EXCLUSIVE: Terri addresses rumored rift with Wizkid, new project, and more

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Nigerian afrobeat artist Terry Daniel Akewe famously known as Terri, is a fast rising musician in the music industry.

In an exclusive interview with JAGUDA, Terri spoke on several topics. His personal life, music, his time with Wizkid and the label and how he intends to conquer the industry.

He speaks with popular music bloggers; DJ Ruffe, Garnish Master, Peter Jev and Nuel.

It was an interesting session with the fast riser. Follow interview excerpts below.

JAGUDA: Thanks for joining us despite the short notice. Your project just dropped and it’s been a long time coming, what was the build up like? What inspired the project?

TERRI: Basically, life experiences inspired the project, the build-up was normal, just a lot of studio time, recording, sound engineering, mixing and mastering, planning the release and the rollout. And it was quite challenging as these processes can be time consuming but it was worth it. Releases are beautiful moments for me so it was worth it doing something that I look forward to.

Music is like energy. I try to create the right energy for me to make music and so some of the recordings on the EP happened in Ghana; others were recorded in Abuja. I moved around to get a different energy.

JAGUDA: The new Project was somewhat personal, how would you say it was received by the fans?

TERRI: It’s been amazing, it was the number two album in the country and it is still in the top five. Considering that my last release was in May last year, it’s been almost a year since I released music, so to have that kind of reception; it was amazing to see and I am not taking any of those long breaks anymore. It’s the period where it is just back to back to back. I’m doing a lot of back end work and just waiting to execute.

JAGUDA: Is the recent project building up to an album?

TERRI: My next project, will definitely be an album. My two E.P.’s have been a build-up to an album. My album is going to have a full expression of everything I entail. I have some amazing records for the project already. The album will come out at the right time.

JAGUDA: Have you started production for the album?

TERRI: Definitely. We’re always making music so there is music. It’s just that not every song will make a certain project. So you have to make so much music to pick from. For Instance, if you want to pick like 14, you have to make 300-400 songs. So you can’t pick a definite time to start, once you have inspiration, you get to it. Inspiration doesn’t have a certain time, it can come at any time. Even when you are tired, you can probably, at that time lay it down and get back to it. When it comes you just have to utilize it.

JAGUDA: Can you give us some spoilers at to collaborations we might see on the album?

TERRI: I haven’t selected the music that will appear on the album but I could tell you the people I have worked with that might or might not make the album because I am still in the selection process.

I’ve been in the studio with Wande Coal, Rema, Ceeza Milli and a lot of other people. But like I said, there is no defined selection that will be on the album yet. But these are the people that I have worked with and I have been in the studio with and made music as well as share music ideas with.

JAGUDA: Considering how much afrobeats is doing globally at the present time, would you say it puts you under some sort of pressure, or does it inspire your crative process?

TERRI: It inspires me, I don’t see how it puts me under any sort of pressure, because asides for the forerunners that are really up there; I feel like a lot of us still have a lot to discover about ourselves that we need to show. I also feel like everyone that is trending right now has something to offer, so the rest of us have to find that thing and nurture it and serve it out so it becomes something that is different and can be serve it out the right way to reach the people and that is what my focus is on. I never ever feel pressured It only inspires me.

As much as those doing it, dreamt about it and now they do it. We seeing them living that dream also makes us know that it is possible for us to have such dreams and we can dream big. There are no limitations to your dream. We know that it is possible with hard work so, it is just to focus on doing the work rather than feeling pressure.

Pressure in itself is a natural feeling, but your mental discipline as an individual helps you to conquer that.

JAGUDA: Let’s talk about your brief absence from the music industry recall your last release as you said was in May of last year. Was there any reason for the absence; would you like to clear the air on a supposed friction between you and Starboy Entertainment?

TERRI: Not putting out music was solely my decision. I was away for a while and when I decided to come back, I put out a six track E.P. That in itself was a testament to the fact that I was working. I felt it was right to put out a project rather than one song or two singles. Right now after putting out this project, the next project I’ll be puting out will be an album.

So right now is a great time to be putting out singles as we build up to the album. I’m starting off with remixes from my recent project. I already have those, and then I’ll put out singles before the album.

And, there’s no friction between myself and Starboy Entertainment.

JAGUDA: What inspired the title of the latest project ‘In Transit’?

