Calgary pop-R&B vocalist and producer Terez was tired of only hearing her male musical counterparts embodying the role of a confident player. In response, she sits atop her pink throne in the latest video for the cheekily censored consent anthem, “Ugh Boy.” Shot in a single day, the video features the Mètis singer giving some unbothered eye-rolls to the camera and smacking away offerings of chocolate and flowers from her dancers. Lyrically, she translates a real-life instance where she shut down a partner wanting to elevate a relationship further into a soulful trap-pop song about respecting boundaries.
The first single from a new EP set to drop this summer, Terez says the song “touches on women owning their sexuality and flips an outdated stereotype of women always yearning for a relationship. Shockingly, some people actually enjoy being single – plus or minus a few hump days.”
Always one to fiercely represent her underrepresented position as a female producer in the industry, “Ugh Boy” is the first track Terez constructed singlehandedly and contains some impressive craftsmanship to the tune of over 60 layered vocal tracks.
We caught up with Terez to talk about the new video, the song censorship Hall of Fame, and Tamagotchis.
What was it like being on set shooting the video? Were there any challenges to pulling it off in a single day?
It was a super fun day, but also super busy. The only down time I got was in the makeup chair. The timing of everything was challenging and we definitely went over schedule. Part of the issue with timing is that I like to wear long glue-on nails for video shoots but don’t know how to ‘human’ with long nails. So changing my clothes, my hair, opening a bag of chips, etc. takes me three times as long, which does not help with timing issues. Other than that we were pretty smooth sailing and the team was absolutely incredible to work with.
What have been some of your musical inspirations? What have you been listening to lately?
I’ve been loving this artist named UPSAHL, she’s definitely been a huge inspiration of mine and endlessly on repeat. Some other artists I’ve been listening to a lot are Olivia O’Brien, Gia Woods, and Maggie Lindemann. Along with these rising stars, I’ve also been listening to a lot of throwback 2000’s tracks.
What was it like putting together your first single produced entirely by yourself? Did you approach anything differently?
It was a lot more work than I expected, but amazingly inspiring to have so much control. One thing I didn’t expect was the song taking on a life of its own. I initially had a different direction I wanted to take the production in but found the song unfolded itself into what it is now. So, as much control as I had in the whole process there was also the unexpected element of surrendering to it.
How long did it take to put together 60+ vocal tracks? Are you going to keep doing this in the future?
I feel like vocal production puts you in a weird time warp where “more is more.” My guess would be that I spent five to 10 hours on the vocals. I learned how to work smarter not harder and found some ways to expedite the process as I went. The recording part doesn’t take nearly as long as the editing, cleaning up the vocals, aligning them, tuning them, etc. I will absolutely continue doing vocals like that; it’s my favourite part of the entire production process and I have so much fun with it. I love that it’s a texture in a track that you can try your best to simulate but will never be as magical as the real thing, which makes it feel like a special touch I can put on my tracks that other producers may not be able to achieve.
We love the title of the track’s clean version – that belongs right up there with Cee-Lo’s “Forget You” as a top-tier censored lyric. Do you have any other favourite cleverly censored tracks?
Oooh, what a compliment; I love that track! Absolutely, one of my favourites is “If You Seek Amy” by Britney Spears. Not only is it a great track but it feels like it’s almost mocking the idea of censorship, which I think is hilarious. I also kind of love the censored version of “WAP,” for the sole reason that so much of it is censored and they made the strongest effort to make it radio friendly.
What inspired you to want to flip the narrative and embody this more typically “male” character in pop culture?
I feel inspired by showing the duality and all the many nuances of women. We’re not the “manic pixie dream girl,” the “girl next door,” or any of these other simplified stereotypes that have run ramped in pop culture. We can be whatever we want to be, including roles that were reversed for men. I think it’s fun to flip the status quo on its head and add a dash of pink.
You’ve previously said that you didn’t want to play this one for your parents, but you did exactly that on your TikTok page, to somewhat surprising result. Do you have any stories about other funny reactions to your work?
I did, and was totally shocked by my dad’s response in that video. I love seeing my friends’ reactions – whenever I have a new song or video I always show it to them over Zoom so I can see their face.
One of my favourite reactions I’ve received was when I played the first demo I made for my breakout group in SOCAN’s Equity X Production Mentorship Program. The Equity X Program is an application-based program (yay for free things!) that aims to close the gender disparity gap in music production, which is where I really got my start in music production. We were going around our virtual classroom sharing demos and I was so shocked at all the compliments I received on my track. I didn’t think it was that great of a track, but hearing everyone’s kind words made me realize how quickly I was picking up music production. It’s a moment that really sticks with me because I was truly caught off guard and was so touched to see people on the same journey as me recognize my growth.
What kind of sounds and concepts can we expect on the upcoming EP?
There’s going to be some heavier topics in this EP. I went a lot more personal with the lyrics and topics touching on my childhood, bullying, and misconduct in the entertainment industry. Regardless of the heavier topics, there’s absolutely more bops on the way! I’m interested to see what sounds end up on the EP as well (future Terez, if you could let us know that would be amazing) as I’m guessing some of the production will take a similar route as ‘Ugh Boy’ where the song unfolds itself gradually. Currently, I’m imagining a pop-punk sound with a dash of R&B – think electric guitars mixed with warm synths and of course some crazy vocal production.
What’s next for Terez? Anything else you’d like us to know?
There’s a lot more music on the way! I would like you to know that when I’m not working on the EP, I’m probably playing with my Tamagotchi. I would also like you to know that you should not under any circumstances download the Tamagotchi app because it will take over your life the way it has taken over mine.
By Christine Leonard
Mixing new wave harmonies with garage-dwelling post-punk, the Calgary-based pop rock supergroup bring their DIY daydreams to life.
By Tyson Lennox
Much more than just a Radiohead side-project, Thom Yorke and co. left Toronto grinning from ear to ear.