French hip-hop producer Wax Tailor has performed his unique live show in over 400 countries, leaving showgoers in a state of perpetual awe and delight. Those unfamiliar with his work will find it difficult to pigeonhole his sound but will undoubtedly find themselves quick to pick up everything in his eclectic catalog.
Tailor recently wrapped up a sold out tour across the US to promote his latest double-album release, Phonovisions Symphonic Orchestra, a stunning arrangement of live music from the past year. Brooklyn Radio had a few questions for the artist to find out his thoughts on the success of the tour and how the new album was no easy task but worth all the effort.
How would you describe your style of music to those who may not be familiar with Wax Tailor?
I’m not so good to put a stamp on it. The backbone of my musical culture is really the golden years’ boom bap, but I grew up listening to many genres like jazz, 60′ pop, etc. At a moment, I simply decided to do a sound that really looked like a combination of all those influences. The shortest description would probably be Orchestra Hip Hop.
You’ve been making music for ten years now. How do you feel your sound has evolved in that time?
It’s a long and slow process. I think on each new album I try new things. My second album was a lot about introducing some vocal composition, on my third, I injected a lot of string arrangements, and my last studio album was a conceptual one. It’s all about renewing myself with keeping the vibe.
Do you feel the instrumental hip-hop scene has grown in popularity since you got involved in the scene?
Definitely. I see a lot of new developing producers arriving. Ten years ago when I released my first one, it was really different.
How do you feel about the outcome of your sold out US tour? Were you surprised by its success?
That was really cool for me. It meant a lot to let people in the US discover this crazy project, and I wanted to share it for the release week. It’s now nearly ten years since my first time in the US opening for my friend RJD2, and I feel like I got a strong relation with the crowd in the US. So, yes, it was important to be there and seeing it sold out every night was the icing on the cake. I look forward to touring again with my band.
Which city was your favorite?
How you want me to answer this? Do you believe if I had one that I’ll tell you? Come on!! (Wink.) What I can tell is that I’m always surprised about the crowd reaction in the US. There’s no filter, and I love it.
What was the greatest obstacle in putting together the Phonovisions Symphonic Orchestra album and DVD with a 35-piece orchestra and 17-person choir?
There are so many layers on this kind of project. It’s a struggle. You fight to make it happen. You need to convince everybody. You fight to find the budget for seventy-eight people on the road. You fight on all levels, but the reward is really fantastic, and you forget about everything else.
You regularly collaborate with European hip-hop/funk band A.S.M, which has resulted in some of your more recognizable tracks like “Say Yes” and “Positively Inclined.” Are you working on any new material with them?
Not for now. You know, I never work this way. I mean, instrumentals come first. It’s like a scenario: you write first and then you define your characters. I’m about to go back in the studio for the next chapter so we’ll see.
Are there any artists/bands you would like to collaborate with in the future?
For the same reason, it’s not easy to answer. If we just talk about dreams, sure. I’d love to work with artists like Nas, Q-Tip, Common in rap music. I’d love to invite singers like Damon Albarn, Thom Yorke, and as we just talk about dreams, why not Stevie Wonder? But I forgot his cell phone number. (Wink.)
What are your plans in 2015?
Mainly studio with a few road escapes. I’ll probably go back to Brasil in a few months and got a few projects that could include a few towns in the US where I’ve never played, but the main thing will be working in studio.
Is there anything else you would like to add or promote?
Phonovisions Symphonic Orchestra!!! I’m really proud about this project, probably also because that’s the perfect link between all I’ve done and a personal project that became a collective experience, and music is a lot about sharing. I’ve worked hard on the collector editions, so you should check for it in Digibook, 2CD/DVD, or 4LP vinyl box