Teedra Moses: Cognac & Conversation
Teedra Moses’ music offers a soothing energy as it brings together jazz melodies with hip-hop soul. Her tone and delivery is pleasant, but the way she sings a story can cut deep.
With over a decade in the music business, the New Orleans-bred Misses has kept her pen game strong and her lyrics honest since the 2004 release of her debut album, Complex Simplicity.
For the sweet-toned vocalist, the time lapse between then and now has seen both storm and sunshine. But like the lioness she embodies, Teedra has risen above it all to center energy on creating and staying keen to her craft.
Today, the newly released, Cognac & Conversation, her first studio album in 10 years, is an extension of her optimism, but also provides a realistic view into her life — good, bad and indifferent.
JET caught up with the songstress to discuss her evolution, gratitude and the importance of keeping your music honest.
JET: It’s been 10 years since receiving a full project from you, but you’ve stayed busy with the pen and a few mixtapes. How do you feel you’ve evolved as an artist and how are you feeling in this moment?
Teedra Moses: I have more confidence. When I started with Complex Simplicity, we had chat rooms and MySpace and now it’s evolved and over that time period of me growing as an artist, I had people directly saying to me that they liked me as an artist. When the label may have been telling me that I didn’t have any singles or maybe this time “You should have somebody writing for you,” the people were speaking to me directly, saying they loved my music and I was able to form relationships with these people, which brought confidence in me. Maybe I would have stopped if I didn’t have that. That’s been a real evolution as far as in these times and how things have changed. It’s just a blessing for artists like me.
JET: To this day, I listen to your first project, Complex Simplicity. Your sound is sweet and melodic, but can also get lyrically blunt and gritty. You were once signed to Rick Ross. What is the energy and chemistry when working with someone with his vocal aggression?
Teedra Moses: It’s super cool because I love contrast! I love the contrast of me singing something sweetly, but if I was to speak it, it would sound like I’m cursing you out. I love the track being a little harder. So with Rick Ross, who’s approach is more aggressive, it’s just perfect and a sound I’ve always tried to create.
JET: Cognac & Conversation immediately offers intrigue with its title. How would you describe the album as a whole and the creation process?
Teedra Moses: During the writing process of Complex Simplicity, I was really sad and people didn’t take that from that album. The light feeling that came from the album was me trying to lighten the heaviness that was going on in my life. The most tragic things that could happen, were happening at that time and so I wrote music from a place of trying to uplift myself. In turn, it was able to help people. I don’t regret anything that’s happened from the time I released Complex Simplicity through now with Cognac & Conversation, but my optimism and my way of looking at things didn’t pan out exactly the way I had envisioned. Not that I thought I was going to be some type of superstar after that, but I was like ok, “I lost my mom, I’m out of this bad relationship and things are about to go great…I’ve got money now.” I was so optimistic, but I had more lessons to learn. So Cognac & Conversation comes from a place of “Wow. It didn’t pan out how I thought it would, but I kept going.” It’s a different mood than Complex Simplicity. I approached it from a more realistic perspective as opposed to an idealistic one. I’m definitely very happy with who I am and whom life has raised me to be.
JET: What is your approach to song writing?
Teedra Moses: I’ll get a track and just vibe to it. Sometimes, I drink Cognac. I don’t make it right in the studio because there’s a time frame and I can take as long as 15 minutes to 2 months to finish a song. So I like to get in my zone — a space where nobody is observing me like I’m an exhibit. When I’m ready to be an exhibition, then I’ll extend that to you. But not in the moment, when I’m creating. Sade said once, “The magic is when you can hear it.” If you see how it all goes, then there’s no magic to it. It’s a very organic and natural process.
JET: You call yourself the “Lioness.” What does that represent for you?
Teedra Moses: When I was finishing Complex Simplicity, I did my Thank you’s to everybody and signed off “Love Always, Young Lioness.” I just wrote it. I don’t know why. At first it was Young Hustler because I hustled hard like a rapper. But afterwards, I realized that when I watched Animal Planet, sitting there with my mind in space, and noting that the female is the one that goes out and gets the food. She kind of does a lot. The male lion is the king, but he’s a lazy dude. He’ll protect what happens to her and her cubs, but she is the one that handles everything. In my situation, with my children and my family, I was left to do it by myself and I did it and I was scared. I was so afraid and at first I was a young lioness trying to be strong and by the time I reached a certain age, I realized that I was strong and I could handle it and I was by myself and that’s where that comes from. I feel like every woman has that inside of them. I feel like some women don’t know how to tap into it, but the way my life was going, I had to tap into it. I kept the name because I feel like it’s a true representation of how life has raised me to be.
JET: With all that you’ve been through and still hustling in the music industry, what do you envision your artist imprint to be?
Teedra Moses: To be honest and make honest music. The last thing I said on my album is “I’m grateful.” I wanted it to be clear that no matter what I said to you in the past 13 songs, in the end, I’m grateful, blessed and OK. I think that gratitude is the measure of the quality of life because if you’re grateful then you’re always in a good space.