From being one of the first viral music sensations on Youtube to being one of the artists paving the way in the world of music NFTs– The next guest in my ongoing series highlighting my favourite NFT artists is none other than Terra Naomi. Having met through Clubhouse in NFT rooms earlier this year, I’ve had the pleasure to have many conversations with Terra in rooms over the past few months. This interview was the first time we got to meet IRL and we got into quite a lengthy and in-depth conversation on all things music, async, and beyond. So without further ado feel free to watch or read along below:
David Cash: Hello, good morning from New York City. We’re here at NFT NYC. My name is David Cash, editor in chief of NTFS.WTF, and we are here with the incredible Tara Naomi. How are you doing today?
Terra Naomi: I’m doing well. I’m a little cold. I’m a little tired.
DC: Day four vibes, you know,
TN: Like all-week conference vibes. I don’t know what day it is. I don’t know what time it is. I feel like that’s been my life for the last nine months or so.
DC: In and out of the metaverse.
TN: It’s sunny out, so it must be daytime. We’re doing all right.
DC: Yeah. So how have you found this week? I know that it’s been such a journey, meeting so many people in person. How has it been for you, and is there anything that’s stood out for you being here in New York right now?
TN: I mean, I kind of had this idea that I would come here and go to all the parties and meet all the people, and I’ve met like five people. I mean, it’s been great, the people that you know, I’ve loved everything I’ve done so far, but I’ve done less than I thought, and which I think is much more reasonable because I’m an intense introvert. So being around this many people, it’s pretty overwhelming for me.
TN: So I kind of come out in the morning and I go to some panels and see some people and then like, retreat to my brother’s where I’m saying, and then go out again at night for like one event and then I come home, and I’m asleep by 1:00.
DC: It’s very reasonable.
TN: So reasonable, I’m like, who am I right now? I’m so reasonable.
DC: Absolutely. But I mean, that makes sense, though, you know, coming from this space, and being such a decentralized space, and so virtual. We’re able to do so much just from the comfort of our homes. I know you’ve done so much on Clubhouse. I’m curious for people watching. How has that process been for you? Maybe to follow that up, I’ll ask if you met any people from Clubhouse in person, but yeah, how did the clubhouse thing start for you, and how has that process been?
TN: It’s been great, and now it’s a lot of Twitter spaces. For me, it’s really good because I prefer not to leave the house and so I can be social and then I can just be like, Oh, connections going bye. Like, oh, I lost WiFi, I don’t know what happened. So I can duck out when I need to and not feel like I have to stand and hold the conversation, you know. So it’s been a fantastic way to connect with people during this time when we didn’t have other options.
DC: When did you get on?
TN: Um, I joined at the end of December.
DC: Wow, so last year.
TN: Yeah, and pretty quickly, I found my way into the NFT spaces, which is something I was already exploring off Clubhouse, and it was like, there’s all this, you know, there’s all these NFT spaces and rooms and community on here, and so I met a lot of great people pretty early on, and we’re all sort of going through this journey together, you know. So it’s been great.
DC: Beautiful. So I want to talk about a few of your projects and some of the crazy work that you’ve done. But you were pretty early to NFTs. I mean, when I minted my first NFT, it wasn’t called an NFT in 2019, but even if you were in 2020, super early. So when was your first experience with NFTs? What was that like for you coming from music? What was that first interaction?
TN: I made a piece. It’s an audio, visual, sculptural, and animation piece. I made it because I was trying to figure out, you know, coming from the music. The music space has grown so much in just the last couple of months, and in January, it was sort of like, well, what do I do to contribute to this space as a musician, and I’m also a visual artist. So can I explore some of that and like, I’ve made something in blender that was sort of like a, I can’t describe it, you can see it on Opensea. You can see it on Foundation. That’s where I sold it because I’m also a composer and singer-songwriter, and I had all this instrumental music that I loved and didn’t know how to share.
DC: What content do you put that in? Yeah.
TN: Yeah, right, well, it’s sort of this weird instrumental music that I use to showcase my skills.
DC: You probably love it. It’s your passion.
TN: Yeah, I love it. And I do it for film and television, but aside from film and television, this gives me a way to share that music. It’s the same thing for digital artists who were always before digital artists created work in other people’s projects.
DC: Right, it was just an object.
TN: Right. So, composers, it’s the same thing for a lot of us, it’s like, well, you know when we make something for film or television, we put it into that project, but otherwise, what am I going to do with it? Right,
TN: And so I had this idea to sort of make some digital animations and sculpture, digital sculptural animations and set my music to that and so I did that, and I made that was like the first one that I minted, and then I did another project with my friend Andrew Dos from Ben fun and my friend Linus Dahlgren, who is a Swedish animator who’s wonderful and yeah, and we did a piece called currency, which was just sort of a reflection on the state of
DC: You beat Damien.
TN: Yeah. Yeah, we did it in. When did we do it? I guess February, and it’s a song we wrote. It’s a fun little song called currency. So we did that, and then I was released. I got my rights back from Universal this year.
DC: Amazing, congratulations!
TN: Thanks. Yeah, that was kind of a big deal. Yeah, it was really exciting to get that back and then, the timing was perfect. Because then I’m like, Okay, now I know what to do with this stuff.
