Terrell Sass is a multi-talented and multi-instrumental artist with so much to offer. He’s a music producer, drummer, and composer. Music is his life, and he could not be a kinder person. Terell is a true collaborator, and this characteristic has contributed to his success. We were honored to interview him. He’s ultra-professional (questions answered in a day)?!?! and always captions his Instagram posts with the tagline: “PURSUE YOUR PASSION.” Sass is super inspiring and it’s also why he’s a true ‘gemma.’
Terrell has been interested in music since he was a child. He’s an incredible combination of raw talent and strategic execution. He produces for musical talents, plays drums, and composes. Sass also has an entrepreneurial side with his apparel company., ‘Drumman Apparel.’ More importantly, Sass inspires others to pursue their passion and achieve fulfillment. When he had a brief moment, Terrell sat down with Gemma to talk.
Have you always been interested in music and what attracted you to drumming, specifically? Did you have a mentor or you “just knew?”
I had an affinity towards music, practically since my birth. My older brother and I were always turning everything we could (Ideally spoons, hangars, and pencils into drumsticks)!!! Drums weren’t Only the loudest instrument; Drums was the most visually stimulating instrument to me. Growing up I had a few musicians that I would watch at the church I was attending. (My father was very active at every church we visited) so that jump-started my “tutoring.” I definitely “knew” that music was something that I was exceptional at and was something that I wanted to do! I eventually got to study with Craig Harbor and Tom Knight at the Atlanta Institute of music and media!!
What was your experience like at the Atlanta Institute of Music? Is it true you got your friend to drive you (while missing a midterm)? That’s a great story.
My experience at the Atlanta Institute of Music and Media was nothing short of phenomenal!! Being able to learn from some of the best musicians and minds in the music industry. My experience definitely helped mold me into the musician, person, and entrepreneur that I am today. That Story you are referring to is very true! Unfortunately, (But fortunately, )I was not focused on making good grades like I should have been during my two-year stint at Colombus State University. I did consider dropping out and moving to Atlanta, but I knew my parents would not let that happen without a plan. Therefore, I began to research and I found out that one of my favorite drummers (and now a good friend of mine), CHRIS COLEMAN, was doing some work at The Atlanta Institute of Music. Since I didn’t have a car, I became discouraged when I found out that I had to physically audition by a certain date to start the next quarter. When I was telling a friend of mine about it, she said, “Don’t let the little stuff stop you from doing what you have to do… I’ll take you.” I knew she had a midterm the day of my audition and I told her to not worry about it but she was not havin’ that!! She said, “Don’t worry about me, I’ll make it work.” That was a true blessing!!!
You produce for many musical artists. Can you please explain why you enjoy producing for others and what characteristics go into it.
There is absolutely no greater feeling than watching an idea and a concept turn into a full-blown song! You definitely have to be a visionary and have a clear idea of where you want to take a song, which makes everything run so much smoother (In my Opinion). You also have to have good communication skills and also understand the talent you are working with– that’s key.
How did you get to produce for Mya? Also, it must have been thrilling to have been instrumental (both as a producer and musician) in “Smoove Jones” being nominated for a Grammy
I was working in the “D-Room” at D.A.R.P. WAS WORKING IN THE “D-ROOM” AT D.A.R.P. (Dallas Austin’s former studio) with a producer friend of mine named Orlando Williamson. We would just take turns playing music for each other. One day I played some music from my Live Production folder. He asked for a copy of the few compositions that I played. After a little touch from Orlando and an acquaintance of ours named “YOUNG YONNY,” the song that I gave him became “One Woman Man” ON MYA’S “SMOOVE JONES” Album!!! (Networking is Important!)
