INTERVIEW: TT THE ARTIST

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This week, we are featuring TT the Artist, who will be performing at Discwoman’s upcoming party in Baltimore today.

TT has earned her title as a multidisciplinary artist in every right. One of the most hard-working artists in the underground music scene, she’s involved in everything from MCing and singing to filmmaking, fine arts, and creative direction—she even produces her own visuals.

Drawing influences from Miami Bass, Baltimore club, hip-hop and EDM, TT has collaborated with big names such as Diplo in “Dat A Freak” and Baauer in “Make It Bang.”

At her core, she’s a “Fly Girl”—a feminist-inspired ethos she first paid tribute to in the track and music video off her Art Royalty EP. Her second release Queens continued this theme of female empowerment, paying homage to women of color in the media who have defied discrimination and other odds stacked against them. We can’t wait for her forthcoming debut album Queen of the Beat—which features songs like “Dig” a party banger with soca, Miami bass sounds.

Check out our interview with TT the Artist below.

Words Nadine Blanco // Photos Thats CALY // Wardrobe Joshua Hollman

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What’s the story behind your artist name? Is TT The Artist a sort an artistic alter-ego?

TT was a nickname I got in college and I always wanted people to know that I am an all-around artist, not just musically. So, TT The Artist isn’t an alter ego—more like who I really am.

Tell us about the current Baltimore club scene and why it’s important to you, both creatively and personally?

The Baltimore club music scene today exist in pockets. Right now it’s very underground and consists of the Baltimore club dance community, as well as old and new school DJs and performers who are pushing the sound forward.

On the outside looking in, many people have the impression that the scene died when DJ K Swift passed away. K Swift was a well known female DJ who kept [Baltimore] club music in heavy rotation in the clubs and on the radio. She was connected with the DJs and the dance community, so when she passed there was a void in the scene. Over the years, with the closing of venues and spaces for the club music community, the scene went under the radar, but it never died. It’s very much alive.

Presently, the local club scene is organizing itself and actively taking ownership of this homegrown gem. I was attracted to the sound of club music because I grew up in Florida and was heavily influenced by Miami Bass music. So the beats and sounds of club felt nostalgic for me and it was natural connection.

In 2009, I recorded my first club record “Let Me Show Em” on a project with the Yo Boys. I was in a room full of guys who were very serious about the music and I felt like I had to earn my stripes and write a dope verse… and I did lol. Creatively, I love the percussive sounds of club music and people connect with the music. It’s important to push the sound because for many people in the club community this is all they have as an outlet of expression.

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Before your music took off, what was your life like and what were you doing?

I don’t feel like my music has taken off yet to be honest. I have so many goals and feel like I am just getting a toe through the door. The only thing I do that is different is work harder. I have become a perfectionist. I invest more time and money in my craft. I am fully independent right now so it involves self-funding all of your projects unless you get a grant or some backing from an investor. I also study business more so I am educated on best practices in my profession.

How and when did you start exploring your passion for music?

I was a freshman in high school. One of my home girls was a rapper and she use to battle rap all the boys and win. That’s when I knew I wanted to rap. I admired the fact that I could be respected for my voice and the things I said. I professionally started pursuing music after I graduated from college. I was living in New York at the time traveling back and forth to Baltimore. I eventually moved back to Baltimore in 2009 and started performing and building my name up in the local scene.

Your song “Fly Girl” is a message to empower girls across the world. What do you hope to achieve with your Fly Girl movement?

The Fly Girl movement is an everyday way of life. It’s all about empowering women to tap into there power and passions in life. It’s about being strong in a time of adversity and understanding your purpose. I want to be a positive role model and spokesperson for you for Girls. I used to teach so I have a special connection with the youth.

Tell us about Art Royalty—what kind of statement were you trying to make about yourself as an artist with this debut solo EP?

On my Art Royalty EP, I wanted to introduce people to my sound. Art Royalty has reocurring themes of sexual freedom in songs such as “Pum Pum” and “Pussy Ate.” I also wanted to do some fun records that would really work in the clubs like “Imma Shake” and “Giddy Up.” I wanted to fuse the Baltimore club sounds with more structure through tracks that have hooks and verses like “Thug It Out” and “Let Me See,” which at the end I give shouts to a few pioneers in the Baltimore club movement.

“Lavish” was that one track where I really wanted to showcase a more traditional lyrical rap style, which is also a big part of my style when I do full out rhymes. “Freaky Life” is one of those songs that really meshed everything together and at same time introduced something new.

What advice would you give to beginners and other women DJs/vocalists out there?

Be yourself. Develop your sound. Ask questions and build a thick skin. Also study and learn everything you can about your craft. Understand the history and respect those who have paved the way for you. Remain humble and be open minded. Don’t put yourself in a box.

Why do you believe women representation in music is important?

Because women can offer an entire new shade to the spectrum. We have different experiences that a man could never articulate. Too much of one thing is never good and gets boring after a while. We need all types of women, all shapes, sizes and shades need to be represented. It’s important that young girls and the millennial babies have more realistic reflections of themselves. Women are just as talented as men and it’s time for the industry to let us in.

However, we have to take ownership as well. We need to collaborate with each other more and stop being scared that someone is going to overshadow you. See, I have the mind of a business woman. The way I see it is if I work with other women artists who are doing big things we can do epic things together—and then who can stop us? Why do you think so many male artist collaborate? They know how to capitalize off of each other’s networks. We have to stop waiting for the industry to change and make the change ourselves.

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What should we expect from your upcoming Discwoman performance?

I bring a lot of energy and crowd interaction in all my performances. I will also be performing some of my new music, so I’m excited about the show! I recommend wearing your favorite pair of dance shoes lol.

Which song do you perform most frequently during your sets, and why?

Anytime I perform my song “Pussy Ate” the response from the crowd is always the same: mouths open wide, shock, and laughter …it’s priceless. “Pussy Ate” is a fun record and truthfully I think it’s how a lot of women feel or think lol

What are you working on next?

My debut album Queen Of The Beat is dropping soon. I’ll be doing more touring and hope to go overseas to play some shows. I am working on a couple of film productions and creating new art. I am also developing a youth-led mural program called Proverbs, which will allow inner city youth to explore street and public art through a series of workshops. This summer and fall I will also be hosting Baltimore club and dance concert series called a Rock Off Shake Off. Last but not least, I host a monthly open mic series called The Wav at The Windup Space every first Monday. It’s gonna be a productive season for me and I am excited about all my new and future ventures.

What artist or collective deserves recognition and attention right now?

I am excited to be featured on this new production duo called Hands Up!’s upcoming project. Hands Up! is a Baltimore-based production team consisting of two producers Mighty Mark and Mike JR. They will be putting out a lot of fresh new Baltimore club music. Their productions are definitely what the game has been missing.

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