I’m very happy to say that YouKnowIGotSoul has finally got the opportunity to talk with Teedra Moses to talk in length about her career and what she’s been up to. In this very revealing interview, Teedra talks about the interesting path that led her to get into music, discovering fans that she didn’t even know she had, how she originally perfected her writing skills by freestyling over hip hop beats, and when we can expect her new album (It’s coming very soon!!).
YouKnowIGotSoul: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview, I’ve been looking forward to doing it for awhile now, been trying to track you down, and glad to finally have you here!
Teedra Moses: Okay cool, let’s do it!
YKIGS: For all of your fans, myself as well, who have been wondering what you’ve been up to, just give us a quick update on what you’re currently working on?
TM: Basically right now I’m touring with the Lady Hennessey tour. Earlier this year I put out a mixtape called “Royal Patience.” I just put a few original, I think 14 or 12, something like that, original songs that were songs that I worked on when I was in the process of making records for Young Lioness. I shot a video for “Kisses Never Taste So Sweet” but I decided that I was going to do a little bit of remixing to the record, adding some strings and different things like that, so I held off on the video so that I could cut it according to how I changed the record. I’m also shooting a video at the end of this month for “R U 4 Real” and with the tour, the Lady Hennessey tour, and with the two videos coming, my goal is to bring more awareness to the fact that I’m here and doing music, because some people don’t realize I’m still doing music *Laughs*.
YKIGS: I’ve read on your Twitter about the Lady Hennessey tour and you’ve mentioned some dates you are doing with that. How did this opportunity come about and how has this experience been?
TM: It’s been really wonderful; I’m becoming aware that I have fans in areas that I don’t even know. I go to places where I don’t expect people to know who I am and find out there are people that know who I am in that city, so it helps you from a marketing standpoint moving forward. When you are indie you have to look at everything. An indie artist doesn’t get to just be an artist. You have to be a marketing analyst, you have to be a manager, a person that can write video treatments, you have to know how to mix records, you have to know how to produce, you just have to know everything. Because everything falls back on you, you have a team, but the team is pretty much headed up by you and what you’re doing. So that helps a lot, the Lady Hennessey tour helps a lot in knowing what geographical areas that I actually have fans that I wasn’t aware of.
YKIGS: You also mentioned the “Royal Patience” mixtape you put out earlier this year, I had a chance to hear it and I’m a big fan of it. How do you feel the reception has been from your fans with that?
TM: Oh it’s been really, really good. It’s been really, really, really good. To me, mixtapes are not so good to me, they are just records that I throw out. They are never completed, they are never mixed, they are just half ass records. So when people take those and they like them, I am very appreciative. People are like “Oh well that could have been an album.” Well that couldn’t have been an album because I didn’t have the money to make it how I really wanted it to be. That’s just raw. Mixtapes to me means raw, that means it’s not complete, that means it’s not album quality. I think my album “Complex Simplicity” was of a certain quality, so what I want to put out as an album has to be of that quality and better. So I don’t really…it’s just half assed songs to me, they are nice, but they are not complete. But I’m appreciative that people like the nice shit, because it excites me about when I really get to complete everything and do things to the level and quality that I want to, it makes me excited, but I’m not even going to react to that.
YKIGS: Well, you had me fooled, because these songs I’m hearing on your mixtape are a lot better than most of the other stuff out there right now, I just gotta put that out there! *Laughs*
TM: Thank you! Thank you very much, I appreciate that. I mean that makes me feel good, I write records and I want people to connect with the records. I really want people to like them, but at the end of the day it’s just a self expression that I’m doing, and it’s really about me releasing whatever that emotion is and singing and fulfilling this purpose I have. So when people take to it, it really makes me happy because that means I’m pleasing myself, but I’m pleasing somebody else too.
YKIGS: You mentioned you’re shooting a video for “R U 4 Real”?