How was your most recent experience with Alvin Garrett? Can you pls. expand upon the creative process
Alvin is great! He is one of my favorite singer/songwriters to work with! We collaborated on three songs for HIS Upcoming album “THIS HILL”. For me, it makes sense to create in bulk when I’m feeling a distinct vibe. It also makes sense to create in bulk when I feel that a unique musical aesthetic since there is no guarantee that the sound will be retrievable in the future. With these elements in mind, I then created music for “Have a Good Time” “Time” and “What I’ll Do.” Therefore, I sent him the idea, amazing lyrics and jump-started to the compositions! “Love is Still the Answer” was an idea that he brought to the table. He sent me an acapella voice note of the melody. I got inspired and created the music around his overall sound. Then he went back and recorded his vocals… AND WA-LAH!!! Now you have a finished album.
Do you consider yourself a “true collaborator?”
I consider myself a true collaborator!!! If I’m working with you, it’s because I respect what you do and respect what I do. Furthermore, you must recognize what I do. I genuinely believe the iron sharpens iron!
Tell us a bit about who you have toured with and how the experiences impacted you?
I’ve done tours and performances with Tyler Perry, 2 Chainz, Rich Homie QUAN, Jennifer Holliday, Danny Gokey and currently Liv Warfield to name a few. Outside of exposing me to different places, touring and doing live shows also gives me a front row seat to what the public reacts to positively and even negatively! I then apply the knowledge that I gain from those observations to my production! It’s actually an amazing learning experience.
There is ABSOLUTELY no greater feeling than watching an idea and a concept turn into a full-blown song. You definitely have to be a visionary and have a clear idea of where you want to take a song, which makes everything run so much smoother (In my Opinion). You also have to have good communication skills and also understand the talent you are working with– that’s key. (Terrell Sass)
You have an impressive work ethic. Do you ever need downtime?
I don’t think that I do!! Since music is my hobby that I’m blessed enough to get paid to do!!! (I do make sure that I go to the gym daily)
Who inspires you in the music industry? Both R&B as well as Rap?
My music industry inspirations are Quince Jones, David Foster, Rick Ruben SIir George Martin, Stevie Wonder, Prince, Pharrell, Sean Combs, and Dr. Dre!
What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into the music industry?
NETWORK!! BE PERSISTENT!! Always be professional and do your best because you never know who’s watching. PRAY! Most Importantly — The Internet is your friend!!! Don’t be afraid to do ‘it’ on your own. The industry has turned into a “Venture Capitalistic” environment.
How do you stay so motivated? Your mindset is incredible.
It’s effortless for me to stay motivated because I’m passionate about what I do. Music is my job and my hobby!! Playing and creating music gives me a feeling that nothing on earth could give me!
Tell us a bit about the t-shirts you wear and new apparel that you offer.
I wear my merchandise line called “DRUMMAN APPAREL™” (If Michael Jordan can be the “JUMPMAN,” THEN I CAN BE THE “DRUMMAN”)!!!! I started this merch line as a Birthday gift to myself. My goal is to get every drumline in America wearing it. We’ve been selling hoodies, t-shirts, and dog tags. We are preparing to release some new products and designs shortly.
I love how you always say “Pursue Your Passion.” It’s Very inspiring. Do you feel this is the path to true fulfillment?
I believe that pursuing your passion is a path to fulfillment. If you are passionate about what you are doing when you can and as much as you can, you are enriching your soul. Whether you are making $0.00 OR $1,000,000. Things we are passionate about get our endorphins going and that’s always a good thing.
Lastly, any upcoming projects that you would like to mention
I’m back with a few artists now!! I’m not sure what songs are going to end up where but stay tuned!!! Also, if you see that Liv Warfield drummer is doing a show near you — Come on Out!! Be sure to check out my website and order your drummer friends some fantastic drummer merchandise!! Also check out Alvin Garrett’s new album, where we collaborate for three songs. Tthe upcoming Alvin Garrett album will be awesome!
Terrell Sass was a pleasure to speak with — An amazing example in going for your dream. On behalf of Gemma, I would like to thank him. Very, very inspiring!!! You can follow him on the following social platforms: