May 17, 2021
6 min read
Tyler Young may seem like a fresh face in house music but when you pull back the curtain you'll see over a decade of grinding. Add to that a musical upbringing that stretches back to the birth of West Coast hip-hop, and throw in some peak dance floor experiences, and you are one step closer to understanding how Tyler Young got here.
Young’s influences are wide-ranging. On a given day he easily bounces from The Cure to Young Thug to Noizu. He also has a remarkable musical upbringing. As the son of hip-hop pioneer and entrepreneur Dr. Dre, rap was the defacto sound in the house. However, Young may have some dance music coded into his musical DNA as well. He says, “My pops told me he was working on dance music at the very beginning. He was making house in the very beginning. I was like, Wait, what? Wow. So he's done it all, like two times over.”
When your father is an icon, there’s much to learn. Young's father has been an inspiration not just because of his music. He also impressed on Young important lessons in how to move about the world.
“I've learned so much from the guy. And it's been massively inspiring to watch someone with such a fine-tuned sense of detail. There's always that element of trying to just be 100% authentic. And trying to just think outside the box, not really be trapped in any way.”
His father encouraged him to be confident in his aspirations. Young says that his only expectation was that whatever it was he chose he should, "Go for it, and just give it your all. Be the best you can be, for real."
Young realized his dream at one of the most iconic moments in dance music history. In 2006 he witnessed the unveiling of Daft Punk’s Pyramid. He was already a fan of dance music but this was when he recognized that dance music was his future.
“Watching that happen completely catapulted me to the point of wanting to commit to it. I think that was the first time where I felt so connected. Their sound and the energy was unlike anything I'd ever experienced before. You know, I felt like, up to that point, nothing had ever grabbed me like that.”
Beyond the visceral experience, it was a spiritual awakening. “There are lightbulb moments where you kind of see yourself in the future. Then you stick to that goal and never stop and essentially, for me seeing Daft was that moment.”
Shortly after Coachella, Tyler immersed himself in DJ culture. However, resources for fledgling DJs were limited in 2006. But even the most illustrious careers emerge from humble beginnings, and a little bit of ingenuity. “I wanted to go home and start DJing but acquiring the gear wasn't as prevalent in that moment. My friends would come over to my crib, we'd sit in my room and we would just practice DJing on the [laptop] trackpad on Traktor. Just trying to teach each other how to get a clean transition.”
He eventually got a proper DJ setup and by the time he moved to San Francisco for college, he was ready to destroy dancefloors. “I was still underage at that point. And with no fake ID, it was kind of hard to get into 21 plus spots out there. [It] didn't really stop us from fucking rocking it.”
He stuck to college parties and undergrounds but he values every moment of those early experiences. "House music was always a goal. I was doing little things towards it the whole way. And now that I'm here, it's funny how everything comes together. And you realize that all those years of going at something you felt was in your heart ends up working out."
Tyler’s tastes shift with his moods. He draws from broad influences that he hopes steep their way into his music. He says, “I'm all over the spectrum and I need it. I'm definitely an emotional being. So at points I need more of that sad and then other points I need the four to the floor club vibe, that energy. But I'm always balancing out different kinds of energy because my emotions are complex. And I think that helps my creativity because I'll get ideas and [open] new mental pathways when I'm listening to something like The Cure."
His ability to translate emotion into music is on full display in his debut single “My Time.” It features the glorious vocals of Hayley May amidst a sweltering bassline and a bed of classic piano riffs. Equally built for radio and the club, it’s a culmination of years of hard work. And a nod to his father’s lessons in proper execution.
The song was passed on to Young from Jon Kong of Leftwing & Kody after they couldn’t find a proper home for it. “They were willing to pass it to me if I wanted to work on it. And I couldn't believe it. This is just a massive opportunity. And I have just been so thankful for that. It's been unbelievable.”
May and Young were never in the studio together, yet he captured the spirit of her vocals masterfully. It's a record that sparks joy, in a time when we could all use it. And, he says it’s been an unexpected stepping stone, “What's crazy is that this wasn't initially my plan [or] direction for my initial debut. But the way the cards kind of came together, It worked out beautifully.”
“My Time” is a song he says, “Anyone of all ages could just dig.” Young wants to occupy two spaces at once. He’s equally focused on dance music for the masses and filthy club bangers for the ravers.
He’s proven he can make great dance music with mass appeal. And he's ready to take on dancefloors that are primed for peak hour beats. “I think the direction is [to] smash this club out. With clubs back open, I thought we could start pushing a little bit more edgy and go a little bit more tough. That's always been the forefront of my heart, the club. And some of that's gonna bang for sure.”