Over the past ten years, alt-pop artist Tae & The Wave has been hard at work defining himself as an artist that is unafraid to experiment with pop norms. His new single “2002” is an ode to the idyllic days of pop music – when lyrics were simple and melodies were a carefree adventure immersed in positivity.
I got the chance to talk to him about how he first got into making music, his musical influences, the writing process for his new single “2002” and so much more! Keep reading to see what he had to say!
Tell me a little bit about how you first got into making and performing music.
I grew up in a very musical family so music has had a huge presence in my life for as long as I can remember. I’ve been singing and playing instruments my whole life but I started getting serious about songwriting probably around the age of 15. My older brother, Joey, and I formed our first official band around that time and started performing at private parties and even some clubs around our hometown.
Was there a specific moment or person that made you realize that music is what you wanted to pursue professionally?
I can’t recall any particular moment that I came to that realization but I did go to a ton of concerts growing up, mostly Dave Matthews Band. Attending these shows and being part of such an amazing live experience was always so invigorating for me and would inspire me to want to keep going with the music. The idea of traveling around from city to city and connecting with people like that on a daily basis sounded, and still sounds, like the coolest life I could imagine.
Where did the name for your solo project, Tae & the Wave, come from?
The Tae part is a play off of my first name, Dante, and the Wave represents the journey, the highs and lows that we all experience and have to ride out in life.
I’m always genuinely curious about what artists want to convey to listeners with their music. You classify your sound as alt-pop, but if you had to describe it without using genre names, how would you describe it?
I’m a pretty positive guy in general, so I think my songs tend to have a lot of optimism to them. The grooves are pretty upbeat and I like throwing in these tasty little guitar or synth riffs that listeners can vibe with right out of the gate.
Kind of going off of that, who are some of your musical influences?
Dave Matthews Band has always been my favorite live show. John Mayer is probably my favorite songwriter and the reason I fell in love with the guitar. But ultimately, I got my love and passion for music from my dad. He was a fantastic musician who taught me that playing music is not all about yourself. Most importantly, it’s about sharing it with others, connecting with listeners and putting positive energy out into the world.
Let’s talk about your new single, “2002”. What’s the story behind this song?
“2002” is a dreamy throwback to youth, experiencing true freedom for the first time and realizing there’s a great, big, beautiful world out there waiting for you to explore.
I always love hearing about the songwriting process so I was wondering if you could give me a glimpse into what it was like specifically for this song.
The groove you hear in “2002” was the first piece of music I wrote for this project over a year ago. It was pretty much just me alone in my pool house, layering cool synths and tasty guitar parts over a beat. I loved the aesthetic and felt like it really captured the sound I was going for, so I put a star next to that project file and would frequently revisit it, even while I was developing other tunes. When it came to writing the lyrics and melody, I had a pretty high standard set for this song so it took me a long time and quite a few drafts before I felt like I nailed it.
Do you tend to write by yourself or do you like collaborating with other writers and artists in co-writes?
I’ve traditionally been a ‘write by myself’ kind of guy but I’ve been much more open to collaborating lately, specifically on the producing side of things. I have a good idea of what makes my sound “my sound” and the elements that go along with that, but deep down I think music is meant to be a shared experience, so when I find a producer or someone who understands my vision and can help execute that even better than I could by myself, I’m all for it.
Was there any major changes to “2002” that happened once you got into the recording studio, whether it be in the lyrics or something sonically?
Before final production, I sent the demo for “2002” off to a few musical friends, Jerry DePizzo (OAR) and Nick D’Andrea (Doc Robinson). Both of those guys provided some excellent feedback that led to the trimming down of the bridge, which used to be a longer musical interlude, and a lyrical change in verse two. I won a state soccer title with my high school team in 2002 and I originally had a lyric about it in the second verse. I loved it, but everyone else thought it was too literal [laughs].
You’re still relatively new to the music game. What are some music industry-related goals or benchmarks that you’re aiming to reach in the next couple of years?
I love playing festivals and have already been a part of some really cool ones, but there are a few bucket listers that I’m really looking forward to playing i.e. Coachella, Lollapalooza, Bonnaroo.
Lastly, we’re called Talk Nerdy With Us because we all have an inner nerd so what is something that you’re currently nerding out about?
Oh I’m a huge sports nerd. I still play soccer competitively, I’ll watch any live sports event on TV (Ohio State football is my #1). I run a fantasy football league with some friends and I also play a lot of NHL hockey on XBox. There’s this whole community of players online; we form teams, play in leagues with and against each other…some serious nerding out!