DC-based artist TyFontaine (Julius Terrell) has leveled up since leaving Internet Money this past year.
His latest album, Ascension, not only proves his ability to create infectious hooks and curate high-energy production, but also showcases his knack for using his voice as a force of versatility.
After dropping projects in 1800 and We Ain’t The Same under Internet Money in 2020, Ty has come into 2021 turning over a new leaf by becoming independent. Although he still regularly visits and collaborates with both Internet Money artists and producers — it’s Ty’s show from here on out. On Ascension, Fontaine truly ascends to greater heights, stemming from his 2019 mixtape Waiting On Ascension.
On tracks such as “Right My Wrongs,” “RIP Whitney” and “Dummy,” Fontaine not only belts his signature high-pitched vocals over fast-paced trap production, but doubles-down on curating a sound that is all his own. With winding synths and heavy distorted 808s, Acension is Fontaine’s best effort to date at only 13 tracks long.
Fontaine speaks on his rise and fall with Internet Money, collaborations with SoFaygo and Trippie Redd and more in this new OGM exclusive interview with host Hakeem Rowe.
HR: With COVID calming down, a lot of big artists are dropping music recently. You just had your first ever show. What was that like? How did you feel?
TY: “It was better than I expected. It was crazy. That energy was like something I never felt before. I don’t know. You could literally feel the transfer when you’re on stage. When you turn on a song, and you see them light up and start going crazy — you start making eye contact with the fans and they start reaching out. It’s just an amazing feeling. It showed me how important shows are and how much music in general is missing them right now.”
HR: What song were they really rocking with when you performed?
TY: “Virtual World. They knew all the words, it was that crazy. ‘Inhale‘ and ‘Message‘ too. Then I played a song that’s gonna be on my next tape. I actually shot a video today. But, I played that — it’s unreleased — and as soon as I heard [the fans] — because I posted a snippet of it — it was going crazy. That’s gonna be a good one off my next project for sure.”
HR: What is 1800? And how did you come up with that?
TY: “Me and the guys when we were younger — probably like 18 or 19 years old — just came up with that. It really is just a number that means forever. It is short for ‘High Tide 1800.’ High Tide is basically saying ‘the wave’ and 1800 is a number that means forever first. Altogether, it means we’re gonna be the wave forever, because I feel like, I really try to compete with nobody. Life is just about trying to elevate yourself. Just to get better and do that shit forever, you know?”
HR: I feel that. I also feel like right now, you’re in the state where everything’s picking up for your in your career.
TY: “I feel like that too. Everything happens for a reason and I’m a strong believer in that. I just think everything’s been like baby steps — going up and up and up. I’ve had no big jumps. I haven’t had like those slumps or whatever. It’s just been a steady increase for me.”
HR: When did you first start making music and who inspired you? What were you listening to at the time?
TY: “I started making music at the end of 2018-19. I feel like right before I started making music, I was listening to a lot of Lil Uzi Vert. Man, I was listening to a lot of things though, but I also listened to lot of KEY! His album, 777, with Kenny Beats was one of my favorite albums for sure. He went crazy. That was definitely one of the ones that made me want to rap like that. That project in particular, as well as what I’ve seen and how instrumental he is to music in general, he was putting people on willingly — not asking for anything in return and just making his music.”
HR: With that being said, where or who do you draw inspiration from?
TY: “Myself, really. Over the last week or so, I’ve been trying not to listen to music in general. And if I do, I’m listening to mine, otherwise when I get in the car, it’s silent. I’ll take walks in the morning to just really try and tap in with myself. I feel like a lot of people at the moment say ‘music right now is repetitive’ and a lot of that is because people are just influenced by the same shit. So, I’m just trying decrease that [repetitiveness]. I try to get inspired by the shit that’s around my everyday life, so if I hear music, then it is what it is. But when I do listen to music, I listen to a lot of Young Thug, Brent Faiyaz, Future and then all my friends’ joints.”
HR: What are some things you think need to change within the DMV hip-hop scene? And how do you plan on helping the other DC-based artists?
TY: “I just think there needs to be more. It really is just the timing of it all. I also think there’s definitely a bunch of artists now with a bunch of talent getting their career started and moving and getting their shit done. I feel like it’s getting to that point because the people have the blueprints that are being shown. The blueprint was never shown to us when we was coming up. Like, I started gaining fans from the DMV, and then I started gaining fans from some other places and people just started to see the movement back home. And now I have like I feel I have good support back home.”
