Interview by Parisa Eshrati
Just a week before Sonic Bloom, I got a chance to speak with electronic hip hop artist Lafa Taylor. We discussed upcoming projects, collaborations, music videos, and much more.
You both produce your beats and write your lyrics. I’m curious, what did you start doing first...and did one lead to the other?
Word. That’s a good question. I guess it started happening simultaneously…but maybe I started writing rhymes a little before I started making beats. I think I made two or three instrumentals and I wanted original beats to rhyme over. I started making very basic beats shortly after I started rhyming rhymes.
It seems like your beats don’t really rely on samples and are more original in that sense. Is that something you intentionally go astray from?
Yeah, actually I was initially concerned with copyright infringement. That’s the main reason I made sample-free music, and then I just stuck with that. I would like to take more time to make sample-based music at some point, but so far it’s been original. If I am using samples, it’s samples that I have recorded myself.
You’re going to be releasing a music video for “Not One Thing” remix pretty soon. Did you come up with the idea for the video, and if so what was the process like of turning your song into a visual concept?
The video concept actually was a collaboration with Kieran Boberian, who is a brilliant mind recently transplanted from Canada to Los Angeles. We knew we wanted to make a music video from some track off the album, and we started throwing ideas back and forth. He had some really amazing ideas. One idea was that he wanted to paint a set that was entirely one color. We actually did that three times – so there are three different sets in completely different colors. It turned out amazing. It was a really fun process working with him. He has really amazing ideas and we work really well together.
I saw on your Facebook that you reached out to fans to help out with the set design. Did some of your fans end up getting to help with the project?
Absolutely, friends and fans that are now friends. A lot of people stepped up to make this video possible. That was beautiful for me to see all the homies coming out. I don’t know how many people it took to make the video…somewhere around 30 or 40? It was awesome to see people step up and offer their skills.
That track, "Not One Thing", was from your first full length album since 2006. I’m curious what were you doing between those years, and what guided you back into doing music full time?
I kind of took a break. I went to Japan and had some success over there. I was starting to gain a little bit of fame. I got my first taste of fame out there. I was in my early 20's and at the time Michael Jackson had just passed away. There were a lot of people talking about how he never really had a regular life due to always being in the spotlight. That had a big impact on me, and I kind of decided that I wanted a few years to be a regular dude and not be famous. That ended up lasting longer than I planned. It took me awhile to really get back into the flow of producing music every day. I honestly just am getting back into the swing of that where almost every day I’m in the studio working on something. It feels great to be back. I love music. I don’t know how I ever went without it.
I read that you’re in the midst of doing an R&B house EP. How long have you been working on this project, and how did it come about?
That collaboration is with my homie Aabo. Initially we had made a track on my last album called “Think of You” which was kind of in the same vain as this EP is going to be in. We’re both big fans of house and decided that we wanted to make a whole EP centered around that sound. We’ve been working on it for longer than we planned to. I guess it’s been about a year. It’s evolving into a really amazing project. We’re going to be in the studio this Friday with an amazing r&b vocalist who is well known...and I can’t tell you their name. We’re also working with an amazing horn section out of New York that’s lacing up all the tracks with horns. So we’re going back and forth with them and finalizing all the horn lines. It’s turning into a really unique project and I’m really excited about it.
Could you give us some hint or maybe like, an encoded message, about who this collaboration is with?
The horns I can tell you are from this amazing group EMEFE. Aaron, aka Aabo, and I have been a big fan of their music and particularly their horn arrangements for awhile now. We really like a track called “Stutter”, that’s kind of the first track we fell in love with. I can release that much! The female r&b vocalist…let’s just say she’s from the bay area and had a song recently featured on a Victoria’s Secret commercial.
Sonic Bloom is just around the corner. What are some things you’re looking forward to from this festival?
Man, I’m super excited to get back out to Sonic Bloom. It’s been two years and I always have an amazing time out there. It’s on new grounds this year which is really exciting. From what I’ve seen from the promotion it looks like they’re putting in a lot of extra energy to make it an amazing experience. It looks like they have a bunch of art installations, it’s on beautiful grounds, there will be a bunch of great workshops, speakers, yoga, etc. etc. The lineup is awesome, but I’m personally really excited to see Talib Kweli. I feel like these days really good hip hop doesn’t’ get a lot of love from a lot of these electronic music festivals, so it’s really refreshing to see someone like Talib on the lineup. Of course all the regulars I’m really excited to see, but Talib really sticks out for me.
Speaking of festivals, you’ll be hosting an attempt to break the world record for the world’s largest hug at Electric Forest this year. Can you tell me about how that idea came about, and why you think it’s an important record to break?
I will be hosting that and I’m super excited for that. It’s an attempt, of course, we haven’t broke it yet. It was dreamt up by initially this man named Tom, I’m not exactly sure of all the details on how it came about besides that they’ve been working on it for two years. They thought of me as the perfect emcee to emcee the attempt at the largest group hug [laughs]. It’s really an honor to host that. What a beautiful thing. Everyone needs hugs…world-wide!
Finally, can you tell us some other things we can look forward to from Lafa Taylor this year?
I’m really excited to start this thing called Magic Mondays where I’ll release a piece of music every Monday, or art and videos and things like that. That will be starting very soon, in the next few weeks, and you can find that on my website under the “MM” tab. I haven’t released music consistently in a long time, as I said I was kind of stagnant for a while, so I’m excited to be consistently giving people something to kind of know where I’m at musically these days.
For more information on Lafa Taylor:
All interviews posted before October 2015 were originally recorded for KAMP Student Radio.