First Look Friday: Fly Along The Funky Astral-Plane With Tay Sean
Tay Sean photographed by Victoria Kovios for Okayplayer
When you hear someone talk about Seattle what comes to mind? Big Foot? Maybe how Kevin Durant should still be playing basketball there? Would you say that it is the home of one of the best experimental hip-hop artist in the country? If not, you will after being introduced to the sounds and styles of Tay Sean. The 29-year-old vocalist, keyboardist and visual artist has been lighting up the boards as part of the Cloud Nice collective, a group whose membership includes THEESatisfaction, Seven Davis, Jr. (Ninja Tune) and Nacho Picasso. As a contributor to the growing culture in Seattle, Tay Sean’s tracks like “Higher Vibrations,” his remix of Dam-Funk‘s “I Don’t Wanna Be a Star” and “Supramundane” serve as a soundtrack of sorts to those looking to experience something different with their musical experiences.
The hype and enthusiasm for his upcoming solo album, Leavings, has helped to place him on stages with some of the best and brightest in music. From Snoop Dogg to Thundercat, Tay Sean’s live synth-rap performances have elevated him to a level untouched by other independent artists in his weight class. Add to the mix that Tay Sean is imbued by the cosmic funk, creates introspectively intriguing sounds on a whim and can seem to know the future of melody just by his imagination — and he is a thoroughbred original worth checking out. Having concretely established himself as an ambassador of Seattle music, we are proud to bring Tay Sean’s story to the Okayplayer audience. Inspired by his journey, we talk with this week’s First Look Friday subject about his time with Shabazz Palaces, why Leavings should make you stay and press play and what obstacles he has overcome in his musical career.
You can get an early listen to Leavings below, and be sure to enjoy the “funked out future-jazz astral projectile” when it drops on September 20th [pre-order here!].
Okayplayer: To music snobs the world over, you are making an impact on both sides of the U.S. What is it that those in Seattle are seeing and hearing that the rest of the world has yet to discover?
Tay Sean: We have incredible talent here. I get excited for a Shabazz album the same way I do for a Frank Ocean album. Erik Blood’s Lost in Slow Motion is one of my favorites this year, local or national.
I don’t really know how the rest of the world views Seattle, or if we’re even a blip on the radar. I get the sense that our music scene is kind of slept on, but maybe that’s what makes it cool.
OKP: For those who have a passion for music, they honed their skills and practiced their craft. Who are your most cherished influences in music and why?
TS: Michael Jackson. When I was like 4 years old, my older brother and I had Moonwalker on VHS, and we used to run around the house grabbing our dicks, screaming “Ow!” and trying to dance like him. We’d wear white socks with our dress shoes to the Kingdom Hall and feel fresh as hell, because that’s what we saw Michael doing. He was magic. I still feel that way about Michael.
I learned a lot about music by digging in crates, looking for samples. You find out where all these sounds that you hear in contemporary music come from. Weather Report, Ronnie Laws, Gil Scott-Heron and Brian Jackson. Just to name a few who I really look up to.
OKP: Your song, “Um Tryin’,” is extremely dope and has heightened anticipation for new work from you by music snobs who have a heavy presence in the industry. Can you talk about how life was for you while developing as an artist in Seattle? How did you react to your first bits of press?