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If you already know of and are a fan of the bitbird fam you already know of Taska Black. For those of you who don’t, read on!
We had the opportunity to sit down with Taska Black and get to know him a little better while he was in Toronto supporting San Holo on his album1 tour.
The producer, who has been involved in music from the young age of 4, has been producing in one form or another since the age of 12. His sound, which most would describe as “cinematic and majestic” fits in very well with the unique vibes we get from the rest of the bitbird family. As one of these artists who each have a clear vision for their music, Taska Black is driven to deliver an experience through his music in hopes of moving listeners and being a positive impact in their lives.
Through our conversation, we notice his calm, genuine, focused and hopeful personality. Rather than solely chasing the next the next hit, he strives to make an impact with his music and looks forward to engaging with new audiences and meeting new fans around the world. He is in tune with what Taska black’s sound is now and a clear vision of how it will shift in the future.
Below, we talk about his past, about what motivates him to make music, how he approaches his daily life on tour, his new EP MINDS, advice he has for other EDM artists that are in the discovery phase and much more.
Life and background:
Sinejan: What made you decide- I’m going to do music professionally?
Taska Black: I have been producing for a long time, that is what I was passionate about. I went into college and did engineering and after 3 years I realized this is not what I'm passionate about, the only thing I am passionate about is music so, it took me a long time to figure that out but I'm really happy I made the move into music full time because that is the only thing that gets me excited.
Was there a pivotal moment where you felt: “that's enough! no more engineering for me” or was it a build up?
It was just a long process for me. there were a lot of people telling me, you should do what you love and don't look at expectations from your parents or anything. I was kind of raised with the thought of- go to college, get a degree and get a safe job. So, dropping out of college was something very unnatural for me but my parents were fine with me doing music so it was ok.
Do you remember the first concert you ever went to?
It may be night of the proms? we have this big arena in Belgium in Antwerp where I live and there is one night of the year called night of the proms and it's like classical music and bands. It is a very unique experience in Belgium once a year and I went with my dad when I was 10 years old. It had such a big impression on me because it was my first concert in a huge arena and it was a lot of fun.
You went through a few sub-genres of electronic music scene (house, then drum & bass, then future bass) before you found your sound. How would you describe that experience and what Taska Black sounds like now?
It's a long process, I am still trying to figure it out and I have to rethink it every once in a while. I guess what I am trying to do now is come out of EDM as something new. I feel like I have to do that for myself to be excited again about something. For me, that means focusing more on songwriting and making actual good songs and working with vocalists. Zoom in on the writing of songs instead of just cool production. That's where my music is headed.
What is your song selection technique? How do you choose a song?
Personally, I am better at writing chords and melodies, so that's what I focus on myself, and it's good when I can be in the studio with someone else and brainstorm about the meaning of the song and write lyrics with someone else in the room because that is something I am less good at. I think my strong suit is melodies and chords so that's what speaks to me most.
What motivates you to continue making music these days?
I think just the lust to create something better. I never have the feeling that I have created my best song yet, and I keep wanting to work to create that song that is like: "yes! this is the one". I also think I am probably never going to have that feeling but it's that craving for that, that keeps me going.
Can you tell us about the BitBird Fam? What do you love most about being part of this group?
I think it is a very nice group of people and it really does feel like a family. I mean I joined them very early on when they were just a promotional platform, so I got to know San and I got to work with Droeloe very early on. It is very nice to know these people in person. They are all based in the Netherlands and I live in Belgium so we are close to each other. It has been very inspirational for me to be able to speak with those people in person and hang out with them on tour. We all have a similar vision and goal in music: to create something emotional and beautiful and I guess that is why we vibe so well with each other.
What is the best piece of advice that was given to you so far in your career?
Never look at anything other than what makes you happy. Just follow what makes you happy. That's what got me into music in the first place full-time and that's what keeps me here. I am not going to look at numbers or money or anything ever. I'm just going to what I am excited about and follow my gut.
How does that pay off do you think?
