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The Squeeze: Q&A with Teedra Moses
On the eve of the release of her latest single, "R U 4 Real," which will premiere on Monday, Feb. 14, alongside an accompanying video exclusively on Billboard.com's The Juice, R&B singer/songwriter Teedra Moses tells us she hopes to deliver nothing short of "raw talent" on her upcoming, as-yet-untitled release.
"I don't want all the bells and whistles - I don't want all these light effects and me falling down from the ceiling on a chord," says the 30-something year old about her forthcoming LP. "I just want to stand up in front of people and sing. I want to command them with my voice and my stage presence. I want to be a champion for raw talent this time around."
Moses took time out to fill The Juice in on what she's been working on the last couple of years, what her return to music will consists of and who she hopes to collaborate with in the very near future.
Billboard: It's been a while since you released an official single. Tell me what you've got up your sleeves?
Well, the record I have now is called 'R U 4 Real.' It's a really refreshing sound. I like it because it's easy sounding and easy listening. It makes your head nod but doesn't disturb you. That's the kind of music I like to make and that's the overall sound of the record.
Based on your TVT debut, "Complex Simplicity," I came to the conclusion you're a bit of a sucker for love. What is 'R U Fa Real' about?
It reflects where I'm at in my life, especially as it pertains to romance. I'm grown, I'm straight up and I want to know if you are for real. And, if you are, can you handle this love I'm giving you? I'm not the chick you're hanging out with every now and then -- that's not an option. I'm not someone you toy with. You need to be a man that knows what he wants in order to have a woman of my caliber. Wow Jones and Donnie Cash produced it, Phil the god directed the video and producer Drumma Boy is the leading man in it.
Wow. How long did it take you to write that record?
It took me about three minutes. It just felt so sincere. At first the beat was just loops and drums, but I had someone put more drums and more elements in there without taking away the 'simple music' aspect of it.
Based on the description to the song, it sounds like you're taking a very honest, straight-forward perspective on this album. What is your goal?
I'm not about the bells and whistles. I don't want all these light effects and me falling down from the ceiling on a chord -- I want to stand up in front of people and sing. I want to command them with my voice and my stage presence. I want to be a champion for raw talent this time around. I'm very clear that what I do is distinctive and to get ahead I have to focus on what I do well. I wasn't taught to sing, I didn't go to music school. I was good in English, so, that probably helped me write. But, I had to open my mind and focus on what I wanted this project to be and not what's going on the radio.
"Complex Simplicity" dropped in 2004. What have you been up since then?
After 'Complex Simplicity' dropped, I began writing a lot for others. The record label wasn't excited about the album sales, and truth be told I wasn't excited about their promotion, so our relationship after a while became sour -- we didn't trust each other. They didn't believe in what I was doing and they didn't want to exhaust all of their energy on me. Don't get me wrong, I didn't have an issue with them. If it wasn't for them I wouldn't have put out music to begin with. At that point I started writing for other people and got caught up with the idea of making a lot of money that way. But then I realized as great as it was to make money I was unfulfilled as an artist, which is what I got into it for. I wanted to make good money and good music. I started looking at it like, 'you're not breaking any grounds by just writing music for others.' That's when I got back into myself. By this time TVT had fallen apart, but I put out a mixtape every year since then except for one.
Have you written for anyone lately?
I haven't. I've been selfish with my talent. But, I have written for Raphael Saadiq, Macy Gray and Mary J. Blige, among others, in the past… I also worked with Atlantic Records on a couple of tracks that never saw the light of day.
Do you have a planned release date for your upcoming album?
We're hoping for August. In the meantime, I want to keep giving my fans music and videos. I'm shooting another clip next month.
How far are you in the recording process?
I've been working on this record for a really long time, somewhere about three or four years. In that period I've given records away through my mixtapes. So, I'd say I'm half way through. There are a certain amount of things I don't have access to right now so I'm pushing more music out and hoping that'd give me more access. I want more visuals for my music, too, which I call champagne soul. But, it's costly to make organic music.
I'm just hoping that putting out good music will help pay for things. That's the plan at this point.
Are there any collaborations so far?
So far I have just a wish. I have a record called 'Royalty' and I really want to do it with Cee-Lo. The track says 'make them respect your royalty cause baby you're the queen of the world.' I hope he would come from the standpoint of a man that's reluctant. That's the kind of record I want to make with him. I believe if I reach out he'll do it. The first tour I did was opening up for him, so, I hope he will. I don't want too many other people on the album, maybe just one other feature.
Are you working on anything else?
I'm really interested in starting an accessories company. I don't want to make things because that's very costly, but fashion is something I like, I'm just not passionate about it like I am with music. So, what I want to do is start an online boutique. My best friend is a designer and a stylist and I used to be a stylist, so I hope we can put our minds together on this one. It's going to be called shopsagitarius.com and I want to have great garments on there for a decent price. I want good quality, good fashion and I will also show my clients how to put their clothes together with accessories. It'll be like your personal online stylist.
Are you planning on touring soon?
Yes indeed. You know performing live has been the one thing that has kept people interested in my music. I'm also performing on March 11 in Washington D.C.
Lastly, are you releasing this album independently? Or is there any label interest?
I have interest but I want to push more music out and see what options are there. I don't want to release this independently. I want an honest chance at reaching everyone, not just for me, but for other people. I'm not reinventing the wheel here, but I'm making music that I think is not really being done. I want the opportunity to take this music mainstream. I want to put out the type of music you can take on long trips, clean your homes to, study do and drink champagne to.