“Some songs are easy. They just fall out and almost write themselves.” For Nashville artist Tezza, “Mercury Rising” was that song. Initially, it was just a melody stuck in her head before a friend helped her flesh out the lyrics back in 2018.
“Those songs that take longer to write can just wear you down and be emotionally exhausting, because you just want to put an end to it, but it lingers,” says Tezza of the track, co-written with Emily Falvey of Smack Songs. “I’m pretty sure I don’t know the full story of Miranda Lambert’s song ‘The House That Built Me,’ but they had that song for years and just couldn’t get it right. Sometimes it literally takes years.”
Following up her more heartfelt debut, “About the Truth,” on “Mercury Rising” Tezza swerves right back to her pop-country roots. Reaching nearly three million streams on Spotify (as of press time) and getting plugs on CMT, iHeart Radio, and various Spotify country playlists, the magnitude of response to the song was something she never imagined.
“‘Mercury Rising’ has just been an incredible journey,” says Tezza. “My expectations for it were completely blown out of the water. I had goals in my head for the song that were literally tripled.”
Growing up on pop and country in the Broome County area of Upstate New York, Tezza took a deeper dive into music—taking voice and piano lessons—by high school and formed her first band and later studied at the Berklee College of Music in Boston.
“At the time, country music wasn’t as cool as I thought, and it wasn’t easy to get a bunch of guys to play it,” says Tezza, who ended up fronting a rock band instead. Eventually, she began introducing some newer country into the band’s sound, and it stuck.
“They were never exposed to much country, but once we started playing it, they really loved and embraced it,” she says. “We became the first contemporary country band in our area in Upstate New York and started getting booked everywhere—local bars, festivals, and corporate events.”
Before making the move to Nashville, Tezza lived in New York City’s East Village and Hell’s Kitchen for a year while interning in the music department for “Saturday Night Live,” where she worked directly with the show’s musical guests. “When Thursday came around, we had live rehearsals, so I had to go to the basement to meet the musical guest,” says Tezza. “I’d open the door, and there’s a the huge black Escalade with Drake and his entourage inside. It was an incredible experience.”
Always drawn to Nashville, Tezza eventually relocated following her stint with “Saturday Night Live” nearly six years ago.
“I love New York City, but I grew up doing country music,” shares Tezza. “I really went back and forth about where I wanted to be, and talked to people who kept saying, ‘if you want to do country music, you have to be in Nashville,’ so I packed up all my stuff and left.”
Moving is something that transformed the way Tezza, who has already opened for artists like Granger Smith, Chris Young, and Hunter Hayes, crafts a song. “Nashville brings out the very best in people,” she says. “Everyone comes here for music, and they’re so good—just the quality of work and the craftsmanship of songwriting—and you really don’t grasp that until you’re surrounded by it.”
She adds, “I always say that the best thing to do is to surround yourself with people who are experts and the best at what they do. That’s how you grow and become the best at your craft. That’s what Nashville has done for me. Sometimes, I’m literally in tears hearing a song by someone I’ve never even met before, and it just makes you want to be better.”
Yes, 2020 has been a “weird year” for Tezza but it’s also been one of her best. “It brought the focus back to the music,” she says. “It sucks that the live elements are not there, but I think there’s always a light of the tunnel, and this year gave everyone a little bit of time to focus on things you don’t usually get to focus on.”
Back in the studio, Tezza is catering to each of new songs individually, referencing the pedal steel guitar solo on “Mercury Rising.”
“Each song asks for something a little bit different,” says Tezza, who pulled together the video for the track with all small, mask-wearing team and outfits she found on Amazon or Forever 21, which she personalized with rhinestones and other accents.
Though pandemic shifted her original timeline of releasing new music, in retrospect the past year turned into more of a blessing..
“It’s given me a lot of time to really get what I want out of certain things,” says Tezza. “It took me a really long time to put my music out, and I think it was because I wanted to focus on releasing music that reflected who I was as an artist. I only want to put out something that is the most me I can possibly be at the moment.”