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Trey Songz interview

Lynda Moyo meets the elusive R&B lothario ahead of his Manchester O2 Apollo show...

Written by . Published on April 28th 2011.

Trey Songz interview

TREY SONGZ has fast become the prototype for any young, aspiring male R&B artist. He has all the mystique of the Milk Tray man combined with the innocence of a young Michael Jackson - and some of the moves to boot.

I loved rap and I loved to sing as well but neither were things I could see happening for me professionally. Just from a reality standpoint, being a small kid, from a small town I couldn’t see it being possible.

Then there’s the ability to sing love songs pitch perfectly whilst flashing his designer abs to all and sundry as though curating an art exhibition. Men want to be him, women want to be with him...oh and Jay Z has him in his phonebook too. It’s a hard life.

A man of few words and lots of lingering looks, Lynda Moyo briefly met up with R&B’s young dream to talk about life in the fast lane...

You were reluctant to become a singer in the beginning. Are you enjoying it now?



It’s not that I didn’t enjoy it or that I wasn’t a big R&B connoisseur. When you’re raised where I was and how I was, hip-hop dominated the radio. I knew every hip hop song and R&B song on the radio so that’s an indication of my love of music. I loved rap and I loved to sing as well but neither were things I could see happening for me professionally. Just from a reality standpoint, being a small kid from a small town, I couldn’t see it being possible.

When did you realise it was possible?

I started getting really into it and then I met Troy Taylor. He believed in me early on. He said I had ‘it’. He took what was raw talent and helped me to hone the craft and my love grew for it. He would make me CDs for me with Stevie Wonder, Prince, Michael Jackson, Aaliyah, Aretha Franklin, Sting and I would have to listen to them and study the different harmonies, tones of voice and backgrounds. It was literally like a process. I studied music and it’s given me a sense of love and appreciation for it.

Had you not have pursued music, what do you think you’d be doing now?

I’m not sure. When I found a love for this it was like nothing else. I used to play basketball when I was a kid and that’s something I loved as much as this but that dream faded when the music took off.

You came up with the stage name, Trey Songz. Did you have many alternatives when you were thinking up that one?

That’s actually the first name I came up with. One of the first CDs I did had ‘Trey songs’ written on it, so I thought, that’s what I’m gonna be – Trey Songz. Nobody liked it at first. It was hated by my family and friends, but I stuck to it.

Your last single ‘Can’t Be Friends’ is reminiscent of a young R Kelly. Is he one of your idols?

IMG_8690.JPGYeah, he’s a big inspiration of mine. It’s funny you say ‘Can’t Be Friends’ though. That’s one of the songs that doesn’t remind me of him out of so many. I’d say ‘Love Faces’, ‘Neighbours Know My Name’ – there are so many.

Who are your other musical influences?

He was the main one as far as R&B goes. I really wasn’t into R&B that much in the beginning. I was into hip hop - Jay Z, Biggie.

If there was one song you wish had been written for you, what would it be?

‘There Goes My Baby’ by Usher.

Speaking of Usher, there are lots of very successful, young R&B males in the charts at the moment. What sets you aside from the likes of Usher, Ne-Yo, Jason Derulo, Chris Brown, Taio Cruz and the rest?

I think I sing more R&B than any of those guys. Although we’re all R&B singers the majority of R&B from those men is probably found on album cuts.

Do you feel that you had to step away from R&B slightly to make it in the mainstream charts?

No, I think I’ve kept true to my original style.

You’re on Twitter (@TreySongz). Would you say it has given you more control over your career?

It gives me a different avenue to reach my fans and promote. It’s more personal. It’s different to the regular structured way of getting music out and communicating with the fans. The interaction is a whole different thing than it was years ago. Even with MySpace, I used to put out mix tapes back in ‘05 and ‘06. I definitely use those social networks to my favour.

And dispelling rumours too? There was some reported ‘beef’ between you and Chris Brown a while back that you sorted out on Twitter.

IMG_8676.JPGYeah - it’s good for speaking your mind about anything.

You’re already the face of Rocawear. Are you planning to do more things outside of singing, or do you think too many singers are diverting from music?

I think that’s totally taking advantage of the situation at hand. It’s extra marketing and building of the brand so who knows.

What can fans expect from your live show? This is the second time you’ll be performing in Manchester in three months.

The last time I was here, it was with Ne-Yo. It was a 40 minute set. Tonight it’s an hour and half. It’s definitely more of me, more intimate, a smaller venue. I just want to give them a great show.

You’re known for being very raunchy on stage. I take it you’re not in a relationship?

Haha...even if I was, I would still be the same on stage.

Really? You’re girlfriend wouldn’t mind you gyrating over a female fan?

Well... she would have signed up for this.

So the Trey on stage is the same as the Trey off stage then - no alter egos?

There’s a difference between the two but it’s the same person. Everybody has different personalities within them. I don’t think you need to name them or give them different lives. It’s within everybody.

Well, you do have a few nicknames though. There’s Trigga of course...

That’s just what people call me...

And you sing ‘It’s Mr Steal Your Girl’ at the beginning of your song ‘Bottoms Up’ with Nicki Minaj. Who is ‘Mr Steal Your Girl’ then?

Oh.That’s me too. (laughs)

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