INTRODUCING HOOST words Maisie Daniels - photography Joe Hunt - fashion Sophie Emmett
Hoost (AKA Justin Tailor) is the London-based producer who embodies buckets full of charisma, fun, and creativity - attributes that bleed into his music. And it is now that the two ‘H’s’ have hit, as Hoost teams up with Huntar, dropping his brand new single ‘Sexual’ on May Friday 31st under Range Records. Inspired by dancehall vibes, tropical house influences and all met with Huntar’s smooth vocals, it’s sure to get you in the mood for summer.
Hoost draws influences from a variety of genres. Take R&B, hip hop and house, for example, however pop music will always remain at the core of everything he produces. F Word got the chance to dig a little deeper into this topic, speak of summer’s effect on our souls and find out some fun-facts y’all might not know about this South London producer.
Maisie Daniels: Hey Justin, so you’re a South London lad, born and bred, is this right? Justin Tailor: Hi Maisie, I am! I was born in Herne Hill but moved to Bromley when I was really young, so I spent most of my life living that ‘zone 4’ life.
M.D: And what’s your favourite hang-out spot in South? J.T: It’s hard to pick. The Jolly Woodman in Beckenham is one of my favourite pubs in London. It’s a classic ‘old man’ pub and a pint is still cheap [laughs]. I always enjoy going to Hootenanny’s in Brixton too. The food outside is always really good. I also love Crystal Palace Park in the summer - it’s hard to beat - what other park has dinosaurs!
M.D: So do you have any beef with the North of London? I know how some Londoner’s can get very territorial! J.T: [Laughs] Definitely not. I’ve spent most of my career so far in studios across North London. I had a studio for the past 2 years in Tottenham, so it really feels like a second home to me now.
M.D: So you’re an all-round Londoner! Why the name ‘Hoost’? J.T: Was just a nickname of mine from School!
M.D: Can you take me through who you’ve produced for in the past? J.T: Rina Sawayama, Dan Caplen, Olivia Nelson, Huntar, Cassyette, and Joel Baker are among a few.
M.D: What is the creative process that goes into producing? J.T: It changes every time. There’s rarely ever a ‘brief’ or formula to how I produce. I’ve found that allowing the artist to get stuff off their chest while talking helps with getting a song idea or a concept down. It’s important to keep bouncing ideas off each other too. That way I can produce something that sounds authentically like the artist I’m working with. That’s why the stuff I write with Rina sounds completely different to what I write with Dan.
There’s also a balance that I try to maintain as a producer. Sometimes the lyrics affect the production, sometimes the production ideas i.e. synth sounds/drum patterns affect the song but I focus less on the fine details of the production, and more on the song as a whole. At the core of it, the song needs to be good if it were just vocals and piano, or guitar. Not to say production isn’t important; it can make or break a good song, but I’ve noticed that it’s the balance of a really well-written song and good production that makes it timeless. If I focus too much on the sound of an 808 or a synth sound, then I lose the bigger picture, and it runs the risk of sounding dated in the future. Let the song be a song first, people want to sing along to it.
M.D: Let’s look at the present. You’ve teamed up with Huntar for your debut single ‘Sexual’. Saucy title! Tell me more about this... J.T: I actually wrote Sexual with Louis III, another incredible artist who I work with a lot (also a South London resident…the talent is strong south of the river). The song came to us really quickly – I was messing around with the plucked chords and Louis essentially freestyled a lot of the lyrics at the same time. The mood felt so good that we stuck with quite a lot of it. We didn’t want to take the song too seriously, and I think we captured the amount of fun we had making it in the song.
Due to release scheduling clashes, Louis couldn’t sing on the final version, but thankfully Huntar was up for singing it, and he sounds so good on it. Huntar and I have great chemistry together, we’ve actually written about 40+ songs together for his project, he’s such an amazing artist and I’m glad he’s on my first single. He’s got some exciting stuff coming out soon too, so keep your ears to the ground for when he drops new music.
M.D: It’s a very ‘summer ready’ track. Do you think that the season’s dictate music in any way? J.T: In a big way. We wrote this song in the middle of last year’s insanely hot summer, and my old studio in Tottenham has a big bar and outdoor seating area (shout out Ten87 Studios and Five Miles), so when we’d take a break, we’d get some Caribbean from around the corner, and get a pint and sit outside with everyone else. It was a great atmosphere. I love seeing how happy us Brits get as soon as the sun comes out. We love it so much, everyone’s mood lifts so it’s difficult to write a sad song when you’re surrounded by such happy energy during the summer.
M.D: What do you think is the most influential thing that has come out of the genre of ‘pop’? J.T: I could go on forever about this. Pop influences, and is influenced, by everything! Pop music always changes and affects the current climate so much, because Pop is just “whatever is popular at the time.” It’s amazing that when we talk about Pop, we could be talking about Lady Gaga just as much as we could be talking about Not3s – very different music, but still falls into the pop category really. It’s too broad a genre to narrow down. 20 years ago, pop was cheesy chords and dance routines. Now you could argue that Ariana Grande, with gospel, influenced chords on a trap style beat talking about buying her weave is considered pop. But to actually answer your question, I think the most influential thing that pop has given us is common ground. You can bring together hundreds of different nationalities or people, and they’ll understand each other with just one good pop song.
