Name: Taz Taylor
Occupation: Producer, executive producer for Internet Money
Current release: With "Lemonade", Internet Money scored one of 2020's biggest hits. For the production collective around Taz Taylor, that tune was not really a breathrough, however. By the time it hit the charts, Taylor and his partners had long made a name for themselves. What "Lemonade" did do is cement their status as one of the world's leading songwriting collectives. For Taylor, the global impact of the song must nonetheless have felt like an affirmation. Emerging from the type-beat-underground, he forged his talents by churning out one incredible beat after another, combining a remorseless 24/7 work ethic with relentless perfectionism. Perhaps for this reason Internet Money has occasionally been typecast as a 'factory'. Nothing could be less true, however. Taylor's approach, which is based on competition as much as it is on collaboration and which encourages creativity on every level of the process, is always focused on making the most out of the material at hand. In short: Financial success is great, but it's the music that ultimately counts. So far, the success has proven him right. While the world waits for the sophomore Internet Money album – the follow-up to B4 the Storm – the crew returned with another production, "His & Hers" which featured Don Toliver, Lil Uzi Vert and Gunna. By the time of publication of this interview, it was already fast approaching the 20 million views mark.
If you enjoyed this interview with Taz Taylor, the Internet Money Instagram account is the best place to find current updates.
In an earlier interview, you mentioned "The 48 Laws of Power" by Robert Greene as an influence. What does power have to do with music?
I think it’s very interesting to learn about how people work. Many people would say "The 48 Laws of Power" is a very manipulative book. I, however, like to be aware of the ways people try to manipulate me, I know what to look out for. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the music making process, more so the business side of the music industry. Just something I like to stay sharp on.
When you started, the scene was still in its infancy.
There were no kits, no tutorials actively teaching people how to make beats, there weren't a lot of communities online, whether it's twitch, reddit, discord, twitter or instagram. I'm amazed at how big it is now in 2021.
What were your initial motivations?
I was one of the top selling YouTube producers doing type beats. I wouldn’t say that we at Internet Money “started type beats”. But we defiantly helped put the phenomenon on the map. Outside of building out various different platforms I'm a part of - whether it's WavSupply or the Internet Money Tutorial Channel on YouTube. I overall just wanted to help leave the community and Internet game in a better place it was than when I originally got there.
I love seeing people come from nothing and changing their lives with just music. The Internet is a good place for a lot of people who feel like they don’t have an option due to where they’re located, or what they look like, or where they come from. On the Internet none of that matters. I love that about it.
When you listen to a hip hop track, do you usually pay attention to the beat first or the vocals/lyrics?
I normally pay attention to the overall song. The beat is an important part for sure, especially with me coming from a production background. But the song has to be good for it to stick.
Can beats be an artform in their own right?
Beats are for sure an art form in their own right. Nowadays you see producers doing live shows where they strictly play beats alone, sometimes with zero vocals. I don’t think we’ll ever do a fully instrumental album, however … we normally just release the instrumental version of whatever album we drop at the time.
From your perspective, what is the magic of a great beat?
I think what makes a great beat is something that's not overly flooded with sounds. Something that gives the vocals room to put in their 50%. The beat is 50%, the vocals are 50%. Normally the problem you see with a lot of newer producers is they will have breakdowns, switch-ups, too many sounds, etc. When artists feel the need to compete with the beat, it never ends up good in my opinion. Keeping things simple is all that's needed. Don’t overcomplicate nor overthink the situation.
What is the inspiration behind a beat? What do you start with?
At this point in my career it's not like I’m at the house making 400 beats a month and thinking from that perspective. I have a whole team of producers who work on loops, beats and ideas, depending on the playlists I curate.
My job at this point is to overall make the best songs and put all my producers and artists in the best position for them to win. Whether that's me actually producing or setting the backdrop for others to come in and do their job, or even executive producing the entire project and handling titles, cover art, which songs go on the project, etc. That's what it takes.
What, roughly, is the process like after you've started producing a track?
We can normally do a whole song in 30 - 45 minutes. A lot of the producers I work with in sessions like Cxdy or Nick Mira really sit at the house and train themselves on efficiency. They normally try to get a beat done in 6-10 minutes. The rest is up to me, our engineers Edgard or Terrance [Armond Wilson], or the artist.
If you can finish a beat in 6 minutes, you can effectively record with an artist in real time.
If we’re making a beat on the spot in the studio normally the artist will tell us when they’re ready to record. If the beat isn’t finished by that time, they’ll record on the loop and we’ll swap it out with the final audio version by the time they’re recording. Every Kid Laroi song we produce is done this way. He’ll record on the loops we have at the time and then we swap them out when he’s done.
On the one hand, your process relies on efficiency. On the other hand, you're a perfectionist. How does that work in practice?
When it comes to other artists' records, I work on them as long as they want or need me to. I tend to take more time with Internet Money records because it's just me in charge of them at the end of the day. I spent 8 months on "His & Hers". Getting verses, changing the beat a million times, mixing and mastering. Some would say too much. But I didn’t like how it sounded. I had to fix it.
Working with many different producers and artists at the same time time is not a new concept. But you've certainly made it your own.
I signed to Mike Caren's Artist Partner Group (APG) in 2017. I learned how to make records the Mike Caren way from a formula and structure standpoint. From a workflow standpoint I really take the Kanye approach in things. Which means collaboration is the best way to get things done.
Caren has an elaborate, but really straight-forward hit-making formula, which gives very precise instructions on how to build lyrics, for example. He also likes to create separate teams, all producing different songs over the same beat to see which one produces the hit single.
When you put 10 talented people into 1 room you might get different results than just 1 or 2 people hammering out the same idea. Keeps inspiration flowing and you never know where or who your next hit will come from. I’m all about empowering the people I believe in to do bigger things or make the best music. I feel like we can all put our heads together collectively and do it.
With so many people involved, how do you keep things from falling apart?
Nobody is bigger or better than the next man at the end of the day. If you’re joining Internet Money in 2021 you get to stand next to guys who’ve been here since 2015. Nobody thinks they know more than the next person and are all open to learning and being the best versions of themselves every day.
When you wake up in such a positive environment and see so many people achieving their dreams and winning, it makes you buy in and you’ll start to win as well. All of this at the end of the day is mentality. When you think you can win and achieve, you will.
Doesn't it occasionally happen that an artist will want to take things into a totally different direction from what you expected?
Normally when we’re in the studio we’re all on the same wave length. I’m normally helping guide people in the right direction every session we’re in so we can all get to the place we want to be. If you see an artist work with us a lot they trust us and let us take them where they need to be at.
Sampling is no longer as essential in hip hop as it used to be, but it is still a vital option. How important is it for you?
We don’t sample at all. The only record we INTERPOLATED on was "Lucid Dreams" by Juice WRLD and I think we all know how that went down.
Sting was awarded 85% of the royalties on that song, since it interpolates a passage from his "Shape of my Heart".
That's right. So we might be inspired by something and try and go make a song that has that feeling, but I’ll never go blatantly rip something off or sample. It sounds nice but when you gotta deal with clearances and labels. I'd rather just show how talented we all are.