Taco Time Starts at 1AM
The Odd Future DJ on Internet Beef and The Importance of Kindness
- Interview: Kevin Pires
- Photography: Renell Medrano
Taco is a nice guy. He cries while watching his sister Syd of The Internet perform, follows Tyler, The Creator’s no flexing policy, and loves bringing his friends together. While he’s best known as a DJ, it’s his particularly 21st century preoccupation with creating connections that makes him the kind of person you want to be around.
Unlike typical fame, captivating because of how different it seems from your own life, Taco and Odd Future’s popularity is a product of their relatability. They remind you of yourself. You blast their music so that for a moment you can let go of your inhibitions. You love them because they are the you that doesn’t give a fuck. Odd Future represents a unique millennial vacillation between a public life lived boisterously and a private life kept proportionally quiet. Like the meme of someone with millions of followers but no real friends, we exist between two worlds. Taco brings those worlds together.
Kevin Pires spoke with Taco shortly after he landed in a Los Angeles more humid than the Miami he had just left to talk Odd Future, his fight with Deadmau5, and private concerts from Lil Wayne.
Who gets to call you Travis?
My close friends, my family—it’s directly down the middle between Travis and Taco actually.
So it’s not an alter ego situation where you just won’t respond?
No, not at all, but I will say if I’m walking somewhere and somebody yells Taco, I won’t turn around as much as I would if somebody yells Travis. If somebody yells Taco, that might be somebody I don’t feel like dealing with.
When someone asks what you do, how do you respond?
I usually just say I DJ because that’s the simplest way to put it. Somebody always needs something though, whatever city they’re in, and that may sound kind of shady, but I mean a guitar player, or if somebody wants a song with somebody else, or likes a brand they don’t know anything about, I may have a connection. I have a pretty big network, so it’s not hard to help somebody out with shit. I do it out of love for whoever asked me.
When you were 17, around the time Loiter Squad came out, you were asked if that’s what you wanted to do with your future. No one expects a regular 17-year-old to know what they want to do with the rest of their lives, but fame does something strange to age. Do you feel like you lost out on being a teenager?
No—growing up I was definitely in an older crowd. I was doing teenage shit at nine. All my friends were so much older than me that my parents were always like, “How are these your friends? Why are you hanging out with this old ass dude?” We talked about things we had in common. I learned so much that when I got older and was put in the same position I was like, oh, they made a bad decision on this, let me fuckin’ switch my shit up.
You learned from their mistakes.
I learned to not show off. Tyler put that in my head since day one. No flexing. “I don’t want to see a picture of you throwing money on Instagram. That’s how people get robbed.” He would tell me to save my money and don’t do this, don’t do that, don’t get an apartment, buy a house. All these situations that I’ve been grateful to be put in, I’ve learned from my older friends.
“I learned to not show off. Tyler put that in my head since day one. No flexing.”
You’ve said that you cry when cool shit happens—when was the last time?
The last time I cried was to Syd performing. We added a second show that night because there were too many people outside, and during this one song she says, “Say my name,” and everybody in the crowd yells, “Syd!” It was hella funny, like every single time. At the end of it, it was like the loudest thing ever and I was laughing but there were tears, but I played it off as laughing.
I cried when I met Kobe. I cry every time I see Jay-Z perform “Big Pimpin’.” I cry every time I see Birdman perform “Still Fly.” On my 20th birthday, Lil Wayne played me an album—it never came out—and he said, “This is my last song, after this I’m going to go get fat on a beach somewhere.” I was like, “No, man don’t do that, don’t play this song, I’ll cry,” and he started laughing. He played the song and I had to walk out of the room.
That’s the kind of thing you don’t forget.
It’s the little things that change you though. When a kid walks up to me and knows who I am, I get more excited about that than if it’s somebody big. When I was a kid my neighborhood was packed. I would see so many people at these parties and every time I walked up to somebody, how they acted towards me really affected my life at the time. I remember being nine years old and walking up to Andre 3000 and being like, “I love you so much,” and him saying, “Thank you,” and us talking for a bit. Kevin Garnett is a prime example of the opposite. He was a dick to me, and I’ll never ever think of him the same again. I love his basketball game, but fuck him as a human. I was 12 years old and he was such a douche.
What differentiates people like that?
