Lafa Taylor At Electric Forest 2015 [Interview]
Lafa Taylor is a very colorful person, which is probably why he was asked to play two sets at Electric Forest this year.
With a musical portfolio as spontaneous as his clothing, he has been sticking out like a six-foot plus man with a plastic pink Mr. T chain. This is probably why other big colorful names like Polish Ambassador and Bassnectar are collaborating with this artist. It is also probably why he was asked to tour with captivating artists like Emancipator, Shpongle, and Beats Antique for the Creature Carnival. And lastly it is probably why you need to get used to seeing Lafa on festival lineups, and hopefully on your ticket stubs.
I had a chance to represent Sensible Reason and sit down with this diverse human being at Electric Forest. Here is what he had to say.
SR: This is your second Electric Forest, what do you think?
LT: It’s amazing. The first time I came it was my favorite festival of the summer. It’s a really amazing place. And that’s why I chose to come out and stay after my two shows and hangout so I can go out and explore.
SR: Compared to overseas festivals and this what do you think?
LT: I think this is one of the top festivals in general. For many reasons a few of them being the diversity in the musical lineup is really crucial for me. All different types of shit for everyone, and one of the biggest things is the attention to detail and art they put in out here. It’s unlike anywhere else. It’s just so beautiful. There’s so much energy making it a beautiful experience.
SR: You did a collaboration with Polish Ambassador?
LT: Yes indeed. It’s called “Forever Lost.”
SR: Because the Ambassador’s music is very directed, and participatory, how does your music flow with his sound and ideology?
LT: Well one thing that I like about Polish is that he incorporates a lot of guest vocalists and he’s a supporter of the hip-hop vibe in general and mashing that with his bouncy electronic sound. I feel like that was a natural fit because I’m kind of in the same vane. Hip-hop of course is kind of my base and electronic is a close second. That with the hip-hop is a very good fit.
You know I have a lot of very different topics and styles with my content. And you know one of those is definitely positive change, and trying to open people up to new ideas, or just open people up to being open. I feel that everything really aligned, and it’s cool that that came about within that track. It’s been really fun to play that track because everyone sings along.
SR: What collaborations do you have going on right now?
LT: I’m working with my homie Aabo. It’s based in house music. Well house music meets R&B, meets hip hop, with a horn section from New York. So it’s a mashing of different styles, you know I’m always about mashing styles together, but it does have that house-y feel to it.
SR: Is that different than what you’re used to?
LT: Definitely! I mean I go many places like I said, but I haven’t put out a collection of house songs before so I’m really excited about it. I played one of the the tracks for the first time last night and it went over really well.
SR: You opened for Beats Antique last tour, how was it to go on the road with Shpongle, Emancipator, and the rest of the crew?
LT: It was awesome. It was like a festival every night. Really that lineup was just ridiculous.
SR: Yeah I saw the show in Chicago, with the birthday cake and all that.
LT: Yes! It was awesome debauchery I mean the whole crew is just amazing. Everyone is just wild and really talented, freaky, wild, it was just a good fit different styles that went over really well.
SR: Who do you see yourself touring with in the future then, same type of people?
LT: A different type of music. I like to think I can fit into a lot of different situations. So I’m really open to anything. I’d love to do something a little more in the live hip-hop scene. Which is kind of a hard scene because there are not a lot of people doing really well in it these days.
Maybe someone like Mos Def.
SR: Or like Kendrick Lamar?
LT: Yeah totally! Or like some R&B, like Frank Ocean, I don’t know, there’s so many. Like I was looking at touring with Opiou at one point a while back and it just didn’t work out.
SR: Yeah I saw them with the live band that would’ve been a great show. So what happened?
LT: It was just logistics basically I’ll just tell you this, it’s really hard to bring a band on tour. It takes a lot to manage a bunch of people. It costs a lot.
SR: I was reading your bio and you seemed to have got your foot in the door over in Japan when you were starting out, tell me a little about that.
LT: I just felt a calling to go check Japan out when I was 18. Eventually my first trip out there I ended up meeting these Def Tech who put me on out there and I ended up being on their album that went platinum and they brought me out on tour through Japan. I had a crazy experience out there for about three years and then I let it rest for a minute.
Actually last summer I started a new project out there called Grown Kids. I haven’t been telling people, it’s kind of like a secret love child.
SR: And who is that going to be with?
LT: It’s a duo with myself and another MC. It’s going to be rock-pop, hip-hop.
SR: And what’s the MC’s name?
LT: His name is Jamil, it’s just very different from what I normally do here and I want to keep it separate and if you’re like a really huge Lafa Taylor fan you’ll dig deep and be like “Oh Shit! He did this?! It’s so weird!” But yeah, I just started doing music out there and I love Japan.
SR: So tour-wise, you are looking to go back overseas again?
LT: Yeah, I did a few festivals overseas last year that were really fun and I’ll probably be back out there again later this summer.
SR: And you’re about to go on tour in Europe?
LT: Yeah I’m doing a show at the Brooklyn Bowl, London, with The Farside on July 9th.
SR: What about after that?
LT: I’m coming back to the states, I got a few spot dates here and there, but really I’m gearing up for my fall tour. It’s going to be a headlining tour up and down the West Coast for about 15 dates. I’m really excited for that. I’m putting a lot of energy into the stage show. I’m going to be playing drums, with backup singers and a couple other musicians.
SR: Where did your musical journey begin?
LT: I started rapping in high school. I had a rap crew, started making beats with fruity loops, got reason, got pro tools, got logic, rode that out for a little bit.
SR: What do you use now?
LT: Logic and Ableton both, rewired. Right out of high school I started touring because I knew what I wanted to do and hopped on the road and it’s been awesome.
SR: So as far as these collaborations go, do you just meet with the artist or do you use dropbox and things like that to trade files?
LT: Polish was dropbox, with Lorin, we met up for both tunes actually. I have a mobile recording studio on the bus, and I’m usually hanging around the bay with it. It was easy, we drove to him and he hopped on the bus. He’s very meticulous with the way he likes the vocals recorded. He is very pronounced and wants things clear which I really respect. So it’s good to meet up with him to get it exactly how he wants it.
SR: Was it hard to get used to?
LT: Not really, I’m the same way most of the time. I’m very specific and a big fan of people being able to hear exactly what you say on stage and being able to repeat it. I feel that [with] a really good chorus, people that haven’t heard it before should be able to sing along by the end of it.
SR: What is something people may not know about you?
LT: Hmmm, I was born in Hawaii.
SR: Did you grow up there?
LT: Only until I was four and then I moved to Oregon, I’m a Eugene Kid. SHOUT OUT 541.
SR: So the west coast thing is going to be a home base run then?
LT: It’s definitely home base but I love to travel. The planet is an amazing playground and it’s really fun to go explore. I just like to go everywhere.
SR: Well it was a pleasure Lafa thank you for the time.