Interview by: Jacki Moon Horne
Lafa Taylor is a rare breed—a true visionary whose passions and inspirations radiate through the music he creates. The Oakland-based singer/emcee/producer isn’t locked into one specific genre, yet he possesses a uniquely smooth sound and signature style of creating raw, bassy and danceable tracks.
Taylor has been on fire lately, adding to a growing list of all-star collaborations with some of The Untz favorites: Bassnectar, The Polish Ambassador, and Russ Liquid. He also recently announced a fall tour with Beats Antique, Shpongle and Emancipator; all aboard the Creature Carnival.
We got the opportunity to sit down with Lafa Taylor after his late afternoon set at Northern Nights Music Festival and chat about working with Bassnectar and TPA, as well as sustainability trends in the music industry and festival community, amongst other subjects.
The Untz: Is this your first Northern Nights Festival?
Lafa Taylor: This is my first Northern Nights, and hopefully not my last.
The Untz: You just got done playing down at the River Stage. What did you think about that stage setup?
Lafa Taylor: [It was] frickin’ amazing. I love being able to play in the heat of the day to people who are lounging in water. It’s amazing; the sound was crackin’.
The Untz: Are you going to stick around a catch any other acts here at Northern Nights?
Lafa Taylor: Definitely, I’m sticking around tonight. I’m excited to see everyone, especially the homies Beats Antique at the end of the evening.
The Untz: One thing that’s been coming up a lot lately, especially at this festival, is conscious hip-hop with lyrics that are meaningful and uplifting. You’re one of the artists that come to mind when I think about that movement. Do you think we’ll start seeing more of this style of hip-hop in the industry?
Lafa Taylor: I sure hope so. I would like to see more live lyricists. I’m actually surprised at all of these ‘conscious festivals’ by all the radio music that gets through somehow…people just playing remixes of some basic-ass material. It doesn’t necessarily need to be what some would call ‘conscious hip-hop’. I want to see a little more content, something that’s interesting. I’m definitely hoping to see more of that, and I think its slowly coming to that.
The Untz: What advice do you have on how to keep that substance alive for someone who may be trying to break into music production?
Lafa Taylor: Always go back to your passions and your problems. Try to work through your problems with your music, and express your passions through your music. Keep doing that and people will relate to your story, if it’s real and passionate
The Untz: Real and passionate. I like that.
You’ve done some pretty big collaborations with The Polish Ambassador and Bassnectar, lately. Are there any other collaborations we should be on the lookout for?
Lafa Taylor: Yes, but its super secret and I can’t tell yet. [We found out the next day that Lafa will actually be touring with Beats Antique, Shpongle and Emancipator on Creature Carnival tour in the fall.]
The Untz: What was it like working with The Polish Ambassador? He seems like quite the character.
Lafa Taylor: Awesome. I love the vibe that he brings; it’s always playful, bouncy and loving. I really appreciated that. We had a very natural synergy. I was honestly a little surprised with how dope the track “Forever Lost” came to be; it’s one of my favorite tracks of the summer. From the response I’ve been hearing from people, they like it as well.
The Untz: I’m a big fan of “Forever Lost” as well. What was it like working with Lorin [Bassnectar]?
Lafa Taylor: Lorin is one of the most awesome, realest, and nicest dudes. We’ve been in the same circle for a long time, so it was cool to finally get to collaborate on something. I hope there is a lot more of that, because we kind of just scratched the surface on the last track we did [“Don’t Hate the 808”].
The Untz: One thing I’ve notice about West Coast festivals is that sustainability and “leave no trace” is a big thing here. Do you think festivals do a good job of fulfilling that sustainability promise?
Lafa Taylor: I think they’re getting better. One thing that’s really getting better is [festivals providing] clear and concise places to recycle and compost. I went to a festival recently that actually had a volunteer that was a sorter. That was brilliant, because I’m sure people who are wylin’ out have trouble finding the right bin. I’ve been seeing a lot of solar and alternatively powered events; although, we’re still burning tons of diesel. I should give a shout-out to the Jenkstars in Utah. They do a ton of events that are all solar powered. We’re doing a good job. We can do better. Lets keep working at it. I think we need to make the technology a better option, rather than just non-renewable resources. I leave it up to the technology makers, and the promoters to express interest in that as well.
The Untz: Is there anything else you would like to add about projects your working on at the moment or anything your excited about in your future that we should look out for?
Lafa Taylor: I’m collaborating a lot right now, and I’m really excited about that. I personally love all music, fucking everything music-wise. It’s a pleasure for me to be able to hop in with all these different artists who have these different sounds, to hop on their wavelength and make gypsy-funk, then make bohemian dub-hop, then go out to Japan and make some hip-hop-pop-rock music. I really enjoy collaborating, so look out for all of the collaborations to come. And of course, check out my Soundcloud, Instagram and website. It’s all on there - I try to stay active and have a constant output of creations.
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