Band Obsession: Tennis

by Fiorella Valdesolo (Brooklyn)

Photo credit: Charlotte Zoller

We’ve been pretty smitten with Denver-based trio Tennis since first hearing the track “Marathon,” a little finger-snapping wonder with a sunny, girl-group vibe off their debut album, Cape Dory. Their just-released second effort, Young & Old, has much of the same carefree appeal (see especially “Petition,” a cool groove that feels like the perfect spring anthem). So of course we were psyched to catch up with lead singer Alaina to talk tunes, clothes and karaoke favorites. See what this stylish songstress had to say below.

How did Tennis come to be?

If I were to single out one thing, it would be the sailing trip that Patrick and I spent years planning and seven months manifesting. We completely abandoned our lives, our possessions and our friends for that experience. We came home changed and found that the best way to convey an ineffable experience was through music. A year later, we had written our first record (Cape Dory).

We are always fond of your on-stage style. How would you describe it?

I try to channel a mixture of Patti Smith and Katharine Hepburn. On stage, I want to feel powerful, and for some reason, that usually means wearing pants and flats—never heels. Also because my voice is so feminine, I like to temper it by dressing more androgynously. It’s a process that I am still sorting through, but it’s one of the most enjoyable aspects of performing.

Digging anything at Madewell now?

Yes, the Attic and Barn® Kuredo Dress, Spotted Matinee Blouse, Belle by Sigerson Morrison® Verena Flats, Le Mont St. Michel® Striped Top and Pinstriper Silk Pants.

Who are some of your own musical heroes?

Right now, I am fascinated by Patti Smith. I read her book Just Kids during this tour and downloaded her entire musical catalog. Her faithful pursuit of love and art is one of the most inspiring stories I’ve ever read. She makes the life of an artist seem like a higher calling. I don’t think that’s always the case, but I found this idea moving.

Do you have a signature karaoke or guilty pleasure song/artist?

“Weak” by SWV is my karaoke favorite. But I don’t believe in guilty pleasure music. I think if music makes you happy, you should feel no guilt!

What are some of your favorite spots to hit up when you are back in your hometown of Denver?

1. Obviously, The Hi Dive is on the list.
2. The Museum of Contemporary Art downtown is exquisite; a very tranquil place to spend a day.
3. Crema on the northern end of downtown is a favorite coffee shop of mine.
4. Great Divide is my favorite brewery.
5. Common Era is a great little boutique owned by an incredible woman named Debra Mazur. I worked for her during the formative months of our band. Being able to work in a creative environment for a woman who encourages you to pursue your dreams is amazing. I send every girl I know in her direction.

Any summer or vacation plans you are excited about?

We won’t be touring during festival season, so Patrick and I are planning on turning our van into an RV of sorts and driving to the Grand Canyon. Neither of us has ever seen it, and I love the idea of spending a week in a quiet place in the middle of nowhere.