I think personally I need that to keep myself happy. I also feel like the fans appreciate that, they follow me wherever I go because of this. Because at first, when I did songs that were a little more like Pop, I was afraid - are people still going to like it? but the fans loved it so I am very glad about that!
What would you consider your most pivotal moment in the past year?
I guess the moment I signed with management because that was around the time I dropped out of college and started to do music full-time. I think that was a changing point for me because I started doing sessions with other musicians, writers, vocalists, going to the US for the first time to do shows. That was the moment that opened a lot of doors.
Have you met any of your musical heroes yet? Who was it?
I actually met, not REALLY met her but I saw her from nearby. When I was at Lolapalooza in Paris, we saw Dua Lipa walking past us with her crew and that was like "oh shit, that's Dua Lipa!" I was fangirling a little bit. I had that moment. I would love to make a song with her in the future.
What is your favourite moment so far supporting San Holo on the Album 1 tour?
I think it was a show in Charlotte, where people were singing along with all the lyrics, like I could put down all the faders and you could hear them sing all the lyrics. That's when my mind was just blown. People on the other side of the world just singing my songs. It's a crazy feeling! I had a similar experience before at ADE but that was at a bitbird night so a lot of the bitbird fans are familiar with the music but now its just weird coming to the other side of the world, not expecting people to know my music at all, but they still sang the songs so that's just crazy!
Is there anything you can get in Belgium that you haven’t been able to get anywhere else around the world on this tour that you miss?
I miss my Girlfriend and Belgian french fries and Belgian/Brussels Waffles.
New MINDS EP:
What is the main statement/theme behind the new ‘MINDS EP’?
I guess MINDS for me was a way to process stuff that I have been going through this year. I guess I went through a phase where I was having anxiety, which partially has to do with going into music full time and expectations and stress. So I was having stuff like panic attacks and the EP was just a way for me to express that, zoom in on that, and talk about what I went through. It's also a way for me bridge the gap between my sound of today and tomorrow. I’m heading in this new direction. Focusing more on songwriting and working with vocalists. That's me trying to do something new out of EDM.
How do you work through that process of feeling overwhelmed and putting that energy into your musical creations?
I have this song on the EP Called ‘Losing our minds’ and that basically just sends the message to people, like: don’t lose sight of what you have today and don’t overwork yourself just for a better future and forget about today. I think that was part of my problem, so I want the EP to give the message to people to live in the day, live in the moment. And I have another song “Get out of my head’ which basically describes when I have a panic attack or something. I really got into myself, into my own head, stuck in thoughts. That’s what that song is about. It’s all about describing my feelings and also sharing a message with people: describing what not to do in that moment and how to get out of the situation.
How involved were you in the non-production aspects of songwriting like writing the lyrics?
Basically, because I am classically trained on violin and piano, all my songs start when I’m just fooling around on the piano, finding chords and humming along a melody. I’m a terrible singer but that’s why I get excited to be in the studio with a singer and work on lyrics or work on the meaning of the song. I think the melody is my strong suit and it really blends well when I work with a vocalist. I am very involved the lyrics and especially the melodies. I like to be involved in the whole process.
You said you love working with vocalists, will we be hearing you singing in the future?
Maybe. I am leaving that open. I want to take singing classes to learn how to sing better, I don’t know if I will ever sing on a record but I am trying to learn. It’s going to take a while.
What is your favourite track to play live right now?
It may be ‘Dead inside’ I never expected it to do so well live. But everyone just starts jumping when it drops. It’s weird because I never expected it to do so well because its a very experimental song. But the reaction to that song has been crazy so I really like to play that one.
Can you tell us about how “In the End ft. Aviella” came together?
I started it when I was in LA. I was in an airbnb and I had a session planned with Aviella the next day. That night, I just grabbed my keys and got a couple of chords down and I hummed a melody. The next day I got in the studio with her and I said like "hey, can you do something with this melody and I have this meaning in my head for this EP" and we came up with these lyrics and kept the melody I made the night before. We basically made the whole song in that session, then the rest was all production. So the whole song came together very naturally in just a couple of hours.
Was losing our minds the first track you worked on?
