After picking up the guitar at age 12, D’Quaveon Taylor Erickson’s passion to create music ignited. The Milwaukee-raised, Minneapolis-based hip-hop artist who performs as Tay the Air Nomad then taught himself chords and began structuring songs.
A couple years later, Erickson, now 22, got a Mac laptop and started experimenting with GarageBand. “I remember I would just be at it for hours,” he said. “I didn’t know what I was doing really, but I would just take these different sounds and these different drum patterns and rhythms and just stack them all on top of each other.”
Once Erickson had files full of homemade beats and sounds, he decided he wanted to put his voice and personality into his music, so he started writing.
Since the first season of Sophia Eris and Auggie 5000’s weekly Shut Up and Rap showcase, Erickson has been a regular performer and attendee. He used the intimate stage at Modist Brewing as a platform to test new tracks that are infused with dance vibes and his signature sing-rap flow.
Consequently, Erickson made the final championship round both last season and this past season and took home the win this time around. Among other prizes, Erickson has been presented the opportunity to open up for Run the Jewels at our Snow Show next week.
GoMN spoke to Erickson about finding his avenue as an artist, musical inspirations, and how he’ll prep for hitting the stage at Myth.
When did you first start creating music?
I picked up the guitar when I was 12. Then, my freshman year of high school I had GarageBand. I would just do that everyday, and I have hundreds of files of wack, weird music, but that was how I learned. I figured out I loved music. Music has always been therapy for me. It’s a drug for me. It affects my emotions so hard, like good music makes me feel so good.
What was the first song you wrote?
The first time I ever wrote a rap I was 14. My “girlfriend” at the time or whatever did a young brother dirty. Typical 14-year-olds would go on little Facebook rants or send some angry text messages, but I decided that I was going to put all that aside and make a diss track. I went home and I put on the instrumental to “Bittersweet” by Kanye and I went in.
Who are some of your musical inspirations?
I think sound-wise and style-wise it’s all over the map. But, artist-wise, I look at certain artists and I want to be that type of artist, like Kanye, Donald Glover, Chance, Tyler the Creator, Jaden Smith – guys like that. First of all, all five of them are black superheroes. They were never afraid to be different or unique and to be themselves. It’s very magnetic what they do, and I want to be that. I want to be a black superhero.
What was your first performance like?
The first time I performed a song that I made with my friend was at this community event. I remember we were sound-checking, and I was kind of stressing about hitting the words properly. One of our other friends who was there pulled me aside and was like, “Yo, I know how much fun you had when you were making that song, but you’re not showing it on stage.” And I was like, “Oh snap, you’re right!” When I got the mic in my hand the energy changed. I didn’t care anymore about being perfect, because I saw all the people and I was like let’s go! We changed up the chorus and made it a call-and-response thing with the crowd and they loved it. So, that was a really cool lesson I learned at my first performance two years ago, and my second performance was the first week of Shut Up and Rap.
How has performing at Shut Up and Rap been?
I’ve been on the Shut Up and Rap stage five times, and I’ve gotten to do a different song almost every time. Just getting to see how people react to different things has helped me so much to find my little space, my little pocket, and see what I’m most comfortable with and see what people move to. Just being able to perform has been the biggest help for me as an artist, because to me performance is what it’s all about, because you do it all for the people. I take performing very seriously, it’s all fun, but it’s serious fun.
How are you prepping for Snow Show?
I can’t wait, I’m so excited! Student 1 is going to be with me. When me and Student 1 get together we are always, dancing, joking around, laughing and having a good time. I’m really excited to be on the stage with him, and I’m honestly not doing too much. It’s very important to me to not do too much, because it’s very easy to overthink and overanalyze and stress yourself out. I’m leaning heavily toward one particular song I want to do and I know it well. I have a demo version of it, so I’ll just put it on and listen to it or sing to it and enjoy myself with it and visualize being on that stage.
Do you have an goals or plans to release music in the New Year?
In 2018, I want to be putting out music, I want to be having people listen to it, I want to be getting chances to perform, but I’m trying not to get too ahead of myself. At the end of the day it’s about what I need to do right now, which is record these songs and get feedback. I do have one big plan, and I don’t know how it’s going to happen, but in 2018 I want to Milly Rock on a big stage.
My goal for my career is to have a song with Mr. Hotspot, if I do that, then I did what I came to do. That’s my goal, because he’s my biggest inspiration outside of music. I can’t click on a Mr. Hotspot video and not smile. That’s what I want to do with my music or with whatever it is that I make.
Catch Tay the Air Nomad’s set at Snow Show at Myth on Sunday, December 3. He’ll be opening up for Run the Jewels, Mikey Mike, Bishop Briggs, SHREDDERS, Arkells and Welshly Arms.