It’s like a tipoff to my last project to somewhere I am heading. It’s basically a journey and about the time you spend in it. The time you discover yourself and your sound. There are always levels to surpass, there are always new grounds to discover; there’s always something tho discover about yourself, your craft, your person, and opportunity for a change. There’s always an opportunity to grow.

Growth can happen, but not everybody is conscious to the fact when it happens. Sometimes things happen and people are not expecting it, and they’re not prepared until they see it coming. The musical journey for me is quite unique as I am aware that I s a journey and I can see it and live through it because where I was musically when I dropped my first project is not what I sound like now, It is not the same feeling that my music used to give. I feel like it has advanced and the stage that is now is not where it stops.

There is still more ground for me to break, like even bigger artistes who spend more time in the studio have the tendency to unlock a side that they have not seen before. So, I feel like that was the perfect name to describe where I was mentally. My not doing music for a while made people feel like I wasn’t putting my mind to it and so ‘In Transit’ shows that I am focused on what exactly I am doing with my music.

JAGUDA: Is there a time frame for when the album released?

TERRI: I do not know really, I just keep on making music. Like I said, I’m doing remixes of songs from the E.P that I just dropped as well as music videos. I have to be in Ghana for the song with Mugeez (Chargie) so basically for the next four or five months, my head is on this tape and in November, when I am done with the tape, I will drop some singles before dropping the album and so I cannot place a time around when the album will drop but the album is in the works already.

I just dropped a compilation of music that I dropped because I always keep on making music. Every day is another opportunity to get inspiration to make something different. So I make music as often as I can.

JAGUDA: What would you consider the most challenging part of making the new E.P, what challenged you the most in that process?

TERRI: The most challenging part is getting people to work on the project as well. For Instance sometimes, you would be available to work and the other person you had to work with was maybe a 2 hour drive away. Personally, I can get frustrated when things don’t happen at the time I want them to.

I might not have the same level of energy or inspiration in that hour or two. There were moments while I was making the tape and I had to wait a day or two because I needed something or someone that was not around me, it was really challenging as those were the moments that I wished I had super powers to just command everything.

JAGUDA: If there was something you could change over the course of your career, what would that be?

TERRI: I don’t think I have had anything that is really worth changing. I am grateful for everything. If there is anything that would be changed it would be a normal phenomenon of life where people just outgrow somethings.

JAGUDA: Can you tell us how you met Wizkid?

TERRI: I met Wizkid through Social media. I made a video, that was a cover to one of his songs and I just got contacted Instagram and we met up made music together. It was an amazing feeling; it was so unbelieveable that I almost had to tap myself every second to see if it was real. It was a life changing experience for me.

JAGUDA: Are you independent now or you’re still with Starboy?

TERRI: We are family, we have always been family. I go to his house every 2-3 days. They’re like another family aside my immediate family. They’ve helped me to build a life of my own and a vision and given me a platform to believe in myself and what I can do.

Whatever, deal I am doing now as an artiste is the same as it has been from day one. I don’t see it as being independent, I always had decisions to make along with my management as to making music. Asides from my first project and that was because Wiz was in Lagos and he was available.

His availability was why we were able to work on the tape together. Since that tape till now he has been busy, working on his own album. The only thing that has changed since then is that I now decide on the songs to put out, I now decide on what to do simply because there is no one else to make those decisions. Everybody that should make those decisions is not here. But, in terms of consultation and when I need advice, they are always available and are easily accessible to me. And they look out for me. I am so grateful for that.

JAGUDA: Does that mean there was never a contract?

TERRI: There was a contract, in 2018. That was the period where my music was controlled by them but contracts don’t exceed four years and it’s been four years already and now the four years are over but there has been no fight, like traditionally you know how when artistes contracts expires it tends to look like there was a rift.

When you have experienced something, you might want to try out stuff by yourself and after four years of people deciding and showing you a way to create or have an outlook is enough time for you to get yourself ready. We still have a good relationship, there is always something I need them to do for me and they are available. We are still in connection.

JAGUDA: What do you think about artistes always going independent? Do we have a label structure in Nigeria?

TERRI: We actually do not have a label structure in Nigeria, we probably just have one or two that have offices, and staff as well as a rollout plans for the year. Not all labels have that and that’s not the ideal situation.