DC: I’m a sovereign being. I’m an NFT person. So I can do it, yeah.
TN: I can. I can do whatever I want with them now. And so I recorded. I made an Async art project with my song “Say It’s Possible,” so there are 480 different potential versions of the song, depending on what the collectors decided to do with it. I don’t know if you know how Async works.
DC: Yeah, no, that’s one of the things I want to talk about. The coolest thing is that you’re making music to this next level. I think it’s a logical next step because at least the royalties aspect of NFTs made a lot of sense to the music industry. I think it’s interesting that art came first, in terms of the art world embracing it first. But, still, I do feel like music is how it’s happening now. And I see you as one of the people who’s like, started to innovate in that space. When did you start thinking about the fractionalization aspects? I know Async has been such a big driver for you. But your work is incredible there, and you’re doing things that nobody’s done before.
TN: Well, so it’s so easy because it’s fractionalized, but it’s the actual pieces that are interactive, as in different people can control different pieces of it. The fractionalization is not part of Async, but it’s also super exciting for the music business, and you mentioned something interesting: the art world came first. Still, too, me, that makes perfect sense because there is an established way to collect visual art. And there’s precedent for that. That’s not a big stretch. People are used to buying visual art and collecting it. But with music, recording music, specifically, they used to just listening to it for free, transitioning people over from this expectation of, I can have as much music as I want, I can hear it, you know, as much as I want.
DC: The Spotify ideal.
TN: Exactly, And that, you know, set artists back, musicians back quite a bit as far as the perception of value, the perceived value of recorded music, so re-educating people about this. I also believe that we can’t put that genie back in the bottle. People expect that streaming isn’t going away. It doesn’t need to. But there’s this other sort of the next logical progression from crowdfunding, in my opinion, which is actually, instead of having this kind of false promise. The thing with crowdfunding was, you make your fans into your most effective marketing team by involving them in the process, and they buy. No, nobody’s going to do that.
DC: You’re going to ask them to work harder?
TN: You’re going to give your $25 to have somebody that you like to make an album, great and then you’re going to get on with your life, right? You’re not going to sit there and like, then shout it from the rooftops, and be their marketing team, but with Ntfs, that happens because when I buy into a project, when I collect a project that I’m excited to buy
DC: You champion it.
TN: Yeah, because I stand to benefit from that too.
TN: First of all, if I buy something because I believe in it, if I collect something, it’s because I want to build a relationship with that creator. And I believe in the potential of that creator and the project. And then I’m going to share it. I want everyone to buy into it. I want us all to collect it. And I want it to go up in value because I participate in that it’s like finally, this mutually beneficial relationship that’s possible for musicians to have with our audiences and that is entirely new. It’s sort of like the that was like the false promise of web2, and now we’re here.
DC: I’ve mentioned in almost every talk that I’ve done, but like the differentiation between web2 and 3 is going from building an audience to building a community, and I think that’s so important, and when it’s a community, you can actually support each other, not just hypothetically support each other. It’s so important.
TN: Well Yeah, and it’s not. It’s like you’re not looking to monetize your audience—you’re looking to include them.
DC: They’ve already bought in.
TN: You’re going to build with them. It’s like you go from seeing people as like this one-sided way of how they can support you. I’ve done like four crowdfunding campaigns, and I cannot tell you how soul-crushing it was to have to be like,
DC: Shilling your family and friends. I know, I funded that a movie once crowdfunding is such a pain.
TN: Because it feels horrible, and so now it’s like, okay, yeah, I know you believe in me, you’ve supported me all these years. But now it’s like, here’s a way that we can be in business together in a sense.
DC: No, for real
TN: Obviously, like nothing is financial advice and whatever. But it’s like when you collect an NFT. I think you do it with the expectation that the intersection of art and finance like you do with the expectation that the project will do well. At least I do
DC: right? If you’re going to buy something, it makes sense.
TN: Yeah, there’s some that I support just because I want to support people in the community, and I don’t know that it’s ever going to go up
DC: Friends, People you like, artists you like
TN: or art that I’m just like, this is beautiful, and I don’t know that it’s ever going to like, I don’t know what you, I don’t know what’s going to happen, but like, then there’s some stuff that I buy like a, like Board Apes that I’m like, you know, these are cool. Am I going to hang it on my wall? No. But I believe it’s something.
DC: You see the tremendous value.
TN: Yeah, something felt good about that project. So I bought a bunch of them. I minted some, and I’m just like, this is cool. So whatever.
DC: And that didn’t work out too badly for you. I mean, hey. I think it’s awesome. And a big thing that I also like to talk about is how, like, you were saying, as the art world came first in, that was logical. I do kind of agree as well because, you know, anything that can be bought or sold for a significant amount of money just makes sense to transact on the blockchain. It’s a safer, better version, and there’s nobody in between and especially coming from working with Universal, I don’t know what you want to talk about, but like going from like a traditional music background, how has that been finally taking, like sovereignty over your work and over what you put out?
