Tess berrios of Petrichor
Julia-Alright we’re good? Yeah we’re good okay hiya!
Julia-How’s it going?
Tess-You’re in my home!
Julia-Yes I am! Is it weird having me here?
Tess-Its very pleasant. I was actually able to sleep last night, usually when people are over I can’t.
Julia-Hell yeah! I’m going to take that as a good thing and just jump right into things. So, would you like to introduce yourself?
Tess-Sure, my name is Tess. I’m in a local band called Petrichor, we’ve been a band about a year now. Other than that not much, nineteen, beer-drinking, motherufuckin, ya know.
Julia-Who else do you have in the band?
Tess-Lead rhythm guitarist is Tommy, we have Vinny on motherfuckin bass (Author's Note: he is also in a sludge rock band called Scattered Reality), and one of the best drummers I’ve ever heard, Enzo.
Julia-Well, unfortunately none of them are here with us today, so I guess we’re just stuck with you. I just want to say, last night’s show was fucking incredible, how many have you guys played at this point?
Tess-We played about nine shows in 2022, and three so far in 2023. They’ve all been local gigs around Miami, Broward, Kendall, Homestead.
Julia-And for you guys it seems, live shows have come before any released work, is that right?
Tess-Yeah absolutely, I think that’s kind of the template for Miami people. Everyone makes a band, starts playing small gigs, then releases an EP or an album or something like that.
Julia-So what did your first show consist of?
Tess-We threw our first show at this venue in South Miami called Tea & Poets. Our debut was really nice, a lot of people showed up to support us. The first three definitely were not perfect but they were a great starting ground. We played them with our ex-bassist Sophia, she’s great she was actually at last nights show, we all really miss her. I completely drifted from the question, but basically our first few shows were just us gathering an audience.
Julia-And now that you have one, its time for an EP!
Tess-Yeah! We’ve been meaning to do so since June of last year, that was when we played our third gig. We went up and announced “We’re releasing some songs,” and then we never did and now its next year and we are.
Julia-Fantastic! I was lucky enough to grab one at the show and have it here with me. Petrichor’s Self Titled EP with tracks: Never Gave It Back and My Oblivion. Can you tell me a bit about the recording process for these?
Tess-So, I used to be a solo artist, going by the name Tess Gray. While under that name there was this one guy who really wanted to record and produce me but I never could afford it. Covid came around and I grabbed these guys and said fuck it lets make a band. The same guy came through for the band though and we knocked out those songs in about six hours in the studio I showed you. We received the masters, completely mixed with all revisions done within 48 hours, so shoutout to Frank.
Julia-Damn that’s great. Before you worked with him were you mixing and mastering everything yourself?
Tess-Yeah When it was just my own solo stuff I’d record and mix on garageband, but I never really dabbled in mastering.
Julia-So you do vocals and some of the production, do you have any other musical skills?
Tess-I still play guitar (Author's Note: the ones she’s not smashing on stage), especially when I want to show the band stuff. I’ve been learning how to play the bass and I also can play the recorder.
Julia-The recorder? Like the one from middle school? Are we gonna see any of it in any future Petrichor tracks?
Tess-No absolutely not! I could probably take a kazoo on stage but with the recorder you have to play actual notes.
Julia-I think everyone would fuck with that really hard honestly.
Tess-I think so too, mostly for the meme.
Julia-That actually seems to be a big part of how you perform. This sort of self-awareness, that “everything I’m doing could be looked at as cringe but who gives a fuck” kind of mentality that was almost like, inspiring to see on stage.
Tess-Its interesting you say that actually. The first few shows with Petrichor I was always a nervous mess. My stage presence was shit. Even as a solo artist I would just stand there with a guitar and sing. But now I’m at the point where I can interact with the crowd, I can climb trees, and break my fingers, as you saw last night. I honestly dont know where I got all this energy from.
Julia-Yeah I mean, as an objective journalist I had to stay back but you were in the crowd pushing and shoving people around making your own moshpit.
