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Blondshell

with Tiny Tomboy

In the past few years, 25-year-old Sabrina Teitelbaum has transformed into a songwriter without fear. The loud-quiet excavations that comprise her hook-filled debut as Blondshell don’t only stare traumas in the eye—they tear them at the root and shake them, bringing precise detail to colossal feelings. They’re clear-eyed statements of and about digging your way towards confidence, self-possession, and relief.

Teitelbaum grew up in a classic rock-loving household in several Midtown Manhattan apartments, raised primarily by her single dad. During an era of sleek teen radio pop, her most formative childhood obsession was the Rolling Stones. Piano and guitar offered a means of processing the instability around her. “I had a lot of really big feelings, but I had learned as a child that I couldn’t really express them,” she says. “Performing and writing ended up being the only place where I could get any feelings out.” In high school, she discovered new indie-rock bands by scouring the websites of Bowery venues with her fake ID in hand—teen fascinations that instilled in her a love for lyrics with specificity and intensity, particularly as learned from The National, whose lyrics “informed a lot of the way I write.”

But when Teitelbaum moved to Los Angeles for music school in 2015, she began forging a different path. Entering USC’s Pop Program, she was swept into a context where the brooding pop legacies of Lorde and Lana Del Rey reigned. She dropped out after two years, but Teitelbaum studied classic and jazz theory, the art of harmonies, and found herself writing songs inside the world of pop studio sessions.

The biggest gift the pop machine gave her was the stark clarity of realizing that she didn’t quite belong there. Her music was increasingly too raw and intense to easily categorize, and after finishing her last full-on pop EP with producer Yves Rothman (Yves Tumor, Girlpool, Porches) at the start of the pandemic, she gave herself permission to write without expectation. She began penning songs just for herself, with no thought that she would release them. The process emboldened her. Subtracting self-consciousness became a catalyst for the lucid songs of Blondshell, on which her experiences all coalesce to form her truest expressions of self yet. “It was me, as a person, in my songs,” she says. When she showed a few to Rothman, he encouraged her to write an album, joining a chorus of friends saying, “This is you.”

For all its complicated, soul-baring subject matter—processing post-lockdown social anxiety, her relationships with men as well as with women—Blondshell is a comfort, and its songs often contain the perfectly-calibrated humor and levity we need to survive. “There were a lot of things that I was running away from—mainly loneliness, self-esteem stuff,” Teitelbaum says.

It all left her yearning to make the kind of music that has helped her feel empowered herself—and the way there was in telling the truth. “I always want to make people feel like they have more power and control and peace because I know what it feels like to want that for myself. I know how music has helped me get there,” she says. “What I’ve realized I need to do is write realistically, and try to not bring shame into the writing. Each song gave me more confidence. I hope the songs help people in that way, too.”

  • Larimer Lounge

    2721 Larimer St., Denver Downtown Denver

    303-296-1006

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