Tyler, the Creator Returns to Austin

Odd Futurist on his Austin arrest, a new app, and ice cream

The last time Tyler, the Creator performed in Austin, during a day show at the Scoot Inn for South by Southwest 2014, he invited fans outside the fence to rush the gate and they obliged. Two days later, at the airport on his way out of town, the L.A. rapper was arrested for inciting a riot. On Saturday, the MC, producer, and Loiter Squad star performs at Emo’s.

Touring April’s third LP, Cherry Bomb, Tyler Gregory Okonma appears beforehand, noon-5pm, at the Marchesa Hall & Theatre (6406 NIH-35, No. 3100) to promote his new phone app, Golf Media. An evolving collection of writings, videos, music, and live-streamed performances, its subscribers are welcome to the free pop-up event.

Tyler, the Creator: Sup nigga!

Austin Chronicle: I’ve been on your Golf Media app all morning. I feel like I’ve been inside your head.

TTC: Thanks man. We’re still figuring it out, but I’m happy to know you like it so far.

AC: What’s your approach to creating content for it?

TTC: I’m trying to get it to the point where we always have new stuff every day and that’s not as easy as some may think. In the next year, it will be really fuckin’ awesome. If you think it’s cool now, that only makes me want to continue working our vision.

AC: The essay about the word “OK” originating from a group of political activists who supported Martin Van Buren’s presidency is fascinating. Is that historically accurate?

TTC: Yes. A friend of mine wrote that. The cool thing about this is, although I’m what you’d call the head honcho, I have a team of people who I trust. I trust the things they’re into, the way they think, and the way they work models when it comes to business. Everyone has those friends who know random interesting shit and I’ll have them write about it. That’s what we’re really getting into, a lot of original content. I just hope it works out.

AC: What’s fan response been like?

TTC: I meet up with a lot of kids based off the app. If they have the app, I post secret shows where they can come. I rented out a movie theater in London two weeks ago to show Napoleon Dynamite. The only way you could come is if you were a member of the community on the app. So they love it. And I’m doing one in Austin this weekend at a movie theater.

AC: On your new album, the track “Buffalo” features the line, “Tyler the dark-skin, arrested in Austin. Cops know who I was cause their kid said the show was awesome.” Reflecting on your arrest for inciting a riot at SXSW 2014, is that lyric an indictment of racism on the part of the Austin Police Department?

TTC: Of course race plays into it. But the irony, to me at least, is that I got arrested over some dumb shit and the cops who were taking my information were like, “My kid loves your music.” That’s so crazy to me. It’s this weird realm of like, “Am I fucking up?” The same guy who’s taking my info down because I’m about to go to jail – his kid fuckin’ looks up to me!

AC: The APD was pretty proud of itself. They posted your mug shot on Twitter.

TTC: That’s what I’m saying. Of course they posted my mugshot on Twitter. They fucked up as parents because their child idolizes [me]. So anyway they could put that dude down makes them look better. They need that power because they know they don’t have that power at home. That’s just how I think of shit.

AC: You didn’t feel like you were putting the audience and staff in danger when you encouraged people to rush the gate?

TTC: Man, it was all good energy. I wanted everyone to have a good time and there was no negative energy. It was all fun and I think that’s why everything worked out – just because of the person I am. I didn’t have any evil intent. After everyone ran in, I made sure everyone was fine and I continued the show. Everything was great and everyone had a great time.

AC: When you say “Everything worked out,” do you mean to say that you got the charges dropped?

TTC: I still really can’t speak on that. But you know I’m smiling, I’m in a great place, my health is good, and life is awesome. I’ll say that.

AC: On Cherry Bomb there’s strong elements of jazz via the piano chords. Does that reflect the music you listen to?

TTC: Yeah. I just grew into really making what I wanted to make. You can hear all that on what I did when I first came out. For example, let’s say “Yonkers” – a song everyone knows. There’s a part where piano comes in during the second verse with jazz chords, but because I’m rapping about some dark stuff with hard drums people overlook it. If you put me at a piano and I played those same chords, you’d realize it’s no different from the style that’s on the new album.

AC: Is that a style that’s ingrained in you? Where you raised on jazz?

TTC: I was raised on R&B and jazz because I have a black mother who’s into that stuff. I was raised on reggae too, which I’m not a big fan of, but I know it. That’s what I like to listen to. That’s where my ear goes. For people who understand music and actually like music and not just rap, you can listen to my old stuff and hear that influence.

AC: If you could have any musicians as a backing band for your live show, who would you pick?

TTC: I really don’t like rap music with live bands, but I would either pick Spymob from 2002 when they used to tour with N.E.R.D., whoever was in Stevie Wonder’s band, or I’d just start my own band and get all the players I like. I’d get Questlove on drums, this kid I know, Austin, on guitar, another friend of mine on bass, and George Duke on the keys. I think that’s what I would do.

AC: You stretch out your vocals a bit on the new disc, singing some on “Fucking Young.” How’s that translating to the live show?

TTC: I realized, when I was in Mexico and Spain, that they like the smoother stuff more than the crazy hype rap shit, which I’m into. The songs I really like are like that, so it makes me say, “Alright. Let me make this shit.” Some people like it and there are a lot of kids who don’t, but fuck ‘em.

AC: Because of your reckless stage presence, people must think you’re drunk, but you don’t drink. What are your vices?

TTC: My vice is sugar. I love donuts and pastries and fucking shit like that. I love cookies and ice cream. I have to chill on it. Ice cream is one thing I do have to fuckin’ chill on.

AC: You need to check out Amy’s Ice Cream when you’re in town.

TTC: That’s for sure gonna happen.

AC: Through Odd Future, you introduced a lot of artists who ended up having impressive careers. Do you still keep an ear on new music? Who do you want to tell people about right now?

TTC: There’s this band called Phony Ppl. They’re out of New York. They’ve been around for a while, but they’re starting to get out there. They’re these black kids around my age and they have a great ear for music. Their album is my favorite of this year so far.

Then there’s another band from L.A. called Slow Hollows that I really like. The lead singer, guitarist, and writer – this kid named Austin [Feinstein] – he plays on Cherry Bomb. He’s a really talented dude and I fuck with them.

AC: We’ll spread the word.

TTC: Hell yeah, baby girl!

AC: And keep updating that app. I want to get the most out of my $5 subscription.

TTC: Oh man, you will dude. We’re figuring it out, so bear with us. It’s a learning process. I think people are going to be happy in years to come that they were there from the start and got to watch it grow. It’s like a fuckin’ plant.

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Tyler, the Creator, Odd Future, Scoot Inn, SXSW 2014, Golf Media, Napoleon Dynamite, Spymob, Stevie Wonder, N.E.R.D., Questlove, Martin Van Buren, Phony Ppl, Slow Hollows, Austin Feinstein, Amy’s Ice Cream

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