TN: Well, I mean, it’s incredible. I was in a room with crowd-fund people like business people, and I used to walk into those spaces. They see last night, because I’m just like, I used to be so uncomfortable. After all, it was them and us. It was like, these are the guys who have to like you to get what you need to get approved. These guys have to give you like; I need their acceptance, I need them to see my value, you know, and it seems like everybody’s kind of come more towards the center, like the money guys are now seeing the value in others.
DC: Now they’re asking us for help. Right?
TN: Yeah, they see the value in creatives, they’re seeing, they’re getting a sense of actually what, what we’re capable of, and what we can do. They’re valuing us, and the artists are seeing, like, seeing ourselves as business people. So it’s like, it feels like suddenly these two worlds are coming together and I love that, and I think that’s, you know why for me, I mean, there’s always going to be a place for labels. Some artists aren’t entrepreneurs, right?
DC: They don’t want to do their work.
TN: Yeah, if you’re not an entrepreneur, if you’re not prepared to work 16 hours a day and hustle your butt off and like, you know, then like, no sign with a label,
DC: Let them do it
TN: but like, for people like me, who kind of don’t fit into, you know, one little box-like, that was always the problem too, for me was that people didn’t know what to do with me. They’re like, Oh, you do this, you do this, you do this, you’re you know, what is it, What’s the one thing that you are? And I’m like,
DC: I love talking. Okay, s,o I’m very much multidisciplinary and like, I feel like this space has facilitated the multidisciplinary ideal, so much like, you don’t have to do one thing. You can be excellent at many things and be successful in this space. You almost have to be like a 360 marketing company like yourself.
DC: So, how has that process been for you? I feel like you’re somebody who’s always worked on your work in multiple ways, like, visuals, music, but how has this process been for you finally be able to take control and do it all yourself? Or through your team?
TN: it’s amazing. I don’t have a team, you know,
DC: It’s you
TN: I mean, it’s me
DC: which is even more impressive
TN: I mean, I work as part of teams on other people’s projects now, you know, like, I’m consulting for async art, I’m working on another project with a company called authentic artists, and we’re creating an AI PFP that comes out of this more significant project that they’ve been working on for two years, it’s all music, it’s a music piano, it’s going to be
DC: I’m so excited.
TN: I feel like it’s kind of like it’s going to be the thing that is the next, you know, music is sort of primed to have a big moment right now, and I feel like this project is going to be, you know, not to like, shill my project, but I am asked to join teams just about every day, and this is one of two that I joined. You know,
DC: Because you genuinely,
TN: I joined async, and I joined this project, and I’m not even exaggerating every day. So I feel like I’m super excited about that. So that but that just to say those, as I. work on other people’s teams when it comes to myself, it’s just me and
DC: You do everything.
TN: Yeah, I do everything. So I don’t have a manager at this point. I don’t you know, I don’t,
DC: it sounds like you don’t want one, like right now. Like,
TN: I don’t need one right now. Like, at some point. I have the relationships that would have been facilitated through the manager; I have them directly now.
DC: They reach out to you directly.
TN: Yes. You know, it’s like I meet with founders, I meet with VCs I meet with, you know,
DC: which is pretty empowering as well, no, like, as a musician, as a woman as an artist, like being able just to be taken seriously for what you do no matter what, like, across all boards, right, like,
TN: This space has given me a financial education. I’ve given myself a financial education. Yeah, because I didn’t have that before and especially as a woman as an artist, you know, it’s sort of like, I felt like I was never encouraged to embrace like the business side and like the financial education side of life, and as a result, I got into a lot of bad situations like with my label deal with like business managers who
DC: because nobody tells you what, you got a 50-page contract. What are you supposed to do with that, like, I’ll read it, but like,
TN: I don’t want to deal with my finances, so as a result, I, you know, ended up with people that stole them, you know, so it was just like, Okay, this, this is the opposite of that. It’s like you have all the freedom, all the responsibility and so it’s like, to, that’s the other thing I always tell artists is like, yes, explore the space. But, still, it’s weird. It’s like an onboarding thing like you want to onboard people, and you also want to emphasize how important it is to understand what is going on in this space? You have to understand finance. You cannot walk in, like, that’s the thing.
DC: You’re going to get wrecked
TN: You cannot come into the space without understanding finance, technology, the underlying technology. You need to know why things work here the way they do. Yeah. So I mean, it’s just, you know, it’s freedom, total freedom and total responsibility.
TN: That’s decentralization.
DC: That’s yeah, that’s web 3, that’s yeah, that’s crypto.
TN: Yeah, you can’t call and be like, Hi, I accidentally sent this to this, you know,
DC: and I’ve had clients tried to do that to me, and they lose, like, you know, 3 ETH, or something, and I would try and call Coinbase, and they’re like, I don’t know, tell you,
TN: There’s nothing we can do, You know, and it’s amazing. It’s so empowering because it forces you to learn, and it forces you to take responsibility, and it forces you to like, not hand off that responsibility to somebody else. It’s true empowerment. You know, I love it.
DC: And you’ve done such an incredible job at taking everything a step further, like, obviously, you have this background in music and background in art, but you’ve pushed things on the tech side of things, primarily through async. But creating, again, things that have never been done before, on a technology level and like, for me, I’m genuinely curious, like, how is that learning process been? Like, where did you start with that? What really inspired you not just to put out your music, but to make it like to gamify that process for your audience? And for the people who collect your work?
