The-Dream Dishes On His New Album, Pursuing A Career In Fashion + Why He Hates The Idea Of Father’s Day

The DreamPhoto Credit: Roc Nation

Terius Youngdell Nash, best known by his stage name, The-Dream, is a man who, like his name indicates, dreams big. The multiplatinum R&B singer and four-time Grammy-winner, who is renowned for writing many of Beyoncé‘s biggest hits like “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It),” “Run the World (Girls),” “Partition,” “Love On Top,” and, most recently, her verse on Megan thee Stallion’s “Savage (remix)” as well as other chart-toppers including Justin Bieber’s “Baby”; Rihannas “Umbrella”; Britney Spears’ “Me Against the Music”; and Mariah Carey’s “Touch My Body,” just released his seventh studio album: SXTP4. The first single from the project was “Wee Hours (feat Jhené Aiko). He fully wrote, produced and recorded all 13 songs on the album. He even filmed and directed his own music videos – with the help of his wife, LaLonne Martinez – during quarantine and from the comforts of his home.

But The-Dream was ready for a new creative outlet, which is why he recently enrolled at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and is taking classes during the COVID-19 quarantine period to master everything from Croquis drawing to draping, structuring and sewing. He worked on assignments and created pieces while simultaneously writing, recording and producing his newly released album, SXTP4. He takes classes four days a week to help him prepare to develop his own fashion line and regularly has homework.

Here, The-Dream dishes on how his work in both music and fashion inspire each other, why he decided to enroll in college and pursue a career in fashion at 42, and his hard-earned parenting advice (he’s a father of nine!), just in time for Father’s Day.

The DreamPhoto Credit: Roc Nation

Have you learned any hobbies/new skills/any kind of surprising things about yourself during the lockdown?

What I’ve learned about myself the most is I’m okay being locked up. Because you don’t really know! It isn’t like we really go through things like this. You don’t know how you’re going to react if those things never happen. So the more I think about it, as it comes to me being in this type of situation, I just feel ready. I don’t feel hasty, I’m not feeling jittery about what tomorrow is, knowing that I put myself in a position mentally to be okay. So my mental strength right now is on 100.

What prompted you to enroll in college and pursue a career in fashion? What inspired your love for fashion?

I guess the idea of fashion period was never the idea of fashion growing up. It was just the culture and what we did. So you know, it was just something you didn’t ever really talk about. You didn’t even know what fashion meant in the sense that there’s this other part to it, or the study of fashion.

Where I grew up, it was about music, definitely about sports, and those are the things that could eventually get you into colleges and get you a scholarship, those are the most desirable things coming out of the ‘hood because those were the things we were presented with. The difference between fashion and sports though, growing up is we were already doing fashion, we just had no idea it was such a thing about it. We didn’t know that it meant what it meant. We just thought we were putting on our Jordans or our Tommy Hilfiger or Polos with Jordans, y’know, that was it to us.

Who gave you the greatest piece of advice about a career in fashion, and what was the advice?

I’m receiving great advice in general every day, but the greatest advice probably happened while I was doing music. I don’t think I’ve received that thing yet in fashion. I think it’s kind of taken most people outside of my circle by surprise, but most of the people I generally am inspired by – the Rihannas in that world, the Kanyes in that world already understand that I am in that young discussion of somebody who could do this [in fashion] and keep it going.

I think that when people see you go into something and come out of it on the other end – especially in the music business – and that you survive it, and not only that you succeed at it and make it a career, I think it’s less than likely that they would approach you in the sense of ‘Let me tell you something to keep you going in fashion.’ So, not to be a good thing or bad thing, just a neutral sense that I think most people feel that, ‘Oh, we don’t have to tell this guy that. He’s gonna go.’ And most people that know me know how I am when I focus on something, I’m super serious and dedicated on it.

You have collaborated with Kanye West, Rihanna and others who have developed successful fashion brands. What have you learned from watching their journeys and what advice, if any, have you received from them on starting your own brand?

Put your whole heart into it. There’s no ‘at certain times’ – it may take a day to do this, which means a day off from music. Which means you owe fashion as many days, because you’re not trying to fail at something you love. Some people do fashion and do music and it’s a hustle, or it’s whatever it is, and some of us do those things because we naturally love it. There could be four days I pushed back music that I probably should have done on Monday, but I know and have enough confidence that I’m going to get it wrapped up by Sunday, whereas I needed those four days for fashion, and to develop my brand, and to develop my way of thinking and develop different techniques on getting my line up right. And so those things take precedence right now as far as time, because I’ve already committed so much to music that it’s just become a form of just a thing I’ve just been blessed to be super, super talented at.

The DreamPhoto Credit: Roc Nation

What are some key pieces you have in your closet?

There’s this one suede, royal blue Versace jacket that’s kind of got a nickel finish to the zipper in the front. I got it from Miami, I got it from Bal Harbour. I haven’t worn it yet, there’s still tags on it – I gotta figure out where, and when, and why to wear this thing. It’s one of my most coveted pieces of a thing and to just say ‘suede blue Versace jacket cool’ – it sounds like ‘oh, cool, high fashion’ – no. It’s just the craftsmanship and how it feels on is just a whole entire universe of a vibe. That’s my most coveted piece I have right now, and I bought that in probably back in 2014.

