R&B/Soul singer-songwriter Teedra Moses is a veteran by any definition of the word. Despite releasing just one studio album – the classic Complex Simplicity – in ten years, she boasts a massive following the world over, that can only be described as of cult status. Her numerous singles such as the hugely popular “Be Your Girl” and “You’ll Never Find (A Better Woman)” continue to dominate R&B playlists to this day. So how does an artist with just one record in over a decade remain as relevant as Teedra Moses has been and certainly is in 2014?
The answer might rest either in the five resounding mixtapes she has released between 2004 and 2011 including her Young Hustla trilogy compilations and 2011’s Luxurious Undergrind, her songwriting credits for some of your favourite artists such as Christina Milian, Macy Gray, Raphael Saadiq and Mary J. Blige over the years, her work-horse ethic which has seen her consistently taking her music around the world on tour, or a combination of all the above.
As she gears up to release her first ever EP Cognac & Conversations, we sit down with the New Orleans native in this first part of our interview to discuss the Teedra Moses concert experience, her affiliation with Maybach Music Group and Cognac and Conversations.
Until last month, her most recent trip to the UK came exactly a year ago but Teedra seems to have very fond memories about performing here, speaking very highly of her UK fan base. “I love them”, she says. “They are some of my favourite fans, very loyal, committed and open. You don’t have to force feed the UK fans, they’ll search for you. You know what I mean, they’re just committed and I love that”. This comes in sharp contrast to her American fans who she describes as “a little more spoilt”. “They wait for you to come to their house and be like ‘come listen to my new song’”, she adds.
However whether it’s in the UK or the US, there is simply no question as to what to expect from a Teedra Moses live performance. She likens the ‘Teedra Moses Concert Experience’ to being invited to her living room for a drink and being intimately sung to. She wants to touch every single person in her audience individually and personally share “what I am dealing with and whatever I feel at the time” with each person. “They can expect (laughs) to have fun”, she adds.
“People think I’m soft, people think that I am really long winded. I grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana I dunno if ya’ll know about that – you saw those people out there when the 11’s broke? They wild, so I grew up with that and you can expect to see… get to know me, get to see me. If you have seen me before it is like coming to hang out with your home girl and I am definitely going to be bringing something new this time. I have new records and you know I am going to sing a cool cover from Anita Baker I love her so much and you know I try to extend my talent as far as possible”.
Her affiliation with Maybach Music Group, the popular music label driven by Miami rapper Rick Ross is one that remains an intriguing chapter in Teedra’s career. Of her relationship with Rick Ross and MMG, she describes them as her family and support group, “that affiliation is just like urm, like you know when you’re young and you have like this older cousin that you can go call like ‘he picking on me’, you know what I mean”. However she professes her independence and autonomy within their family dynamics.
“If I needed, I can call Ross… That’s him, Poochi, Wale, Meek. I can always reach out to them for whatever I need. I’m not a person that asks until I need. I always want to get my situation together, my music right and then say ‘hey Ross I need you’. People say ‘wow I haven’t hear your song with Ross’, why am I gonna throw out a song with Ross for if I haven’t got everything together, you know when that record comes out, which we have a record together called Cognac and Conversations on the new project and he’s gonna be on the remix to the new single All I ever Wanted”.
Talking about Cognac and Conversations – her forthcoming debut EP and first full project since 2011’s Luxurious Undergrind – Teedra attributes the inspiration for the EP’s rather interesting title simply to her love of brandy. “I love me some brandy. I love Cognac, I love wine”, she confesses before adding that, “as a young young young girl, I liked wine. Wine is smooth and soothing and Cognac is the grown up version of wine and a lot of women don’t drink Cognac. If you like wine, you like Cognac, it’s the same process, its grapes, it’s just aged a little bit longer, you know. And I love just chilling with the guys, just drinking cognac”.
Her new single “All I Ever Wanted” is the first taste of what to expect from Teedra’s Cognac and Conversations EP. The song samples Dynasty’s 1980 song “Adventures In The Land Of Music” which was also sampled by Camp Lo on their 1997 classic “Luchini AKA This Is It” with Teedra confessing that she has always loved the original so much, “so I took the track and I just looped it, the sample, I looped it and I just wrote a song to it”.
“Basically it’s just talking about wanting love, but a lot of people believe that money is just so much more important. People believe that money can compensate for anything. I can treat you like trash but I’m bout to take you to Cartier and get you new earrings, new ring and watch and whatever and you’re supposed to be okay with that. I can you know, neglect you. I can neglect you and make you feel unloved but I can give you money to compensate. No, real women don’t want that. First of all we can get our own money. This is 2014, ain’t nobody got their foot on a woman’s neck. You know, so the record is really just talking about wanting love. Love reigns over everything, you know money does not matter, and in a situation where I speak on the record, this guy is giving me money, giving me money , so I take his money I invest it into something, flip it make my own money now I don’t need him no more. He wasn’t trying to give me love in the first place”.
With Raphael Saadiq and Rick Ross reported to be serving as co-executive producers and collaborators along with Neyo on her forthcoming EP, Teedra makes it clear that these are people she has chemistry with and none of these collaborations are contrived, insisting that “everything is organic”. She reveals that she has been working with Neyo long before either of them became popular, “he did all the vocal arrangements and vocal production on Complex And Simplicity, so all those beautiful harmonies that you hear, that’s him”. Reiterating that Rick Ross is her people, she describes Raphael Saadiq as “one of my really good friends and mentors” who she has worked with for years.
Delving deeper into her forthcoming EP, she tells us a bit more about one of the songs which stands out the most for her from the EP. Titled “No Regrets” and produced by her musical director D.W, the emotional single sees Teedra looking at her life in retrospect and talking about falling in love very young, having children at a young age and not regretting any of her life choices.
“It makes me cry because I’m talking about falling in love very young and giving my whole heart to this situation and kinda losing myself, but I don’t regret it because I can say that I loved before. It talks about me having kids really young and giving my youth away because you got kids, you gotta be responsible, but I don’t regret it, because it was the greatest thing I ever did with my life and I am looking at my life in retrospect on this record and urm not regretting nothing and that feels really really good”.
“I got more life to live but to stop and look back and say ‘shit has been fucked’ in the past, but it’s not so bad, you know, I’m blessed and things are good. You know they tell us eyes have not seen and ears have not heard, what God has for you, the blessings God has for you. If I been this blessed thus far, just imagine how blessed I’m gonna be moving forward. It’s kinda what the song is about, and I get all in my feelings when I listen to it. It’s probably one of those songs that I’m probably not gonna be able to sing live for a long time”.
Read the concluding part of our interview with Teedra Moses here where she discusses the inspiration behind her music, her love for Sade Adu and her long-awaited sophomore album The Lioness.
Interview by Feliciana Lumona & Joannie Scarsbrook // Curated and Edited by Ayo Adepoju