Interview: Terra Naomi – Terra Firmer, Or Fan-Funded Flight

October 17, 2016



Singer-songwriter Terra Naomi is working on an as-yet unnamed new album, available for pre-order – along with a range of brilliantly creative perks – here.
You’re at once genuinely famous and also relatively under the radar in the old-fashioned “alternative” sense. Is this a happy or a slightly uncomfortable place to be?
I don’t really think about it – I’m not concerned with fame. I’d just like to be able to create my music, play to enthusiastic crowds as often as I’d like, pay my bills, and have a little extra cash to create some sense of security in my life. Being recognisable, being under the radar – whatever that ends up looking like is fine with me.
Integrity opens some doors; fame opens others. Which aspect have you found to be more effective in attaining your goals (or is it a sliding scale)?
Fame always opens more doors, it seems. At least that’s what I noticed in the brief time during which I was in the public eye. I choose integrity these days, though I sometimes question that choice. I like to say “Do what makes you happy,” but what would really make me happy at this moment in time is financial security, which doesn’t always go hand in hand with integrity. I’m hoping in my case it will, because I don’t think I could go the other route at this point.
You’re working on a musical (a la Sara Bareilles and others moving from the pop scene to the theatre). How or to what level are you involved and how different is that discipline to your normal methods of creating music?
I’m not as involved in this one as I would like to be in future projects. The goal is to someday create my own project and write all the music and lyrics. I was asked to write the English adaptation of the songs for a musical being created by Nacho Cano, a very famous Spanish artist and composer. It’s been a wonderful experience, and I’ve learned a lot.
Please elaborate on your journey in the past two years – the practical challenges of (in some ways) turning your back on many aspects of the industry and the reasons you felt it was worth continuing?
I needed to step away and give myself the option of no longer pursuing music as my career. I will always be a musician and an artist, but I was frustrated with the realities of art and commerce. I ultimately decided to give it another try, because I believe in my music and I believe in my potential to make it work as a career. I’ve done it before, and I can do it again.
You’re no stranger to crowdfunding, but why the choice of this vehicle to get the new project off the ground? It can be risky and frustrating, and a publicity nightmare if it falls flat. The flip-side is that the satisfaction – if it does work – of having the support of a fanbase from the beginning of the process must be huge. How has the experience been, emotionally?
I chose crowdfunding because it was the best way I could think of to fund the recording of my album. I do enjoy the ongoing communication with the people who listen to my music, but I do that anyway, with or without a crowdfunding campaign. It was incredibly draining, to be honest. Constantly asking people for help, for money, for support – it is not something I would like to do again, and I hope I don’t have to. But it’s a great option to have.
You’re a world-class songwriter, but you’re also very well-known for your prolific output when it comes to interpretations of the work of other artists. How do you choose the songs you want to cover?
I choose songs that mean something to me, so it’s easy to come up with my own interpretation, because these songs are already “in” me.
What about people covering your songs? What do you like or not like – is there a sense of losing control over something you created or do you enjoy their creativity enhancing your own?
I love it when people cover my songs. It’s an honour.
You’ve toured in a number of exotic places, from Kashmir to low-key Italian villages – not the traditional circuits most people follow. What are some of your most memorable experiences on the road?
Kashmir was definitely one of the most memorable. I played the first concert of Western music in Srinagar, and it was also the first performance in a beautiful amphitheater they’d built several years earlier, but hadn’t been able to use due to ongoing violence in the region. It was a very special concert sponsored by Mercy Core and The American Center, in support of climate change awareness.
Are there some destinations you still want to go to as an artist?
Of course. I would like to tour in South America and Asia. And I would like to play all the places I’ve played before, hopefully when the new album comes out, in 2017.

Help You Fly is an example of what you’ve written recently. What about the rest of the album? How many songs will it feature? What sort of themes are you dealing with?
The album will be nine songs plus some acoustic bonus tracks. It’s definitely the most uplifting album I’ve recorded – I think only a few are about failed relationships!
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