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Salute Interview: Pop/R&B Newcomer Teraj

As a singer-songwriter, model, and a New York City real estate agent, Teraj is here to show the world that he can do it all and then some. Traveling all the way from Miami to NYC, he initially went North for an education.  As a result, he has become an accomplished model, social media influencer, and a versatile talent.

Teraj has appeared on Bravo‘s hit series Million Dollar Listing and Andy Cohen‘s Watch What Happens Live. He was also cast in Mike WiLL Made-It music video for “23” featuring Miley Cyrus, Wiz Khalifa, Juicy J and Alley Boy‘s “Stack It Up!” featuring Meek Mill.

Not to mention, he’s walked down plenty of runways for New York Fashion Week; and has an extensive amount of work as a model.

Now he’s a successful real estate agent, who’s ready to launch his music career. Teraj’s hot new single “We Got Each Other”, will be available on July 7th through iTunes.

His upcoming eight-track EP has a tentative release date of September 8th.

Teraj would like to this opportunity introduce himself to people are not well acquainted with his work and re-introduce himself as a music artist to everyone who only knows him as a model and a real estate agent.

Salute: Give me the concept behind your first single “We Got Each Other.”

Teraj: So for me, it really just came organically because I really wanted the first song to essentially be like my love letter to everybody who’s been there for since day one. So everybody who contributed in terms of the campaign that I ran to actually raise funds to essentially produce and create the album. This is my letter to them and everybody who motivated and pushed me. The songs about building each other up, fostering a sense of community, and being there for each other no matter what. It can be interpreted as like a love song or interpreted as a movement. But really and truly it’s my thank you to everyone.

Salute: Speaking of the fundraising effort, I saw the page for your campaign online. Where did that idea come from?

Teraj: One of my best friends, he’s actually my project manager, Barry. He was very familiar with a lot of Indiegogo/GoFundMe campaigns and he’s really into it. He contributes to a bunch of projects that he likes, and he really approached me knowing that I was kind of down and out doing what I was doing in real estate. And he was like ‘Dude, you really need to get back to music and here’s a potential opportunity for you to get back into that. Check it out and let me know what you think, and I’ll help you along the way.” That’s essentially how it came about and I’m thankful.

Salute: Is your project funded totally by Indiegogo?

Teraj:  Indiegogo was the first round to raise awareness. Two weeks after the campaign ended I ran a round of fundraising with investors. They ended up funding majority of the project. But it would not have been possible if it wasn’t for Indiegogo.

Salute: What types of music can we expect from the EP?

Teraj: It’s definitely a fusion. The way that I like to describe it is like “Electro-Pop-R&B” because my background varies in terms of my musical taste. In terms of concept, the album is called Defy. And I really wanted to call it that because everything that I’ve done up until this point is really working to defy the odds.

Growing up in the inner city of Miami and the conditions that I grew up in, in the hood and projects. And just being told all my life that this is the life that I’m going to live and I’d never be able to escape that and make a name for myself.  So, I’ve just been working hard ever since I was a child. This EP is the concept of defying what is expected from me. I hope it becomes a movement for someone who has a similar struggle as I did growing up.

Salute: Have you finished recording the EP?

Teraj: I’m almost finished. Still recording, finalizing right now. We’re mixing and mastering everything and polishing up the last two songs.

Salute: Are there any features?

Teraj: No features, but I actually just met a singer that I’m contemplating on getting on a track. But I’m not sure. I think I want the baby to be all mine.

Salute: “We Got Each Other” drops in a couple of days on July 7th. Will it be followed up by a music video?

Teraj:  Definitely. [We] will start shooting the video I hope within the first few weeks after the single is released.

Salute: What else can we expect from you musically?

Teraj:  I hope to start performing very soon. I’m going to be traveling to Canada for a little bit next week to see if I can book [a few] things. But I will definitely start formally booking shows in the fall and winter of this year. I’m really into philanthropy so I want to start brainstorming ways to establish a charity or organization to give back. That’s something I want to do with my music as well.

Salute: Tell me about your background in Miami.