Tess-Yeah you know, I try not to crowd kill, I only really went for it last night cause it was a bunch of friends. But I try to live by the phrase, “dance like somebody is watching because you just might inspire somebody.”
Julia-For everyone else I’m sure it was a great experience but for me personally it was especially great cause it was the first local show I’ve been to in South Florida. I’ve spent so much time trying to avoid getting connected to Florida but now that I’m back its like fuck it lets get to know the place.
Tess-Well you never know what’s gonna happen! You could be really surprised at the people you may meet.
Julia-Oh and I’d just like to say you guys were phenomenal but the other two bands that played were also just amazing.
Tess-Oh yeah Rumors blew it out of the fuckin water, very pop-punk. I got a chance to talk to them after the show and told them how good they were. Then Passion Company had these powerhouse vocals with these really nice melodic guitars. I don’t know why but the word redeeming comes to mind. It feels redeeming for the Florida scene to see such bands come out of it. The Florida scene has felt like kind of a mess lately. Bands will be together and play for like a year then disappear, the venues are dying, crowds aren’t coming out. For people in it this is either a hobby or a career. For Petrichor, we’re a career band.
Julia-How long have you really been connected to the scene for?
Tess-Since I was 14. My good friend Manuel, he was the weird guy at the show and my house last night. Manny, if you hear I say this, my bad bro. But yeah, I was in highschool and I dont know how he heard of me but he came up and was like “Hi! I heard you play guitar,” and then he was able to get me my first gig a few blocks away at a pizza shop. Ever since then I’ve just been kind of diving into the scene headfirst. Five years now, its kinda scary.
Julia-What would you say the biggest differences are between what you thought the scene would be like versus what the scene actually is like?
Tess-Well when you first get into the scene no one really warns you about the bad. Everyone just kinda goes, “This is the Miami scene, there’s punks, and hardcore, some indie, and even folk.” Its all just persuasive propaganda, especially as a young girl. You want so badly to be a part of it but at the same time you’re not being told how dangerous it could be. You’ll inevitably run into creeps, and people who dont have your best interests at heart. People seem to just be waiting to take advantage of you. You end up seeing a lot more reality than what they try to sell you.
Julia-I think those themes definitely come through in your music. I remember specifically Walk Home, one of my favorites from the set, dealt with the struggles of simply existing as a woman in a world where every space is a male dominated space.
Tess-Yeah that’s probably my favorite song we’ve ever written honestly.
Julia-Oh really? Can we expect to see it on any future EPs?
Tess-Yes actually, we’re doing this EP then we’re gonna decide what the fuck we’re gonna do. With this EP our recording engineer was kind enough to give us an unplugged version of My Oblivion, so we’re probably going to release this EP, then release the unplugged version maybe next year or later this year, then we’ll probably just go for an album. We’ve got enough material at this point for one. All the songs we played last night were originals except for the two covers we did.
Julia-Even the covers were phenomenal, do you think there’s any chance we could see some on any future Petrichor projects?
Tess-Oh I don’t know about that, maybe in the next couple years just because of licenses and shit like that.
Julia-Well speaking of covers, the band that followed you last night played a cover of Paramore’s This Is Why. You seemed incredibly pumped to hear it. Besides Paramore, who else would you say is a big influence on your music?
Tess-I’ve been waiting for this question. On your left here you can see my CD stacks. The ones I play the most are Grace by Jeff Buckley and Tidal by Fiona Apple. Depeche Mode are phenomenal. Thom Yorke is just a wonderful capsule of energy, weirdness, and just this sort of psychoticness. But yeah overall Paramore, Depeche Mode, Radiohead, Jeff Buckley, and Fiona Apple. Dream blunt rotation.
Julia-You know, I’m actually seeing Thom this summer. At Pitchfork Festival 2023 he’s playing with his new band, The Smile.
Tess-Oh shit I didn’t know about that, now I wanna go.
Julia-You totally should. Tickets are around $200 but you can actually do a payment plan for them.
Tess-You can finance going to a festival?
