After what was undeniably a breakout year for Antwerp producer Taska Black in 2018, the blossoming talent battled quite a few personal health problems which all ultimately inspired his debut MINDS EP.
Making his presence felt throughout the electronic scene and the bitbird community with a genre-challenging brand of production that walks the link of pop and future bass, we recently caught up with Taska to discuss his recent body of work, mental health in the producer/DJ career path and much more.
DJ Times: You closed out 2018 on a high note with the release of your debut EP, MINDS, what’s the creative process like when putting together your first body of work?
Taska Black: It was very challenging. I wanted it to be personal, different and I wanted it to feel as one body of work. For a while I was stuck creatively and the pieces wouldn’t fall into place. Slowly but surely I figured out what I wanted to write about and from there everything came much more natural.
DJ Times: If you had to pick one, what is your favorite track of the EP and why?
Taska Black: Fly Free (interlude). It started out as a joke, I played this big guitar riff and turned it into a rock song. When my manager heard it he thought it was so cool that we ended up including it in the EP. It was something new for me, no vocals, slow tempo, just a guitar lead to carry the whole track.
DJ Times: You were able to express your personal struggles throughout the process of creating MINDS, as an artist, how important is it to have a creative outlet?
Taska Black: I’m not really the kind of person that writes music to process his feelings. I felt like I had to figure out my struggles first before I could write about them. I’m someone who overthinks and doubts everything and I wanted to write about how I overcame my anxiety issues, stress, … I wanted to show people what I went through, what was going through my mind, not to seek empathy but to let them know these are issues that so many people struggle with and you will eventually beat them.
DJ Times: Most believe being a producer/DJ is living the dream but that certainly isn’t always the case. What battles did you encounter mentally getting into music full-time and what advice do you have for those looking to break into the scene?
Taska Black: That’s one of the biggest misconceptions. From the moment I started doing Taska Black full time I dived in head first, working my ass off not realizing my mind and body had a limit. I realized that stress catches up with you even though I didn’t realize I was stressed. I loved what I was doing so why would I be stressed? When I was about to leave for tour for the first time I started encountering panic attacks, hyperventilation and all sorts of weird things. That’s when I realized I had to take a step back and made sure I was healthy and doing things at a healthy pace. My advice for people getting into the job full time; do what you want to do and don’t look at anyone else. Don’t be scared to take a step back and do things at your own pace, it may not look like it but you have all the time in the world to accomplish your goals.
DJ Times: You’re in a league of your own when it comes to production, what advice would you give to an up-and-coming producer trying to find their own sound?
Taska Black: Again; take all the time you need. I see people sending me demos when they are clearly in an early stage of their career. Don’t try and do what’s already been done. Find the one thing you excel at and double down on that.
DJ Times: What’s your current opinion on the current electronic music scene as a whole?
Taska Black: I’ve said this a couple times before. I think it’s an interesting time because I feel the listeners are more open minded than ever and even looking for things that surprise them. I feel like there’s more of a crossover growing now between EDM how it was a couple years ago and real instruments, vocal driven music, organic sounds, live performances versus DJ sets,… I think that’s amazing and I’m curious what this will evolve into.
DJ Times: Where do you find inspiration when it comes to production?
Taska Black: These days I just listen to as much music as I can, genres that are sometimes the complete opposite of what I make. Ranging from pop to indie bands, dream pop and classical music. It feels like there’s a whole world of production that I’ve never payed attention to and it’s super inspiring to listen to those songs closely and how they are produced.
DJ Times: In the studio and onstage on tour, what gear and programs do you use?
Taska Black: In the studio I use mainly Ableton Live and my Apogee interface to do everything. I have a couple microphones, some Fender guitars, some acoustic guitars, an upright piano, a Yamaha MO6 and a violin. That’s all I need to make music. On stage I just do DJ sets for now so I’m using the industry standard Pioneer CDJ’s and Djm.
DJ Times: What’s it like being apart of the bitbird family?
Taska Black: They all feel like family. I’ve joined San Holo on a couple of his tours now and it’s great to be sharing the stage with like-minded people that inspire each other. We’re all kind of in our own space but we all share the same vision and passion and it’s great to see everyone grow individually and as a collective.
DJ Times: What can the world expect from Taska Black in 2019?
Taska Black: I’ve been stacking up some songs so there’s a lot of music that I hope will see the light of day this year. Some exciting collaborations and shows are happening too but that’s all I can say for now…