Teraj: We were kind of like nomads. I calculated the number of places that I lived in my life. [It is] 32 places in total. I’ve lived everywhere from [the] Allapattah area, Liberty City, all the way up to Carol City, going down to the opposite side near Homestead, Richmond Heights, and just all over the place. I grew up predominantly in what I think is called the Little River area. It’s around 98th street and 30th avenue. It’s a hybrid of Black people, Caribbean people, and a huge Cuban community all centered in that area.

Salute: That’s just Miami right. None of those 32 places include New York?

Teraj: Correct. 

Salute: You finished High School in Miami and then enrolled at Cornell University. What made you want to go to Cornell?

Teraj: To be honest, at that time I was really focused on my training as an architect. And I wanted to go to the number one school, and it just so happens to be very far from home. I really wanted to experience something different in New York.

My concept of New York was like “Oh, it’s in New York. Easy access to New York City.” But it’s way upstate, in the middle of nowhere. Nothing like what I perceived New York to be. A four and a half drive away [from New York City].

Salute: You graduated with a degree in Architecture?

Teraj: And a minor in dance as well, accidentally. That’s another story.

Salute: What types of dance?

Teraj: So growing up, you could not be in my family and not dance. It was like boot camp. I was always having dance competitions with my mom, my sisters,  my cousins, and my aunts. I grew up embedded in Hip-Hop and then shifted more into the Miami vibe the salsa and lots of dance-hall. When I went off to Cornell, I ended up doing a concert because one of my friends was in the program.

He was like “Yo, you’re dope when you dance in the clubs. Would you mind being a part of my show?”  That happened, then I got a credit and didn’t know. So that automatically enrolled me into the department. And then I got invited to study abroad and it was all paid for. So I was like “why not?” Didn’t really know that this was adding up to something.

I come back from studying abroad and I get an email and they’re like “What are your graduation plans, you have four more credits to finish your minor?” I was like, “What? What are you guys talking about?” And they were like “Yeah, you’re almost done. What are your plans.” And I was like “Really, I can get a Minor?” So I took a choreography course, which was dope. So I’ve done ballet down to modern Indian and Irish step dancing.

Salute: What did you do after Cornell?

Teraj: I ended up applying for almost a year for jobs in architecture. It was a really bad market. Most of my class, like more than 50% of us ended up doing different things. While I was applying to architecture jobs, I went to Chicago for the Summer. I took some pictures on the beach and posted them on Facebook and Myspace.

Seth London reached out to me. He’s a really good photographer here and he was like “Hey, can you come down for a photo-shoot. I’d love to shoot you sometime. If you could make it down to New York City this weekend it would be great.” I looked up his work. Fell in love with his work. Told him I’ll be there. Got on the bus and literally shot with him. He invited me back two weeks later. Then I ended up shooting with 13 or 14 different working models that weekend. That launched a career for me and I moved to New York City the following month.

Salute: How did you decide that you wanted to eventually go into real estate?

Teraj: I fell in love with the show Million Dollar Listings. While I was watching I was like “Oh, I can do that.” One of my friends from college, she was the associate director over at Onyx. It’s a Canadian real estate developing company.

And she knew some people and was “You’d be really good for this. If you go and get your license I can introduce you to the right people.” So I did that, ended up getting introduced to the right people. Landed over at Keller Williams and started real estate business there. And it just picked up really quickly. Within the first week, I had ten leads for people who were buying property. Believe it or not, five months later I was on Million Dollar Listings.

Salute: What do you predominantly sell in.

Teraj: I sell in Hell’s Kitchen, the Upper East Side, Chelsea, a little bit in Brooklyn and Queens. But mostly the Midtown area.

Salute: What you have any plans for what will happen with your career in the future?

Teraj: Building up my brand as much as I possibly can. A lot of my friends are like ‘dude, you’re a renaissance man.’  So in addition to the music I want to dabble in as many things as I can. I have a strong background in acting. Modeling is my livelihood here. If I can get involved in television, pick up a couple of endorsements, build up that charity, those will be the things that I would focus on.

Salute: Who are some of your musical influences?

Teraj: Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Luther Vandross, Brian McKnight, Mariah Carey too. I’m really old school, in terms of new school definitely Beyoncé. Usher’s not new school but yes Usher. Big fan of Bruno Mars.

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