Julia-Yeah its kinda fucked up but that’s what I did so I’ll be paying it off over the next couple of months. King Krule is going to be there, Big Thief, JPEGMAFIA, Perfume Genius, Avvays, and others.
Tess-I’ve heard of most of those but I dont think I’m too familiar with any of them.
Julia-I’ll make you a playlist after this!
Tess-Oh shit that reminds me I was supposed to make your zine but I totally forgot. (Author’s Note: Tess had previously mentioned making a zine for me to help me learn about the local Miami music scene) I guess I can just mail it to you but I was gonna burn some songs onto a CD for you to go along with it.
Julia-That actually reminds me, I used to do this thing where I would burn a bunch of unreleased tracks or tracks not on streaming services to flash drives and mail them out to all my friends. Shit like Joanna Newsom, CLK, Endless by Frank Ocean, etc. I should do that for you too.
Tess-I would deeply enjoy that. When I get a car I can move the files from your USB to my computer then put them on a CD to play in it.
Julia-You know, I just want to say its really nice to be here recording this live and holding a microphone. I kinda learned how to talk from using a microphone. Back in high school I was this social anxious junky bitch who could barely talk in class when called on. One day this little Russian kid that I sort of knew brought in microphones and him and I went around pretending we had a podcast. It was called GM(^2)13IOID (Author’s Note: I will never explain to podcast name ask Peter Spears if you want it.) It gave me this newfound power where I could just walk up to someone and be like “Hey you’re a bitch,” and everyone laughed cause I had a microphone.
Tess-You would be surprised how much power a microphone can give you. Its like a superpower.
Julia-Yeah I mean being at the show last night and watching you perform was just like another “Holy shit I want to be doing that,” moment for me. You carried such a commanding presence with you it was incredible. Do you want to talk a little bit about some of the songs on the setlist?
Tess-Yeah sure! First off we had Search Party, which actually, today is March 25 so I released it exactly a year ago today. Originally it was one of my solo tracks but we transferred it to the band and made it our own. So happy birthday Search Party! And happy birthday tomorrow to you! I gave Julia a joint for her birthday.
Julia-To any cops listening that was a joke.
Tess-Yeah just a joke, although why would cops be listening?
Julia-Yeah fair enough I’m a fuckin tranny they want nothing to do with me.
Tess-But yeah back to Search Party! I feel like every song comes from a breakup, but its relatable and a pain that we all feel so whatever. The song is me looking for someone to give a fuck about me. Just trying to find some form of validation. I just want someone to think I’m pretty enough to fuck, pretty enough to date, whatever it is I don’t care I just need validation. Thankfully I don’t think as much like that anymore. Its probably the most vulnerable song I’ve written, after Downhill. Downhill was actually the first song I ever wrote, I made it in the psych unit of Miami Children’s Hospital when I was admitted in 2018. When I got home I went into the closet right over there and recorded it. Fourteen year old me never thought things were going to get better, but I lied to myself enough to write the song and I’m glad I did because now I believe it. Fake it till you make it you know.
Julia-I think sometimes that’s all you can do honestly. We already touched on Walk Home a little bit so why don’t you tell me about My Oblivion.
Tess-Well, its the second track on the upcoming EP, so make sure to check that out on April 7th! The whole band wrote it together and its about getting lost in a partner. Being so invested in someone that you allow them to ruin you. You start to no longer be your own person.
Julia-Its really funny that you say that, a big theme in one of the albums I just wrote about (Author’s Note: shameless plug go read my Hailstorm and Maelstrom piece please and thanks) was described by the creator as the story of a boy who falls into a girl. Its about seeing someone as your better and losing sight of who you are. Its a very fucked up and devastating story but I think its one a lot of us go through unfortunately.
(Author’s Note: We started talking about exes for a few minutes and using my discretion I have decided to leave that out, now imagine a seamless transition from one topic to the next.)
Julia-So, tell me a bit about yourself outside of the music scene.