TN: I mean, to be fair, like, I didn’t build that, you know what I mean? Async built that Async built those tools for artists like me who don’t have complex gaming skills.
DC: I feel like many people don’t take advantage of them. You like you. You utilize them.
TN: Well, the thing is, like getting into this space, I see use as I see, there’s room for everything. There’s room for people that want to mint an mp3, there’s, you know, but to me, that doesn’t interest me as much.
DC sounds so. I’m so exciting.
TN: I’m more interested in art and music that integrates and uses the underlying technology. Yeah, the stuff that excites me is the stuff that you can only do on the blockchain, Otherwise,
DC: You just release it. Yeah,
TN: Yeah, like if I’m just doing something I’ve done for the last 15 years, but I’m just doing it on the blockchain. Why? Like, I need to understand why and to be, the most effective uses for, you know, the most compelling use cases for music, art, Blockchain are the things where it’s all baked into one.
TN: you know, and where you’re really where we’re taking advantage of the technology and using it, they’re pushing it and pushing what can be done. And so Async has done that by providing a way for art to be interactive, and programmable, and living and breathing and constantly changing and also, like we were talking about community before, but like, you know, involving the community in the creative process, because now it’s like, My song is out of my hands.
TN: Right, They can change it.
DC: Yeah, I can’t. I have no control over it anymore. Somebody else owns it, they can, you know I created the different, All the files I create, I recorded all the music, I wrote all the parts, I made all the art. So it’s like, in that sense, I had control over all 480 versions because I control the underlying stems that can then get mixed and matched.
DC: You work with Async, an incredible platform? Tell us a little about how that works and the process? Maybe conceptualizing with one of your drops.
TN: I would love to. Yeah, so Async is an incredible platform for creators and collectors. Essentially, the best way to explain it is when we create either digital art or music in the studio, everything is made in layers. If I’m in the studio, I’m you know, I’ve got a layer of vocals, you know, then I have one layer of guitars, one layer of drums, bass, whatever it is, right and so usually what happens is I would do a bunch of takes, I would choose the best one, and then I would flatten that down into one, you know, one, one song
DC: and export it,
TN: Yeah, right and export it, and that’s how it lives forever. And the same thing with art. If you’re working in Photoshop, you’ve got the different layers of visuals, you make each layer what you want it to be, then you compress it, flatten it into one piece, and there is the final piece, and that’s how it lives forever right? So with async, you’ve got all these different layers. Still, instead of flattening them down and making one permanent piece that stays in that configuration forever, you mint all of the layers separately. So async stands for Asynchronous, and so they now function independently. You’ve got however many layers you have in the art, and you have different variations within each of those layers. So instead of having one static piece, you have other. Collectors collecting the other layers, they get to then make a choice between like, do I want this variation, this one, this one, this one and so the piece is changing on any, you know, on any given day, with some of these pieces, like the guild did a piece with 38 artists, each of them had multiple layers. So there were. I don’t know, millions or billions. I can’t even do the math. But like with my “Say It’s Possible” piece, I had five layers of sound, each of those layers had between three and five different variations. So we ended up with a piece with a potential of 480 different versions, and I lost control, so when you create an Async, it sounds kind of overwhelming. Still, if you go on and you play with it, you can click through the different pieces, you can see all the different layer states, you can see the changes, you can seem like you can randomize the piece on the art side and see how it will look in one of these many different permutations. It’s, you know, Async has taken super complex coding that most of us, very few of us, would be able to do, you know, without really understanding how to code and, and they’ve made it accessible to artists of all levels. So it takes a little while to sort of conceptualize and wrap your head around it, but once you do, it inspires artists to create in an entirely different way. Like when I was making this piece, I got my publishing rights back from Universal this year, which was the most exciting thing. It was so funny. I thought it was going to have to fight, and I wrote this email because I don’t have a manager at this point, and I wrote to universal, and I was like, dear sirs, you know, So I was so intense, I’m getting ready for a fight and to whom it may concern,
DC: I’d like to speak to the manager
TN: I’m writing to inquire about, you know, getting my publishing back, you know, and I was ready to go. I was like, please advise me as to what I how to pursue, you know, and then right back in there, like actually, your rights revert to you this year, so you’re all set. So that’s it like I thought I’d have to, like, raise all this money.
DC: do a lawsuit?
TN: Oh, no, I thought I would do an NFT project just to raise funds to buy back my rights and then do what I wanted with my songs.
TN: But so I chose “Say it’s possible” because that was kind of like the song that launched my career and, and I decided to do it on Aysnc because I’m like, you know when I recorded the origin songs on YouTube, so I recorded it this acoustic song, I recorded it in my bedroom. Well, it was I lived in a little tiny studio in Hollywood.
DC: Studio bedroom, combo
TN: So there was no bedroom. In my room,
DC: same room, your mattress was yes,
TN: Exactly, but it’s a different wall, and the song blew up and it but it was just straight, acoustic, you know, really raw, I think I wrote the song in under 10 minutes, and I played it a few times, and then I’m like that on,e and I uploaded it to YouTube. Then I ended up winning the first Youtube award for it. So is this very, like, community-focused because the YouTube community voted on the YouTube award.