HR: I’m big into fashion, and I know you got your own brand out now. What is it called?
TY: “Soname, like ‘Tsunami.’ And that’s not even as far as I want to go with it. Right now, I feel like I have my feet dipped into it. It’s really something I thought about. [For example], I love anime-style like cartoons and animation in general so I was really inspired by that [for the brand].”
HR: You tweeted about leaving Internet Money a few months back. Whatever happened with that, if you could speak on it. How do you came to that decision?
TY: “First of all, [Internet Money, Taz andI] are all good. At the end of the day, that’s my family. Like, those are the people who really helped me come up. It’s all love. But, I would say that if any of y’all are familiar with ‘Inhale,’ that’s one of the songs I dropped that — from that moment forward — we were butting heads on the vision of where I wanted to take things, how I wanted to do music and how I wanted to drop. If you’ve seen how I’ve been dropping lately, it’s just been on YouTube because we would have to wait for label clearances and what not. We just kept butting heads and it got to a point where we we both made a mutual decision. I asked [Taz Taylor] if I could leave and he released me. So Taz released me, and luckily 10k Projects was on board, and now [I’m independent].”
HR: Do you guys still have a relationship? Or was it more of y’all just growing apart?
TY: “Yeah, that’s all that it was, man. Just growing — learning and growing — and just understanding that we’re all in different places in our lives.”
HR: What inspired the album name Ascension?
TY: “Before I signed to Internet Money, the last body of work that got me noticed was Waiting on Ascension. I planned out that project right when I made it, and when signed with IM, it didn’t feel right [for that first album]. I planned to name 1800, my first IM album, Ascension, but it just didn’t feel right. Then I did another project, and it still didn’t feel like it was Ascension. I was working on the new album before the split, and it felt like this was going to be the one where we really pushed it. It felt like it was the best music I’ve been making. It felt like I progressed the most since I’ve started making music and it felt like it was going to connect. I felt like I was going up, and that to me is what Ascension is — going out to reach a light, reaching for that next point.”
HR: Were there any challenges with COVID while making the album?
TY: “Nah, not really. I was making this shit like all over the place. Some of it was in Miami, some of it was here in LA, some of it was in Atlanta. I mean, some of it was back home in DC. I was traveling and I knew I was locking in. I wanted to catch different vibes and COVID wasn’t really holding us back.”
HR: You got Richie Soul and Cxdy on this project, and I saw you that tweeted that you guys had 50 songs that got cut down to 13? Describe how that was.
TY: “We have a lot bro. I have a lot of music because for a long time — probably until maybe like a month or two ago — I was recording every day, if not every other day, bro. I wasn’t really taking any days off. So much music got stacked up over time, so we had a lot to pick from. I had to get a lot of people in the room and everyone was helping cut it down. Shit, Cxdy even helped me cut it down.”
HR: ‘Run It Up’ with SoFaygo — How did that come come about? And how did you and Faygo link?
TY: “That song came about in Atlanta. We actually shot a little snippet video that was originally posted for it the day we met up in Atlanta. I was out there for a week and just booked a studio. I texted him to pull up, he pulled it up, and we made like three songs. ‘Run It Up’ was one of them. Everything just landed perfectly that day.”
HR: You tweeted: ‘I’m not the same person, or artist I was a year ago.’ Tell me more about why you feel that?
TY: “I feel like a year ago, I was taking a lot of advice from people. Right before I signed, I was taking no advice from nobody and just being myself. That’s what really got me to the point where things were fun, and then I was taking advice. For sure, people know things and they’ve experienced things and you should learn from people, but not necessarily in every situation. You don’t have to take it to heart all the time. Listen and learn, but you don’t always have to follow it. That’s where I feel like I was going wrong. I feel like this music I’m making right now is just fully me doing what I want to do. It’s coming out freely and exactly how I plan it. I feel like the energy is just transferable with my music right now, you feel fearless when you listen to it. You feel like you could do anything.”
“You can’t skip the work. There’s no shortcuts. Do the hard part. Do the work. Like wherever you want to go, you cannot skip the work or just try to skip the work. That’s really what is really fucking people over. They get skipped on the work they should be doing. You do the work until it’s your time.”