Spring And Life


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Dreaming in Key



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Jerrod: This album, um—like when I, when I first heard it and the more I hear it, I feel like the only, like, appropriate question to ask you after listening to it is, are you okay? Like, is something wrong? Like, like, it's like gut-wrenching. It's both beautiful—it's very beautiful—but it's like, parts that hurt a little bit, you know what I mean? Tyler: Yeah it's—man I was like... 'Cause for Cherry Bomb I purposely was like, "I don't wanna get personal at all. Like I'mma just make songs. This is all just, this is a song." And in this one I was like, "Alright, let me write down every feeling." J: Oh, you started with emotions? T: Just—just, a lot of them was just asking questions. A lot of the songs just have questions, it's just like, "How am I feeling today? Fuck, what if I go poor again? What if it doesn't work?" And then that's how a lot of the songs just happened, just me kind of, just asking these quest—answering these questions, like, so... J: But it's speaking to, like, a mood you were in. Like—like you recorded this one, when did you... T: Um, mostly 2016—like I started to the end of 2015. A lot of spring, summer 2016, and then a lot of fall J: What were you listening to? Like— T: Um... J: Like watching and listening to? T: Pop music. I love—I was, like, listening to pop structure. Uh, kinda just what, like, Max Martin was doing and really getting into what, what Pharrell and Justin was doing— J: Yeah... T: And, um, just noticing, just hooks. I uh—hanging out with Travis, Taco. I went to the club with him and just seeing what people, how people reacted to certain— J: You never go to clubs! T: I hate 'em. But when I would go I would just study, "Oh, that, that bass drop," or, "Oh, that girl loves that part." Just like, "Okay, I want to have a song that has that feeling." So I kind of was like, okay. I wanna see—challenge myself and try to make a few songs that's not like, "Uh, rappity-rappy," or, super distorted, I was like... Last night, I went to—me and Lionel went to like a house party and they, they, all the songs they were playing—"Señiorita" by Justin, "Tell Me" by Total, "Frontin'" by P—like, all these house partying songs. And "See You Again" came on, and it's full of black people, that for sure go to clubs, and they were in there, like, singing the lyrics and I was like, "Oh shit, I've always wanted that." J: To just have black people... dance... T: I, I did it. Yeah, yeah! I was so hyped, and I was—we were playing Jenga and I was being cool about it but inside I was like, "Oh shit—" J: You were going crazy— T: I finally have something that they could do that to J: It's funny because I guess I wouldn't have, uh, like thought about how much like pop is, you know, influenced in the album because, because of like the subject matter. Like, a lot of it is so heavy. That's why I was just wondering, were you in like a place of just like...? T: Well, uh, you gotta feed, you put the—some people, old people say you put the medicine in like the uh, the candy— J: The applesauce T: —Or the applesauce, whatever, so... ["Mr. Lonely" instrumental plays] Like, with "Mr. Lonely" I was like, "Aw dude, I want to write the saddest song I could possibly write and see people go crazy, and like dance to it," it's that. And at shows, that song is insane, and it's the saddest song I've ever wrote J: Yeah it really is—and you dance—I mean it's so hard, it's so hard, and like the greatest, like, bridge ever! What was that—what was that? I don't know if we—I mean I'm just gonna kind of jump into various songs—but like what, what was like, specifically that like... why that transition? Like, why did you think that was like, needed a transit—like was it, like it for emotional, like were you trying to create different moods? T: So, "911" and "Mr. Lonely" originally was, uh, a different song kind of together. It was this jazz take I had that was super triumphant and just sounded grand, and a lot of those lyrics was uh... was in that song and I just took 'em, and just placed them on "911" and then took the verse and placed it on "Mr. Lonely" and added some stuff. And, "911"—the version that came out is the 25th version, it had... J: Wait, the 25th version? You did 25 versions of that song? T: It was 24. The first version was over an interlude song that Tony Toni Toné had. I looped it, sang over that, liked the hook that I put there, made 30 beats for it. It's—and the versions aren't just different type of lyrics, it's literally like... different beats, different melodies, all that J: A completely different vibe? T: Made that, took the beat from the fashion show I did, reworked that. Took the lyrics from the original "Mr. Lonely" and like, implementing it in that, and like, so the original "Mr. Lonely" it's like, uh... A five car garage Full tank of gas A call for every day of the week and it go really fast But it means nothing, nothing, nothing Without you, shotgun ["911" instrumental plays] J: Yeah, yeah... T: Right yeah. That's in the last version of "911"... Five car garage Full tank of the gas But that don't mean nothing, nothing Nothing, nothing So you kept that based on the previous, you just- Tyler: Exactly, so