TN: So you know, it was all about the community elevating this unknown artist who was me at the time, and my life changed because of it and then what happened was I signed with Universal Music and Island Records, and I made this album I didn’t want to make it was all like overproduced and, you know, it was, it was kind of a mess, so what I wanted to do for like, my process of reclaiming my song, was to like, reimagine it and have a version like have it be able to exist as an entirely acoustic version have it be able to exist with 13 different instruments and have everything in between. So there are versions in the 480, depending on what the collectors of the stems do, there’s the potential to have, you know, acoustic guitar and vocal only, or there’s the potential to have 13 different layers of sound. So, yeah, async was the perfect platform for me to do that.
DC: Incredible. I love it. I love it. So well put together. I always like to contextualize conversations like this with an idea of hyper-modernity. Like there’s this concept that like we’ve now reached a point where technology is progressing at a rate that we can’t comprehend so like, that’s why, like, most of us don’t understand how computers work, but we don’t have to. So I think what, what async is doing, I think is essential, because they’re taking like really complex issues, which otherwise would need a whole dev team to assemble and allowing artists like yourself to create innovative works and like I’m incorrectly thinking of it as fractionalization because of this like breakdown system, but have you seen anything like come out of that that you would never have expected? Like, have you seen combinations of different tracks that you’re like, Oh my God, I didn’t even think of that together? And this is so cool.
TN: Yeah, because I mean, I tested a bunch of them. There’s no way that I listened –
DC: 480 times, no.
TN: And I mean when I wrote the piece, it’s like, the thing that I think is so exciting about it is that it forces you to create in a whole different way.
TN: And that’s what I was looking for. Like, I wasn’t looking to replicate exactly what I was doing on Web2.
DC: – With less fear to because it’s it has to be like you can’t you can there’s no way you can control every single element of it, it’s almost like, yeah.
TN: No, you can’t. And in a way, it’s like it’s similar. I’ve heard last night I was at an event, and I heard Dimitri Churniak talking about his generative pieces, and how it’s like, he’s sort of, you know, the art is in the code, and he, you know, codes it in such a way that he believes it’s going to give specific outputs, and then he lets go of it, you know, and that is even, like, even more out of control in a way than mine, because mine is not generative
in that sense, it’s like, you know –
DC: Right, you still create each –
TN: Right. And, and I and I wrote each piece and recorded each piece, knowing that it had to be modular in a sense that it had to fit together and all these different –
DC: – Keep the critical structure and whatever the same.
TN: Yeah, I mean, yeah. You know, um, and also, for my piece, I didn’t give an option to – this is like a whole bunch of double negatives, I’m just like ‘I didn’t give an option not to have,’ but like I don’t know how else to explain it. Like, in all the other tracks. You know, bass and bass, bass and strings, drums and percussion bells. And since you can turn those off, you can have all the layers on, or you can have them all off. But with the acoustic guitar and the vocal, the single vocal, you have to have those in every version.
DC: That’s so cool.
TN: Because I wanted to maintain the song’s integrity if it had just been like an instrumental piece.
DC: – And it’s beautiful that you have that option too. Yeah.
TN: Yeah. So it’s like you can do, yeah, you can customize the experience. And then you kind of let go and let the collectors have at it. That’s what’s fun. Then you end up with a situation where you are creating an interactive, almost gamified way, you know?
TN: With the music projects on async, this limited edition element is also another element. So, in addition to collecting the stems and the master layer, you can also collect these blank records. And then when you hear a mix you like, you mint it. So it’s almost like recording, you know, blank CD and recording it when you hear a song you want come on the radio or something, you know?
DC: Like creating your mixtape back in the – yeah, like on a record or something?
TN: Exactly, yeah. And so you mint the record, the permanent record when you hear the mix that you like, which other collectors control, so you can’t go in and mix it yourself. But you can, when a mix comes up, you’re like, oh, that sounds amazing. I’m going to make my record now.
DC: Which is also another highly complex process, usually, which they’re like totally simplifying through this process. Yeah.
TN: Yeah. Yeah. And then you end up with this almost generative project feel because depending on how many other people mint that version too. So you’ve got rare based on whether it’s silver, gold or platinum. You’ve got rare based on maybe you’re the only person who ever minted a bunch, you know, 40321, or whatever, you know?
DC: Yeah, this specific combination of it.
TN: Yeah! So it’s really fun. And there, I can’t say too much. But async is about to like, changing the game for music NFTs. And, I’m an independent artist. I work for myself. I’ve been asked to join companies before. And like I said, I’ve joined two projects, you know. I consult on other stuff, I’m helping other artists, and I’m helping other companies, but I’m part of the team of two projects. One is async. And one is Warpsound. And with async, I was recording and creating my project that they thought was so inspiring that I wanted to be part of their team.
TN: And I feel like that speaks to how inspiring the process is and how artist-friendly they are. They’re all about creating this experience for creators.
TN: And they’re so, I don’t know, it’s tough for me to talk about it because they’re a platform for creators, by creators, and it’s an experience unlike anything else I’ve ever had making my music.
