LA based rapper Tate Tucker has spent the past couple of years releasing singles that showcase his unique brand of genre-blended songwriting, singing, and rapping. From last year's big hit "Just Wanna", which has racked up millions of streams across various services or any of this year's releases, he's a fresh talent to watch. His most recent output is "Trips", a high energy song that showcases his extensive vocal range and a vivid, flashy visual to match.
I had the opportunity to talk to Tate about his inspirations and the song itself: the following is our conversation.
EM: Tell me about the song.
Tate: "Trips" is a song that came out of a year of traveling and meetings and expanding my sound and meeting new people and I feel like if I don’t take a trip, I stay too stagnate and there’s not really much progress, so the song itself is kind of based on that. I wanted to have a song that was really just a fun song and I think even in the video you kind of see it.
EM: What did you have first- the song idea or the beat?
Tate: The beat came first… The beat was produced by Slant who also produced “Just Wanna”, and I just kinda went over it and scatted and I could not get the melody idea out of my mind but the lyrics weren’t there... I think it just came when I traveled and trying to play with for awhile… It just kind of came together in that way so it was a really fun process, super simple.
EM: Is that a pretty standard way for you to write a song, like get a beat and then go from a scat and then build lyrics into that or do you sometimes start on paper first?
Tate: It’s weird. Very seldom do I start on paper first, and usually when I do it’s something pretty sacred, something that I’ll keep for an album or, I don’t know, or a tattoo or something. It’s very rare to start there. I think, sometimes, if it starts on the paper it stays there. Usually it will be a scat that can fit in the pockets really well, and it just catches the vibe of the song. It’s like my subconscious reaction to the beat which I think is really fun.
EM: As you get more opportunities to do bigger songs with higher production, do you start to think about what you’re going to do for the visual to the song before you start you start to write the song or do you just take it as an organic process?
Tate: For this one, I started to play with it as needed. Not to influence the lyrics but I just got excited with the idea of taking this trip- literally and figuratively, and allowing that gray area. Similarly for my next single “Icicle”. It’s a very cold song, and I played with that, leaving it open for how I wanted the visuals to interpret it. I think my favorite artists think about both so I try to do the same.
EM: When listening to your music that I notice there’s definitely a tone that passes between all of your work- is that a conscious decision, or do you just do what you want to do and see what sticks?
Tate: Yeah, it’s funny, I feel like it’s half and half. Like it’s cool to hear you say that you hear a commonality there cause half of the people are like “Wow the evolution is really cool and it’s different in each step” but yeah, I definitely like to leave breadcrumbs. I’m not so abrupt when I change style, when I put out new music. I think really it’s just like having elements of that falsetto in there and elements of that rap in there. I don’t know, I think it’s more just trying to be authentic to myself everytime I get into the studio. Because we all change in life and I think it’s appropriate to do that.
EM: Is there something you haven’t gotten to do with music yet that you want to? Is there a genre you want to work into your sound or a type of song you want to write that you haven’t gotten the opportunity to?
Tate: That’s a great question. Yes, there’s two areas in particular. One is being able to work with you know… almost like a score type instrumentation, something that can be my “Dark Twisted Fantasy” kind of project where it’s just grandiose and I can see if I’m standing in a vacuum at MoMA and you can just appreciate it in almost a visual like way with nothing accompanying it. And then I definitely want to do really intense rock shit. I’ve tapped into it a little bit with love. I want to get into that world and scream a little more and work with Queens of the Stone Age and get into that realm a little bit. Not change my own style, but just experiment and see how crazy it can get and bring that back into my arsenal.
EM: Who is someone you take a lot of inspiration from, whether they’re a musician or an artist in another medium that maybe people wouldn’t expect you were into or drew influence from?
Tate: Hmmmm. That’s a cool that you said it didn’t have to be a musician. Honestly Eddie Murphy, Michael Myers and Austin Powers, um, Jim Carrey, um... Anyone who has really committed themselves into living multiple personalities and what those nuances really entail. I think that says and speaks a lot to someone’s perception of reality when they can experience it through someone else’s lens. I think that’s really important for me and my music. Even if it’s not coming out, I can visually try to convey that visually as well. My inspiration of all time is Lenny kravitz: that’s like my god.
EM: Okay, so you mentioned a bunch of comedians and then Lenny Kravitz, is there something about the personality of a comedian that you feel connected to?
Tate: Honestly, not really. I mentioned so many of them and those guys happened to branch out of that sheer box. Comedians are really dark and self deprecating so I definitely don’t have that in common, but those three in particular are just geniuses in my eyes. Especially Jim Carrey. I resonate with a lot of the crazy shit he says about ego death. I think a lot of these people have ego deaths when they get to a certain point and that’s something that I’m slowly experiencing. You can sort of perceive what a greater good can look like, and they did it in a way that people didn’t even know they were being exposed to different textures of life. In interviews you get snippets of it but it just shows me that there’s things that can be achieved through positivity and humor as well.
"Trips" is out now. Watch it here.
Photo Credit: Benjamin Shmikler
Conversation edited for length and clarity.