taco’s quarter-life-crisis: “it’s time to think for myself”

Travis Bennett, perennial Odd Future team player, is officially off the bench. Now he's figuring out what his own future looks like.

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Jan 11 2018, 5:17am

At the risk of sounding like a 14-year-old hypebeast who cops every Off White “release” and shouts Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All at passing strangers: Travis “Taco” Bennett is probably the most immediately likeable person I’ve ever met. Taco, a DJ and member of the (now defunct, sort of, does it even matter anyway?) Odd Future collective, has been around very, very famous people for his entire adult life. He counts Tyler, the Creator and Frank Ocean as two of his closest friends, but if celebrity has rubbed off on him, it’s impossible to tell. From the moment he arrives at the Melbourne studio we’re shooting in, he’s the most charismatic person in the room. Bouncing off the walls, DJing between costume changes -- “you guys are gonna love this one!” -- putting Taco in a room is like pouring a mountain of syrup onto a stack of plain ol’ regular degular waffles.

To be clear, Taco didn’t just wind up famous because of the circles he runs in. Plenty of people have famous friends, but it’s the 23-year-old’s indelible presence that explains, for the most part, where he is today. In Australia to DJ Alison Wonderland’s Scarehouse festival run, Taco will spend the next three months touring North America with Vince Staples and Tyler. Impressive, absolutely, but you get the sense Taco’s not quite satisfied. He’s ready to do more on his own. (More apparently includes an album, which Taco announced on Instagram mere days after telling me there wouldn’t be an album in 2018. Cheeky.) Having someone like Syd the Kid as an older sister would be a whole lot of fun, but that’s a long shadow to step out of. And the responses are still murky to the question What does Taco do? This may be the year he finds answers...

Hey Taco -- any first thoughts on Australia?
Taco: The bugs out here are crazy. They just attack you and have no remorse. One of my managers John thought I was fucking crazy, we went to Phillip Island and a bug landed on my leg. And all of a sudden it felt like, you know when a tattoo first starts and it’s like a burning sensation, it was like. I was like “what the fuck?” and I look down it was some fuckin’ fly.

That is a sandfly. I’m sorry.
Dude John thought I was fuckin’ playing I was like “dude this fly just stung me!” and he’s like “you sound like an idiot.” Fourteen seconds later he was talking and was like “ahhh!!” and I was like “ha, see, now you look like a fuckin’ idiot.” And then also there’s those flies that just land on your face and you can’t get them off. It’s so aggressive! It’s like “I’m not into this, leave me alone!”

Maybe you’ll get into it though…
Just one night, catch me outside, lovin’ the flies?

Yeah, ever seen Bee Movie ?
Of course, of course.

That could be you, with that one special fly. Watching you flip through The Sounding Off Issue of i-D, pointing out friends of yours, it kinda seems like you know every other person in the city of Los Angeles.
I mean, I feel like that. I was born and raised there and I guess I’m just really social. I’m actually the shyest person, but I don’t care. I just go for it and say “hi” to whoever, because what do you have to lose? Someone not liking you? Okay, have a nice life, there’s 8 billion people on Earth, you’ll meet another person. It’s just like, why not? So many times I’ve been too scared to walk up to a girl and talk to her, and every time afterwards I have the hugest regret for hours -- “Damn it! All I had to do was say hi.” So now I’m just like, “Fuck it.” Maybe I’ve been like that since I was a kid, though.

So you’ve always been shy, but you’ve also always been an extrovert.
Yeah! I’ve been shy and I just push through it.

Have you always had older friends?
Yeah, my whole life I’ve always hung out with kids way older than me. My mom was definitely weirded out when my homies were like, smoking weed. But we were all around the same maturity level, and the kids who were my age just weren’t into cool shit.

How did you and Odd Future come together?
Fairfax area, really. Tyler was that kid that everybody told me I would like. And whenever someone tells you you’d like someone, when they’re like, “You act just like this person” you’re alway gonna think “Nah I don’t, fuck him.” That was my mentality walking into meeting him: “I’m the weirdo, I’m the different kid, fuck you.” And then I met him and I was like, “I’m not that weird… you win man.” We just kinda became friends after that. Earl went to school with my neighbour from second grade on, so I knew him as a true kid. I have memories with him playing basketball in the yard and watching Ciara’s Goodies video for the first time on Halloween. They’re my dogs and it just makes sense. My friends are just my sister and my hood homies, all my homies that I grew up with before I met Tyler and them, but they have kids now, or they’re in and out of jail unfortunately.

Where do you live in these days?
Midcity. I don’t wanna say exactly where I live cause--

Give everyone your address! Very Jake Paul. Very Team 10.
Yo, y’know how you can mute people’s names from coming up on Twitter now? He is the only person I’ve muted, the only person. I don’t like dislike him, I just don’t like him.

I’m gonna say that I dislike him. That I actually hate him.
He just makes sense to Middle America.

He is the archetypal mediocre white man that is essentially an evil noxious weed, thriving because the Earth is designed to nourish people like him.
Yeah it’s like, who can be more annoying for attention? You win, nobody wants any part in this.

It’s so unfair that there’s two of them.
There’s two of them?!

