In Conversation: Terrell Hines

In Conversation: Terrell Hines

Georgia rapper on the all-encompassing nature of creativity...

There are some people who focus on the artistry and creative process in everything they do. Terrell Hines is one of those.

The artist from Georgia can’t be put into a box, his tracks span through genres and themes. His new mixtape 'Portal One' is a fine example of this, it keeps the listener on their toes throughout.

Clash got the chance to talk to the upcoming artist over the phone. 

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Congrats on the new mixtape Portal One being released, how does it feel to have it out in the world now?

Yeah it feels good. A lot of those songs are old, we’ve had them for nearly four, five years. But you’ve got to be careful with how you present your music. It took me a lot of time to put together the vision. The music has to match everything, so the process is about getting the whole project cohesive. I don’t even have to listen to it, because I know what it is from when I made it.

Is it frustrating holding onto the tracks for so long?

It’s not really frustrating, if you make one good song, the song is only good but the vision is bigger than one song on its own. It’s a good feeling of anxiety because I know if I wait to release, if I wait and do it right, then I know it’s going to be cool. It might take me a year to put together a crazy video or an art installation together, but I would rather it all be cohesive and with the time put in. Versus it being me wanting to put one song out, because It’s literally just a song. 

Each song is pretty different from the next, was this the vision before it all came together?

Yeah, so 'Portal One' is just a fraction of me. The parts of those songs is just a part of Terrell Hines. They are all meant to be different and personally I don’t like listening to the same type of song. 

This is just parts of my imagination and I have to make a song in its own space. I’m just an unexpected person in general so I have to put that in the songs because that’s a representation of me. I’m not trying to be an artist; I’m just being me. Like, one day I might want to design a car, or be a bartender in Germany for a year, I don’t know. My music has to show that because people won’t know what’s going on. 

There is still a feeling a unity between the tracks, it’s all cohesive. It all lives in the same space but in its own world. Overall, it’s still a project in itself, for me everything is a project. Even if I’m just pouring a glass of whiskey. I have to make sure I’m here present doing it for real as a project.

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You created eight music videos from the mixtape using a green screen, did you have fun with this process?

Yeah so for people to understand the mixtape fully I thought there should be videos or have some type of visual element to it. So, during COVID lockdown I went back home for a while. I got a green screen, set it up in my parents living room and I made the videos. I called a friend to help with the camera and it was just me and director shooting all the videos.

It was a process, but I’m all about the process because now I can shoot green screen videos with somebody no problem. It makes me think about how learning should be too. Because I had a camera that I hardly knew how to use.

During the shooting, we were making each video quicker and quicker. I couldn’t really go anywhere during that period so it was just time to work on the videos and try make them the best I could.

Where did you get the idea for the album artwork? It looks post-apocalyptic.

So, if we go back to the beginning It’s just another dimension to the first project ‘St. Mark Rd’, Which is like a concrete block in a Brutalist capsule. But outside of that capsule is where ‘Portal One’ is. It’s showing people other dimensions for the first project. It’s a bit like a map, all connected dots.

The original for ‘Get Up’ is amazing but to get Vince Staples jump onto the track is crazy. How did it come about?

Thing with me, I’m all over the place and I’ll let people listen to my music because I like showing people the music I’m making. So then one day I just got a message saying that Vince liked the song and wanted to jump on it. I don’t mind collaborations with tracks that are already done and especially taking the art of song to the next level. 

I was talking with my producer about artists who constantly edit and amplify their paintings, and it’s the same thing, Vince amplified the song and killed it, took it to the next level. 

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Terrel Hines has a genuine excitement for the art in everything, even from this call it’s easy to see how his energy rubs onto people. The same can be said for his mixtape, it’s a bundle of creativity with a song for everyone. The 'Portal One' mixtape is only the beginning, let’s hope the wait for an album isn’t so long. 

'Portal One' is out now.

Words: Joe Hale

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