Tara Razavi Talks Producing Tyler, The Creator’s ‘IFHY’ Video, Finding His Leading Lady
F-bombs might be the least shocking part about Tyler, The Creator’s newest music video, “IFHY,” a single off his latest solo album, Wolf.
In the dollhouse treatment, the Odd Future frontman draws viewers into childish domestic dreams seasoned with adult thoughts about an intense boyfriend-girlfriend thing. Naturally, director Wolf Haley (yeah, um, Tyler) strips the dark lyrics down in this water-colored clip, even swapping them out for a dose of “Jamba” at the end.
Tyler—better known sometimes as Felicia the Goat—is an artist motivated by a mixed bag of deep-seated emotions that crawl around his mind, so how exactly does one bring what’s in his cranium to life?
VIBE caught up with the executive producer and Happy Place Productions founder Tara Razavi to discuss the rapper’s Pharrell-assisted track, his inspiration behind the video concept and why finding Tyler’s leading lady was a global mission.
VIBE: How you came up with the concept working with him, um how you guys came up with the doll house concept.
TARA RAZAVI: It was completely his concept. When you look at his track record of videos, there’s only a specific mind that could think about this constantly. He’ll go into the general concept of it, then I’ll sit down and go into like the specifics of it. We’ve been working on this video since last year to be honest with you.
Wow. What took so long to bring the video to life?
We started talking about it towards the end of last year while Tyler was recording his album, and we just couldn’t get to it. The first time we had to push it, we hadn’t found the perfect girl. He had a very specific girl in mind. The second time, he had an allergic reaction to a dog.
What was he looking for specifically in the lead girl?
He has a type. He likes a girl that looks mixed with freckles, gorgeous model-types. I was reaching out to every single modeling agency in the world, [and] of our top 10 girls, eight of them were on jobs out of the country. Brandy was actually at the top of our list too, but she was out of town. We’ve done a lot with Tyler, and I’ve never spent so much time looking for a person who was perfect.
I know you guys talked about his inspiration for the concept.
Tyler doesn’t spend that much time thinking of his concepts. When he hears a song, he’ll think of a concept immediately. He doesn’t go into like, ‘This’ll mean this and that’ll mean that.’ It’s a little simpler for him.
Was he influenced by this “Doppelganger” video that some critics are referring to?
No not at all. We never discussed another video or visual piece at any point through the process. He had the concept, and we were just coming up with the dolls look from scratch, looking at real dolls, etc. I’ve never seen that video [before], but it’s definitely weird [Laughs].
His mind is on another level. If him and Kanye got together, that would be incredible. They both have very artistic minds.
Him and Kanye are very close. I could definitely see something happening in the future.
That’d be dope. Now, how long did it take to nail the detail of the makeup on set?
We sent them to get their prosthetic molds of their face. It took a couple weeks to put the pieces together. On set, they had to sit in the chair for probably two or three hours, then we had to do clean-up work. We spent so much time on that.
So outside of finding the right lead girl, the makeup probably was the second most time-consuming part?
Everything on this. We had a model house and a bigger one. We had a toy Tyler and a bigger Tyler. It was high intensity on this job.
How does the visual, especially the dollhouse portion, lend itself to the meaning of the song?
I was so into making the video that I hadn’t even sat down to delve into the concept or anything like that. The other day I was watching it, and this is really fucking clever. The beautiful thing about Tyler is that he just paints, if we use an analogy of a painter or an artist. He’s painting what comes to his head and what comes to him naturally. What makes his visuals art to me is that you can look at them and you can think about what they mean, what they don’t mean, for hours and days on end. Just like you would stand at a painting at a museum. That’s what I love about his mind creatively. It’s a dollhouse, so on the surface, it’s a beautiful relationship. He’s in love saying, ‘I fucking hate you,’ but he really means I love you. It’s such a raw look at how men and women look at relationships. When you’re really in love, you just lose control and you’re just like, fuck I hate you and I love you.
Man, a lot of people have been there. Now, why the song switch at the end?
It’s two very different sides of him, but they’re both him. There’s not as much money in this industry as there used to be. Nobody sees more than three videos for albums, so he just wanted to shoot visuals for as many songs as he could. He’s really proud of this album. To be honest with you, “Jamba” is dope, and it shows such a different side of Tyler. You go from Tyler being a doll to Tyler just in a beanie in a car rapping.
With him hopping in and out of character so much, do you see him being a Hollywood actor in the future?
I don’t think he thinks about it. He’s too into directing, but I would not be surprised if he ended up in somebody’s movie. It’ll have to be like a Tarantino type of movie or Wes Anderson or something like that. Any huge Hollywood director would love working with him.
Did any of his celeb friends stop by the set?
No, he doesn’t run like that. Tyler is a private person. He has crazy fans though that are on it. We never give out any information, so you’ll never know where we’re shooting or what we’re shooting. I don’t know if they just look at pictures online and try to figure what’s the set, but it’s like detective work. When he recorded his album and we were meeting about the video, there was a group [of school kids] from Australia recording there. We look outside, and they’re going crazy, just looking at Tyler pointing at the window screaming. Two kids in particular looked like they were going to lose it, so we told them to come up, and they almost fucking cried. Tyler was like, ‘Do you want to listen to part of my new album?’ and he started playing a track. It was “Domo 23,” and the kid starts rapping the whole song. Tyler’s only ever performed this track maybe in one or two cities in the world. It doesn’t live anywhere, he’s never talked about it, that’s it. Tyler was taken back like, ‘What the fuck?,” but those are his fans. If you go to his show, every single kid is rapping every single lyric. They aren’t there dressed up looking around trying to see what the next guy is doing. They are all about the song.
That had to be a crazy, humbling experience for him.
Yeah, he was tripping. He’s definitely special.