We are very excited to feature Tyler Cole as this weeks #SlaySpotlight. Cole is an independent singer/songwriter/musician who has released two albums, been featured on Jaden’s “ERYS,” co-produced Willow’s self titled album, “Willow,” and collaborated with many other artists. Tyler has been studying the performing arts since middle school and graduated from the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA) with a focus on theatre and film. He recently released two singles; “Bad Vibes” and “Skeleton.” and will soon be seen on the Netflix series “Family Reunion” starring Tia Mowry & Loretta Devine.
We got a chance to sit down with Tyler and discuss his process and tips for up and coming song-writers and producers!
On your latest LP, ‘We’re in Love & The World is Ending’, you explore a lot of emotions and move from delicate sonics to more intense, especially on my personal favorite (Sidney Poitier). What was your approach when writing and producing this album?
I wanted to make an album entirely with live sounds as a challenge to myself. I wrote most of the songs on a cheap acoustic guitar and I knew exactly what I wanted everything to sound like before I even started on the production. I had a lot to say and it’s all incredibly honest. I think what makes it special is that it’s not perfect and it doesn’t try to be.
You play guitar, bass, and sing on a slew of the songs on Jaden’s last album, SYRE, how do those sessions go? What was your favorite part?
Those sessions were incredible. Honestly, we would all be in the studio hanging out and jamming different instruments. Just coming up with ideas. One day I came in with the homie Teo before J was even there and we started to jam. Jaden walked in and heard the chords I was playing then just started recording my guitar without me knowing. I walked out and he said “I just wrote something crazy to that.” I was like “to what?” and then he showed us that he was recording that jam session. That idea became “Summertime in Paris.”
What’s the first thing you do when you open a session? Do you have any tips for upcoming producers and engineers?
It all starts with a great chord progression, bass line or a melody. I keep going through ideas until one of them inspires me to the point where I have to keep working on it. My biggest advice to upcoming producers and engineers is to keep creating without expectation and don’t be afraid to fail. Also, create as much as possible. Don’t spend all of your time on one song; just because you spent months on it doesn’t make it good.
You produced on Willow’s latest self titled album, what’s your favorite part of collaborating and producing?
I love learning from other artists and having more than one perspective in the studio. Willow is one of the most amazing artists I know and working with her is crazy because we constantly go back and forth with different ideas until the song is done. It happens fast.
What’s your fav song that you mixed, written and/or produced?
My favorite song I’ve produced is “Time Machine” by Willow. We wrote the lyrics together too. Her voice is so amazing and the song has this crazy nostalgic feeling to it that is special to me.
Tell us about a time when you needed to change your production style to accommodate an artist.
I feel like I’ve always been able to do a lot of different styles because my influences come from all over the place. So it’s not really about changing my style, just adapting to the artists I’m working with. Honestly, making a lot of records for myself is when I do that most because I’m always inspired by different things. I went through a whole phase where I wanted to learn how to produce Bossanova records and I spent a lot of time learning new jazz chords. My favorite one is the song “Love at First Fight.”
What are some tools that you use?
When I have access to it, I love recording on tape. For a lot of the Willow album we ran back the recordings through a tape machine. Also, running vocals through guitar amps is one of my favorite ways to get new textures.
What are your 5 most used plugins or current favorite plugins?
My bro Young Fyre started a company called Audeobox that makes plugins, sample packs, drum kits, etc. He used a bunch of that stuff on my new song “Skeleton.” Everything they do is incredible. Check them out.
What are some of your favorite vsts?
I’ve been using Omnisphere and Native Instruments stuff pretty much since I started learning how to make beats. I’ll use Ableton stock sounds for a lot of stuff, too. It’s all about how you use it.
How do you know when a song is done?
I don’t ever feel like a song is done. I guess when you can’t think of anything to add or change to make it better.
Do you prefer to engineer your own sessions when you are producing?
For me, it depends on the type of session but lately I’ve been working with this awesome engineer Zach Brown who’s based in NYC and he helps me speed up the creative process a whole lot.
What was one defining moment in your career?
Back in 2017, I drove across America in my mom’s Toyota RAV4 to play free shows in public parks in the middle of winter. That’s when I truly knew I would stop at nothing to achieve my goals.
Do you have any tips for upcoming producers and engineers?
Collaborate with local artists and always be open to hearing constructive criticism. Try to do something every single day to get you closer to your goals.
How do you feel about the current state of music?
I think we’re in renaissance but people don’t see it yet. Some of the most innovative art is being created now but there’s a lot of lazy stuff as well. The state of the world is forcing people to create with more passion and I think that’s amazing.
Where do you get inspiration?
Talking to strangers.
How do you stay focused and productive?
I have an unbearable desire to create and I drink really good coffee.
How do you deal with writers-block?
I step away from things for long periods of time. I hate forcing shit. If I feel stuck I know it’s not meant to be in that moment and I can always come back to it. But then the idea usually hits you right when you least expect it.
What’s a crazy experience you’ve had in the industry or a writing session?
I had a session with Willow in New York a couple months ago and at 3am, out of nowhere, Frank Ocean walked into the room. I was shook.
What are you listening to right now?
1000 gecs by 100 gecs. Dylan Brady and Laura Les are my favorite artists right now.
Who are some of your biggest influences and why?
Donald Glover, Justin Vernon, Solange, Frank, FKA Twigs, Tyler the Creator, Cudi, Dev Hynes, and many more. All of these artists go through phases and you never know what to expect next from them. They’re constantly growing and able to do such different styles while remaining true to themselves. It reminds me of Bowie.
What do you do for fun when you aren’t working on music?
I’m usually working on a film or TV project or going on a road trip with my friends.
Is there any artist you want to work with that you haven’t had an opportunity to yet?
Donald Glover. I met him for the first time at Coachella this year and I’ve wanted to work with him for 10 years. He changed the way I look at art and what an artist’s career can be.
Select Credits: Willow Smith, Jaden Smith, Blood Orange, RJ Word, Black Nile, Tru,
Crystal Mec, JABS, & Cassowary.