DC: But it’s so, it’s so authentically Web 3, as well as the fact that you can, like, do a project on a platform, have it go well and then just work with the team directly. The fact that we have that access, because we’re so early, right, it’s still so early –
TN: Yeah, yeah.
DC: That we can be like ‘I like you guys,’ they’re like ‘we like you too, let’s work together.’ Okay, that’s it.
TN: That’s so true. It’s down in a tweet.
DC: I love that.
TN: Yeah, it happened in a tweet because I was, I was sharing, I was tweeting about my project. And someone on the async team tweeted – this is like the most Web 3, this is like –
DC: Right, like on, like NFT Twitter.
TN: Yeah, NFT Twitter. And so I tweeted, and then someone from Async team said, ‘Terra gets it. Everyone is more like Terra.’ And then I tweeted back, and I’m like, ‘Uh, these are kids are gonna hate me now,’ you know? And then, and then I tweeted again, I’m like, seriously, all I ever do is talk about async like anytime I’d go into the clubhouse, any people like Terra’s here, tell us about it. So I said, All I ever do is talk about async. I should just work with you guys. And um –
DC: And they’re like, Okay, yeah.
TN: They were just sort of like, oh, and we were like, oh, like we were kind of joking. And then we’re just like, actually, and then I spoke with the founder, one of the founders at Lisa. And then we were sort of emailed back and forth a bit, and we’re like, just make sense. Let’s do it.
DC: Yeah. And I think like, I mean, obviously for me, but maybe for some people watching, but I feel like you’re one of the people who’ve taken that advantage of the platform and the way that the way that it works, and the fact that you created that understanding for yourself, you taught yourself how to use this.
DC: And, and not just capitalized on it, but innovated through this, through the technology they created, like use their framework and like actually pushed it to the extent that it can be pushed on.
TN: I think all artists on, I mean, they’re very the thing with the, with the music side is it still invites only. So I think they were, they’re very selective in making sure that every artist that has there’s only been a total of maybe 15 so far, and everybody has done an incredible job on the music side, you know, and that’s part of it’s, it’s still, you know, they, they’ve made sure that that the people who they approved to do it get what they’re working with.
DC: And going to use it properly.
TN: Yeah, exactly. So, everybody, I have to say, I feel just like I’m in good company with, like, all of the musicians that have released async music projects.
DC: I love it.
DC: So you’ve been, you’ve been in this space, this space is like, as the internet space, let’s say, for quite a while. Right. You were very present on web2.
DC: And now web3. But you know, we’ve talked about this a little bit of, you know, like the 360. Market company ideal. Yeah. So, I think you’ve taken advantage of new technology with async. And I don’t think you’re stopping doing that either,
DC: You know? We have the metaverse. We have, you know, AI, we have augmented reality, we have all these new worlds that we’re kind of really burgeoning into right now in the space. Do you have any other favourite intersections that you’re exploring at this point?
TN: Yeah. I mean, I laugh because my brother kind of led the way for me in this world.
DC: So cool.
TN: Yeah, he was into, he started getting into AI, VR, gaming
DC: And it is all so connected. I mean.
TN: Oh yeah. And he started getting into that world years and years ago. He’s an investor in the space now.
TN: And he started investing in these different web3 companies before we were all talking about web3.
TN: And, and he opened the door for me, in that sense to say, I think there’s something for you here, you know, you’re one of the most brilliant creatives I’ve ever met. Learn everything you can about the space and be the smartest person in the room about it. So he opened the door to the world by sort of laying down that challenge and setting that challenge for me saying you could do something here, so do it. And I before that was just really focused on being a singer-songwriter, recording albums, uploading music to Spotify, trying to build my audience on web 2, and like touring–
DC: And we don’t give ourselves time to like, actually research the new tech, until we do.
TN: Well, I didn’t even realize – I didn’t know it would be something I wanted to do.
TN: I just was so stuck in this. You know, I think we talk–
DC: And from the outside, we talk about finance as creatives we’re like, why would we even, yeah?
TN: Right. And that was, and that’s the other thing, too, we were sort of encouraged not to delve into that as creative. It’s like, you’re either a creative, you’re an artist, or you’re into money.
TN: you’re into it, you know what it’s just like, actually, that’s it’s all creative energy. The same energy that creates a song out of thin air is the same energy that like, builds worlds and creates a business or–
DC: Andy Warhol’s business is the finest form of art. There you go. Boom.
TN: Yeah. And it’s, we’ve been, it’s been a disservice to artists to sort of separate us. And I think that is also what I mean. I have a lot, a lot of theories about that. But I think it’s like–
DC: It’s on purpose.
TN: Yeah, it’s a lot easier to control a wildly creative, powerful group of people to like, keep them struggling and keep them poor.
DC: Right, yeah.
TN: So anyway.
DC: Tea. Tea.
TN: But like, yeah, so so, you know, my brother kind of was into all this stuff before, but I wasn’t, you know, I mean, I would, I was into it when he would tell me about it, but I wasn’t actively researching AI and AI music.
TN: And to be honest, and of course, he’s, as an acoustic musician. I was terrified.
DC: That’s the last thing on your mind, probably, yeah.
TN: well, not only the last thing on my mind but the last thing I wanted. Was like, wait, machines will be able to replace me? You know, like, I don’t wish to machines making music.
