Terry Hunter is once again infusing us with positivity and hope through his new EP, featuring an all-star cast of powerhouse vocalists, including Jon Pierce, Byron Stingily, Jamie Principle, Ann Nesby and Chantay Savage, among others. After the success of his “We Are One” song and video calling for a stop to the violence in Chicago, he soldiers on with another life-affirming creation: Imagine No Music.
So tell us about Imagine No Music, Terry…
I have a new EP coming out, one of the first EPs I’ve done in years. I’ve just been so busy doing records for other people and singles for myself I haven’t had time.
It’s called Imagine No Music and it has a lot of phenomenal guest singers on it. The first single is called “The Message” with Jon Pierce. I also have Byron Stingily, Jamie Principle, Ann Nesby, Chantay Savage and I have a killer intro with an artist by the name of Just Flow (a spoken word artist).
Being from Chicago I felt it was necessary to work with such legendary artists that were in the forefront of House music in the beginning. I couldn’t do a project and not represent those artists on it.
It’s a well-rounded EP, it’s going to have something like seven songs. Because once you get past eight songs, then you’re into a full length album, if you will.
We discussed before about how you wanted to steer clear from making an album with this project. Why do you prefer to do an EP over an actual “album”? Isn’t it all semantics?
From my understanding, when you’re dealing with major labels an album is normally 10 songs. If you have any more songs over than that, then you don’t get paid for those extra songs. An EP is anywhere between three and eight songs.
The pay structure is definitely different between an EP and an album. But this is on my own label, T’s Box Records, so it doesn’t really matter in the end! [laughs] Also one of the reasons why I’m doing an EP, the way music is… if I was to put together an album, it’s going to tell a story from the first song to the last. To me the way most albums are now, they’re just gloried compilations because they’re just one song after another. If you have ten, twelve, thirteen songs in there people are just going to pick apart your album and buy the songs they want. It’s like painting a beautiful picture but people just want, say, the top right hand corner of it. I’m like, “Yo, I want you to see the whole picture, don’t just look at parts of it!” I take my music very seriously.
With this EP I’m still trying to tell a story from beginning to end, but the minds of the people listening to music right now are kinda short, they want to get right to it, so I think I can better get out by doing five to seven songs. It might grab your attention that way. In the fourth quarter of the year I want to put out the second part of the EP and then put those together.
So what’s the timeline of your releases?
The first single with Jon Pierce is coming out in March and I want to bring hype to the EP by releasing singles and having remixes with them. The ideal release date for the EP is the end of June and by then there will be momentum.
After you hear the first EP, the second one will make sense. The majority of it is House but I do have some R&B stuff in there too. I’ll have interludes as well – it’s not just going to be just song to song to song. Everything ties together. Music for me is so personal, I don’t want to just put together a bunch of songs and say, “Hey, here’s an album.”
That’s interesting that you have a mix of R&B songs to go along with your House stuff.
I think the couple of songs that I’m looking at doing are strong enough to be promoted to an R&B audience. Where we are now, there really is no R&B. As far as what mainstream radio is playing, to me they’re playing singers that are really rapping. They’re singing their raps. I don’t hear any new R&B artists that have made an impact. I think R&B is at its state where it’s lost its identity. The traditional R&B songs have an intro, you have a verse, you have a hook, you have a bridge. Like, who puts bridges in their records today? It’s like verse, hook, verse, hook, hook hook hook. All these records are just big hooks and they sound alike.
Tell me a little more about the songs in the EP.
The first single with Jon is called “The Message.” The whole record is about telling everyone in our community to wake up. It’s still cool to be positive, you don’t have to always write negative bullshit songs or songs just about being in the club. Music used to challenge us in so many different ways. You could listen to a song and be ready to make a baby. You don’t hear that many conscious songs that make you dance. That’s why a couple of years ago I tried to do that with “We Are One” – to try and make something positive, and you still feel good and you still want to dance, you still want to party.
I have an incredible duet between Chantay Savage and Estelle. It’s called “I Choose You.” The whole concept of the track is actually “I choose me” – it’s a play off of the show Scandal when two seasons ago she was messing with all these guys, but at the end of the day she says, “I choose me.” So it’s kind of an uplifting song for women who say “I don’t need no man, I can do it all for me so guess what? I choose me!” Chantay wrote the song for Estelle and we demoed it, she sounded so good I thought it would be dope to have them both go back and forth – two powerful women singing!
There’s also a song I’m doing with Ann Nesby which is an uplifting gospel love song that’s incredible. Ooh I don’t even know what to say about her! The interlude I have with Just Flow is nothing short of amazing how he was able to capture the essence of what I wanted to convey.
This EP is very thought provoking. I think people are going to enjoy it.
Imagine No Music is available now from T’s Box Records.
Published first in 5 Mag Issue #129, featuring Mood II Swing, Martin EZ, Terry Hunger & Jon Pierce, a year hands-on with the Rane MP2015 and more. Become a member of 5 Magazine for First & Full access to everything House Music and save 60%!