I think the more famous you are, the nicer you are. The nicest person on earth is the most famous person on earth.
Why did Deadmau5 block you?
Fuck him! He was on Twitter complaining about some shit, and I said something like, “Why are you complaining? You sound like a 13-year-old girl,” and he blocked me. Everytime I see him he’s trying to be super nice but it’s like, dude, I just want to slap you out of your shoes, that’s it. I could give a fuck!
I don’t take disrespect lightly. Especially when it’s coming from someone who’s in a position above someone else. I admire his whole movement and what he did, but fuck him as a person. The universe is very fair, and I think he probably has something he can’t pay to fix, and it’s going to hurt him forever. It’s okay because I’m confident in myself and my life’s okay. Life is amazing actually.
“I cried when I met Kobe. I cry every time I see Jay-Z perform “Big Pimpin’.” I cry every time I see Birdman perform “Still Fly.” ”
Back in April you Tweeted, “I can't wait to tell my kids stories about my life right now.” What’s one you would tell them?
I was at a party the night that I got the name Taco. We had a snowball fight in the middle of L.A. It was December and there wasn’t any snow, but for Christmas people in communities take ice and build their front lawn for their kids. We stole snow and had a snowball fight. We were at a party, and these helicopters came. All I remember is looking up and the light being in the middle of the backyard and everyone wanting to be in the light and pulling up their shirts and yelling or throwing up middle fingers. Six of us jumped into Jasper’s first car. We heard “Ahhh!” and looked behind us and there was a guy being chased by two dogs.
From your Twitter timestamps, it appears you don’t sleep much. What keeps you up?
At night, I think clearly. During the day, I’m always conflicted with something better to do. Nobody is up at 1AM on a Monday. That’s when I have time to do whatever the fuck I need to do. That’s when I sit down and write or try to learn something. You wake up in the morning thinking about what you went to sleep doing, and then it embeds in your head. Instead of trying to learn everything in the daytime while you’re distracted thinking about what your friends are doing down the street.
Let’s call that Taco Time.
Taco Time is from 1-5.
Are there parts of your life that you go out of your way to keep private?
I try not to post my mom on Instagram. I try to keep my girlfriends in the cut. That’s really about it.
You mention girls you have crushes on publicly, is it weird when you meet them IRL?
No, I don’t even know if they see it, so who gives a fuck? There have been girls that I’ve been with and they saw things from way back and were like, “What the fuck? When did you post this?” Usually they’re kind of flattered because a lot of people won’t do that. Most people crush in private. Fuck that, I like your face and when I meet you in person, I’m going to tell you. It’s an insecurity for people to go talk to other people. I have that fear too but I push myself to say fuck it and go have that conversation. Worse comes to worst, they’ll look at me like I’m crazy and walk away. Then I’ll continue my life without thinking about it twice.
“Everybody thinks that people aren’t humans almost. Everyone wipes their ass at the end of the day. We’re all normal humans here.”
What do you think Odd Future’s legacy is?
I don’t think it’s a NWA or Wu-Tang type of thing. People will say somebody’s the next Kobe Bryant, or the next Michael Jordan, or the next Lebron James. We were the first of our kind—people really doing whatever they fuck we wanted. Motherfuckers were so into one style of thing. We opened everybody’s eyes to look at the world a little differently.
We were the first black kids in this generation to say, “We’re different and it’s okay.” We just don’t care. Everybody loves to say I don’t give a fuck but they really give a fuck. We don’t have time for the fuckery that you think we give a fuck about. We looked like we always had a joke that you wanted to be inside on.
From Odd Future to your friendship with Kendall Jenner, what have you learned from being on the inside? What do people get wrong?
Everybody thinks that people aren’t humans almost. Everyone wipes their ass at the end of the day. We’re all normal humans here.
People treat other people like products and that’s what I don’t like. That’s nasty—treating a human like they’re a product is very sleazy. Motherfuckers cry, motherfuckers be smiling, motherfuckers get mad. All I’ve learned from being around is just be yourself and don’t be a dick. That’s it. Be yourself, don’t be a dick, and, oh yeah, don’t be weird.
- Interview: Kevin Pires
- Photography: Renell Medrano
- Styling: Rebecca Hearn
- Production: Zach Macklovitch (Saintwoods)
- Production Assistant: Gina Panarello