TN: That’s my job!
TN: You know? And, and understanding, like, the capabilities of AI that it can, you know, match my voice, it can do you know, and so I went through a phase where I was kind of terrified of that. And then I kind of came around to this place where I was like, No, these are tools. And AI doesn’t work without humans. AI works in connection with, in, you know–
DC: It’s entirely dependent on the inputs, right, like, you can’t just–
TN: Right, right, and, and we can help each other, you know, what I mean? It’s like, it’s a tool.
TN: And so it’s almost like, Well, okay, if, if when cars were invented, if someone’s just like, No, I’m just going to walk. Thank you.
DC: I’m good, yeah. I have my horse. It’s okay.
TN: And it’s like, okay well cars are here.
TN: And, you know, you can get in one and have a nicer experience of getting, you know, five miles across town, or you can, so it’s sort of like, how do we use the technology to enhance what we’re doing?
TN: And how do we use it in a way that’s beneficial to what we’re doing as artists, as creators, as human beings, right? It’s like we work together. We can work together. So my brother kind of planted that the seeds of interest for, years ago, but, but just recently, I got more interested in it. And I just joined the team of a project called WarpSound. And it’s the authentic company artists that have been developing this collective of AI, of AI that can perform. And it’s all generated in real-time. So it’s not like, you know, the AI is making the music the same way that it does–
DC: You still the live component, yeah.
TN: It’s life, yeah, it’s meant to be lived. So and they did something at Tribeca last year.
TN: And you can interact, its audience interactive, you can interact through commands, they have a Twitch show, every week now, and you can interact with the chat, you know so that the audience can determine is it going to be faster? Do they want slower, you know, slime to be like, whatever the different commands?
TN: And so it’s fully interactive in the artists are our AI artists are responding in real-time, the same way that a DJ would at, you know, a festival or wherever you see–
DC: – So cool.
TN: Yeah, like, feel the audience’s energy, you feel where they’re, what they want, where they’re at.
DC: It’s a new level of interactivity, yeah.
TN: Yeah. And so it’s so that the AI artists can do the same thing. And so we’re creating right now at PFP project around this, around this collective of artists. And it’s, you know, full commercial rights and, like, the ability to generate full songs. So it’s, there’s a lot of stuff I can’t talk about yet. But it, to me, is the most exciting music development that I’ve seen yet in space. And I feel like we’re like I said, I’ve joined two projects, this is one of them. So I’m pretty excited about this.
DC: Something that you genuinely believe in, yeah.
DC: I think something that’s exciting with what you’re doing. And just this whole, like generative aspect, or the AI aspect in general, is letting go of your creative baby and putting it out into the zeitgeist when it’s not even finished, you know? You, you finish all the elements that you have control over. And then you, you, you release that control to your collectors to your audience. How has that process been for you? And is it was it, you know, is it a little bit of killing your darlings? Or is it now starting to get native to you that you’ve been doing it for a little while?
TN: Well, I think like when I first released my async project, that it was a little scary, because I’m like, what if it gets stuck–
DC: Like, what are people going to do with this?
TN: Yeah, what if it gets stuck on, like, I can’t change the layers anymore? What if it gets stuck on a version I don’t like? Because there’s, I didn’t dislike anything, but there are versions. It’s like with the PFP project. There’s like the pretty ones and the beautiful ones, you know?
DC: You always have your favourites. Yeah, absolutely.
TN: So yeah. So I’m like, I know which versions are my favourite and what combinations of elements I like best, and I don’t get to choose now. So I was a little scared. I was like, Oh God, what does it leave it on something that like, is just kind of meh, and like – you know, and I just got comfortable with it. And I think like something that happens in the space a lot is this idea of building and public, and we get comfortable with it. Because a lot of things are a little wonky right now, you know?
DC: Nothing’s perfect yet. We’re still at the very beginning. Yeah, especially AR, AI, all these things. Yeah.
TN: Everything. Anything complicated. I mean, it’s, it’s in everybody. We’re early. It’s like, yeah, we’re early. Like, that’s what everybody says because it’s true.
DC: It’s true.
TN: And I think what I appreciate as a sort of recovering perfectionist is the opportunity to let things be a little messy. You know, like, it is a bit messy right now, perfection doesn’t exist, first of all, and like, I have lived so much of my life as a perfectionist, and it’s held me back and led to, you know, a lot of unhappiness. And so kind of saying, Yeah, you know, everybody, everybody’s a little, everything is a little imperfect right now. And that’s part of the beauty of it.
DC: And that’s the space. I mean–
DC: like the fact that we’ve been so experimental. So openly, I feel like this has been how this space has grown over the past few years.
DC: People don’t even realize that the crypto punks were not meant to be given away for free. They tried to sell them. People got refunded by accident, right. And now it’s the most successful project in the space. I mean, so.
TN: Little mistakes like yeah, missteps little, like happy accidents, little thing, you know, it’s just the concept. You know, I when I first heard someone say building in public, I was like, Oh, my God, I love that.
DC: I love that, yeah.