M.D: Great answer. What are the key things that go into making a song ‘pop’? J.T: Simplicity. The main goal with a pop song is 1: what is the message? And 2: how directly and effectively can we put this message across? People like Ed Sheeran and Charli XCX are great at this because their melodies and lyrics are simple enough for everyone to understand and sing along to. And when everyone’s singing along to your song, you’ve written a pop song.
M.D: You collaborate a lot with your friends - that must be nice! Does this collaborative process happen naturally? J.T: It’s a mixture. Most of the time I’m reaching out to artists, or they’re reaching out to me directly. Quite a lot of artists have come through my manager also, and thankfully he’s got a good idea of who I work well with and I’ve grown some great friendships with those artists.
M.D: What are the best things about collaborating with friends? J.T: We know how to work with each other, and there’s a lot more of an unspoken understanding when we’re writing a song together, which can really feel like magic. Especially when you have those moments that you’re both thinking the exact same ideas. I have these moments all the time with Hannah Yadi (my bandmate in Frank Gamble) and it never gets old.
Hoost wears jacket OFF-WHITE at WWW.MRPORTER.COM; hoodie ADIDAS
M.D: And what are the worst things about collaborating with your friends? J.T: [Laughs] We just end up being long to each other… It’s funny, it always takes so much longer to collaborate with friends and to get in the studio with them. I think it’s because we know they’re within reaching distance so we get complacent, but the moment we’re in the room together, we’re both like “why has this taken so long!”
M.D: What would you say is your biggest achievement so far? J.T: The fact that I get to do this for a living! I write and produce songs, which people like, and know the words to, and sing at the top of their lungs to at gigs. That’s a pretty big achievement as far as I’m concerned, and I’ve sacrificed so much to get to this point...every day feels like a blessing. I mean, I could be working a boring job that I hate, living for the weekends and never wanting Monday to come back around.
M.D: Did you always know that you want to be a producer? J.T: Not really, but kind of. I always knew I wanted to do something musical ever since I was a kid. I didn’t really understand what production was until I went to University at Leeds College of Music and started learning about it, and realising this is what I’ve always wanted to do…
M.D: If you weren’t doing this, what do you think you’d be doing? J.T: I’m really into cooking so I’d probably be doing some kind of Youtube food show, or working in food. I still want to make my own food show though- I’m obsessed with Anthony Bourdain and Action Bronson’s shows.
M.D: Speaking of food, what is it that feeds your creativity the most? J.T: Food and good conversation. I find they can create a connection to my creativity better than anything else. Also, I’ve been trying to master the art of “fuck it”. I’ve been trying to make a beat in ten minutes, and it’s taught me to not overthink things and just go for what comes naturally to me, and it’s really helped me build an idea quickly. And if I don’t like it, whatever, it only took ten minutes!
M.D: You were half of the band Frank Gamble, can you tell me more about that? What was your role in the band? J.T: I was the producer, and Hannah was the singer. We were very hands-on with each other’s roles though. Hannah has amazing production ideas, and I enjoy getting stuck into fine-tuning the lyrics and melodies. She summed it up really well once when describing our roles in Frank Gamble: I’m Frank’s hands and Hannah is the mouthpiece. We’ve known and worked with each other since 2012, so we have a really natural work dynamic, it’s like we’re in each other’s’ heads sometimes. Hannah’s like my little big sister, and we would tell each other everything going on in our lives, which would always end up in whatever we’d write that day. All the songs we write together always have a deeply personal meaning to us one way or another.
Hoost wears camo jacket LEE; t-shirt FILIPPA K; jeans and hat ARTIST'S OWN
M.D: You mentioned the piano earlier- such a beautiful instrument. When did you begin to play? J.T: When I was 7. My older brother used to play and I just wanted to copy him all the time and that’s basically how I started playing the piano [laughs].
M.D: How are you at singing? J.T: Imagine a South London potato.
M.D: [Laughs] Got it! You are self-titled as ‘Producer/ Bastard’ on your Instagram handle - I have to ask, why the ‘bastard’?
J.T: I put that there back when I first made my Instagram account and haven’t changed it since [laughs]. My friends and I were mostly poking fun at those Instagram accounts that would say “Vegan/Waiter/Content Creator” in their bio.
M.D: What are you currently working on? Is there anything exciting in the pipelines that we should know about? J.T: I can’t state specifics, but I’m working on a lot of EP’s and projects this year with some really incredible artists. I’m also working on my own solo project, dropping a couple of songs this year, with ‘Sexual’ featuring Huntar being my first single out on 31st May!
Hoost wears Jacket OFF-WHITE at WWW.MRPORTER.COM; hoodie ADIDAS; jeans ARTIST'S OWN; shoes VANS
M.D: We will be looking out for it all! Let’s finish things up with a quick-fire round Somewhere in England you’d love to visit? J.T: Liverpool.
M.D: Favourite breakfast food? J.T: Eggs.
M.D: Tea or coffee? J.T: Tea.
M.D: Biggest vice? J.T: Lying in bed for too long. I wish I was a morning person.
M.D: Favourite slang word? J.T: “Allow it” – I use that phrase way too much.
M.D: What is your favourite F-word? J.T: Fruit!
Photography: Joe Hunt
Fashion: Sophie Emmett
Fashion assistant: Elshadai Gore
Grooming: Emilie Louizides
Set design: Katy Bennett & Elshadai Gore
Hoost wears sweatshirt SCOTCH & SODA; sunglasses AKILA
Hoost wears shirt QUIKSILVER; t-shirt LEE