TM: Yea, I’m actually supposed to get on the phone with the director Phil who’s an up and coming director. More than anything, not the names that he’s worked with, it’s his work, he’s really of quality. I found him through Kareem Johnson who’s a producer that’s been in the game for years and it’s a new talent that he has. I’m really excited about working with him because I’m a person who’s simple, I like simple because I think simple to me equates to classic and timeless. A lot of times people don’t know how to do simple. People want to do all this extra, which is one of the issues I ran into with “Kisses Never Taste so Sweet.” Getting it finished was a hassle because I was dealing with someone who didn’t understand simplicity. I think that sometimes it’s very hard for people do something simple and of quality rather than something that is major and blown out. I like timeless and classic stuff, so I think it’s going to be a great connection between Phil and I for the “R U 4 Real” record.
YKIGS: I’m glad you chose that one, because that’s actually my favorite song on the mixtape!
TM: Yea it’s cool. For instance, with these records I told you they’re not done, so when I’m doing videos for them, I’m completing them. I’m just instinctively investing in completing them. For “Kisses Never Taste So Sweet,” I’m putting strings in it, a string arrangement, and different drops and things that I didn’t do before; I just threw it out there. On “R U 4 Real,” I’m putting live bass and putting a couple of drops underneath what’s already there; kind of putting more thickness and meat to the record, the way I would have done it if I were putting it out as an actual record on my album. So I’m excited, I think in my mind “gosh I put that out so long ago!” But when you are working off your own money, it takes time. People that follow my music, they appreciate whenever they get it. So they keep me going, because sometimes, not so much that I want to quit, never, but it gets overwhelmingly frustrating and kinda stressful to keep this brand going by myself.
YKIGS: That’s understandable.
YKIGS: Another favorite of mine from the mixtape, and if you could just give some background about this song and how you put it together and everything, is “Everybody Rock.”
TM: Oh yea, that was done with my good friend Trackademicks, Jason. He is a producer out of The Bay Area, Oakland specifically, and he’s really, really dope. He’s also an artist as well, people should Google him, Trackademicks, he’s really dope. And we have really good connection, he was a fan of “Complex Simplicity” and so he produces music for me from that standpoint. A lot of times producers send me stuff and they never heard my music before. So they send me a record that would be good for somebody else, but I have a particular style to what I do, not that I’m not trying to reach out and branch out, but it has to be within my style. I want to go to another level within my style, I don’t want to do something totally different. Trackademicks gives me different sounds within what I do, that compliment what I do, and I think we work really well together. We have a couple of records we are working on right now for the Young Lioness project. It’s just…I write what I feel, I really would like to fall in love, I really would like to have a great relationship but at the end of the day, when you listen to the verses, I am what I am. You can’t really make me something new, so if you are going to love this over here, you are going to love this for what it is. I guess that it comes with age, you are very comfortable with yourself, and that becomes a problem, it’s not as easy to fall into something. You know what you want, and you know what you are, so that’s kinda what that song is about.
YKIGS: Another song I’ve gotta ask you about, it’s a favorite of readers of my site, is the collaboration you did with Raheem DeVaughn on “Get Yours” from one of your previous mixtapes. How did this collaboration come about and what was it like working with him?
TM: Raheem is dope as shit, let me just say that! I’m saying that from the standpoint of he’s really, really fresh as an artist, but he’s really, really…extremely determined. We ran across each other the first time, I was in Quad Studios in New York working, and he was in Quad Studios in New York working, and he came in and we chopped it up; I listened to some of his stuff, he listened to some of mine. That wasn’t the first time I met him, but that was the first time we really spoke on that level. The first time I met him I was in Baltimore doing a show and I met him after a show. But the first time we talked about music or whatever it was when we were in the studio and we said we were going to do something with each other. Then we came across each other…that night I was working on that record that we ended up doing, but he didn’t do it that night, we just decided we were going to work together. Then we would come across each other on the circuit of just grinding on the underground, he was doing shows, I was doing shows in the same city or on the same bill, and that’s kinda how we came across each other. No, actually we did do that record that night, we finished it that night, because that’s what was amazing to me. He just came right in, wrote his verses which was amazing, and I can’t write that quick, I’m not that quick at writing! I have to think, listen to it, do whatever I do to get myself in the zone, but he just knocked it out and it was really fresh. And that’s how we got that record, and we both believe in what we were talking about so it was really cool.