TN: Because it takes the pressure off. Like, we’re starting our Twitch show with work sound we’re building in public. There are bumps in the road, there are things that you know, we’re using a bleeding-edge technology, so it’s like–
DC: Nobody knows everything. Like there’s, it’s impossible, yeah.
TN: Yeah, so we’re innovating on the fly. And, and by the time we, you know, by the time we drop the PFP, everything’s going to be ironed out. And it’s going to be. I have a feeling it’s going to go well. I believe in that. But it’s like, you know, in the meantime I built the discord. There were things that I had to change, you know, while there were people in there, and I’m like, Hey, everybody, sorry, if you got locked out of this for a second.
TN: You know, and I feel like we all understand that. And it also humanizes everything in a way. It’s like because I don’t. I mean, there’s something beautiful about when things function perfectly from the very beginning. But there’s also something great about seeing a team of people coming together to do something that hasn’t been done before. And sort of stumbling through it a little, you know?
TN: Like, I love that personally, like when you see everyone the first time I saw one of my favourite artists mess up on stage and start over three times. I saw Radiohead, yeah, I saw Radiohead, Thom Yorke began to a song I can’t remember which song it was. It was one of his, like, one of his, like, bullet – I think it might have been bulletproof?
DC: Some like colossal hit, yeah.
TN: Huge song, yeah. And I think it was bulletproof. And he got into the beginning of it. And he was like, oh I have to, he stopped. He’s like, I have to start again. And then he started it again. And they messed it up again. And he’s like, I’m sorry, you know? and then–
DC: – He’s human!
TN: Yeah, and saw, oh my god, that happened the other night at the Hollywood Bowl. I saw, um, James Blake?
DC: Yeah, love.
TN: Love James, wake. But he started, so he was playing with an orchestra and not his most comfortable thing. But he was trying, you know?
TN: And, and he’s playing with the Hollywood Bowl orchestra. And they got to retro- retrograde?
TN: like his biggest hit. And he had to start it over. And it’s just like, you know, you, I think as a performer, that was always my nightmare.
TN: But when you’re in the audience, and that happens. You just feel closer to the artist.
DC: You’re part of it.
TN: Yeah. Like, I was like, Yeah! You know everybody, was everybody was like, you got this! You know. And, and I feel like that is the funny thing is, is, as creators, we want everything to be so perfect. But actually, I think what, what, what the audience and what our, what our supporters and what our community wants is sometimes to see us as humans, you know because it humanizes all of us.
DC: 100%. And I mean, you segue perfectly into what I was about to ask, it’s, you know, you already talked about this idea of community is a part of the process and how the projects you buy into, you know, you’re part of that community. Still, I feel like a big part of this, you know, when you build discord servers and do things, the community is part of the building process. And if something doesn’t go perfectly, right, they’re going to be the ones to tell you that, and they’re going to help you fix it, essentially. So I love this idea of building in public.
TN: Yeah, I love it. I love it.
DC: And I think that that ideally, you know, encapsulates what we’re doing right now in this space.
DC: So I won’t keep you here all day. It’s such. It’s such a pleasure to talk to you about all this.
TN: It’s been so fun! It’s so good to meet you!
DC: Yeah, it’s so lovely to meet you in person.
TN: I’ve been hearing voices on Clubhouse for the last–
DC: I know. It’s nice to finally, like, put a face.
TN: It’s so lovely. I love it.
DC: But for anybody who’s watching who might not be familiar, where can they find you online? And is there any project right now that you’d like to like to plug? Yeah.
TN: Yes! I mean, Twitter, it’s so funny because I gave up on Twitter over the last few years.
DC: I know. And then now it’s back. And I’m like, Okay, well, I used to live-tweet the Oscars when I was a kid. And I didn’t touch it for like five years.
TN: Yeah, I did it when I was actively trying to promote, you know, music stuff.
TN: And then I’m just like, This is all for politics. Like I kind of signed off in the 2016 elections. So I was like yeah, I’m done.
DC: Right, I do not want to.
TN: Done now. And then, you know, last year, like, Oh, my god, we have to get on Twitter again? So now I love it again. And I’m on there all the time. And that’s the best place. So I’ve got a sort of link tree. Yeah, not a link tree, but a link tree in my bio, and it will link to everything I’m doing. And um.
DC: We’ll put it right here. So that you guys can access it.
TN: Great, yeah, and please check out the WarpSound community. That, to me, is like one of the most exciting things you’ve ever been part of.
DC: Super cool.
TN: And artists, please check out artists and collectors, please check out a sync. It’s, it’s just unbelievable. Inspiring. And um yeah, I’ve got a lot of other stuff I’m working on too. So thank you for asking.
DC: No, of course, make sure to follow along. Terra is incredible. You’re doing incredibly innovative work as one of my favourite artists in the space right now.
TN: Thank you! Oh my god! That’s so nice!
DC: And that’s like, you know, this, you said bleeding edge. But I mean, we are at, you know, nothing that we’re doing right now has been done before essentially. So it’s very, very exciting.
TN: Yeah, it’s pretty fun.
DC: And congratulations on everything you’re doing.
DC: So, thank you all for watching. This has been NFTS.WTF? My name is David Cash. I’m here with Terra. We’ll see you later.
DC: Take care. Bye from New York.