It’s rare to find an artist that is responsible for the entirety of their sonic output in the age we find ourselves in. Artists all too often find themselves relying on the skills of others for production, engineering and promotion in their quest for a final product; this issue is not one shared by London artist Takai. From the futuristic sounds of ‘Do not switch off’ which utilises both conventional instruments and contemporary electronic elements to form an exciting musical experience, to the contrasting lo-fi nature of ‘Wait and Wait’, the 28 year old takes full artistic responsibility for his music; producing, mixing and mastering tracks from beginning to end. Quite the CV.
Rich beats are often coupled with punchy bars from the South West London artist, who uses smart word play and rapid flow to touch on a diverse range of subjects, from artistry to social commentary. Pinpointing Takai’s exact genre is no easy feat, but the small yet solid body of work which Takai has released paints the picture of an artist who isn’t afraid to step out of his comfort zone. Sounds drawn from various pools of inspiration, makes almost every song in his discography unique. This is no more noticeable than in ‘327’ where lyrics and bars take the back seat in favour of a sound reminiscent of multifaceted 1980s Chicago House . We caught up with Takai to find a little bit more about the man.
1. Takai, first and foremost, tell us a little bit about yourself and where the name came from.
I’ve been making music since I was about 13. I’m 28 now and I’ve been in a few bands during that time. I pretty much put music before everything else and recently decided to not take it as serious. So now I make music on my own under the name Takai. The name came from my girlfriend reading out a list of Japanese words, I chose it because I liked how the word looks.
2. How did it all start, how long have you been doing it for and why?
Takai started around the end of 2018 so it’s still pretty new. I just wanted to be able to make whatever music I felt like. It feels good to be able to make a tune and then just upload it. I should be taking the process of releasing music more seriously but that’s always killed my buzz in the past.
3. Do Lyrics or beats come first in the production process?
It’s pretty much always the music first. Recently though I’ve found my voice doesn’t match the music I’ve been making. So I’ve given up writing lyrics for the time being.
4. What was your first setup?
I had an old PC with Reason 3.0 on it. It had a 10gb hard drive, I don’t know how I managed it. Even at the time it was outdated.
5. What does underground culture mean to you?
It’s where all music starts. The music of any genre is better kept underground. The people creating it and the people listening at the start love it for what it’s really about. It’s rare that a genre can evolve and appeal to the masses without being watered down.
6. What is your benchmark for success?
I’d love to get to a point where a decent amount of people are into what I’m making. I make music for myself but it gets a bit boring if I like something and I’m the only one hearing it.
7. What’s the most enjoyable part of creating music?
Listening back to what you’ve made. Being able to listen to music that never existed before you created it is the best bit for me. I’m slowly being able to create music that I want to hear. I’ve always attempted it but then been let down once I compare it to someone else’s music I’m a fan of. I feel like I’m finally close to a point where I still like what I’ve made a while after.
8. How do you get into the right headspace?
It depends really, I normally get bursts of creativity. Weeks can go by and I just can’t be bothered to make anything, even if I try in that state of mind I won’t write anything good. Other times it’s the complete Opposite, weeks of being inspired and not caring about anything other than making music.
Find Takai on Instagram @Takai and youtube @Takai Official for his latest release “HOW”