It's been eight years since the release of her first and only album, Complex Simplicity, but New Orleans songstress and former TVT Records signee Teedra Moses says she hasn't skipped a beat - and her fans haven't either.
Over the years, Moses spent time writing music for artists like Macy Gray, Nivea, and Mary J. Blige and even released successful mixtapes of her own. Now, she's affiliated with Rick Ross' Maybach Music Group, and is ready to return with an all-new album this August. AllHipHop.com checked in with the first lady of one of Hip-Hop's fastest-rising cliques:
AllHipHop.com: It's been eight years since we've had an album from you, Teedra. How'd you manage to stay inspired to keep making music?
Teedra Moses: It doesn’t feel like a long time, but it has been a long time. Staying inspired, it’s really the people. I started writing after TVT and that was giving me enough money to survive. When social netwo,rking came out, like Myspace and all that stuff, it just made me realize that people were interested in my music that I was singing for myself. And I ended up having a cult fanbase that I thought was really fresh and interesting. When my label was telling me that my album wasn’t doing well, saying it was my fault why everything didn’t go well. From that point on, I just got into the habit of making music for myself and for those people.
For a quick minute, because I was writing, my mind did go in a direction of “maybe I can do this.. to gain more people.” That was short lived, because I’m just a person that’s true to myself. I’m a person that when things get really really bad, it goes completely off course when I don’t feel like I’m being true to myself. And I think that partly has a lot to do with the time that it has taken for me to get to a point where I have the music to put out for an album. Not having a clear direction because the first record I ever wrote was on Complex Simplicity called "Caught Up". Six months later, I had a record deal. I just wanted to make music, sweetheart.
AllHipHop.com: They blamed you for bad record sales?
Teedra Moses: Well, what the marketing guy told me exactly is that “it had no singles.” I was on one of those things like - I like making music, this is fun, this is cool. I didn’t think twice about the business side of it. I didn’t think twice about how it was going to be received or anything. So, I had to kind of go to college and what I learned is it’s still just about the music. Yeah, I realized the business stuff and you gotta know this about the business stuff but you need to just collect a team of people for that - but you have to stay engulfed in the music - which brings me to today where I am, on a mission.
I’m making soul music, and I don’t want to sound controversial, but I know that the only people they really pay attention to that’s singing and making soul music are people that are not black. It’s interesting when you see someone that’s not black that can really sing and it’s soulful. Well, I want to make soul music and either people are going to go with it or they’re not. But, I wanna make the songs that my homegirls like to sing to. And I want to make the records that I feel like are universal to any woman or any man can relate to. And I think soul music has that kind of effect on people.
AllHipHop.com: So, you believe that staying yourself, and not trying to appeal to everyone will work?
Teedra Moses: I believe that sincerely. I believe that music is in a place now where the only thing I think that stands out to my ear is things that are true to the person. You feel a truth from it. I’m so honest with this. I went through a period of time when I was writing robotically because I just wanted to churn something out. But I’m so glad I was able to do that without everybody seeing me. I’m so glad I had a chance to develop. When you start writing and six months later, you have a record deal and you’re going through that whole process, you don’t know what you’re doing. You’re just doing it. People fight their whole lives to get that position to have a record deal and I got one in six months from just saying “I wanna make music.” So, I had to pay my dues and I’m all paid up and I’m ready now.
I want to make the music I love and be successful doing it, and put other people in a position to make the music they love and be successful doing it. That is the whole mission. I want to be true to my art and be a real artist that’s not overly consumed with monetarily what I’m getting from it as much as what I’m putting in the world. For instance, I want to be legendary, like a person that might not be a household name but architects know them. All architects know this architect - he’s legendary as an architect. I want to be legendary for what I do and I think I’m on my way if I keep my head right. I don’t care about being famous honestly. I want to make money, cause I like nice shit - but I want to be able to make music that has a purpose and touches people. And I want to have a career that has a purpose. Like, owning my own publishing and sticking to that. And, making the music that I want to make and having creative control, stuff like that is important to me. And I would just want that to be influenced on another person.
That’s the mission - the mission is not just like sell a lot of records, get a lot of money, it’s like, really inspire. Stay inspired and to inspire somebody else and to help another that’s in my position. I would love to set up a really cool indie label where you can come and get your one-off on as a new artist, gain fans and then go to the big labels. I don’t want to keep you forever. Because now you have to have fans. And there are a lot of people that are really talented and don’t know how to get fans. What I’ve learned, over a period of years, how to just keep performing and making music even if it’s not in a massive way. Gaining people, one person at a time, and over time that can be really lucrative for you if you keep paying your bills.
AllHipHop.com: You've got this cult following. No album in eight years, but people are still following your movement. I think that's dope.
Teedra Moses: I feel so blessed, and it is the premiere thing that keeps me inspired and keeps me going. I can get off stage and talk shit and be crazy like I am in front of my family with these people. I can give them the music that I love and they’ll tell me either they like it or they don’t. They just really have encouraged me and kept me going and I know some of these people by face. I know some of these people from every show in certain cities. I know these people from being on Twitter or from the days of MySpace. I really feel like that connection that I have - I remember when I was younger hearing Teena Marie on the radio. I want to be that kind of artist for the young girl who’s in the car with her mom, who loves my music, over and over, this is what she hears every day and then she can tell the story when she’s older “Oh, I went to meet Teedra Moses at a meet and greet. My mom used to always listen to her.”
