Local Sounds Presents: Akari

When we were setting up the interviews, we told all our Local Sounds artists to come wearing their flyest fit. Sophomore Jordan Taylor — known musically as Akari and JT to his friends — definitely delivered. Dressed in a cotton candy pink sweater, JT fished through his backpack and pulled out a pair of Hello Kitty sunglasses and started messing around with his sampling workstation.

Last fall, JT released “Lazyboy,” an EP that blends together reggae basslines, hip-hop synths, and nu-funk rhythms. Slow, but dancey, “Island Boy” is the star of the EP according to JT.

“It was the first one I made and the one I didn’t have any questions about,” JT said. “I didn’t worry if it was good or not. It just was.”

JT’s creative process, much like other artists, differs for each project. With “Lazyboy,” JT produced a song a day after he picked up a guitar last summer.

“I really got into some psych rock and I would incorporate that and a lot of reggae in to my music,” JT said. “I just like to experiment with a whole lot of different sounds. Sometimes I’ll start with drums and work with that for an hour, and then I’ll put down some chords and that will be it. Sometimes I’ll start with chords and add drums and then I’ll take the chords away and put some new chords on and switch up the drums. The track would be completely different from when I started. Most of the time, I start with the harmonies and melodies and kinda just work from there.”

JT first started making beats after he watched a YouTube tutorial when he was 15. Then during his junior year of high school, JT applied to Future Music Moguls, a high school program hosted by the Clive Davis Institute of Recording Music. JT’s been hooked ever since.

“You know when you see something and you’re like, ‘I have to try it?’” JT said. “So I tried it out for a week. I tried out a lot of other things, but that was the one thing that kinda stuck. I was like, ‘Oh, this is kinda fun.’ I just try to focus on improving and getting better. It wasn’t like that I wanted to make a certain type of music. From there, I kept learning.”

A few of JT’s musical influences include Tyler the Creator and Andre 3000, but currently JT has been listening to the new N.E.R.D. and BROCKHAMPTON albums. And yes, JT’s still mad about not being at the Weinstein Chick-Fil-A when Tyler the Creator was there.

“Me and Chick-Fil-A have a really deep personal relationship and the fact Tyler snuck in there when I wasn’t there is like, man,” he said. “But yeah, chicken nuggets and french fries. That’s all you really need. Tried and true.”

JT also mentioned how if he could work with any musician, Tyler would be the dream.

“I would really love to work with Tyler because he’s such an incredible and creative person. He always has the most interesting ideas on what to do with a song, so I would love to just sit down with him,” JT said. “I would also love to work with Andre, but I don’t think I’m ready to work with Andre. Shout out to Cornelius. If I could work with Cornelius, that would be life-changing.”

Besides “Lazyboy,” JT has been working on another EP as well as a video game-inspired project, where he’ll add songs every now and then.

“Oh, that’s something I just started. It’s just a cool way to keep adding onto without it being a specific thing,” JT said. “I haven’t played video games in a long time. I wasn’t that into video games. I always loved Pokemon and Kingdom Hearts. I feel like I just had the normal child experience, like, oh, video games are around, so I’m just going to be into them.”

As for the progress of the next EP, JT said he’s just starting to chip away at it. What he’s excited for most this year is learning more about the New York City music scene.

“I’ve been really closeted for the most part of freshman year and now I’ve just started to expand and meet other people, so I don’t really have a good grasp for what is going on,” JT said. “I’m just really excited to perform and get better.”

Come see Akari and three other incredibly talented musicians at Sunnyvale on Feb. 8. Tickets are $7 in advance, and $10 on the day of. All are welcome!

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON NYU LOCAL