Interview: Tate Tucker is leading the LA underground scene

Get to know why he's a name to know as we head into 2017.
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Kristi Shinfuku
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Get to know why he's a name to know as we head into 2017.
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Tate Tucker has been a name stirring around the LA scene for a while now, and over the second half of 2016, he's been everywhere. His newest track "HCIBM" was released yesterday, and the absolutely stunning song is the perfect way for the talented musician to end 2016 and to kickstart his upcoming EP All In

We sat down with the talented artist to learn more. 

Hi Tate, thanks for taking the time to chat with us! You're gearing up to release your latest track, "How Could I Be Mad," off your upcoming EP that looks at the journey love undertakes. Your music is intensely raw and vulnerable, do you find any fear in letting so many people into your world? How do you continue to push yourself into exploring and revealing with your listeners? 

Thanks for having me <3, I can always show some love for Magnetic.

In terms of the fear of vulnerability, honestly, two months ago before I released my last single, "Just Wanna," I was pretty comfortable with this project and releasing it as a part of myself. But when that track blew up, with a vibe that isn’t as deeply personal, I got a little worried people would get attached to that sound. Luckily, my supporters know I’ve always been one to expand and experiment with sounds, life isn’t static and I think its cathartic when your art reflects that evolution. I think love has become taboo and lost its marketability — I think that stems from fear and insecurity. I just want people to love and be cool with it. I’m a songwriter, a storyteller, a writer — not always gonna be wearing my rapper hat. That’s what I want my listeners to understand. 

You studied English in Georgetown before pursuing a musical career. What prompted you to start working on music in the first place? What lessons did you learn in Georgetown that helped hone you into the artist you are today? 

I learned how to be unabashedly black and myself in any environment. I also learned how to think, like genuinely think and process the world on my own terms. I got into music after a professor linked me with Lupe Fiasco and a freestyle video got me some internet buzz. From there I released a couple projects, toured a bit on the east coast, by the time I got back to LA I had some smaller label interest and I realized I could really pursue this dream. 

You've been a big name in the LA underground music scene for a minute now. What would you say are the biggest challenges you and the rest of your peers face within the music industry today? 

Haha yeah we’ve been out here. As an LA native, the hardest thing for me has been finding that grassroots support. Writers and tastemakers out here all want to import sounds. They want chicago, they want the midwest or the hottest thing from iceland, they really aren’t receptive to what a lot of local LA cats are doing. Aside from that, it’s really just the patience to not jump the gun on labels and to be okay with not balling out — streaming royalties aren’t paying any bills, so building from the ground up isn’t pretty. 

In going with your connection to the local scene, who are some of your favorite local artists? 

Hmm. Firstly my team really has some talent brewing, my brother KJ (produced most of my EP, as well as a single for Ra’Shaun, and more recently unreleased OG Maco) — he’s gonna have a big 2017 as a producer/artist, very talented cat.

Outside of my team I've always liked KR, his taste in production and his humility. Alexander Spit is the source of a lotta the culture. I’m also always gonna favor my hometown, the 310 been cultivating some great artists: Leven Kali is one of my favorites, he really inspired me to elevate my writing game, great person as well; the funk is in good hands wit that kid. Warm Brew also been paving a wave for years on the underground scene out here. .

You've had an incredibly big 2016, what can we expect from you in 2017? 

It’s all about growth for me. I’ve had some great mentors along this journey and they emphasized the importance of constant growth. That’s what 2017 will hold. First with the All In EP, then with some tours and amazing singles/collaborations. Most importantly, look out for me writing a lot of music for other artists — hopefully some chart topping joints. That’s been a huge focus for me and my development. 2017 has been years in the making, expect major growth and continued honesty in my music.