I took it from this jazz song, and I was like, "nah, I want them to groove to this shit," so I put it on that Jerrod: I actually always wondered why that bit repeat- Tyler: Well yeah it just 'cause it was from it was it was from the bass of the other one but when I put it there and drop the beat people I was like "oh people are gonna love saying this." And if you see that shows I don't even say it I just put the mic and the whole -ten thousand people: " nothing, nothing, nothing." And I'm like I figured it out and I- Jerrod: You figured out—that, that feeling that you want, the feeling of just everybody really connecting with it but wait- specifically the bridge on that- what was like- Tyler: Oh oh what the "chirp chirp" part? Jerrod: I say bird- but like, which is the most one of the most addictive things- Tyler: I ain't made that, I remember I made that and it was just the beat and I remember stopping like "I made the bridge that I've always wanted to make. Lonny came by-or Frank however people know him- and he came by and I played it for him he's like you let me go in there Just try something he just started making phone noises and it worked out so perfectly and we was like "alright" and- Jerrod: was it longer? Tyler: no that part I'm just giving niggas eight bars of these chords just so they could want it so they could replay it and left it at that Jerrod: How did you balance out and this is kind of for the whole album your love of chords with-you always talk about and you always say "niggas don't want chords" and that's all you're obsessed with. It's just everything is specific and just- Tyler: I just Want chords and melodies Jerrod: Yeah. and was it like a battle- cause the whole album has chords Tyler: Yeah, I fucked up-well I didn't fuck up but Cherry Bomb was an album full of bridges and shit going everywhere, so I was like, let me for this album specifically add all the chords I like but do it in a way that they can digest. So Mr. Lonely has some of the prettiest chords on the album, but I kinda hid it behind the hard drums and the fast paced rap, but if you really listen it's really fucking pretty- Other: Rolling! ["911" instrumental starts playing] Tyler: Thank you. And I was like I'm definitely gonna-just try to hide it in those and stuff. And 911 even the uh, "call me some time." I was listening to Gap Band and I was like damn, these are simple chords and I love the melody let me try to implement it in this and make it as simple as possible but it still gives me that feeling. So the part where I was like "fuck it I'mma go crazy, I right before Steve Lacy's part when it goes back to the hook and it's like: "dun, dun, dun ,dun ,dun" and I was like I'mma go on my Jill Scott shit and that's my favorite part of that song, just cause it just- Jerrod: It has all the chords that you love Tyler: Exactly Jerrod: Umm, do you wanna... Tyler: You could cut it now [Mr. Lonely instrumental plays] Jerrod: "I can't even lie..." Where does the.. Tyler: I can just imagine a nigga in a wife-beater on Valentines Day like in the hood and like- Jerrod: Is he talking to his friends or in the mirror- Tyler: I don't know who he's talking to but it's a quick shot like "I can't even lie I've been lonely as fuck nigga," just being honest with his homies or something, and I was like man that would be really funny to chant. But it's the perfect set up for when that song comes on. It set's you up for like what's 'bout to happen. It's honest but it's right here and they go crazy when they- Jerrod: It's like so sad it's hilarious. It's like there a group of niggas chanting- Tyler: And that's Rocky. That's Rocky yelling that. That's Q, I think that's Wyatt, that's Lionel, that's Jasper- Other: Ah, don't talk, the camera.. Jerrod: Alright [Foreword instrumental plays] Jerrod: Foreword is ah- ok, first of all, that tempo is very weird. It's like a really weird tempo that you found, was it kind of just like a challenge? Tyler: Well so, that's a loop from this band called Can. I've always been into krautrock, its like- it was a sound that was very European, like Eastern Europe, and you got like Can, The Silver Apples, even Soft Machine, which was this really proud jazz band that took influence around that time. And it's kind of what Portis Head listens to for influence, and it's something I've always liked because it's just so weird and just- this weird drum patterns and these haunting bass lines, and that's a song that they had and everytime I played it I would just rap over it. And I was like fuck it I'mma loop it, add these- Jerrod: Is it hard to rap over, just the- Tyler: Not actually, It's actually just the "one ,two, three, four" but the pockets that they would use makes its sound like this weird push and pull back thing Jerrod: Yeah it feels like your on something, you know what I mean? Just kinda pulls. Yeah and its like- that pocket is such- the pace of it, when you're rapping over it is you do a little bit faster than I would expect. Like a little bit more- why, why that song first? Why that mood though first? Where you trying to set a-? Tyler: I remember making it like "this need to be the first song." Just go in, just so you can see where I'm at in my head, and I remember writing that verse fully like.... "how much shit can I buy, till it gets