Tess-Oh no, that’s like my whole personality! Well, outside of it I really care about my family. You never know how long you have with those you love. I’ve had close friends and family die so I try to not take any of that for granted. I don’t think I’m very punk at all outside of the scene. I try to keep that image up cause that’s who I want to be you know, and I do have ideals that align with that way of thinking, but I don’t know, I feel like if I was never in the scene I would just be a cottage-core bitch. I just enjoy life so much and sometimes I wish I was not a musician so I could just delete all my social media and just live, but with all good thing some sacrifices have to be made.
Julia-Well with everything anyone tries to do these days, there’s no choice it seems except to get ever so connected into the spiraling web that is “The Internet."
Tess-Social media has just become this grand illusion of a necessity and I wish more people would just get disconnected from their phones. I feel like its the little moments that we miss out on because of them, or sometimes we miss out on truly experiencing them because we’re caught up in taking a picture of them. No one is really comfortable with being bored anymore.
Julia-Its that instant gratification that we use to pass the moments by, its almost like time travel just existing in one moment, being on your phone for an unspecified amount of time, then bam we’re at the next point in time. Back when I had an apartment with my ex on days I wasn’t working I’d sometimes spend hours just on my phone watching a show or movies or whatever and he would get back from work and ask about my day and I would just be like “Oh shit,” cause I realized I wasted a whole day. It was a really shameful feeling, like being caught masturbating.
Tess-Its a really easy thing to get caught up in. Sometimes my mom will ask me about my day and I’ll have to tell her, “Well I woke up, went on my phone, went back to sleep, woke up, fed my cat, went on my phone, went back to sleep, woke up, fed my cat a little bit more, and then went back to sleep.” I wish sometimes I could tell her about me going out to get breakfast, or walking to the beach, or just something more productive than being on my phone.
Julia-As I try to pursue more artistic careers, I’ve been switching up my sleep schedule to try to accommodate more time to write my book or make my album or things like that. Whats your day to day as an artist look like?
Tess-Well, if you take away everything I just mentioned, there’s a lot of emailing, trying to promote our EP and get gigs, I’ll make merch and burn CDs, sometimes I’ll head into the studio and play guitar. I actually want to try to get to a point where I make a song every day. The creative juices are always there, you just have to put the work in. Sometimes its just a matter of playing the guitar a little bit and mumbling out some phrases you like. I actually have a list of random lyrics I like that I can use in the future.
Julia-Yeah you know that’s one of my favorite parts of writing. I used to write multiple poems a day and even if some of them were total shit, I might like a line or two from them and I could reuse them later on.
Tess-Absolutely, cause every stanza is what you were feeling in the moment and even if not all of it rings true later on, some of it still could. Its like adding pieces to a puzzle.
Julia-Well, I think we’re gonna start winding down now, so why don’t you tell me what Petrichor has going on in the coming months.
Tess-We’re going strong! Tommy is going to get his degree in psychology, probably never going to use it honestly, but its cool nonetheless. We’re all just gonna grind, try to work as a team and get to know each other more as a band. We’ll be going on band dates, writing more music together, and just doing everything it takes to make it work out, cause we all really want it to work out. Our EP comes out April 7th, we’ll be playing more shows, mostly local but hopefully eventually national and then far far far in the future hopefully international.
Julia-Fantastic, and just one more thing I want to say. I think sometimes people can get too caught up in this idea that, “What I’m going through, everyone else goes through, so it isn’t special.” But I think that is what makes it special. There’s a connection that all of us have to everyone else and being able to tap into that is something really powerful. It was a power I felt throughout your show. Tracks like Downhill, My Oblivion, Never Gave It Back, and others all were really moving to me. I’m excited to see everyone’s reactions to the tracks when they come out. Until then, where can people find you guys?
Tess-All social media is @petrichorfl and our website is www.petrichorband.net.
Julia-Awesome, thank you joining me for this.
(Author’s Note: We went on to talk about Tess’s couch for a few minutes, she has a very nice one if you ever get the chance please try to sleep on it.)