add to queue
Terry Presume Can’t Stop Listening to the “Drake & Josh” Theme Song
This is “Add to Queue,” our attempt to sort through the cacophony of music floating in the algorithmic atmosphere by consulting the experts themselves. Our favorite musicians tell us about their favorite music—the sad, the happy, the dinner party-y, the songs they want played at their funeral.
In this edition, we speak with the musician Terry Presume, the Nashville-based rapper-crooner whose voice flits from raspy moan to shimmering falsetto in the blink of an eye. What Box?, Presume’s new EP out today, is a testament to the artist’s sonic range: pop-infused bops like “Act Up” are interspersed with meditative homages written for loved ones like “None of This Alone,” rendering the broad spectrum of human emotion in six artfully crafted tracks. Below, Presume shares the music that shaped the record and influenced his musical career—from Etta James and Sam Cooke to J. Cole and Usher.
MARA VEITCH: What have you been doing today?
TERRY PRESUME: Recently I’ve just been in this really meditative state. Typically, I’m trying to capture every idea that comes to my mind create music from it instantaneously. But lately, I’ve been giving myself the room to relax.
VEITCH: What’s changed to allow you to slow that pace?
PRESUME: I feel like I’m growing out of it. I’m becoming a lot more self-aware of my capabilities. I’ve put in hella work these past few years with this music stuff. I decided it was time for a new approach. Now, I’ll have great melodies that come to me, and I’ll start singing, but then I’ll just let it go. Typically, I’d record a voice note on my phone and try and flesh it out right away. I feel like I’m showing myself love by being like, “You can breathe, you can let an idea exist and grow branches. You want to water your plants.”
VEITCH: What was the last song you listened to?
PRESUME: Hold on.
VEITCH: This happens every time. Musicians can’t answer these questions without pulling up SoundCloud.
PRESUME: [Laughs] I can’t help it! Okay, I was listening to “At Last” by Etta James this morning. I was listening to a lot of old-school, soulful, jazzy R&B tunes earlier.
VEITCH: What artists have you recently discovered that you love?
PRESUME: I recently discovered an artist named Cody Frost, I think she’s really cool. I’m also always discovering older artists who were famous in their day, but who I didn’t really know growing up. That’s what happened with Etta James, I guess she’s someone I just discovered as well.
VEITCH: Oh, I like that. You’re discovering old stuff at the same time as the new stuff. Who is the earliest musician to influence you?
PRESUME: It’s crazy to pick just one. Okay. 50 Cent, Ludacris, Usher, Aaliyah, Destiny’s Child, Eminem, Lil’ Wayne, Drake. I can go on forever.
VEITCH: What music did your family play when you were growing up?
PRESUME: My mom played a lot of Caribbean and island music— Alan Cavé, Sweet Micky. A lot of Haitian kompa, reggae, and reggaeton. She would mix in whatever was popping in America at the time.
VEITCH: Do you remember the first CD you bought?
PRESUME: It was 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin.’ I was nine years old. I knew I had no business listening to that, but I’m happy that my mom didn’t object. She actually bought me like that little Massacre joint that he had as well. She was definitely down with it.
VEITCH: What was your first favorite song?
PRESUME: That is a tough question. I don’t know, one of them is “You Don’t Know My Name” by Alicia Keys. I love that song. There’s something about the energy that it brings, it just does something. “Lovers and Friends” by Usher is a really fucking great song. That’s such an unfair question.
VEITCH: Do you have a favorite movie soundtrack?
PRESUME: That’s a great question. Black Panther, definitely. Remember its impact that year? That one for sure.
VEITCH: Is there an artist that you put yourself on Private Mode to listen to? Any guilty pleasures?
PRESUME: Nobody. If I listen to somebody, I don’t care who knows.
VEITCH: I don’t believe you. Who would be your all-time dream collaborator?
PRESUME: Amy Winehouse for sure. Her voice was just beautiful. And I just think that we’d compliment one another on a track, we’d get that jazzy feel.