boring" like "how many jumps can I do on a bike until I'm over it and on to the next thing." And every answer that I had went to the next question, like "was it ever enough." Jerrod: it almost sounded it was so existential and contemplative and it almost sounded suicidal, especially the "if I'm going and don't come back"- do you know what I mean? It was so dark its- Tyler: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That was the end question like "damn, what if I died? What happen? And that's kinda what it was and just to set the tone of like that's where I'm at. And it's not depressed-I'm not depressed at all. A lot of people mix up depression with self awareness. Someone was like "dude this album is depressing" and I was nah, I never said I was depressed. I'm lonely, but I'm having the most fun of my goddamn life. But that song kinda sets that tone Jerrod: Ok, I mean if you're considering death, but it's not from a depressed, sad state, is it from a state of like "alright I've got something to prove" cause it almost seems like you had a thing to prove on this album. I don't know to yourself, or like- Tyler: Well, a lot of people do stuff for the conversation of when they're dead. Like hopefully, when I die people can say "oh he-this, this and this," I leave a good discography behind, but- Jerrod: Yeah, I like to start with every project, I like to start from death and work backwards Tyler: Exactly Jerrod: It's just like, we're all gonna die someday Tyler: I just knew that if this album wasn't good I would be fucked. That's how I felt. And some people would disagree, but I'm like, man I'm nothing right now Jerrod: You felt like that coming off of Cherry Bomb? Tyler: Yeah yeah yeah, cause everyone hated it, except for like, real music lovers who care about drums- like I opened a rap album with a rock song. Most niggas was like "uh." And then "Buffalo" comes and you can barely hear what I'm saying, and then "Pilot" comes on and it's this 80's music and they're out cause they want rap. Then "Run" comes, dun, dun, and then "Find Your Wings" comes and they're like "this is chill," and then Cherry Bomb comes and just punches them-so they're out and a lot of people didn't know how to take it so- But "Find Your Wings" and stuff felt so- I don't even know if I mean lyrically, I mean sonically, going back to your love of chords and stuff like that and you would on Cherry Bomb" it seems like you would have chords and distort it, like it was you were always running from it and covering it up, so that-saying it's your most personal album, removed from the subject matter, it feels that way, like sonically Tyler: Yeah, I fully get that yeah. never thought that Jerrod: It just feels like a real- Okay so the sadness of Foreword that goes into almost the like- I'm going to say almost this cockiness of "Where This Flower Blooms." Do you feel like you were accepting yourself? ["Where This Flower Blooms" instrumental plays] Tyler: So its a lot of things-and I don't wanna take credit-that I was doing that people were like, what is he doing, and then two years later it's what everyone's doing, whether it's the way videos are done or these stupid pop-up things or whatever, and I'm not taking credit, but I was doing that and no-one ever puts me on these lists or respects me in the sense that I wanted. So I was just, and that's why that line is like: "Ain't nobody fucking with T, but that just may be my ego but don't be too cool" because I may freeze, and I'm stuck in this egotistical mindset and I never move forward, and that's how niggas freeze to death, but that "ice, shit weighs a ton, water your garden, my nigga and stunt." I got a flower chain made, with all these different things, and that's what I was talking about, but I was like, fuck these niggas, keep doing my shit, uh, and "tell these black kids they can be who they are"- Jerrod: That's one of my favorite lyrics, is just "tell these black kids they can be who they are" Tyler: Dude, right! Jerrod: Like it's one of my favorite- you had another lyric like that on Cherry Bomb that was just like, "the world is yours little nigga" like "my little nigga, the world is yours." Like I love that- like it's a similar thing like, tell these black kids they can be who they are. Where you saying that to you or the people you see...? Tyler: I was saying that to me to but it uh, it's no-one saying that to kids that look like me, or anyone that looks like me. We had this conversation just wanting to snowboard when I was 12, but someone was like "oh, that's white people shit. Black people don't do that." No, you don't do that, don't put a damper on me and tell me what I can a can't be just because of the way everyone else was that's my same color. And I just feel like I just wanted to tell them like "be you"- J: Who you are is such the alternative of the expectations are placed on like a young black guy growing up. Like you're influenced by kind of everything, kinda all cultures, so do you think you accepted that by yourself through your music T: I knew who I was at like 12 J: I think you rapped maybe 28% on the album. It's like so- T: My goal for this album was to shut the fuck up, and let the all feature be the leader. "Yes, Rex, here sing for two minutes before I come in with an 8 bar on 'Boredom' and then I'll