Tessa Lena is a performing artist, writer, and an immigrant New Yorker who has been featured in a documentary about her adventures and on Douglas Rushkoff’s Team Human.

Her bio reads like a movie script.

As a teenager, Tessa had the honor of performing her own composition (entitled ‘In Defense of the Environment’) at the Moscow Conservatory, and wanted to be a geneticist.

As her interests expanded to Tibetan music and language, she headed to Lhasa with a backpack to study and do research.

After being attacked by a sex trafficker in Southern China and successfully fighting him off, Tessa settled in Chicago.

In Chicago, thrust into the dog-eat-dog world of survival in a foreign (and quite capitalist) land, Tessa learned how to code and started working in tech. She also had the strange fortune of marrying an abusive man who later decided to deport her, and arranged for her to be detained on “immigration” grounds. The experience was humbling and excruciating – but it ended well, and with the help of her friends and coworkers, Tessa was able to prove her case.

Once that was settled, Tessa began everything from scratch, opened a performance space, and started a band working with her hero Ian McDonald of King Crimson and Foreigner, and drummer Alan Lake, who has played and recorded with Madonna, Brian Ferry, Julian Lennon, Ministry, Brian Wilson and Sam Moore from Sam And Dave.

When Tessa moved to New York, she started a new band, Tessa Makes Love, along with occasional collaborations by Ian McDonald.

Baby Robots by Tessa Makes Love, from album Tessa Fights Robots


In 2013, her music video “Spente Le Stelle” received over a million very useful views on YouTube although the jury is still out on how many people realized that the video was a satire making fun of sexual objectification. Alas, the world keeps spinning, and it is still imperfect!

In 2016, Tessa organized a conference in Brooklyn dedicated to artistic dignity, social power and corporate responsibility.

In early 2017, she released an album titled ‘Tessa Fights Robots,’ you can listen and buy it here.

Since the English language only has so many words, this blog is also called ‘Tessa Fights Robots.’

Both the album and the blog are about being human in the world of technology, big data, and machine-like people.

In addition to that, Tessa has spent a few years in the newsroom working with some of the brightest indigenous writers in the country, as well as with some of the classiest people in the media.

Tessa’s latest project is VulnerableWin, a series of live conversations designed to restore the art of productive dialogue and to help us see fellow humans in those who are different from us.




Photo credit:
Tessa Makes Love at Webster Hall, New York. Photo by Dani Ynad