I Wrote This Song For You: An Interview with TANSU

by - April 02, 2024

At the break of dawn, in the few minutes where the darkened sky turns to shades of orange pink, reflecting over a body of water, is a tansu. In the Turkish language, tan translates to “sun” and su translates to “water”. It was a lovely choice for a name, and an even lovelier choice to use that name as a moniker for storytelling.

When TANSU released her EP, The City, in March, she was nervous to listen to it. After all, she had been working on these six songs for eight years. Alongside her producer, Dave Rublin, she wanted to give listeners the same feeling she gets when listening to music: a sense of understanding.

She first met Rublin at Berklee College of Music. She watched as he and his friends took over the charts as American Authors, and when she was in the market for a new creative partner, she reached out to him. They hadn’t known each other personally during college, so they got to know each other better over countless hours of listening to music together.

“We just both realized that we have really amazing synchronicity in the studio,” she said. “We both are in sync with where a melody goes, with how a bass should sound. We just started listening to music in his Bushwick apartment, on the roof overlooking the New York skyline, and through conversation we made it work.”

One day, Rublin gave her a call and told her he had a track he wanted her to sing on. That night they wrote the chorus for “Love Alone”. She said they had no idea what they were doing, but that their sessions together were unlike anything they had experienced before.

“It’s the most beautiful musical relationship where we just hear what each other is thinking,” she said. “It’s hard to find someone on that same wavelength and I’m very lucky that I found that person for me.”

The first song they finished from beginning to end was “Truth About Us”. They considered releasing it right away, and had even filmed a music video, but recognized that they had nothing as a follow-up. They went back to “Love Alone” to see if they could finish it, and before long they had “Got 2 Me”, “Downtown”, “Better Off (Without You)” and “Easy Love”.

As the songs made it to the final track listing, she realized they had something in common: relationships with a tie to New York. They had five fully completed songs, and if they finally finished “Love Alone”, they’d have enough songs to create an EP.

“Better Off (Without You)” is the one she most looked forward to getting feedback from because it’s the kind of track she loved to listen to while growing up. It was almost a tradition for either the last or second to last song to be a ballad on a full length album. It gave off a “much needed hug” vibe, as she described it, while sharing a highly relatable message of how to process the end of a loving female friendship.

“[It] is a different type of heartbreak,” she said. “Growing up for me, you just dealt with it. There’s always a specific, unfortunate type of friend that breaks your heart for their own reason, and I wanted to write a song about that because I feel like whenever there’s a heartbreak in a female singer it’s usually about a romantic relationship. I think a friendship is heartbreak all the more.”

“Easy Love” was written about a friend she made at Berklee who passed away suddenly. As soon as she heard the news, she made her way to Roblin’s apartment so they could process the news together. Within three days, the most emotionally raw of the tracks was fully written.

There are many messages to uncover throughout the EP, but overall it is an EP for anyone who has ever felt alone. Underneath catchy melodies and powerhouse vocals are vulnerable emotions that are meant to make the listener feel like they are heard.

The day after the release of The City, TANSU found herself with 30 minutes to spare. She thought to herself, after eight years, was this all worth it? She slipped on her noise canceling headphones, pressed play and patiently listened to all 21 minutes. And you know what? It’s perfect.

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