have another 8 bar but I wanna shut up and just let the string section be 2 minutes at the end." J: "Boredom" I think-I found out about it this morning- "Boredom" right now, to me, is like your "Billy Jean." ["Boredom" instrumental plays] T: Really? J: It really is kind of a- seeing people connect with that song... That song influenced... I think I called you and said if I don't know this song is creating an emotion for me or if it's like the soundtrack to something I already feel. Like that's how powerful I think it is T: Well, I wrote that, literally, it was a 5 pm on a Saturday, laying on my back, looking so bored. It was nothing to do, no-one was hitting me back, Jasper was in the other room, bored out of his mind but I didn't see him the whole day, my room was warm as hell because I like the heater on, and there was nothing to eat but dry cereal and I'm sitting thinking "what the fuck am I going to do?" I literally wrote that verse in 10 seconds, cause again, it was these questions and these legit feelings of boredom that I was having. And it was weird to me 'cause it's like... I'm in a tax bracket where I can go do whatever. I have all these cars, I can go drive--but I have nowhere to go and I'm just bored. And it was just confusing to me 'cause it's like- J: You don't understand how you could possibly-- T: How the hell I could be bored when its... but there was nothing to do at the moment. So I was like, fuck it, I'm gonna write a song about it J: Jasper has to listen to that song and be like "fuck you nigga I was right there" T: I wrote the song over the chords of "God Bless the Child" by Stevie Wonder. I figured out the chords, looped it, and had it just playing for hours in my room. And I wrote the verse, which was like a 40 bar verse originally, but I cut it in half 'cause I was like the hook needs to come back. So, at the end of the first verse, it's like "I'm... bored." I did that right when we was editing 'cause it went to the end of the verse, it was like, originally, "I'm bored and getting desperate. Phone is not--" It went straight to a different verse and it was a different pocket but I cut it, because I was like I need to put the hook back in here, 'cause I don't wanna hear myself J: Yeah, 'cause it's a weird chunk, just, "I'm... bored. Find some time!" T: Uh huh. So I added that right when we was editing, finishing, I was like, "No no no, fuck that, put the hook. Imma change the second verse a little bit and like, so the pocket is easier to rap so everyone could say it." 'Cause it was too rapitty, you know, and I was like, nobody wanna hear this deep ass voice rap for that long; let me shut the fuck up and do a hook, so all the white girls at Coachella can sing this shit [Jerrod laughs] T: And, I'm not lying, doing festivals, you realize white people love singing along to shit [Camera runs out of film] T: That's why, the fucking, Boredom is two minutes of just this like... Director: Roll up! [Interview resumes] J: When you perform this album live, you start on Where This Flower Blooms, usually. Is it a longer intro? T: Yeah yeah yeah, so... I wanted this album to sound like a Disney score. Just like, very magical. My perfect little indie movie, and, fucking... J: Sound like the album cover looks T: Yeah, sound like the album cover looks like. But, it turned into, you know, what it turned into. Where This Flower Blooms had this very beautiful longer intro, I shortened it a bit, but, it sound like the beginning of a movie J: It's sweeping and... T: Yeah, I start the shows with that because it's like bringing them into my world and then it drops and gets crazy but... yeah J: How long did you-- why did you trim it and not just go- T: I just wanted to cut the fucking fat. I wanted this album to be no longer that 45 minutes. And I think we hit 45:36 or 46 minutes and I was like, okay, cool. I just want it to be short and get to the point and yeah J: You were talking about questions and how every song is sparked by a... thing. [stammering] My favourite sequence of this-- of these songs, but... uh, Pothole is inspired by something your mom said to you. Is that like... [Pothole instrumental fades in] T: A long time ago she was like, "yo, some people just aren't really as loyal or close to you as you think." And I'm always like, "shut the fuck up, like, what the fuck are you talking about?" Sometimes moms know best and I had to find out on my own, like, oh wow, she wasn't wrong about that person. And I kind of wrote that verse like: "My mom told me, blah blah blah." And, uh... J: So you singing that more? You started singing that more T: Yeah, and even like, I did it in the car like, I drove back to the points where she told me specifically. Like, when you make three lefts it makes it right. So like, I triple left tryna double back. And the streets are filled with clues that she told me J: And that's great, that some of your best-- T: But, how I ain't notice that. And I see some familiars, I see some people I knew, stuck in the cul-de-sac. I pull up, get out, "what up", I wanna help you. But what you want for some people they don't want for themselves. So, do I stay here and try to figure it out, or do I go, and traffic is picking up? And if I don't leave now and get on my path and do what I need to do, Imma be stuck, and (21:36)