What defines an innovator? This can be answered in a number of different ways, but it all boils down to the mere fact that innovator's aren't afraid to create something unique- something that sets them apart from anybody else. After the release of their collaborative LP, FEEL, LAFA TAYLOR and AABO go down as innovators.
Following the earlier releases of some of their groovy hits off the album such as "Falling", the boys take their collaboration to new heights and bring us a 7-track LP that is nothing short of stellar. To put it simply, FEEL is what the lovechild of KAYTRANADA, GORGON CITY and a dash of Anderson .Paak would sound like.
Kicking off with "Turn My Music Up", which has already been remixed by artists like FLAMINGOSIS, thumping slices binds with elements of trumpets and a buttery smooth house bassline that just makes you wanna dance- full pun intended since the vocals of the chorus are "I'm just tryna' make you dance".
"Already Found" has got full-on Kaytra and jazzy vibes to it, with the soul of U.K. garage house- meanwhile "Think Of You" and "Raindrops And Red Wine" nest on the more sultry side of the duo's musical stylings. However, "Run To Me" is the one that really stood out to me. The complexity of its production shows how much effort and detail went into the making of it- as layers of trumpets, guitars chords, drums and airy synths all blend harmoniously as one, accompanied by some powerful rap verses. The last track off the album after "Falling" is a sexy lil' tune called "Real Love", which embraces uneasy vocal chops, hard-hitting kicks and glitchy synths.
The term "dynamic duo" is brought to new heights when it comes to these guys, Lafa Taylor being the vocalist/MC while Aabo is the producer/multi-instrumentalist. So we found it absolutely essential to chat with the boys following the album release- to talk about what inspired its unique blend of genres and to learn more about their musical backgrounds as a whole:
Let’s kick off with some general background of your guys’ upbringing as artists and how you two came to meet.
Aabo: We met thru friends in the Bay Area music/festival scene, and noticed early on that we had unique musical connection, me providing musical ideas and chord structures and Lafa with dope lyrics and melodies. We became great friends and traveled a bunch to places like Japan & Burning Man and many festivals on the west coast.
Congrats on the release of FEEL! Tell me a bit about constructing the album and what instruments were used during production. I love all sounds groovy so the album was definitely up my alley.
Aabo: At the time we were making this, artists like Disclosure and Kaytranada were just starting to come on the scene. Their pairing of soulful vocals with funky, 4 on the floor was a big inspiration. We made most of the project in the box at first, and then I began to layer electric bass, guitar, and percussion on top.
Once we had the vocals finalized we felt that adding horn sections to some of the tunes would be a unique twist that you don’t hear much in house music, let alone electronic music. We enlisted some friends from NYC, Jas Walton & Miles Arntzen from the group, EMEFE, to arrange and record saxophones, trumpets, and flutes. We love the way this came out.
The album uniquely blends a bunch of different genres, from classic house to soulful R&B. Growing up, what were your musical backgrounds like?
Lafa: My mother has great taste in music IMO so I grew up listening to music that I still love today, a lot of world, conscious Hip-Hop and Reggae.
Aabo: I grew up on a healthy dose of Jazz from a very young age. As I got older I became really enveloped in hip-hop. I tried to soak up as much music as I could find. Later I got into funk and classic rock like Jimi Hendrix and Pink Floyd, as well as all the classic soul, Luther Vandross, Chaka Cahn, Marvin Gaye, etc.
FEEL was recorded between the SF Bay Area, Portland and Tokyo- do you think recording in these places had any influence on the album?
Lafa: To some degree yes, but not as much as you would think. When we got into the zone of creating, it almost didn’t matter where we were, we went deep and tried to the get the sounds in our heads out. We made “Turn My Music Up” while renting a little apartment in Shibuya, Tokyo and we were pretty limited by our poor quality mic and really small midi-controller. We ended keeping the scratch vocal and chopping it up and it created the raw sound that we were looking for. That song was definitely the product of our environment.
Generic question but I’m really curious- dream collaboration?
Lafa: Pharrell, Disclosure, or J Dilla
Aabo: SZA or Robert Glasper
What would be the ideal setting/place for you guys to play a show?
Aabo: Roman Coliseum or Mayan Ruins
Lafa: Fyre Fest for sure, lol
Lafa Taylor being the vocalist and Aabo being the producer, you guys are quite the dynamic duo. What’s one interesting fact about the other person that your fans might not know?
Lafa: We actually co-produced the music, I love to get involved in the process of making beats, writing basslines, etc- and furthermore, Aabo has a couple secret back up vocal layers on a few tracks too. Some people might not know, but Aaron tosses a mean salad. Like literally, he's great at making dressings from scratch and he always makes sure that the dressing is evenly distributed by tossing them by hand in a bowl.
Aabo: Lol, speaking of food, One thing people who don’t know us don’t know is that we are super into eating really amazing food. Everywhere we go, we are seeking out the best restaurants, with the most unique things going on for them. We try damn near everything on the menu. We are in talks about starting a food-blog or restaurant rating app.
Any other albums have you guys been digging so far from other artists?
Aabo: Moonchild - Voyager and Smino- Blk Swn.
Lafa: Of course Childish Gambino's latest, Logic - Incredible True story, THEY. - Nu Religion.
What’s in the works for you two in the future?
Aabo: We have a music video dropping for “Already Found”, coming out late July [out now!], that we produced together and Lafa directed. We may do some live renditions of this material down the line, plus some other collaborations coming out in various fashions, that are far more hip-hop flavored.
I’ll be dropping a solo EP in the fall as well!
Lafa: Shortly after, FEEL, drops, I am putting out a solo album called, Ridin’ Slow, that is much different than this project, plus some video’s I’ve been working on.