Student musician embraces sound to express spirituality

Inspired by the bone-chilling gloom of winter, Cory Teese took up his guitar and transposed his melancholy feelings into chords. By springtime, Teese had emerged from a contemplative fog with the creation of his first album and his one-man band Flowers in the Fence.

SF State English major Teese said he indulges his creative spirit through faith. His music presents an honest view into his inner world as it mirrors his spirituality and relationship with God, he said.

“In a way, my lyrics often become a conversation,” Teese said. “It’s a way for me to talk to God, to other people and to myself.”

Teese released his first EP “Winter’s Season” in May 2014, which featured instrumental accompaniment by his brother Kyle Teese on drums and their friend Jacob Montague on lead guitar.

Teese and his older brother have bonded through playing music together since they formed their first band, The Flow, at the ages of nine and 11, respectively.

“Cory is a joy to play with because he’s not just a musician, (he’s) a writer,” Kyle Teese said. “When we write, he doesn’t just come with chords and lyrics, (he has) a vision for something deeper that he’s trying to creatively express.”

Within its first year of activity, Flowers on the Fence was featured in the December 2014 issue of the New York-based magazine “Invitation Annual” and performed a radio show at San Francisco’s Mutiny Radio.

Cory Teese practices music in his room in the Sunset district as he prepares for an up coming show were he will play his complete album from his one-man band Flowers in the Fence Monday, March 30. (Daniel Porter / Xpress)

Cory Teese practices music in his room in the Sunset district as he prepares for an up coming show were he will play his complete album from his one-man band Flowers in the Fence Monday, March 30. (Daniel Porter / Xpress)

Love Week is an opportunity for Canvas SF to serve San Francisco, said SF State junior Angelique Fernandez, who organized the event. Their outreach ministry group, Canvas City Team, will volunteer with non-profit organizations.

Fernandez and Teese played music together with SF State’s on-campus Christian ministry group, City Cru, in the spring of 2014.

Teese’s energy and musical ability made Flowers on the Fence Fernandez’s immediate choice for the concert’s talent, she said.
“He brings excitement and shows so much passion in his performance and in his music,” Fernandez said. “I know his heart is on-track with what I’m looking to portray for the evening.”

During his 45-minute set, Teese will perform his album, “Winter’s Season,” in its entirety in addition to three new songs from his next project.

The songs on his upcoming album are centered on dreaming, as places he’s gone to escape, Tesse said. While Teese said his new project has a similar feel to “Winter’s Season,” it emulates his growth as a person and an artist.

“It’s evolved, I’ve evolved, the music has evolved and as the songs come together I feel they have a good place to fill for myself and others,” Teese said.

Teese said his original EP manifested from a period of introspective reflection. He explained that the name Flowers on the Fence encapsulates the idea of flourishing as a person, halfway between who he was while recording the album and who he hopes to be.

One of his favorite bits of feedback about “Winter’s Season” was a friend’s candid emotional response.

“My buddy was like, ‘Dude, I just listened to your album. It’s really good, but it’s sad as shit,” Teese said.

Using Montague’s technical expertise recording with another of his projects, folk rock band Branches, Teese said he has been able to experiment and further develop his musical ideas for Flowers on the Fence.

“It was fun working with someone so new to the recording process and getting to see him create the layers and textures within his tracks,” Montague said. “I’ll definitely be playing with FOTF in the future when possible. It’s a fun change from the music I play most often.”

Teese said he also has his brother fine tune technical aspects such as the song’s structure and melody. Kyle Teese said he feels privileged to help his brother’s vision for Flowers on the Fence come to life.

“I think Cory’s grown a ton personally in these last few years, and the man he’s become has totally affected his music,” Kyle Teese said. “And the way he shares his journey through life – that’s the stuff he sings about. It’s too real to avoid.

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  • This guy is amazing. It is really inspiring to meet young people like him. Often it feels that all day are the same, people are the same and life is repetitive. However, students like him prove that you can find happiness everywhere because you are the one who creates it. To be honest I never was a good student, even looked up price of writing service online to spend less time doing my homework. Instead of living a full life, study hard and spend time with my friends and family I was simply going with the flow.