YKIGS: Yea I love that song, really good collaboration.
TM: Thank you!
YKIGS: I always thought this collaboration was a little ironic because from my point of view, yourself and Raheem were some of the first to release mixtapes in the r&b genre. These days it’s a little more common, but back then you didn’t see it as much. What made you decide to originally do mixtapes?
TM: Well it started out, because my first mixtape came out before my album, and it was really raw. I was way younger then, I was like way more…from a ghetto perspective. I just wanted to do it because TVT was taking forever to put out my record. I mean, I had minimal push, not that I’m not grateful, but I had minimal push because I don’t think they knew how to do much more than that. I just wanted to do my part, I didn’t know what to do, I just wanted to put out music. Like “Listen, I do that kind of music, but I do this kind of music too.” Even though what I’m doing sounds like this, it’s not like I can’t do that, and I’m a writer, so I’m constantly writing records, I’m constantly getting tracks, I’m constantly inspired and I don’t make music because I want to make money, I make music because I have to. Now if I make money from it that’s great, but I have to write songs and that’s part of me feeling good, and part of me fulfilling this purpose that God has given me. But I would just write through these records and it was cool to me to just take somebody’s record in the beginning that was already done and just add my look to it. Or take a beat that was already made I really love and create a whole new song over it. That was just fun to me. At the time, Raphael Saadiq was letting me use his studio to go in and just do records, he allowed me to come in and knock it out, every now and then just do records, so why wouldn’t I just make records and then just put it out? And it was really raggedy, it was very raggedy the first mixtape, because I just wanted to put it out. And then the second one came about from me not even knowing I had fans and then starting to travel and getting requested to do shows, because I was just thrown into this…I didn’t know much about…I never had a booking agent. My manager books me, it’s an all in house team, a family team. We would have requests and then you go to these different places, Europe, D.C., Atlanta, all these different places, and people like my music and sing along, and we are really honing our skills as live performers. So the second mixtape, “Live from the Jungle,” it was only right for people to see I could do this live, I’m not just on the record doing it, I do this live. That’s part of the experience of myself as an artist and what I do. It’s one thing on a record, but when you see it live, it’s a totally different thing, a totally different energy. And then “Lionhearted” came from exactly that, trying to be strong in the midst of everything that’s crumbling around me. TVT was crumbling, but then I got hit with a lawsuit for a song I wrote, and TVT was crumbling, and I’m trying to pay a lawyer to get off of TVT. On top of that, I gained this lifestyle that I didn’t even realize I had gained! At this point I was making a lot of money so I could afford this, and I could afford that, two homes, two cars, from a person with nothing, to got something, and not knowing how to handle it. So everything was crumbling around me and “Lionhearted” was just that; you know it’s me being courageous, I’m not gonna stop, I’m not gonna quit, I’m not gonna tuck my head and go run, I’m going to just put out music and be courageous. And that’s where I came from. “Royal Patience,” asking kindly to my fans of the music, please be patient, I’m trying my best to get this to you, this is what I can give you right now.
YKIGS: I also have to talk to you about your debut album “Complex Simplicity” which is a personal favorite of mine. I know the album was really highly regarded by critics and r&b fans who have had heard it. Something that’s frustrating to me is that a lot of people aren’t familiar with it and don’t really know you, and I’ve tried to put people on, but a lot of people don’t really know you. Has that ever been frustrating to you?
