Recently the man has been perhaps more famous for being in the tabloids than for his music alone. But all personal bullshit aside, Terius Nash continues to produce some of the biggest selling and cutting edge R&B music. Pitchfork talked to the man and I’ve cut straight to the talk on songwriting, the industry, and why mixtapes are really just free albums.
P4k: While bad times might make for better art, you co-wrote songs on Beyoncé’s album 4 that are all about being happy and content in a relationship. Was it weird to write from that perspective even though you may not have been feeling that way yourself?
TN: No, because I have the innate gift of being able to live through other people. I could jump into that mold immediately– I can go into Rihanna mode in five seconds. It’s automatic. It’s what makes me kind of crazy and difficult to deal with most times. That’s why you can’t ask for my gift to be at 100% and also ask for me to be normal all the time, too. It’s a gift and a curse when it comes to trying to be understood by someone who sees life in a straightforward way.
P4k: It seems like you have this internal battle in that you want to be held up as one of the great, most popular songwriters, but you also know that some of your own songs are too eccentric to be really huge.
TN: They can’t be huge– that’s what I call mass production. Rolex is not always that huge but they’re everywhere. But if you put a Swatch watch out, then everybody publicly goes crazy about it and it becomes a part of pop culture. We love it. Everybody has one on. But I don’t ever want to have a Swatch.
I don’t like selling one copy over 500,000, because then you get yourself into a place where you have to sell off a part of your brand. I’d rather just maintain the rawness of what I do to a select group of people. When it gets to the mainstream, it gets watered down, and then your time gets cut in half.
P4k: You Tweeted about how your label Def Jam might be pissed off at how you gave this album away but, at the same time, they put this call through so we could do this interview.
TN: We’re buddies right now, but we’ll see how tomorrow goes. You never know in this business, man. Shit changes all the time….Mixtape. I hate that word, It drives me crazy. Just call it what it is: a free album.
P4k: Why did you think they would be angry?
TN: Because they always want to make money off of their artists, and they don’t want you to do anything to mess that up. So you get that type of push-back of somebody not really believing in what you do. You can’t believe in the label; they’re supposed to believe in you. But if everybody believed 100% in what I did, then we wouldn’t have been having that conversation.
It was always in me to just put records out. I don’t like holding on to records. The politics of a label makes me want to put out shit for free. It really irritates the fuck out of me. It takes eight months to do something that you [could] do in a month.
Pitchfork: Does an experience like this make you want to put out more music without having a label involved?
TN: Oh, of course. I’m trying to figure it out, don’t worry. (More @Pitchfork)