The Utube Blog: Hi, Terra, thanks for taking some time to chat with us. OK, let’s get right to the song that made you famous, “Say It’s Possible.” When I watched your original YouTube video, it stopped me in my tracks. It’s what I call a showstopping performance. I’m sure that many others have felt the same way, given the over 1 million views the video generated and the many people from all parts of the world covering it. Why do you think this song resonates so much with people, or is it still a mystery?
Terra: First of all, thank you! I’m not really sure what it was about that video/song. I think part of it was the stark, honest performance—me in front of my video camera, no frills, no edits—I don’t think people are used to seeing that these days. The rest is sort of a mystery. I wrote it in about 5 minutes—everything just flowed out of me, the words, the melody, the chord pattern—and I think it came from an honest place inside of me that other people can relate to.
The Utube Blog: Five minutes?–that’s incredible. You have a real gift. Now, I’ve read that it was your manager’s idea for you to give a “virtual tour” on the Internet after you decided not to tour on the road. Who is your manager, and where did he or you get such a crazy idea? Be honest, did you actually think it would work?
Terra: My manager/producer is a supremely talented and lovely man named Paul Fox. He made records for XTC, 10,000 Maniacs, the Sugarcubes, the Wallflowers, Semisonic—and many more. I was sitting in his studio one day and I just couldn’t handle the thought of going out on the road again on my own…those solo tours were unbelievably grueling. So the two of us came up with the idea that I should film myself and post … I decided to name it “the Virtual Summer Tour.” We honestly thought that maybe 1,000 people would see them at the most.
The Utube Blog: What drew you to YouTube, anyways? You could have launched your virtual tour on MySpace music or your own website. Why YouTube?
Terra: YouTube was actually an afterthought. I had never used the site. I had an account set up because a friend had made a live performance video of “The Vicodin Song” at one of my hotel cafe shows and he suggested posting it on YouTube. So I did. But I had never used the site other than to post the video. MySpace had recently started its video hosting section so I posted my videos there. A few days later, as an afterthought, Paul said, “Why don’t you post them on YouTube, too?”
The Utube Blog: That was a pretty good afterthought. YouTube’s probably not an afterthought to anyone any longer. By the way, in the video in which you visit YouTube’s offices, one of YouTube’s reps appears to say, if I heard correctly, that your dad emailed YouTube pointing out your video for “Say It’s Possible.” Was it really your dad? If it was, will he get a cut of your future royalties?
Terra: Haha—no—it was not my dad. I didn’t go back to check on this, but she probably said “Chad” as in Chad Hurley. Apparently Chad stumbled upon my video soon after I posted it and then forwarded it to a few other people at his company, including the woman who was responsible for choosing the featured videos. According to this woman, she watched it 5 times and then put it on the front page.
The Utube Blog: No way, Chad Hurley…the cofounder of YouTube? Wow, that guy has many talents–not only running a company, but finding the next great musical talent. Chad Hurley deserves the many thanks of all your music fans. But I think after Google bought YouTube Chad probably won’t be needing a cut of your royalties. Regardless, your virtual tour on YouTube was a huge success, giving you exposure and leading to a major recording contract. But, now with your success, do you think you will continue your virtual tour on YouTube?
Terra: Well, I don’t call it a virtual tour anymore—that was really just a summer 2006 thing—but yes, I will definitely continue posting videos. I’ve been busy in the studio lately, but I plan to start posting videos again very soon.
[Tomorrow: Part 2 of The Utube Blog’s interview with Terra Naomi]