THEAUSSIEWORD.COM catches up with Canadian Egyptian artist TEROUZ.
How and where did it all begin for you? What drew your interest to the music industry? Cairo, 2001, I am sitting on my PC watching the new Springsteen ‘’Live in New York’’ DVD. That alternate, mellow, slower version of ‘’The River’’ comes on and Bruce hums the solo melody at the end. It’s not humming, it’s something else, it’s moaning, he is making music out of a yawn! I am hit with a thousand arrows in the chest. A rush of goosebumps literally shuts my eyes closed. I break into tears. My mentality has changed. I now know why I envy him so much…how can someone command 80 thousand people with a weep? How can someone go up there and demand TO BE FELT like that. That, was how.
Later that night, I went out to the Cairo Jazz Club where I just started to hang. There was nobody I knew. Place was packed. I hung around at the bar. DJ was spinning electro tunes, something the Egyptian crowd goes bananas over. I noticed there was a mic on his booth yet he wasn’t using it except for the occasional ‘’Is everybody having a good time? By my third drink, still on my own, my ears pick up the A minor key in the track he was playing, my pocket key, kick was a steady 127bpm, I look towards him and muster the guts to go up there and subtly ask for the mic, all in sign language, he somehow doesn’t hesitate…with a passive yes he hands it to me. I stare at the crowd and plunge into a falsetto harmony, eyes closed, a heart wrenching humming emulating what I just heard that afternoon, a good 36 bars of it. I open my eyes and the whole room was still. EVERYBODY was looking at me, couples stopped kissing, groups that were sitting turned around and stared, all waiters stopped serving, IT’S LIKE SOMEBODY HIT PAUSE ON TIME ITSELF, every eyeball starring at me..in aww. It lasted maybe 2 seconds before they broke out in claps and ‘’woohoos’’ but in my mind, it lasted for an hour. I had somehow successfully injected my feelings into an already happening room, it changed everything. I knew right there and then…This is what I wanna do. I was 17.
What motivates or influences you in your quest to make great music? The effect my music has on people, it’s efficient yet intimate music, it plunges you in my cinematic world of inner and outer struggles and hands you the car keys and driver seat to be the leading star in it. It was clear to me after realizing that, that it was my duty as an artist to keep doing what I do, pursuing more and more authenticity in my work.
What are some of your biggest goals you hope to accomplish? For now I just want to debut my live act so I can give wings to my project, but eventually, I would like to take my place in the halls of Canadian songwriters.
What can we expect from you in the coming months? Any plans to tour? I debut the first 25 min of my live act in June 2023. I am stringing together my first 4 singles into an audio visual arc of a show!
Tell us a bit about your latest release and how would you best describe your music? You know a Tiger Girl from the truth in her eyes. My song, “Tiger Girl,” is a testament to resilient women and the empowering effects they have on not just other women, but people all together. It’s also about a deeper understanding of closeness – an introspective look at what it is to really know somebody, from the smell of their skin to the way their brain works. The story is as much about growth through a deeper connection with someone as it is about the hardness of growing apart and finally letting go. Think of a cross between Bowie’s “China Girl” and Springsteen’s “Secret Garden” with a callback to the voyeur vibes of the Police’s ‘‘Every Breath You Take,” and that’s how you get “Tiger Girl.”
It wouldn’t have been as complete or as authentic as it is right now without Genevieve Bissonnette’s permission to sample her real personal vocal messages that we exchanged at the time. She has also been a major influence in the creation of this character. As the last days of the Year of the Tiger approached, I felt that it was time to let her go and set both of us free.
‘’His music provides an intoxicating experience that draws listeners into narratives of his layered and cinematic songwriting.’’ @scenenoise
Give us an insight into your creative process. What gets you writing songs? I write songs to let out thoughts, emotions, visions and revelations stirring inside of me. Whether I am closing the book on my longest relationship of seven years with Tiger Girl or declaring my arrival on the scene as a fully assumed Canadian Egyptian artist with Outstanding in 2019, I am documenting my growth with these songs in hopes of leaving a legacy of stories for other to connect to.
Is there a hidden meaning in any of your music? It’s pretty much obvious for most of my songs are about the inner and outer struggles we go through.
Success, what is the secret to it? Hard work, realistic expectations, empathy, formulating (and verbalising) your wants to properly manifest them.
What has been your biggest career highlight so far? Besides Outstanding being called ‘’One of the best songs of the year in 2019’’ by ‘’Rawcus’’ Magazine and Tiger Girl being haled as an ’’ Instant Classic’’ by ‘’The wild is calling’’, I had an encounter with a huge Quebec pop star (who’s name I can’t mention just yet) loosing her mind over my music while sipping her cocktail at the Iconic Bar George in Montreal.
Just like in the movies, I was mixing drinks at my side job (easily Montreal’s most iconic bar) when a huge star walked in for her favourite Acadian caviar appetizer…cut to her dancing in her seat with her headphones plugged to my Spotify profile, a collaboration is now in the works.
Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring? Rick Rubin’s new book is a must read, so is Richard Marx’s bio and Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography.
Are there any new projects in the pipeline?
My debut four track EP entitled ‘’Harder’’ due end of the year.
The music industry is constantly changing, where do you see yourself a few years? Touring Europe and The Middle East.
What is your favourite and least favourite part about this line of work and why? The fake it till you make it part, I can’t wait to hit the stages.
Name a few of your favourite Australian artists. INXS and Nick Cave above all
The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye? I feel it’s truly the time where everything is possible, artists have to realize that everybody has their own unique success story and what is getting clearer and clearer is that the more you know yourself the better you carve out your own unique music and artistic career the way you want.
How will you continue appealing to the international market? My songs are usually catchy enough to work for me in that regard, but it does take just as much marketing as it takes production to really get a songs out. All avenues of spreading your music should be explored and tested out.
Do you collaborate with others? Who is on your wish-list? My Maine collaborator is my producer Gabriel Ethier, I write the songs and he flips them into their electro counterpart. If I can have my pick at collaborating with someone, it would be Lissie or Lana Del Ray.
What advice do you give for other artists wanting to follow in your footsteps? Make music for you, write songs that your favourite artist haven’t written, let it please your ears first before anyone else.
A message for your fans. How do you best interact and respond with your followers and fans? Follow me on socials, I respond to everybody and I see you watching and supporting.
Any last words? Nobody’s ready for what I got in store, Nobody. I can’t wait to share all of it.