That’s how I want to touch people and that’s what I’ve had the opportunity to do. Not on a major level where I’m so high above people and I’m on a plateau where you can’t reach me, I’ve been very touchable. I want to remain touchable always because that is so inspiring. Real people are what matters to me. The fact that I have real people down with me, I feel unstoppable because people f*ck with me.
When you have real, common people - I’m not talking about the tastemakers (because some industry people do, too) but, people will roll up on me in a minute and be like “What? Teedra! I love your music. B*tch!” and feel nothing about talking to me like that. They feel really comfortable being themselves with me and I just love that. That makes me feel so blessed. And I take praise with a grain of salt because I take criticism with a grain of salt. And that’s what they give to me and I really appreciate it.
AllHipHop.com: I see you in the video, looking relaxed, with that glass of wine - is that what gets you in the mood to make music?
Teedra: [laughter] That’s Cognac, baby. That’s not wine. I do wine, but I was in a very Cognac, brown liquor mood at that point. The thing is, I’m a chaotic brain. My mind is always over the place. I’m an artist, I’m all over the place, but, calm is what comforts me. Settled and just a real easy environment. So in the studio, there is no one. There is me and the computer or an engineer. I normally get the music, and I record the vocals and then I send it back to them or we will get together later and go through what’s going to happen with the music. I like calm, I don’t like a lot of people around, I don’t want a party in the studio because I just want to exude calm in my music even when it’s banging because I want you to be able to relax.
I want to have that kind of music that you can clean your whole house to and never skip one song. I want to have the music that you can ride a five-hour drive and just keep me on repeat. I want you to be able to study to me. Study for your final exam, to me, without being bothered. It’s on and your brain can still function. I don’t want to disturb nobody because when I listen to music, I’m already disturbed in my own brain, so I don’t need nothing else disturbing me. I try to create an atmosphere that is real cool and easy, and make you feel good, even when I’m singing about something painful.
AllHipHop.com: Who are you working with on this new album?
Teedra Moses: I’m working with a lot of people that are not very well known. With exception of a few people. Trackademics, Jack Splash, and I'm working on a few with the Klassics. Right now, I’m trying to hunt down Raphael Saddiq because I can’t quite find him. I’m trying to hunt him down for my next single. It’s a song called "Nobody Else", and a DJ gave me the sample, and I wrote a song to it instantly. At that same time, I was getting ready to do a UStream from a cool spot in Downtown L.A., so I had the band play over the sample and I created the song the night before. So I sang it and that gave me the idea for how I wanted to do the song. Went in with my homeboy Trackademics, and we created a track for it and it’s really nostalgiac. It’s Hip-Hop Soul but modern and clean and fresh like springtime.
I think the only other person whose voice tone that would fit on this track is Raphael Saadiq. What I like about his music from Toni Tony Tone and his solo stuff is when you hear the clairty and tone in his voice. It’s unique, and it’s not like anybody else’s. I want to think that I have my own unique tone, so the whole bridge is written where we just sing together. That’s what I’m trying to do with that, and shoot a video within the next couple of months. I have the record with Wale. A producer that I really, really love and I just started working with, is Jack Splash. He’s from the Melanie Fiona/Cee-Lo record that just won a couple of Grammys. He has a really wonderful Hip-Hop background, and my music has this Hip-Hop base. Soulful, but I just like it to be banging.
AllHipHop.com: Has your affiliation with Rick Ross and Maybach Music changed the scope of your place in the music industry?
Teedra Moses: My affiliation with Maybach Music has definitely given me more attention. People want to help me more. When I was just the girl by myself doing it, it was certain blogs that would blast stuff no matter what because they f*cked with me. But with the MMG affiliation, everybody is with it because they love what Ross is doing. So, I don’t even know if it’s about me. [laughter]. I’m just glad to get it. I really don’t care if it’s about me, because I know once I got your ear, you’re going to sink into it.
I don’t make kick in the door music, I make music that’s going to live with you for the rest of your life. It gives me the opportunity to get ears that I never got before. From young kids that weren’t paying attention when Complex Simplicity came out, to people that didn’t even realize that I was still making music since then. It broadened me up to more people and ultimately, being that I’m a person that really judge my success with the people, judge how well I’m doing with the people, that has been a blessing. Whether it’s opened me up in the industry or not, the people are who are going to take me where I gotta go.
We got Soul from Hip-Hop Soul to Champagne Soul. I’m trying to touch on everything that I like. From the two step vibe, to the head nodding, to the floaty vibes of Pop Soul. I’m just a soulful person. I come from New Orleans, Louisiana, baby, I’m a soulful person. That’s what’s going to be on the album. All Soul. Something you can press play from the top to the bottom, and you gon' have an emotion for every situation you’re dealing with.
AllHipHop.com: When's the album coming?
Teedra Moses:I’m looking at August 14 because that’s what I’m trying to push for. That’s why I’m pushing so hard to put out more visuals, because August 14 is the day that Complex Simplicity came out. That would be great!
AllHipHop.com: Anything else?
Teedra Moses: Yeah, I want to say it was great talking to you, darling. And, to the people, I just want to say thank you so much and to all the supporters within media and the DJs, I'm very appreciative, because good music is so necessary. I think that it's been a void of soul music for a while and now it's coming back, and GOD held me for the perfect time to come and bring my music. I know this year is the year that people are really open to it and need it. So, I'm grateful.