VEITCH: Do you have a song that always puts you in a good mood without fail?
PRESUME: XXXTentacion song, “Look at Me.” I don’t know, that one always sets me off. It’s been a while since I’ve actually listened to him, but a few of his songs actually put me in a good mood. He does have a lot of really obnoxious music with some of the most who-the-fuck-says-that lines. “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke, and also that song by Pleasure P, “Did You Wrong.”
VEITCH: What would you put on your road trip playlist?
PRESUME: Ooh, damn, okay. If I’m on a road trip, I’m putting on as much savage music as possible. Young Thug for sure. Amy Winehouse, she just has to be in there. I’m not going to lie, I’m that one friend that we’re all just vibing Young Thug, and I’ll just swap to Amy. I’ll be the only one singing, I don’t care. She’s lit. Let’s see, Kendrick Lamar always. Ab-Soul, he’s going to be getting played. Smino is going to be on there. That “Trina” joint is hot.
VEITCH: I hope this is a long car ride, because you’ve got a long playlist going. Okay, what would be on your house party playlist?
PRESUME: For sure Lil Baby, Lil Durk’s going to be on there. Baby Keem is going to be on there. J Cole’s most recent work. He’s one of the guys that I looked up to heavy when I was starting out. You need Schoolboy Q if you’re at a house party. I feel like I got some house party hitters right now.
VEITCH: I think you nailed that one. How about if you’re having a cute little dinner party?
PRESUME: A cute little dinner party? Is it romantic?
VEITCH: It’s romantic.
PRESUME: Oh no! All right. This is a great question. Alicia Keys is definitely going to be getting played. And Justin Timberlake, got to lay it on thick. If you throw on some Maxwell, It’s a wrap. And Beyoncé, duh.
VEITCH: It sounds like you’re ready for this date.
PRESUME: I’m mad ready for this date.
VEITCH: Do you have a favorite TV show theme song?
PRESUME: Yeah, the Drake & Josh theme song. Straight up. If you can keep yourself from thinking about the cringiness, the lyrics are about real, spiritually, mentally divine things. Like, “If you look into your mind, one day you’ll find, it’s all simple.” That shit’s crazy to me. Music’s missing that these days. You know what I’m saying?
VEITCH: You give them more credit than I ever have, so I’m going to have to revisit that.
PRESUME: Okay, I lied. My favorite one is As Told by Ginger. There we go, that one, that’s my joint
VEITCH: That is certainly an upgrade. If you were to have dinner with four artists, who would they be?
PRESUME: It’d have to be Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix, and Lil Uzi.
VEITCH: One wild card there. Do you have a breakup song?
PRESUME: I think I make breakup songs.
VEITCH: What song would you use to describe yourself?
PRESUME: Frank Ocean’s “In My Room,” definitely. It sounds like something that he just made in his room. Its simple, and it isn’t overly mixed and mastered. I just appreciate that.
VEITCH: What’s your go-to karaoke song.
PRESUME: “Karaoke” by Drake. That’s my song! Drake did his thing on that.
VEITCH: Do you sing in the shower?
PRESUME: I love to sing in the shower. It’s because I take a lot of extremely hot showers, so I think it had something to do with opening up your lungs or your throat. I sing my own stuff. A lot of the time, I’ll make things up on the spot and hurry to record it real quick while I dry myself off.
VEITCH: What’s a song that everyone should know about?
PRESUME: “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke. Everyone should know about that song. I feel like no matter who you are or whatever you’re going through, that song just reminds you that it’s going to get better. Even if you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, that song shows it to you. And then when you learn the history of that song, that it became successful after his death and had such an impact on people then, it’s crazy that a song can be so free from time.
VEITCH: Do you have a favorite of your own songs to perform live?
PRESUME: I haven’t been performing recently, but I have a feeling that my favorite song is going to be “Swimming,” on the new album. It’s so personal and it just feels free. What Box? is mad lit. I’m excited to see how everybody reacts to it. I feel like I’ve trumped a lot of the songs that I have out right now.