TM: No. It hasn’t, it’s never been frustrating to me, I’ve never got frustrated with that. I just…I dunno, I just…It doesn’t really matter how many people know me I guess, all that really matters to me is the people that do roll with me, they f*ck with me hard. And that’s the only thing that really matters to me because you don’t have to be greedy, you don’t have to have all the fans in the world, but if you have a solid fan base, which God I’ve been so blessed to have solid fan base, if I have that solid fan base, I mean I’ve been able to take care of my children with that since I’ve started from this solid fan base, from an album that has become almost cult like in the classic-ness of it, and I’m not saying that in an arrogant way because that’s beyond me. I don’t know quite how that whole thing happened, it’s just everything aligned correctly, I don’t know. So I can’t really dwell on the negativity side of it that people don’t know. But the crazy thing is, people get onto it like every day, like it just came out yesterday. Like “I just heard your new record!” I’m like “What record? Royal Patience?” “No, Complex Simplicity, It’s really amazing, I can listen to it from beginning to end!” And that’s so funny to me, so how could you get upset when you get that? How could you get upset when you have people that aren’t just…this wasn’t just force fed to them, I wasn’t on the cover of every magazine, I wasn’t all over your radio, and still to this day I’m not in that position and people still flock to me and stay loyal to me. That’s almost better, not in the sense of money, I would really rather have the money of a really popular artist, but I am so grateful to be on the underground and surviving. I’m so happy to be something people choose and not forced to be down with. It’s not like a mind f*cking, you must be a fan of Teedra Moses. They are choosing it, and then people tell me “I put so many people on.” I get the blessing of word of mouth, someone wants to speak to someone else about my music, about my talent, and a lot of times I hear “you’re raw, you’re a raw talent.” I can’t really trip about people not knowing, I guess in due time, all in God speed, but I think some of the most amazing pieces of clothing I have are from designers no one knows. Some amazing music I have is from people that people really don’t know. It’s like, some things are really a gift, and if that’s not meant to be, hey I can live with that.
YKIGS: That’s very fair, and I’m definitely one of those people trying by word of mouth to spread the word and get people to know you.
TM: Thank you!!! I appreciate that, and I don’t want people to think that it goes unheard, because I have people “When are you coming to Africa, when are you coming to Brazil, when are you coming to Spain?” And it’s not just one person, it’s like more people than I could imagine that would know me in those areas. It’s just like I’m internationally known on the underground, and that’s from people talking, that’s a blessing. You can’t take that lightly, that doesn’t happen for some people that are major stars. I’m grateful.
YKIGS: It’s really hard for me to choose a favorite song from that album, but I would like to hear some background on one song, the song “Caution,” I just love the vibe of that song. Tell me a little bit about how you made that one.
TM: I mean most of those records were written in my mirror. I had mirrors on my closet doors in my room when I lived in Pasadena at that time when I was writing that album. I would just fall so deep into myself. *Laughs* I would have a beat on, and I would just be in the mirror in my vibe, and my room was all red, and I just remember it being such a great color at the time because it surrounded me so much. And I would just be in my room, and I probably looked a hideous mess, but in my head and in my mind I was on. And I would just be in the mirror singing to myself, free styling, and that’s how that record came out. “Caution”…none of those records were thought of, they just became what they became, it just was freestyling and that’s pretty much how I write. I just freestyle whatever emotions are on me at the time, with the hopes that maybe somebody else will be going through that same emotion. I think that “Caution,” it wasn’t anybody specifically I was talking about, it wasn’t anything more than the beat pushed me in that direction and as I was looking into the mirror, that’s what was coming out. I wish I had something deeper for you. *Laughs*
YKIGS: *Laughs* No problem! I’m impressed that you wrote all of the lyrics on the album, which is rare these days, most artists don’t do that. So where did you develop this talent for writing?
TM: I don’t know, I used to…my children’s father was a rapper, and he would bring home all of these great tracks, J. Dilla, Dr. Dre, I mean you name it, Pete Rock, all of these really great tracks, and I would freestyle over them. I would just freestyle singing over top of these tracks, or I would freestyle over the top of Prince records or whatever, and I would just freestyle not forming actual records or making actual songs, but just freestyling. I think that honed my skill of singing and song writing, not so much freestyling rapping, but freestyling singing, freestyling whatever came to mind. And I wrote a lot, and I wanted to initially put together all of these, I was supposed to do it forever but it keeps getting pushed back, but I’m going to eventually put together all of these books and journals I’ve had for the past 15 years of me just writing, because I just write these thoughts. That’s one of the things I like about Twitter, I don’t do it as much as I used to, but random thoughts you can just put out there in the world. And I used to do that all of the time and put together poetry, and not in a deep sense of spoken word, but just actually these thoughts and I would write them down, and I think that helped me hone the skill of being a writer, period. Just writing, writing because…not for any other reason but I thought I just needed to get it out. My mother gave me and my little sister journals when we were little, and I don’t know if she meant for us to write, but that’s what ended up happening, we would just write, and I think that’s where that all came from. I was also influenced a lot by the time period I was growing up in, there was a lot of talent, it was a lot of talent. I’m not saying there’s not a lot now, but talent gets overshadowed by the commercial business aspect of music. I think at that time what we had on the commercial level, it was really a lot of talent to inspire you, so I was inspired.
