Community / 4 March 2021

Meet TAETRO: YouTuber, producer, mentor

Taetro music producer YouTuber interview

Cloaked in a magenta-pink hue, TAETRO whips together an emo trap beat on his trusty Akai MPK Mini. It’s quick, effortless and dope. The best part? He’ll tell you everything you need to know about his process, so you know how to do it too.

TAETRO is an electronic music producer, beatmaker, passionate about educating and having his viewers all throughout his production process. The interwebs is his medium, reaching a growing audience of more than 130,000 subscribers on his YouTube Channel who tune into his intimate live streams, product reviews, and tutorials.

We talk to the music production expert and YouTuber about his goals, inspirations and he even drops everyone on BandLab a few pieces of valuable advice for their music journey.

Also, we’ve collaborated with TAETRO to drop a bonus contest round on BandLab. He’s gone and made a track on BandLab, and he wants YOU to remix it to stand a chance at winning up to $500. Make sure you don’t miss out.

Read more: BONUS contest: TAETRO Remix Contest

How did you get into music production? 

I actually started as a singer-songwriter when I was a teenager, and I saw that a lot of home recording gear was becoming relatively accessible, so I started to produce my own music from home! From there it evolved from just recording my voice and guitar, to adding layers, learning about the world of daws, VSTsand electronic music. 

How did the YouTube channel start?  

I went to college for music and in my senior recital, I had prepared a piece called “Rain” – an ambient electronic live beat making set. The recital went great, but the video just wasn’t up to par. So I decided to perform the session again, recorded it at home, and posted it to YouTube. From there it started gaining attention, the audience started building and I started not only performing but talking about my opinions on gear and music-making. 

I wake up, make music, make content, and do whatever I want – I’m only accountable to myself and my audience. That’s freedom. 

What do you hope your viewers get out of your YouTube Channel? 

At the end of the day, I hope somebody can watch my videos and see that creating music is for everybody. It may seem complicated at first, and there are many people trying to be gatekeepers, but my main mission is to make it all super accessible so that people can create for themselves. 

When did you decide that you were going to do music and content creation full time?

For the first 4 years I had my channel, I worked a full-time job. I loved it, and I’m still connected to it in a way, but it was very demanding mentally, it required a lot of my time, and it didn’t pay very well.  As the channel started to grow, I gained a lot of other skills along the way that brought more freelance opportunities as a creator as well. So eventually, at the right moment, a few opportunities came my way at the same time a chapter was coming to a close at my full-time job, and I felt it was a good time to take the plunge into doing this work full time. 

It may seem complicated at first, and there are many people trying to be gatekeepers, but my main mission is to make it (music-making) all super accessible so that people can create for themselves. 

Where do you get most of your inspirations for your music? What was your strangest source of inspiration when you created a beat?

I get inspiration from so many things around me – nature, the outdoors, movies, video games – it all somehow influences the music. A funny thing I started doing on my streams was a segment called “Tell Me What To Sample” where viewers send in strange YouTube videos for me to sample into a track. On one stream, I had to sample the sound of a gibbon, a kookaburra – which is this really annoying sounding bird, and a whale’s song. I loved that challenge, and I think the beat came out pretty dope! Inspiration can come from anywhere! 

Do you have any techniques to break out of the mold and stay original, do you have a process at all to make sure you don’t always reach for the same styles or musical elements?

My musical influences all mostly come from outside the “beats” world. I listen to a lot of straight-up pop music, indie rock, pop-punk, K-pop, and hyper pop. When you have a collection of different influences like that, you learn different lessons from all of them. When you stir that all into a pot, you’re bound to come out with something original. 

But there is something about having your sound so I don’t mind that much if I have a collection of sounds that I tend to gravitate towards – like a rock band having a bass, guitar, vocalist, and drummer. That never changes for that band. In electronic music, a lot of artists fall into the trap of having every track be so different – when really we should be refining our taste so when people listen they can say “That’s a TAETRO beat”. It’ll evolve over time naturally. 

