Tenille Townes Discusses 'Masquerades' and Unveiling Her Vulnerable Side

Preceding the release, Tenille Townes described the music on her new EP Masquerades as journal entries from her diary. The title itself was pulled from a very personal place: the line in the lead single “Villain In Me” when she exclaims “You’ll only see me laughing / Sunshine and a smiling face / Sometimes I wear it like a mask / It’s easier that way.” She speaks on the line and the title sharing, “Thematically, that felt like the right beginning place to jump off of for this EP. I really hope that this music can feel like an invitation to anybody listening to feel like we can work on setting down on our masquerades together and see each other.” She adds, “I love that about music. It lets us surrender ourselves in a bit of a different way. In a song, it feels easier to talk about sometimes.”

After “Villain In Me” which was the first trek into the new territory for Townes, she release “When’s It Gonna Happen;” a tune that describes that helpless feeling of being single in your 20s. The lyrics paint a vivid picture. In the latter part of the first verse, she even describes the painful feeling of RSVPing as a solo individual to a wedding invitation. She exclaims, “You know I got your invitation / Can’t wait for Rosemary Beach / Guess I would tell you he’s not coming / There’s no plus one, it’s just me.”

Townes took to TikTok to post clips of the track, each of them gaining traction with thousands and thousands of views. One video, in particular, got over 400 thousand views. “That was the most encouraging thing to me to know that people felt like that song spoke their truth too because I think at some point or another, we all feel that way,” Townes tells The Nash News. “Growing up in this society that tells us what our life is meant to look like and the pictures we paint in our minds about it, and real-life can just look so different than that.” Townes knew she couldn’t possibly be the only single woman feeling the way she did, and the reaction to “When’s It Gonna Happen” proved her premonitions to be true.

The idea of writing from the first perspective and tapping so deeply into oneself is new to Townes as an artist. Throughout the whole project, every one of the seven tested that as she states, “My favorite place to write from is the storyteller - the third party perspective. I think a lot of the first album was very much from that point of view.” She continues, “I think that going through everything that the entire world has gone through the past couple of years and spending so much time alone at my house stuck with some of those more vulnerable and uncomfortable thoughts, I could not help the way this new season of music was coming out and it was terrifying.”

A few of the numbers on the collection reflect on feelings that came with the loneliness of the pandemic. The opener to the project, “When You Need It,” is a collaboration between Townes and Wrabel. Townes had been a huge fan of Wrabel and recalls being blown away by his performance at the Ryman a few years back. He was the first person she was set up to co-write with at the very start of COVID. “We sat and talked about how we were feeling and how grateful we were for the people in our lives who were checking in on us,” she explains. “We began the beginning of our friendship with a song about friendship.” The two artists have written over 20 songs together since that first Zoom call.

“Shared Walls” was made up of a concept Townes had thought of; it details feeling closer to neighbors in strange and weary times. She quickly knew she wanted it to be a collaboration and the dream was for BRELAND to feature on it; one of the country genre's newest rising stars. She had passed BRELAND in the halls of a handful of different events and his aura struck Townes. “You can just feel the joy around him. His spirit is awesome to me,” she exclaims.

On "Shared Walls" BRELAND, who is known for his R&B-infused country music reminiscent of "Old Town Road," showcases a softer side of his range. “I really loved getting to hear that side of BRELAND’s voice on the song. He sent the stems back and I just had so many goosebumps listening to the way he can sing,” Townes says.

As Townes speaks of this new chapter, her voice radiates with soft delicate emotions that are paralleled with strong intention. As much as these new tracks resonate with her and the new thoughts and feelings she’s felt over the last few years, her greatest hope is that her art can become a comforting soundtrack to listeners. And she doesn't take that responsibility lightly.

“I do feel like two different people. This sort of realist and the optimist. The person who writes these reflective songs and then the one who gets all fierce on stage,” she says. “This music is very much in the middle of the process of me figuring all kinds of things out, and I hope that it feels like a comforting window to the world for anybody who might look through this music in their own way.”

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