YKIGS: “Complex Simplicity” released back in 2004, and we’re now in 2010, we still haven’t had your next album. Have you ever been discouraged over the years since you haven’t been able to release another album?
TM: Never discouraged, antsy yeah, never discouraged. I started making music because my children’s father and I fell out and he was the sole provider for my children and I, and he was no longer around. So I found myself, because we had this big blowout and I left the apartment because I didn’t want the memories and all that happened there. I’m like one of those really artistic people who really does things out of pure passion and at that time I just felt like I didn’t want to be there anymore. But not having a place to stay, me and my kids didn’t have any place to stay after that. My kids went to stay with their grandmother, and I was staying with my best friend at the time. She had left to go to work, and here I’m in limbo, I wasn’t doing wardrobe styling at that point because I had broken my leg and I was kinda in the healing part of it. I was confused and I didn’t know what to do, and I just cried out to God because that’s what I was taught. I cried out to God, I fell on her bed and I cried out to God, like “Please help me, give me something, give me a way to take care of my children,” and this is what he gave me. I never said make me the greatest to ever do it, make me the most popular, I didn’t say any of that, I said give me a way to take care of my children, and I have been able to take care of my children since I started doing this, so that’s success to me. So I don’t get frustrated with it, I just get antsy because I want to put out another record and I will, I just get antsy because I want to do it in a certain way, but I come to the knowledge at this point that that’s something I just have to do, I can’t keep waiting for the right situation, I just have to do it, and I just have to trust and believe in what my presentation is and make sure I go over it as much as I can to make it as best as possible to me and then put it out in the world and not think about it after that, whatever happens after that happens. But never frustrated though, just antsy.
YKIGS: As a single mother, how have you managed to balance your career with music and everything, and also touring now, and raising your children?
TM: I’m blessed man, because I’ve got some really wonderful young men in my life, they’re wonderful. Before we moved to Miami, it was always family around, so there was always someone around to be there with them and help take care of them, grandmother, great grandmother, sisters, aunties. Now we are in Miami on our own, but I think we’ve built up this…our relationship is so good, and the dynamics of our family is so understood: mom is the provider, and we have to do our job by being well behaved children and being responsible. I tell them all of the time, you don’t have a father…well I take that back, they do have a father, but their father is not around and as active in their life as I would like him to be helping me and stuff like that. So therefore, you have to be a father to one another, because they are twins. So when you see your brother doing stupid that could hinder our family, you have to step up and say “Listen, you can’t do that because that will mess up the family, we’ve got to play our position.” That’s a lot to take on for young kids, but not really, not if it just has to be done. I try to teach them to be survivors, but at this point in order for us to survive, they have to be mature enough to know they can’t do stupid stuff just because mama is away, working or whatever. It’s just understood at this point, I’m a hustler, and that’s why I always called my first mixtape “The Young Hustla” because I was really just hustling. I love music, I got into to try and make money to take care of the kids, not to get rich, to get money to take care of the kids, and then I fell in love with it. Even though it was always around, even though it was something I always liked, I fell in love with it after I became a part of it. I hustle, I have to go and hustle a show here, or get on this tour and do that, or be in the studio until I don’t know what and then come home and take care of the kids. But this is my life, this is what I chose so due to the grace of God, it all panned out. They don’t know anything different, and I don’t, so to us it’s not weird, it’s just normal!
YKIGS: When can fans expect to hear your follow up album, “The Young Lioness Project,” realistically?
