This interview was first published in PETRIe's E-Magazine issue #5.
Grace Carter: Can you tell us a bit about who you are? Your background, etc?
Tazer: My name is Tazer. I like food, music and movies (in that order). I'm 24 years old and I'm an artist hailing from the mean streets of Oxford. It was hard out here as a kid, so I spent most of my days indoors on the computer - this was also partially to do with the fact that my Dad ran a computer store.
Over time, however, computers just became a natural part of my life. Whilst my friends were outside on bicycles, I was inside trying to master programs or creating stuff on Photoshop. It sounds sad really, but it has a lot to do with who I am now.
My household was also very influenced and driven by music - artists such as Michael Jackson (my childhood hero), Biggie Smalls, Tupac, Sting, Otis Redding, Erykah Badu and many more were played on a daily basis. This also essentially became a part of me, although I didn't know it yet.
It wasn't until I went to University that I knew how much I loved music; I mean, I finally got to see the effect it had on people on a mass scale as I didn't go clubbing before. This is when I thought, "I want to do this." So, on one fine winters day, I jumped on to the Internet and made the decision to order a pair of decks (horrible cheap ones at that).
When they arrived, I literally sat in my room for a week regretting the decision I had made. However, I stuck at it and I actually managed to teach myself how to DJ. Crazy right? You hear of people teaching themselves to ride a bike and things like that, but believe me, teaching yourself how to DJ is a whole different story. Eventually I started getting bookings and becoming more and more popular within that ‘scene’. I was already a massive fan of house music, so when I realised that I should actually be playing my own stuff like most other House DJ's, I said to myself, "I'm going to make a track."
And this is where all that stuff I was saying about computers comes in… I thought to myself, "Tomi (that's my real name), it's time to teach yourself how to produce." So I downloaded the most obvious production software and guess what? I sucked. But, I stuck to it and eventually, I realised that it's not as hard as it seemed. A few years later, and I'm where I am now.
GC: You recently made Zane Lowe’s coveted Future Radio 1 playlist and have been labelled as ‘one to watch’ for 2015. Your single “Wet Dollars” was also championed by BBC 1xtra as one of the biggest club records of 2014. How did this all feel? Are you feeling under any pressure now?
T: It's crazy - I never actually predicted any of this happening, so therefore I didn't expect much. However, because I feel I have achieved so much, I actually don't feel any pressure at all at the moment. I'm just trying to do ‘me’, which is something my manager has encouraged from the get-go.
But, in terms of how all my achievements have made me feel, I am grateful. The support has been spectacular from my label Black Butter and also from the people around me. I wouldn't say that I'd change anything... Well, maybe apart from a few nights I spent watching Netflix instead of making music.
GC: You worked with American rapper and singer-songwriter Tink (Trinity Home), whose debut album is due to be released this year from Timbaland’s Mosley Music Group label, on the track “Wet Dollars”. How did this collaboration come about and how did it feel to be working with her?
T: Trinity (I only discovered this is her name like a week ago) is amazing. A lot more talented than people give her credit for. She is also very humble. I am honoured to be able to say that I've worked with her.
In terms of the collaboration, I am pretty sure that it was my AR [artist and repertoire coordinator] James Harwood that suggested it first. He said something along the lines of "I've got a sick idea..." - next thing I knew, we had a demo verse from Tink and when I heard it, I knew it was something that we had to make happen.
GC: Did you find yourself learning anything from working with Tink?
T: Yeah, ultimately what I took from her was ‘be calm, be yourself and keep those you love around you’. She always talks about her family and she also takes her friends on the road with her; like her childhood friends. This is something that I think is key to being true to yourself. Moreover, she is always chilled! Like, in every situation, she is chilled out! People have said this about me before but I want to be like her. Cool.
GC: Are there any other collaborations you would like to do in the future?
T: I've said this a ‘mazzillion’ times and everyone looks confused when I tell them, but, yeah, Rizzle Kicks. I have a feeling making a track with them would be dope. Also, there's this rapper from Canada… you may have heard of him. Aubrey Graham? Yeah, I think he is doing alright for himself… but a Tazer wouldn't hurt *laughs*.
GC: How would you describe your sound?
T: I actually stumble every time I am asked this question but, for the first time, I think I can answer. I would describe my sound as energetic and true… true to myself and my roots in music while still maintaining the energy that I love in music.
GC: What do you feel the UK music industry is missing currently and how do you hope to fill this gap with your work?
T: The UK music industry is solid right now. When you look at the things that artists such as Skepta, Adele, Rudimental and Disclosure are doing, you have to admit it. It's going pretty good - but, I do feel that there is still a massive disconnect between the music that is heard in the real clubs and the music that we hear day-to-day. This is a gap that I hope to bridge.
GC: Who are your music influences?
T: Earlier, I said Michael Jackson was my childhood hero. I lied, because he is still my hero to this day… so he is at the top of my list. Others include the amazing aforementioned Disclosure, Gorgon City, Kanye West, Drake, Dr. Dre, Erykah Badu, Jamie Jones, Waff and many more… too many to list.
GC: When you’re not producing or mixing music, what do you get up to?
T: I spend a lot of time with my girlfriend being all loved up and generally chilling. When I'm not with her, I'm usually with my main man Francis plotting for how I'm going to take over the world or with my Barber, Alex, trying to debate life. Last, but not least, I try to be with my family as much as possible. Without them, I actually would not be who I am now… But, if they are annoying me, I'm probably eating, watching a film, at the gym or buying new music… Plus, a little bit of Formula 1 on the weekends! #TeamLewisHamilton
GC: What does the future hold for you? What’s your goal?
T: I want to become renowned for my sound... like someone that is synonymous with the genre. That is ultimately what I want for the future... And maybe a couple fast cars *laughs*… But yeah, everything is looking good right now. After the launch of “Wet Dollars”, I should be hitting with another single and maybe some collaborations with some very talented artists such as Raphaella (Google her, she's sick…) who is undoubtedly a future star. Also I am going to be on some very interesting line-ups this year, so look out for me!
Words: Grace Carter
Images source: Black Butter Records