The Interview: Trey Songz

Doing it for the ladeeyz with the king of slow jamz.

[T]he self-proclaimed Mr. Steal-Your-Girl (who also ‘invented sex’ lest we forget) has been hard at work over the past year. Since Trey Songz dropped his sixth studio album, Trigga last year, he has embarked on a headline tour alongside Chris Brown and is now opening for Nicki Minaj’s 2015 The Pinkprint Tour. But don’t let Trey’s status as an opening act fool you though, he’s quick to point out that he’s headlined “some of the venues already and sold out by myself” making his move to open for Nicki a far more interesting and artistic choice than an economic one.

Trey’s latest single “Slow Motion”, from his album Trigga (Trigga Reloaded) is reminiscent of his early works, with a soulful blend of his vocals and smooth melody – it’s true, can’t nobody sing a slow jam like Trey ‘Panty Dropper’ Songz. And he knows who his market is, Trey’s doing it for the ladies, telling us frankly that the difference between Slow Motion and the rest of Trigga is that he’s trying to go back “to romanticism and back to telling a woman how good she looks. Not to bash any other music now but it’s very much harsher on ladies”. It’s a refreshing point of view and one not heard all too often in the hip-hop or R&B world that waxes lyrical about its “bitches” and “hoes”.

We sit down with the king of slow jamz to chat creativity and freedom as an artist and what make him one of the more unique musicians in contemporary R&B.

Your last album Trigga was released in July 2014. How do you now feel about the album almost a year on?

Oh man. I was very excited to give the people the album after letting the singles resonate, from “Na Na” to “Foreign to Touchin”, “Lovin”. Having been on tour the past month and a half and even while the album was just being released, I was still making music. So the Trigga Reloaded concept came after having the interaction with the fans and having this experience that we shared together. I wanted to add to it and add a few more songs and a couple more videos. Now “Slow Motion” has come and I feel like it’s been a great run and continuing on the Pinkprint Tour with Nicki [Minaj].

Has your perspective of Trigga changed now that audiences have had a chance to react to it?

When you make an album you are always anxious to put it out. With myself I know I’m always anxious to put it out and anxious to hear people’s reactions and hear them share the emotions and stories if they relate to them or not. After having this, a year run, I love the reception when I’m able to go out and perform a song and I have people singing the album cuts just as loud as they are the singles. It’s a phenomenal experience.

How do you feel Trigga Reloaded stands up against your body of work?

With Trigga Reloaded, and with “Slow Motion” being the lead, it’s more of a fun, good vibe [with a] romanticised, flirty feeling. Trigga, in a lot of places, was dark and moody. Records like “Slow Motion” give it a great R&B feel when the chorus drops, but throughout the verses [it’s] very free with the guitars and the very playful melody. I feel like we’re just coming on a great vibe with these records and bringing a different energy than the rest of the album, while still being cohesive with the rest of the album as well.

Slow Motion harks back to your earlier work. Did you have that in mind while you were making it?

Yeah actually we did. One of the things I wanted to do was to musically make changes where people know that the music is going in a different direction for me. Like the rest of the songs on Trigga Reloaded, there’s a song called “Serve It Up”, and there’s a song called “About You”, they have a great feel to them musically that will remind you of some of my earlier stuff.

This July marks a decade since your first album, I Gotta Make It, was released. Ten years on how do you feel about the album?

July 26th man, it’s ten years [I’ve been] officially in the game. It’s something that came faster than I thought it would. I don’t know. It feels like yesterday that I made my first album and walking into the office and getting my deal, like it just happened. It’s a blessing to be able to be in this position and to be successful and to still be growing as an artist.

Do you feel like you’ve made it now?

I’ve definitely made it [Laughs].

Do you feel like your career has lived up to your expectations?

You can set expectations and you can have dreams. I believe in God and God makes things so much more vivid and so much more beautiful than you could ever imagine. You  have to work in alliance with him and you really have to believe in yourself as well. I’m able to take care of my family and I’m able to do what I would do for free and be loved all around the world for it. I say that’s the greatest blessing ever.

Your last two albums, Chapter V and Trigga, have gone to number one in the US. Do you feel pressure to live up to certain expectations?

The pressure I feel is put on me by myself more so than anybody else. I want to stay true to myself and make the music that I really want to make and not chase chart succes, although chart success is something we all wish to attain. Staying true to myself, I have to make sure that’s the number one priority. Music is ever-changing and people are expected to be certain things in order to achieve a certain level of success. There’s a lot of things that are going on politically in music and to not have to abide by that and really stay true and trust in my team and the work that we do is what I have to do to be successful.

That must provide you a lot of freedom creatively then?

Yeah it does. It’s fun. I had a lot of fun making the Trigga album, and that was what was most important to me. I can go back and record and perform every song and remember the experience. This is the most control I’ve ever had while making an album. I recorded every song basically by myself, even when written with friends. It was just a freedom.

We live in a visual age so how do things like Instagram and music videos influence your music?

I don’t know a percentage per se but I think it’s all viewed as a collective at this point. I think that your music is just as important as everything surrounding it. To be ultimately impactful I think you have to have certain scenarios where stars are bigger than life and don’t have to do anything but switch the music out. I think it’s all a synergy. From your music to your Facebook to your visuals to your marketing campaign to your relationship with your fans to your live show – it’s all integrated into this one package.

You’re opening for Nicki Minaj on her Pinkprint Tour. What brought that about?

I just came off a headlining tour with Chris Brown in America and it was a great opportunity for me to, while still in tour mind-set and still in tour shape, to go from one to the next. The interesting thing about this tour is that a lot of cities we go to I’ve headlined some of the venues and sold out by myself. For me I know that I won’t be able to come back to the UK for a while or surrounding territories while I make an album. I’ve just performed in venues that I usually perform in by myself and I’m able to come back later on and set myself up for a headlining tour while still seeing the union of her fans and mine come together.

What do you hope to achieve with Trigga Reloaded?

I just want notoriety of the project to add to the experiences that I’ve been able to share with my fans on the road. The nights that we sang these songs together, the nights that they post on their Instagram and on their Snapchat and for us to relive that and to add songs to that and to go into the summer and to prepare myself for my next album, Tremaine. I think my fans will take away an added notion of what I’m doing next, like how we spoke of Slow Motion and how it reflects back to earlier in my career. I think the difference between that and the rest of Trigga is it’s a move back to romanticism and back to telling a woman how good she looks. Not to bash any other music now but it’s very much harsher on ladies and I look to get back to the sensitive side of music and I think that the additional songs on Trigga Reloaded showcase that.

“Slow Motion” is released in the UK on April 13