The process of artistic creation can often seem daunting and uncertain. And it can take a seasoned mentor to provide guidance to new artists wondering how to get started- especially those with little to no resources.
Creative Muse is one such entity stepping up as an inspirational and guiding mentor organization within the Manhattan arts scene helping largely underserved communities.
Starting from designing enrichment programs in a church basement in Queens 20 years ago, Creative Muse now supports artists and innovators from children to adults, low-income New Yorkers, immigrants, and people of color. The artist-led group aims to share creative skills and “emotional coping mechanisms” to support their apprentices.
Prince Terrence, a New York-based DJ and musician, is also sharing his artistry in hopes to find the “next Jean-Michel Basquiat” and “Debbie Harry” in Lower East Manhattan with Creative Muse. He strongly believes in the importance of accessibility and exposure to creativity, especially with younger individuals, as he claims, “Music and the arts can reach people in a way that other things can’t.”
Now, thanks to a $1.7M grant from the Creatives Rebuild New York organization, Terrence and Creative Muse will be exponentially expanding the footprint of the organization.
We got to chat with Prince Terrence to learn more about his background, Creative Muse, his role in it, and much more.
So can you talk about how and why you got involved with Creative Muse?
The mastermind behind Creative Muse as an organization is Jamie Parganos, who has been a long time collaborator in music projects and events that I had been a part of over the years in downtown NYC. We mostly know each other from being these scraggly downtown club kids who eventually grew up and continued on a trajectory of art culture and community in Manhattan.
She had this organization and was looking to expand as a part of the ‘Creatives Rebuild New York’ (CRNY) initiative. An artist grant designed to fund artists and enable them to work and give back to the community by reinvigorating the arts in the youth in a “post Covid” New York City. We ended up being selected for the grant, which enabled the organization to move forward in a bigger way with the intended goal of supplying art and music programming to underserved communities.
What exactly do you do within the non-profit?
I’m the music guy, so I pride myself in being that person that the kids can look back and remember that I’m the one that showed them the correct way to hold drumsticks, the first to place a guitar in their hand, or the first to show them how to DJ on real DJ equipment. Things that I think are important and monumental for children. I never had that growing up. I had to find my own path to music, but it’s great to be able to supply these kids with the access to creativity that they may not otherwise have.
What makes Creative Muse unique compared to other non-profit initiatives?
I can’t really speak for other non profits because I’ve only been involved in this one. I can say that our team is like a Marvel Superhero squad. We are a very diverse group of artists from an array of disciplines. Artists who are currently active in our relative fields. We are more than just teachers showing up to do art activities. We live this artist lifestyle day in and day out.
Since you’ve gotten your grant from Creatives Rebuild New York, what have you done/are you doing as far as next steps to further the program?
That’s just it, we likely wouldn’t be here without CRNY funding. Creative Muse has existed in prior years but, the beauty of this grant it has given us the ability to fund ourselves as artists as well use our expertise in our specific fields beyond just the stage, venue or gallery. It is so fulfilling and rewarding to be a part of this movement and impact these children’s lives the way that we do.
What has been your favorite/the most rewarding part of being involved with Creative Muse?
Personally, I really love to bring in my music studio gear and just let my students get experimental with it. People thing I’m wild for bringing in my personal equipment to let kids play with, but I love to see their creative gears turning as they get lost in an arpeggiator loop while tweaking knobs and creating spacey sounds with a synthesizer or a drum machine for the very first time.
What can you tell us about your own position in the arts and music world, and how do you utilize your experience within the program?
I’ve lived in NYC for almost 20 years, but I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky. There I played in punk rock and hardcore bands. As a black kid in Kentucky playing punk rock was pretty out of the ordinary. I was attracted to the energy of the shows and making music that was weird, different and emotional.
I was lucky enough to have parents that allowed me to follow that path into music, which ultimately brought me to New York City where I’ve been the live drummer for artists like Diplo, Steve Aoki and One Direction. I see myself in lot of these kids, and it only takes one person to make an impact and enable them realize their talents and give them the confidence and build the resilience that it takes to thrive not only as an artist but as a compassionate human .
What does success as a musician and/or artist mean to you?
To me success is happiness. Are you truly successful if you’re unhappy? Whatever happiness is to you, is success in my eyes.
What are some of your goals both with Creative Muse and your own artistic prowess for the rest of 2023?
Well, myself like many other artists have struggled after the pandemic threw a wrench into the live performance realm as well as nightlife and many other obvious social spaces. While it’s oddly a unifying thing that we all collectively experienced the lasting traumas of the pandemic. I am finally feeling the energy that we are coming back to some sense of normalcy, whatever that means. Bands are starting to tour again, music festivals are happening, nightlife is thriving. This gives me the boost that I need for my personal music projects.
I have a music project called Rare Form that I have finally started playing shows again with. My very first show as Rare Form was exactly 1 week before the city shut down for Covid. So fast forward two years later, and I have two more live shows under my belt. My goal is to continue being creative and expressing, as it is literally the only thing I know how to do.