A record label is a business. Businesses have principles and you need everybody connected to that business to stick to the principles and uphold the ideals. But in Nigeria, it seems Nigerians like the way it is set up. Nigerians are emotional people. It shows the type of people that we elect. Our Public Officers persuade citizens emotionally. You can go and cry and people will follow you. Nigerians make it feel like they are not ready for business and keeping to the seriousness of business. Nigerians Like the idea of for instance; One guy was staying somewhere on the road, he was houseless; I am going to change his life. Sign him, give him contract he will live with me.

There can be better conditions though; when you look at the music industry in other countries it is almost admirable. You wish that things can be a little bit different; it would probably be easier for you. The conditions here are favourable too, we’ve seen people come out of it and do good stuff, so why not?!

JAGUDA: The music industry has evolved over time. We’ve seen a time where artistes have had to beg bloggers, artistes have had to pay, we’ve seen a Payola era, do you think at the point where the music is, an artiste can genuinely make it without funds?

TERRI: If an artiste has good music, they can build a core fanbase; bunch of people who would always listen to you and enjoy your music and support you.

However, being mainstream is different. Afrobeats is so big now and Nigeria is at the forefront of the global growth of Afrobeats. If you speak about afrobeats anywhere in the world, Nigeria comes to mind as our industry has wide percentage of participation as regards taking it to the global fore, so if you think about dominating and having your music go very mainstream at a time when everybody is trying to key into Afrobeats, there is a lot to consider.

If you recall there was a time in the industry, there was no direction, everybody just wanted to see what the following year would be like. But at this point there is a direction, we know what we can do with our sound. We currently have a Billboard Afrobeats charts for songs in the USA. There are conversations about having an Afrobeats category at the Grammy. It has not been accepted yet but I know that with the pressure that the sound is making and it might happen. But It will take more than being a great musician to go mainstream. You might have core fans, you might do sold out shows but you might not still be the most popular figure around.

I’ve never paid anybody to make my music spread, my label had taught me not to believe in anything that had to do with Payola. So everything that happened for me was organic.

JAGUDA: What’s the collaboration process with you like? Assuming I was an artiste and I needed to collaborate with you, what would the process be like in terms of costs?

TERRI: Omo you just need to sabi sing oh.

JAGUDA: Let’s say an artiste from a state that is far away from you, there are cities with creative energy wasting away, how do they reach out to you?

TERRI: Social media is also important. I feel like there are ways now. If for instance, you post ten videos on Twitter and tag about ten music influencers, there should be some sort of feedback.

It takes just having a great sound and finding a way to put it out, and a way to have people announce it. At least when people know what you are about, then you can start to build your plan as to what you want to do as an artiste, and how frequently you want to do what you do as an artiste.

If for instance you stay in Jos, you need to make periodic trips to Lagos because Lagos is where the industry is per se, like we can say that Lagos is where it is. If you come to Lekki and you move around Lekki every day in a month, you will see somebody. It doesn’t have to be a record deal. It can be a producer that just likes good music and you can work with him and build a relationship with him.

Because I remember, the producer I had; I worked with him and he is still my sound engineer till date. I worked with him for over five years and I met him by just roaming around my high school environment. Because it was a studio close to my high school so I used to go from school to the studio and when I finished school I used to always go to the studio daily for two years. I wasn’t putting out music at the time; I was recording and watching other artistes record as well. Their recording process and I was convincing myself that this is the career that I want to chase. It took me a lot of time in the studio for me to say that I am going to chase this path.

JAGUDA: Would you say it has been very rewarding choosing this path?

TERRI: Of course it has been rewarding oh. If I was in school, I would probably be frustrated that I don’t have anything to do. I’m still in school actually. I would probably be thinking about what to do and I’d have to be waiting for the government because I have nothing to do. It is rewarding.

I don’t make the most money but I do not make the kind of money I would make if I was solely going to school. So I can have some moments with myself where I can give myself an experience, maybe take a trip or do something so it is definitely worth it. And then I have met people. I have been able to build a network, if you are yielding from it now, a network is something that is somewhat an investment it is always going to make out something in the future.

JAGUDA: You talked about school, what school is that?

TERRI: (Laughs) Online classes dot university dot com.

JAGUDA: On your most recent project, are we going to see you do more?

TERRI: Yes, like I said. I’m starting off with remixes from my tape. I already have two remixes from the tape which will drop after I put out the videos from my tape. The remixes have collaborations.

My last single before I dropped my tape was also a collaboration with Mohbad and Bella Shmurda and so, I am already putting out work with other artistes.

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