Tess inspires others by her refusal to bend to life’s unfair hand.
Tess is a dynamic performer, including at West Coast Vans Warped Tour shows in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. She has had numerous sold-out solo shows in Santa Cruz County, and has opened for artists including Karla Bonoff, James Durbin, Nina Storey, Ari Shine, Adrienne Pierce, and Dresses. Her music has been scored in a soon to be released indie feature film, and she has participated in three national film and music productions, including Vans Off The Wall TV’s "Pass The Bucket" series, which features inspirational athletes, artists and performers. To listen to Tess is to be inspired.
Tess Dunn’s playlists