What are your goals for your fashion line and what’s the best lesson you’ve learned from your fashion classes?

My goals overall aren’t to focus on the idea of what my line is – it’s more so my impact. Like, before I had an album out, I wasn’t focused on my album, I was focused on making great songs and making tracks. Finding better ideas, doing research and understanding what it was, and what I’m doing, and to do that great until somebody is almost forced to ask me for a line – like, “hey where is your shit?” Of course, that’s the shiny object in the end when it comes to fashion, and I’m sure at some particular point that’s what it was to me, until I put it into a parallel universe beside music and said, ‘Hey man – you should do this the same way you did music. It doesn’t mean it comes later or not, it means work on this shit ‘til you can’t work no more, ‘til people have to have it.’ So the idea of line in my mind when 5-10 years from now is not even – it’s a blessing either way to me, but it’s more so about getting this shit all the way right. When it’s all the way right then you can ask me that question again.

How have you balanced creating an album, taking college classes and being a family man?

I put more into what my family sees into me versus just time itself. It’s a unique balance between both the parents and the tribe of all of you to plug and play almost. It takes me a physical sense to move this family forward, and the tribe knows that. It doesn’t mean because I didn’t spend 6 hours with my kids that the 6 hours I spent working on this thing doesn’t mean anything, because if the tribe is actually making sure that the messaging is right and making sure that my kids understand what work is and what ethic means, what it means to do something that you love or that you believe in, then that’s more of a battle for a kid than even just sit there for those three hours and hug on them and love on them. It’s that balance of those two things.

I remember when I grew up, and it wasn’t that I didn’t want my grandfather to hug on me or love on me. In my mind, it never even occurred that that could be something I was missing or not. But what I gained from him – if you had told me that my dad was going to hug on me 3 or 4 times a day and didn’t do those things in life to make sure that there was lights, food, insurance, ownership – just things I get to now replicate for my children – then I’m sorry, you gotta keep the hug. Like, I’d love to hug you right now, but I need to do this particular thing. It’s not just about getting more than what you need or anything, it’s about being on earth for your one life.

Doing something you love and setting a precedent and an idea for the next generation. And for your children that come after you so that they know that, until you make something of your life, it’s like a half gift. If you don’t really accept in the fruits of what it actually is and wake up to do something about it tomorrow, you’re wasting a life. So get up and do something you love. It isn’t about profit either, it’s about making this life the best life that you possibly can, and not just yourself, but for others around you.

What would you like your fans to take away from your new album: “SXTP4”?

I would like my fans to take away from the album just the sense of urgency to stay your ass at the house. I’m here at the mercy of the fans when it comes to my own music. I don’t feel like it’s a job. I just feel like I’m here to walk them through these different spaces in my life – but not only mine, it’s a reflection of everybody. Like when I first started, it was more about “love love love love,” and of course it showed the true parts of me. And I think these last three now four albums, which are called SXTP, it’s not about it being literally about sex, it’s about the conversation of romanticism and the idea of what happened to this space. That somehow the politics of relationships had changed and they’ve become everyday more unrealistic when I think about it. I paint a very truthful picture in whatever this spectrum is and this spectrum of SXTP is more just about that kind of talk. So that’s what I’m painting and I feel like that best time to do it was now. I couldn’t avoid this space in time to drop that album.

The DreamPhoto Credit: Roc Nation

Who have you enjoyed collaborating with the most and why?

Everyone, because every day is a different vibe and a different collaboration. I always miss Rihanna tremendously, regardless of where she is in the world. Even if we’re in the same room. I miss [Beyoncé] tremendously, it don’t matter where she is. Kanye – I miss him right now. I was thinking about him probably yesterday for maybe a couple hours out of the day, just kept crossing my mind. And those are the things that create what your favorites are and who your favorite people are. So they all are. [JAY-Z], Mariah [Carey], they just all have been – I’m blessed definitely, period, to even work with all of them and the people I haven’t worked with yet, the young cats that are coming now. But I’m quite sure I’ll enjoy it all the same because I usually end up having my own thing with that artist.

What song are you the proudest of having produced?

They’re just all my children. I don’t feel one bit more proud of a “Holy Grail” or a “Single Ladies” or an “Umbrella” or “Fancy.” I don’t. My mind just isn’t programmed for that kind of a comparison. It’s just, these are my babies, I love ‘em.

What to date has been the greatest moment of your life and why?

Outside of family – and career wise – it was winning the Best New Artist BET Award. And then if I could slide a second in there, it would be winning the Song of the Year Grammy. Those would be my two things outside of family.

With Father’s Day approaching, can you share any parenting advice?

I would just share the idea of what it means to be with any parent. I already hate the idea of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Like, those are just like every day. All of it really is built on a system to buy things. It’s not just to celebrate a person, it almost kinda gets you off the hook for the rest of the year. It’s like, ‘Oh, happy Father’s Day, I got you these socks.’ Like, what if I wanted socks next week? Or a tie the week after that? Like, ‘No, Father’s Day is already gone, that’s it.’ So it’s in a way I get what you’re saying and to answer it would be that, when you get to that day, to multiply that day versus trying to sink everything into this one day, this one gift kind of day. If you would have asked me this on Mother’s Day, I would’ve said the same thing – to start something new.

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