Who was your biggest influence? Did you have a mentor, teacher or an artist or producer in the media you looked up to?

Early on I was really influenced by artists like Grimes, Flying Lotus, and Kanye West. I think that idea of being able to make stuff that is unapologetically yours carries through all of those artists’ work. I really strive for that. Right now one of my favorite bands is The 1975, who will release an album with a hardcore rock track, a Brian Eno-inspired track, and an early-2000s pop rock tune. And the thing is, they have fans that show up for them, whatever they make. That’s just goals. 

I’m really lucky to have a couple mentors, former professors, former bosses that I stay in touch with and consider mentors. They make me not only a better creative and better with business, but also push me to be a better person in general. 

Every time you put a track out, it’s a chance to get a playlist, it’s a chance to become somebody’s favorite new producer. The more darts you throw at the board, the more likely it is you’ll hit the bullseye.

What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learnt when working in the music industry and producing music?

You can make the best record in the world sitting in your basement, and unless you get REALLY lucky, no one will hear it. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that building your audience, and marketing your personal brand, is just as important as creating the music. 

I get to operate completely outside the traditional music industry. I don’t deal with labels, I don’t worry about album sales or streams – all the things you hear artists tell cautionary tales of. Labels put you into debt on huge advances, and streaming services pay $0.011 per stream at most. 

Instead, you can cultivate a community that will show up to whatever you do because you’ve brought them some type of value or just made a connection on a piece of content. 

I wake up, make music, make content, and do whatever I want – I’m only accountable to myself and my audience. That’s freedom. 

There are millions of aspiring beatmakers on BandLab. What is one piece of advice you can give to them to become better creators?

All aspiring beatmakers need to just keep making more music. Don’t dwell on that one track, just get it done, put it out and move on to the next one. It’s a volume game. Every time you put a track out, it’s a chance to get a playlist, it’s a chance to become somebody’s favorite new producer. The more darts you throw at the board, the more likely it is you’ll hit the bullseye. That also requires skill though, which is another reason just releasing more music is good for you. Every track you make is a chance to learn something new, to get better, and push yourself. 

BandLab users love a remix contest. What kind of contest entries are you hoping to see from the BandLab community?

The type of remixes I like the most either take the material and create something totally new and unexpected, or are an evolution of the original ideas. If my original track is Charmander, can you evolve it into a Charizard? That would be dope. Make it truly your own, and make it dope. 

What’s a piece of gear you have seen this year that you would recommend to a beginner, intermediate, and a pro BandLab user?

For a beginner, get yourself a MIDI Keyboard – I used the Akai MPK MINI Mk3 to make my beat in Bandlab.

For intermediate, I think it’s so dope that you can bring in your own samples to BandLab, and in my track I layered in a field recording I captured of crickets. Pick up a field recorder to record your own samples which will add a layer of originality to your music. I use the Tascam DR07.

For the pros out there – go buy yourself a decent camera. It’s time to start documenting your process and building up your band identity as a producer. Show people what you’ve learned, or promote your latest release by doing a track breakdown video. It’s really important for artists to get comfortable doing this. I use the Sony ZV-1 as my main point and shoot camera. 

Do you make all your own samples? Or do you rely on free samples as well?

I create my own sample packs and collect field recordings that make my music feel a little more personal, but I also use Splice which is a great resource if I need a particular sound. 

BandLab users collaborate a lot on the platform. How do you usually collaborate with other artists, especially in a time where face to face interactions aren’t as easy. If you could collaborate with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

I actually don’t collaborate with other producers that often. Music creation has always been a sort of insular process for me but when we first started staying home I started doing a talk show on my channel where the community calls in with questions, and I interview other artists. This ironically has made me feel more connected to the community than ever. Producers from literally all over the world call in and despite geography or pandemics, we come together in a really nice way. 

Right now if I could just be in the same room as one producer for a session, it would be Teddy Park from YG/The Black Label. He’s one of those producers who has such a high bar in terms of what gets released, and he’s just got his finger on the pulse of what is hot at any given moment. 

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