Performing under the stage name Blondshell
, singer-songwriter Sabrina Teitelbaum sources lyrics from her diary, baring it all for anyone and everyone with songs based on personal experiences of heartbreak and loss. But the self-deprecating 25-year-old, who grew up on a heavy diet of alt-rock in New York City, wouldn’t want it any other way.
“It just feels like me. It doesn’t feel like an alter-ego. I wanted to have the music come out under another name, mostly because my first and last name [are] long and hard to spell. But it feels like me. Even during the show, I’m not trying to be anyone else. I’m just trying to be as honest as possible and myself as much as possible,” she says. “I think it would be really hard not to do that. I don’t think I ever tried to be anyone else. I just didn’t have as much clarity by nature of being younger. Now I get to be myself and know who that is more than I have in the past. It is relieving.”
Since Teitelbaum began releasing singles in late 2022, including October’s “Cartoon Earthquake,”
Blondshell has become one of indie rock’s brightest rising stars. Her audience undeniably resonates with her “sad girl” mix of ’90s grunge and Brit pop paired with the brooding sensibilities of singer-songwriters like Elliott Smith
and Patti Smith
. Entertainment website UPROXX
named Blondshell July's “Must Hear Indie Artist,” while NYLON
named her “Indie's New Artist You Need to Know” around the same time.
“Nothing’s off limits, because I wrote a lot of these songs for myself and ended up putting them out. It sort of feels like that opened up a lot, because there’s nothing that’s more vulnerable for me to write about than the things that I have written about. It feels like I can say whatever I want,” Teitelbaum says, adding that the next single from her upcoming 2023 album will be available everywhere on Tuesday, January 24. “Some of these songs are about topics that are difficult and heavy. Some of them are dark. I have been surprised that a lot of people have been like, ‘Yeah, I feel the same way.’ It was hard at first to put some of these songs out, because I don’t show everybody all sides of myself. But now everybody sees all of these most vulnerable, intimate sides of who I am because of the lyrics.”
Take a song like “Olympus,”
for example, which starts off with the lines:“I’d still kill for you / I’d die to spend the night at your belonging,” and chronicles a romantic fling entwined with substance abuse and addiction. Teitelbaum knows it’s not all roses all the time, and she isn’t afraid to say that.
“I said the thing. It’s not just festering. I usually write about things that are painful or difficult for me,” she says. “Often, it’s like I had this bad situation, but I got this nice thing out of it that feels good for me to sing and sounds good. It just feels like getting a nice little gift from a bad situation.”
That goes for her concerts, too. Her first show of 2023 happens Wednesday, January 18, at the Bluebird Theater
, with Blondshell opening for Suki Waterhouse
. If the recordings are so raw, just imagine the ramped-up emotion of a live show.
“People can expect me just to show up how I really am that day. I just wear everything on my sleeve, because I don’t know how to do anything else. I think they can expect an honest performance of the music,” Teitelbaum explains. “I think music is so different than other forms of performing art because of that. I don’t have to be anybody else or any specific way. The songs already exist, so I’m going to play the songs, but I get to bring so much more of whatever is happening in my day to any show, which I think is really nice, and easier for me than anything else would be.”
Blondshell, 8 p.m. Wednesday, January 18, Bluebird Theater, 3317 East Colfax Avenue. Tickets are $20-$25.