Taylor McFerrin on New Album 'Love's Last Chance,' Singing, His Famous Father and What's Next

Taylor McFerrin on New Album 'Love's Last Chance,' Singing, His Famous Father and What's Next
Let's get this out of the way: Yes, Taylor McFerrin's father is indeed Bobby McFerrin, he of "Don't Worry, Be Happy" fame. But Taylor McFerrin has in fact be able to carve his own path — his own legacy — as a DJ, producer, musician and now vocalist on his new album, Love's Last Chance (out now on AWAL).
His vocals appear all over his first full-length outing since 2014's Early Riser, a record that sees McFerrin step out from behind the turntables and production boards to bless us with some vocals. It's a fact that both unnerves and excites him, he tells Exclaim! in an interview.
"I'm really the only singer on this record except for one song, 'Memory Digital,' where Anna Wise is singing the hook. That's been a jump I wanted to make for years. I've been a producer for over 20 years now," McFerrin says.
"When I put out Early Riser I felt like I was really in tune with all the musicians and artists of our time that I are really cutting edge. I mean, to be able to have Glasper, Nai Palm and more on my last record, that helped me feel like I'd arrived, and I had my crew of people who have something going on artistically."
Recorded in five days, Love's Last Chance is a statement on the fleeting nature of life and love. Tracks like the electro-fun of "All I See Is You" and the simmering soul of "Love and Distance" reveal the album is all about reflecting on holding on and letting go, in no order.
Whereas Early Riser was mostly about instrumentation, Love's Last Chance builds on both that foundation and his time as a member of Robert Glasper's R+R=NOW super group project, where he played synths and learned a lot about growing his own sound.
"It humbled me to be around guys that were geniuses at what they do. There's a difference in how comfortable I am as a producer versus singing, where I'm kind of a baby at it. It's just a weird sensation to come to terms with. I'm still so nervous to share with people, but at the same time, it's kind of bringing back memories of when I was starting off as a producer."
Taking his cues from his famous dad's penchant for improvising — and to some extent from his sister, vocalist Madison McFerrin — McFerrin goes in vocally and production-wise here.
"My parents have also been supportive, but very hands off about my art. My dad is the type of person that's always just making music. He never really pushed me to do anything music-related and let me do my own thing," he says. "There's a bit of dissonance between how we approach music that came from sampling hip-hop era; he came from the super high level musicianship era. And it's always weird playing your music for your parents."
McFerrin has always been about music, going way back to when he would sample the classic funk and soul records from his parents' music stash.
"Stevie Wonder was always my hero, and Prince also later in life. Just the guys that can project what is entirely from their own mind. They're doing most of the writing and singing and instrumentation. It's a huge challenge. Part of this project is putting myself in a position where I know I'm going to get scared at times and freaking out thinking that I suck. But it was just about putting the album out already. You need to start somewhere."
It's all about getting better each time out, he notes, and he intends to put out a lot more music in the future.
"I think this record really touched on a lot of my vintage soul throwback type of energy on this record. But then there's another side of my production style that's very electronic and kind of spaced out and deep. I think my music for the next couple of months and what I'm planning on dropping next year is going to mean more touching on that side of my musical personality."