Terry Presume: Inside the sonic world of the Soho Rising star
The indefinable artist is the latest to take the stage in our Soho Rising concert series in partnership with Bowers & Wilkins, and tells us about how he captures different genres to craft his own musical language.
Thursday 27 October 2022 By Alex Rapine. Photography by Brody Boggs Video by Nate Brav-McCabe
It’s hard to pigeonhole Terry Presume into one musical genre. The artist’s style is a blend of funk rhythms, rock ’n’ roll energy, groovy pop vocals and melodic rap, and the resulting sound is entirely his own.
Growing up in Naples, Florida, Presume was introduced to music at a young age. Speaking to Soho House, the artist explains how his mother often played Haitian Kompa music at home, but it was when a friend came to visit that Presume was able to find his own groove. ‘My mother had a friend we called Unc who would burn CDs for her, so at the age of six or seven I’d ask Unc to burn them for me, too.’
It was a shift that opened Presume up to a new sonic world. Then, the free exchange of music online in the early 2000s meant he could quickly absorb all variety of sounds; whether that involved being introduced to Eminem or 50 Cent by friends and freestyling with others in his neighbourhood, or doing remixes of Lil Wayne songs in a makeshift bedroom studio. Presume would even copy down the lyrics of his favourite songs into a notebook, with Eminem’s ‘Cleanin’ Out My Closet’ being the one he most vividly recalls. ‘[I was able to] visualise everything that [Eminem] wrote down; as if a movie was being played in my head. It made me want to know the words… and made me feel a bit more involved. And when you ran into someone else who knew the words too, there was like an unspoken connection being made.’
From then on, Presume began seeking out new artists, studying how their songs were crafted, all the while developing his own musical language. That’s manifested in his eclectic sound, though Presume isn’t conscious of the genres he’s playing with, or the conventions he’s breaking. ‘I just don’t think about it,’ he explains. ‘I just do it. If I think too much on it, it f**ks up my creative process. To me, as long as it feels good, I’m with it. Music is a mood engager, so I’m trying to feel what the emotional exchange is going to be and execute that.’
The tone can quickly shift on a Presume album, taking listeners from bluesy ballad over club kicks such as on ‘Don’t Wait Forever’, to the rhythmic funk rock of ‘Zaza And Some Runtz’. His latest single ‘Don’t Like U’ showcases his effortless flow atop an infectious and bubbly beat. It matches his writing style, which is equally free-wheeling. ‘I write a lot of the time; sometimes I choose to freestyle from the top of my head and other times I catch the mood of the song and write it out. Everything feels like a freestyle to me – a lot of the times I don’t know what the song is going to be until it’s finished.’
‘Music is a mood engager so I’m trying to feel what the emotional exchange is going to be and execute that’
Presume brought that loose energy throughout his Soho Rising tour, and with each intimate performance made the Soho House community his own. ‘The crowd’s interactions were exactly that: intimate. Every performance felt like I got to speak to everyone on a one-on-one basis.’ Seeing Presume live has that special quality of changing the air in a room; it isn’t just to be looked at, it pulls you in and makes you a part of it. Very early on in his musical journey, he found that community was key and, even now it’s something he seeks to build upon. ‘I’m excited about creating a world that people can be a part of; putting the pieces of my mind into the ozone through art.’
Presented in collaboration with Bowers & Wilkins, Soho Rising is our platform for championing the best emerging talent around, giving you the chance to see the stars of tomorrow first. Previous guests have included Arlo Parks, Griff, Holly Humberstone, serpentwithfeet, and Moses Boyd.