Since 2011, SAAM’s Luce Foundation Center has hosted Luce Unplugged, a free, monthly concert series that celebrates the work of local musicians. Now, we’re teaming up with local music podcast, Hometown Sounds, to bring you music and conversations from your favorite DC artists. In our December episode, we’re talking with Terracotta Blue, an electronic artist who combines elements of hip-hop and Chillwave to create contemplative soundscapes. Read on for excerpts from Terracotta Blue’s conversation with Paul Vodra and Anthony Porreco of Hometown Sounds. To hear the full interview, visit hometownsoundsdc.com.
Hometown Sounds: First question out of the gate, can you tell us about the name Terracotta Blue?
Terracotta Blue: I opened the cabinet in my kitchen and there was a blue, terracotta clay bowl. And there you go, Terracotta Blue. That was it. It means nothing. I thought it was a catchy name. If you do Google search, I have to compete with pottery and jewelry and stuff like that, but there were no musical acts close to that. Then that alias started to become more popular than my main aliases. I just kind of rolled with the name and sunsetted my other names. That was it.
HS: The thing that I have noticed about Terracotta Blue over the many years we've been doing this podcast is just how much music you release. In this year alone, you put out seven albums. How do you keep up with this incredible pace? What’s driving you to create all this music?
TB: It keeps me sane. Everybody needs some type of release, whether it's reading, exercising, playing sports, or what have you. For me it's always been music. I've done a lot of different music throughout the years and I have a bunch of stuff in my archive.
The track, Rolling Hills, on my most recent album, Shenandoah 2, first came about maybe 15 years ago. I revisit a lot of my old stuff and maybe put new drums on it and release it and come up with a theme. Shenandoah is about my love of fall. It’s the music I would like to listen to driving through Shenandoah National Park. I love the colors. I love the crisp cool weather. It's soothing to me.
HS: You recently produced and made most of the beats on Kuniva’s new album, Alpha Underdog. Working with Kuniva, a member of D12 and a prolific solo artist, is a big deal. How did this collaboration come about?
TB: I think it started on Twitter. Every once in a while, rappers put something on Twitter asking for beats from up-and-coming producers. I do that occasionally, see who's looking for beats. He just happened to be asking for tracks. I think this was in 2018. He took a liking to my tracks and on the album before this, called The Bando Theory, he actually used three of my tracks. We’ve been working and bouncing off of ideas each other ever since then. I was really surprised to hear that he wanted me to produce most of this new album. It’s a really big thing. Getting placements with artists like that is pretty difficult to do nowadays. I'm just happy. He's a real cool guy and I look forward to working with him again.
A lot of what I do is very repetitive as it follows a very traditional 16-bar format, where you would put the verse in the 8-bar hook. I'm always thinking about how rappers or even singers could get on a track. Many of those beats were things that I released on some of my other beat tapes from the last few years. When Kuniva was asking for beats for this upcoming album, I just kind of heard him on a few tracks. I just thought he would sound good. I went ahead and shot 30 or 40 of them over. He picked the ones that he thought would suit the album best and it came out tight.
HS: How have you introduced your kids to music? Is music something you and your kids bond over?
TB: My wife and I like to give them lessons on artists we think they should know. Guys like James Brown and Stevie Wonder and Prince and all the giants of music. I have introduced my 12-year-old to some hip hop that I used to listen to when I was 12. He did definitely dig old EPMD and Public Enemy and stuff like that.
They hear so much of my music all the time. I'm always playing my own stuff around the house. So, when I’m like ‘oh yeah, this is, this is me,’ they just shrug their shoulders. Oftentimes I don't think I'm cool enough, but you know, they're 9 and 12. I do try to listen to the stuff that they listen to now. I love hearing what's out there. It might not be something that I listen to all the time, but I do like to try to bond with my kids with music by listening to what they vibe to.
HS: Can you tell us about what's coming up next for terracotta blue? Do you have more albums that you're planning?
TB: I'm just trying to stay healthy, stay safe. You could definitely hear a lot of new stuff in 2021. I have a ton of stuff that I’d like to share. It’s going to be pretty much like I've been doing. I hop all over the music spectrum, but I always have a foot in hip hop. So, stay tuned. I almost always release something the first or second week of January. It might be a single or an EP or an album but definitely look forward to that.
Luce Listening Party with Terracotta Blue drops Friday December 4. If you're interested in reading the full text of this interview, please email email@example.com.