If there’s one thing that runs through the MACG Community bloodline, it’s a pervasive air of determination and ambition. No matter what the goal, every member of MACG has something they’re reaching for, something they’re striving to attain while navigating through a world of instant gratification and visibility.
Terrence “TJ” Cummings is a member of the MACG Community who strives everyday to not only reach, but push his dreams further. His interview was telling, a conversation that while between colleagues was no less impassioned.
However, even despite that passion, being a writer doesn’t always yield the returns we’d like. We have to not only feed our souls with the art we create; we must feed our bodies in order to ensure those dreams have a full chance at coming to fruition.
“What’s your job outside of MACG?”
“I’m a radiologic technologist specializing in x-rays and MRIs. I’ll be working on CT scan MRIs soon.”
From the moment we begin our conversation, it’s easy to tell that TJ has a great deal of passion, no matter what he’s doing. It may not be his dream, but he is no less driven to do his absolute best no matter his environment. However, it’s no secret that as a creative, his heart and mind are undeniably tied to words and the magic they can create.
“What literature that you’re currently invested in?”
“I love fantasy. Ever since I was a child I’ve loved it. Fantasy, anything that can transport you to another world and you can use your mind’s eye … to envision that and kinda look around mentally and see the characters and see how the interact and basically walk through walls of another world, or how I like to put it. Fantasy like “Artemis Fowl.” I didn’t get to read the last couple books. “Inheritance Cycle.” I’ve read all four. I love them so much.”
It’s no surprise, then, that the one thing aspect of his life he had more time for is is writing.
“If I could leave the tea I’m about to spill and just be able to write, whether it be for magazine or creatively, that would be great.”
There’s a bit of lament in his voice, a yearning to be able to tie himself to the words he loves so much full-time. Because so much of his life is focused on his job, it’s understandable, that longing. However, he isn’t at all resentful. He doesn’t bemoan the life he has to live until he can make writing his job. But he admits there are times when he needs to decompress, unwind from the daily ins and outs that take him away from writing. It’s at this time we come out of the stars, bring the interview back down to earth. His ambitions are high, but sometimes he needs a bit of grounding to keep him sane, keep him honest.
“What do you do to completely take your mind off your job?”
With a laugh he says, “Tea convos.” There’s no doubt a creative forced to trudge through the trenches of an office setting finds his solace in some good old-fashioned gossip. But in all seriousness, there’s one thing that really keeps his spirit at ease and helps him deal with the stressors of the daily grind. “Talking to my parents helps take my mind off my job. Because of things that happened in Atlanta, three of us live in the medical field. My father works in business, so I don’t expect him not to know anything medical because he reads all medical journals.”
Then there are his creative outlets, those things that feed his soul and keep his diverse talents sharp. “Making beats,” he says after a beat. Of course writing would be one of the most pertinent destressors in his life. “When something makes you mad, you can pull out a notepad and let out all of your ire. The neater the more upset. The messier, the more calm,” he adds, a bit of humor darkening his tone. Speaking of his diverse talents, TJ has put his visual acuity to task in the past, using his creativity to envision some truly marvelous aesthetics. “Making jewelry,” he adds emphatically. “It’s very calming and relaxing. For four years, that was my little business that I’m still making an effort to grow.”
Even with all his ambition, all the projects he has lined up for himself, TJ has the same insecurities most of us face. Living up to expectations, the desire to live up to a standard that many of us struggle to even imagine. When asked about a goal outside of his job or with MACG, he was blunt and hit on something a little close to home for us all: “Getting 100 pounds of this six-foot-four frame.” Without an ounce of irony and a rueful chuckle says, “I had to go there and be honest with it.”
But that’s par for the course for anyone who’s taken on the identity of an artist. Honesty is key to exploring the depths of one’s self and one’s creativity. As a self-made producer of sorts, TJ finds a great deal of inspiration from a wide range of artists. While he does boast an astute knowledge and love of Korean pop music, he’s no stranger to the broad appeal of pop all pop music, evidenced by the five artists he’s sure he could never go without. The first of which garners an ebullient burst of adoration. “Stan Walker. Oh my goodness. When I tell you ….” He trails off, no small amount of awe coloring his voice. He waxes almost poetic with just how much he admires the young Australian artist.
He lists Alexandra Burke, Christina Aguilera, Greyson Chance and the Pentatonix as further influences. We take about ten minutes out of our conversation at the mention of the latter group, rifling through some of the more magical performances the a cappella quintet have offered adoring audiences around the world.
As far and wide as his musical interests take him, it’s only natural to want to know where he’s always wanted to travel. His answer, as with every other aspect of this interview, is honest and full of candor.
“London. My mother wanted to go, and we finally got to go. We went and saw where her mother’s from, which is Kingsbury. We walked where she usually went to school, saw her old house where she used to live in. She took a picture sitting on the lion in Trafalgar Square. My brother climbs up, and I just thought, there’s no way!”
He takes a moment to share a personal story — a story of first love. “She told us the story of how she and my father met. She took a briefcase to him for her cousin because my father and my mother’s cousin were best friends. In the briefcase was a note that said, ‘Look out for my cousin in the city.’ When she met her cousin and heard my father’s voice for the first time, she said, ‘Yes, this is mine.’ Many years after that, they contacted each other again. Yet they were never in same country during their courtship. Their courtship consisted of letters passed back and forth. It’s been 30 years this year.”
His keen interest in where he comes from, his desire to explore his future, one has to wonder who in his life has influenced him to continue to push for more, to help him realize his path.
After a moment of reflection, he answers, “My father.” From there he’s measured, trying to truly articulate just what this man — the same man his mother knew with just an utterance was the one — has done to give him drive and focus. “He is the entrepreneur of all entrepreneurs. He owned an airline company that ended up not going so well, but instead of quitting, he spent almost my entire life getting business deals, going on to the next thing. He’s been working for 23 years. Every time he’d get just so close to touching it, something would happen, but he never gave. He kept going. He’s got so much perseverance. He influenced me to never give up. If I really want something, I make it work.”
With this drive, this undeniable desire to make things happen for himself, TJ came to MACG, eyes wide and stomach full of hunger. His creativity has only blossomed, having released multiple EPs and albums during his tenure, as well as giving vision and scope to some of his favorite artists. He’s not afraid to reach for his goals, the only limit being his imagination.
You can find more of TJ’s work on his Soundcloud page.