by Govert Driessen, 2020

About

Jazz guitarist Teis Semey (Denmark, Aalborg, 1993) studied at the Conservatory of Amsterdam in the Netherlands with Reinier Baas, Maarten van der Grinten, and Jesse van Ruller. At 21 years old, he won the Princess Christina Concours first prize and press prize, was awarded the Keep An Eye Jazz Award in 2017 as well as the Best Coltrane Arrangement prize and won the press prize in Leiden Jazz Awards 2016.

In 2018 he was selected for the international InJazz Congress in Rotterdam. Subsequently Teis spent half a year in Los Angeles, studying under Bruce Forman. Teis Semey performed in the renowned jazz club Blue Whale as well as recorded with several projects, after which he then returned to Amsterdam to finish his second album Throw Stones.

As a child, Teis Semey grew up on the country side as the only local child into music. Semey was different than his peers and did not belong very well, which led him to music. Semey spent days and months in front of the computer teaching himself ACDC solos and Green Day riffs off of YouTube. As Semey’s family moved away from the country side and to a city, Semey had a chance to nurture his love for music with other like-minded friends. Unfortunately, Semey found himself in a criminally active friend circle. Semey was expelled from school and replaced into an integration project based purely on learning through art and aesthetics. “This saved my life”, Semey says himself. His late adolescence was marked by going to blues bars, drinking at a too young age, and playing in a blues band that did quite well, touring in Sweden.

Los Angeles 2019 (Lewis Forde)
Zinco Jazz, Mexico City 2019 (Paulina Berruecos)

“Jazz has an open character as a genre, there are so many possibilities. It’s a form of true communication, where improvisation is a central theme.” Semey fell in love with jazz music through Kurt Rosenwinkel and John Coltrane, a love which led him to pursue a bachelor and later a masters degree in the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. Aside from being an instrumentalist, Semey is also a composer. He credits this to his love of classical music, which he spent time in high school training on piano. “I never chose music, I never felt like I had a choice. I just did the only thing that I could”, Semey says.

As a leader, Teis Semey has released two albums. Where The Fence is the Highest (TRPTK, 2019) and Throw Stones (Loumi Records 2020). Where The Fence is the Highest is a two-suite acoustic near-symphonic album consisting of two “jazz” suites. Throw Stones is a fast paced and multi-colour album that embraces both electronic dance music, chamber music and improvised acoustic ensemble playing.

(There will in short time be a page about Where The Fence is the Highest. I promise, Teis Semey incorporated is on it)

Throw Stones

Throw Stones was mainly recorded in 2019 in the studio of the Conservatory of Amsterdam, Henry Solomons living room in Los Angeles, and Semey’s own bedroom. Released on Loumi Records in 2020.

The title “Throw Stones” comes from the proverb “you shouldn’t throw stones when you live in a glasshouse”.
To Semey, in one way, the proverb makes sense; don’t be a hypocrite. But it also represents something darker:
don’t step out of line. So maybe we do live in a glass house, but if the glass house is like this, then we should
start throwing stones.

As a personal quest for authenticity, Teis Semey took on mixing, mastering and producing “Throw Stones” by himself, as well as create artwork, animations and design himself as well. Ultimately, this results in an album that is a strong glimpse into the fantasy world of Teis Semey and his band. It is moms cooking; you know who made it, you can trust it’s made with the heart.

Teis Semey is a musician that most of all tries to tell his story to the listener – give the listener a sense that
they are listening to something cooked up with the heart. While at times aggressive, ugly and confronting it is
most of all warm, emotional and trustworthy. Teis Semey’s Throw Stones is a must listen, because you won’t
hear anything like it again.

As a sidemusician

Among his collegues with whom he has released music, is Guy Salamon (Unfollow the Leader, 2019), Giuseppe Campisi (A Traveler Point of View 2019), New Rotterdam Jazz Orchestra (Rotterdam Suite, 2019), Lucas Martinez (Lights and Shadows, 2019), Henry Solomon (Art Brain, to be released 2020), PULL (To Pull a String, A Puppet Moves, 2016).

Teis Semey also features in Fuensanta Mendez´s Ensamble Grande.