Yes, It initially started as a demo from Nevve, but it was completely different. It was kind of a pop ballad and I completely changed the melody and the lyrics were initially completely different as well. Then I met with them on that same week in LA, I explained to them the meaning of the EP and how I wanted to shift their demo and change the melody and everything and we just changed the whole thing into a new song that same session.
We have talked about how your sound has changed over the years and now has more pop elements to it. What makes the songs on this EP sound like Taska Black, what elements carry or create your signature sound?
Yes, I love pop music. I think my EP and sound is a combination of pop-inspired vocals and my typical production which is I guess is kind of cinematic and majestic sounding. I think it is the combination of those two things that I want to bring out more in the future because I think that’s what makes me stand out.
Who are your biggest inspirations from Pop music right now?
I love Sia. When it comes to pop singers, I think she’s top notch. Also, Julia Michaels, I think she is great. I followed her from the beginnings when she used to be a writer and worked into her artistry. I am also very inspired by the LA writing scene of pop writers that are not just artists but write and produce songs. People like Benny Blanco. I think that is very inspiring for sure.
Advice for fellow artists:
There is so much going on in the industry right now, sounds are shifting and merging. What advice would you give to new electronic artists trying to find their own sound?
I think patience is one thing, because it takes a long long time. I think finding what you are good at is very important. You shouldn’t try to fix what you are bad to fit in. You should focus on what you are good at. For example, I think for me, I figured that out when I heard a lot of people telling me that my sound was very majestic and anthemic and cinematic. I just focused in on that and that made my sound what it is. I think people who are starting out need to figure out for themselves what they are good at- whether its drums or melodies or vocals- and just do more of that and make sure you communicate that.
Advice on Mental Health & Dealing with stress in the industry?
I wouldn’t say I’m a pro at this because I’m still struggling. But, what helped for me was, I did a lot of meditation and breathing exercises. Putting things in perspective is very important. It takes a long time to learn how to put things in perspective but I think using the breathing exercises and taking a step back helped. You have to take time and accept the fact that, you know, I am not going to work for this amount of time and I am going to take this time to work on myself and do the exercises and figure it out slowly but surely. It’s a hard process and it takes a long time but after a while you can see yourself getting out of it.
Advice on how to spend spare time on tour?
I pretty much spend all my off time on tour making music. Because I have a lot of songs I am working on right now. I don’t have a lot of off time while on tour because it’s basically like waking up in the next city, having a couple of hours and then going into soundcheck and then doing the show and then going back to sleep. I try use all my free hours to work on music but besides that I like to try to see something of the new places I am visiting. Like, I’ve never been in Toronto, so I’d like to see some of the city.
You have had the opportunity to collaborate with some amazing artists like Droeloe, Nevve, and many more. Do you have any dream collaborations?
My next dream collab would be Louis the child. Because I think they do a great job bridging the gap between pop and EDM and I think that’s also what I’m trying to do, so, I think that would be very cool!
For anyone who has never seen you live before: What can fans expect from a Taska Black performance?
I’m working on how I am going to be incorporating the mixing of new elements into the show, it’s still early days for me, but right now my show is still very EDM inspired. They can expect melodic music but still a lot of energy.
What is something you are most looking forward to in the next 6 months?
Being home again after two months on this bus. I also have a lot of exciting songs coming out. It’s been a while since I have been very excited about new songs so I am glad right now. Now that I have completed this EP and now that it’s done I am able to write new songs again and I am very excited for those to also come out. I am also excited to just show my music to new people. I am going to be doing a lot of new shows than I have never done. I am very excited to see the reactions of people in this new direction that I am headed.
Where will we see you in 5 years?
I haven’t even figured this out for myself yet, but I guess doing my own headlining tour and bringing everything to life in the live shows, the whole spectrum: visually & musically. Performing with the people that I make music with, like singers etc. Putting on a more musical show rather than a DJ set. I would love to incorporate my piano and violin background into the live performance so I hope to have that ready in 5 years.
We thank Taska Black for sitting down to talk with us and encourage our readers to check out his new ‘MINDS EP’ and the rest of his music on spotify or itunes and follow him here for more news and info!