TM: My goal realistically is February 2011. That is my goal, I’ve had these records ready now, I just have to get them like to that point with the mixing and all of that stuff, the stuff that costs a lot. I’m working on making sure all of that is taken care of. It’s really going to take a lot of fan support, I’m talking to certain labels, but I’m not waiting on these labels. I’m not waiting on them, I’m definitely focusing on putting this record out in 2011 in February no matter if they rolling with me or if they not. So, either way, it’s going to take a lot of fan support, it’s going to take a lot of people that’s been saying “we waiting to check it out and spread it around,” because it might be something I’m doing totally independently, and I don’t have a problem with that, I really don’t. I don’t have a problem with doing it totally independently, I’ve been lucky to find sponsors like Hennessey, I’m working on a sponsorship with Jaguar, I’m working on a hotel sponsorship. I’ve been lucky to get these sponsorships with no deal, with no current commercially really record, God is good to me, so February 2011 is my goal, and I don’t see myself not making my goal, because I’m way too determined, I’m more determined than I’ve ever been!
YKIGS: Well that’s actually not too far off, can we talk a little about what’s going to be on the new album?
YKIGS: What kind of sound, collaborations, production, tell me a little about it.
TM: Production, I definitely have Trackademicks because I love our vibe together, it’s very fun and refreshing and easy, we call it Champagne Soul, because it’s something you should be sipping on something to, you know some wine or champagne, or putting it in the air or something. You should be on some cool sh*t when you are listening to our sound. I also have a record that I did with Kardinal Offishall where he actually produced the record. I have Nikki Grier who is an artist that is on Aftermath on the record, where I’ m not quite sure if I’m going to use that record because I haven’t finished it completely to hear what it’s going to turn out to be, so I’m still trying to figure that part out. I have a record that produced by Raphael Saadiq that is absolutely amazing. I have some new ideas that I haven’t completely finished yet but I’m very excited about, I’m in the very beginning stages of it, I’m in the process of revamping. I have a really classic record called “Fallin For You” that Snoop offered to get on because it’s his producer and his publishing company and he offered to get on the record for a very small amount of money which I’m very grateful for as well as do the video. But I don’t really want him to rap on this record, I want him to introduce it. So yeah, it’s some cool sh*t, it’s a lot about love. I mean I try my best not to write just songs about love, but I can’t deny myself to write about what’s on my brain. So it’s a lot about love, and I also have a record that’s called “The Show” that just speaks about…it has a very Prince vibe circa “Love Sexy,” that whole era, or “Under the Cherry Moon,” that kinda vibe. It just speaks about this life that I’m in, and I look around and I swear to you sometimes sweetheart, I feel like I’m an extra in some type of film, not so much the main star or co-star because I’m observing so much of it. And I talk about how everybody’s on, but when the lights go off, are you still on, do you know who the f*ck you are once you get out of your clothes? It’s very confusing to me, so I discuss that on the record. It’s a good album though; I’m very excited about where it is, and where it’s going.
YKIGS: I’m marking my calendar right now for February 2011! *Laughs*
TM: Yes! That’s the goal baby, that is the goal. I’ve set a lot of goals based on making sure I had a deal, but now I’m just like maybe that’s not my path, and I’m ok with that, I’m really ok with that. I don’t want to be…it’s not that I don’t have labels that I’m talking to or whatever, but it’s just that I want to make sure I’m doing what God has for me, and my path my independent, it may be totally independent. It’s hard, it’s not easy, but the more I go, the more sponsorships I tend to get, and with big brands, international brands sponsoring you, it makes it a lot easier, definitely does.
YKIGS: Well I wish you the best of luck in getting that done to meet your goal by February.
TM: Thank you hunny, just pray for me and I’ll pray for you!
YKIGS: Ok I will! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
TM: Yes I’d just like to say thank you to you because I really appreciate it. And I’d also let the supporters of my music and all the things I get into, I’d like to let them know I’m very gracious, I am so grateful. I don’t know how else to explain it, I don’t say it just to say it, I say it because I mean it, I am very, very, very grateful. I’m grateful to people that are inspired by what I do, I’m grateful to people that inspire me. I love them, that’s all!