Crawl Space documents Tei Shi's transformation from the cautious and curious new kid on the block to a confident, self-possessed and buzz worthy artist. Written and recorded over a year and a half, the album traces a much wider arc, from Tei Shi's earliest musical explorations to this, her first long player. Growth is never easy, though, and if the title makes the process sound difficult, even claustrophobic, that's because it was. In fact, there is a palpable physicality surrounding this record, and it reveals itself everywhere: from the album's song titles (Keep Running, Lift Me), to its rhythms, to its astonishing cover art. Constant motion is a fact of life. A real, physical crawlspace fits only one person and demands that person move forward, out and through it. Tei Shi's debut evokes that feeling and the experience of centering oneself, changing focus.
Born Valerie Teicher, Tei Shi remembers composing songs as early as eight years old - sometimes in a diary, other times recording herself on tapes (some of which are featured on the album) - setting down phrases or melodies as they came to her. Born in Buenos Aires and growing up between (Bogota,) Colombia and (Vancouver,) Canada, she began dreaming of herself as a singer, a performer and an artist. Perhaps symbolic of this newfound determination, around the same time, she struggled with an extreme fear of the night and entered a period of insomnia. To combat this new fear of the dark and unknown she forced herself to hide inside her family home's crawlspace for a minute each night, in order to confront her fear. This crawl space became a sort of symbol for her at this formative phase of her life.
Teicher treated her musical aspirations the same way for some time - comforting and important, but still secret, still too personal to really show the world. "For the first year or two, I was testing the waters," she says. "I wanted to be in the background a bit, to put the music out there and have it be more of an abstract thing. All of the earlier artwork was a little more ethereal, too; it didn't have me on it." Even as she began to study and release music, this instinct to hide kept a hold on her.