Yeah, he has an older brother. They’re constantly creating fake beef with each other, then recording diss tracks about each other, and then they’ll quash the beef and release a collab. It’s mental stuff.
Yeah that sounds like, uh--

The future of music?
It actually is! All the young kids now they just have beef with each other for no real reason, it’s so weird to me. Motherfuckers get face tatts now for attention. It’s terrifying.

Should we start a new planet?
I’m so down. But I don’t know what I would call the planet.

Maybe we just switch the A and the E in Earth.
Aerth? Aierth?

Yeah. Basically just sounds like a guy on Venice Boardwalk trying to pronounce Earth.
Haha! [Venice Boardwalk voice] Aurth!

Great, well I’ll talk to my good friend Elon Musk and see what we can do about that and I’ll get back to you.
I’ll order a Tesla and my first request with the Tesla order will be “Can I please talk to Elon?” And if they say no… I’ll cancel my purchase.

Jokes on them, that credit card was gonna get declined anyway!
“I didn’t have $90,0000 to buy a car straight out anyways , asshole.”

What type of car do you drive?
A 2015 BMW M3 and it’s ma baby!

Nice. What colour is it?
I think it’s called “Shark Grey”? But it’s just dark grey.

Haha. “What rhymes with ‘dark’ that sounds sexy?”
“Shark!” Yeah somebody in that meeting said “Shark”, then stood up and walked out.

The CEO poured a jug of iced water on his head and fired himself. “God dammit Sheryl, I feel alive!”
What is that from?

It’s from my head. I just made it up.
“God dammit Sheryl I feel alive!!!” Someone’s gonna get that in a text message today.

So! Do you have a New Year’s resolution that you’ve been pondering?
Y’know what? Kind of! I wanna say “fuck it” more. Like I know it sounds stupid but a year ago I wouldn’t have bought these pants, I wouldn’t have been ready for these, mentally. I wanna lean in and see how far I can go with things.

Does that resolution apply to your career? You’ve always been a team player there.
Yeah, I’ve always been a part of the team. Now it’s like, time to root for myself. And that’s not as easy as I thought it was gonna be. I’ve always kind of relied on someone else’s genius. Like, “I don’t have to think about the music because Syd does that, Frank does that. I don’t have to think about clothes ‘cause Tyler does that.” It’s time to think for myself. I’m trying to learn how to be more independent.

Do you get in the beat lab?
“Yeah, just checked into the beat lab, I’ll be out in a minute.” Kind of, not really. I just grew up with everyone being so good at it that it was just like, “I won’t even try.”

I ‘spose your friends and family are like, the best in the world at it.
Yeah! It’s pretty intimidating. And I strive for their approval more than anybody else’s, so if they said it was good and nobody else liked I’d be very happy. It’s for them, it’s not for like, Joe at the self storage facility.

So, what are the Things you’re working on? Music? Clothing?
Music, touring, clothing but like, I think I’d honestly rather just have cool clothes. I like clothes but I don’t think I’d put a brand to my name. As much as I want to, it’s just a money grab at this point.

You could do it under a pseudonym.
I’ve actually tried, it’s so hard to promote when you don’t have a personal brand to go off of.

They’d probably figure it out quite quickly over on reddit.com/r/streetwear.
Haha! People wear a lot of shit they don’t even like, as well. I wear a lot of Louis Vuitton now, but I don’t like the printed stuff or the stuff that’s like “I’m wearing Louis Vuitton!”

Who’s the funniest person in your friendship group? Is it you?
No, no. Tyler, Lionel [Boyce], Jasper [Dolphin]. Also my friend who is a professional funny person, he’s hilarious, his name is Jerrod. He’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever met in my life.

What’s his last name? Is it Mill-
Carmich-

Oh.
I thought we gonna say the same thing at the same time.

Me too. I was really really excited because there’s a guy called Jerah Milligan who does one of my favourite podcasts.
What’s the podcast?

It’s called Black Men Can’t Jump In Hollywood . It’s these three dudes who review films with black male lead actors to talk about diversity and representation in Hollywood, and they’re really fucking hilarious.
Hollywood! It’s so weird. Have you been?

Yeah.
So you know it’s not what everyone outside of it thinks it is? You don’t get to see Will Smith driving his car down Hollywood Blvd.

Yeah, you get to see weedy Spiderman sitting in the gutter, looking like he came off the end of a bender.
And his mask is off.

And he’s smoking a cigarette. I personally love it because I really think that’s what people are like. It’s very real, very yuck. I like that. I want to see people really trying stuff, being weird.
Yeah testing new waters is something I’ve gotta do more. If you just dip your toe in though you get too cautious, it’s cold in there you know. You’ve really gotta just jump in.

The water’s always going to be cold in God’s year 2017, especially with the internet. People are mean and really critical if you try something new. But doing the first thing that comes to mind and trying not to question it too much is a really great way of finding out who you are, I think.
I try to do that with tattoos. There have been times where I’ve thought, “Why would I ever have wanted that tattoo?” The first tattoos I wanted as a kid were the Chicago Bulls logo on one arm with the year ‘94 under it, and on the other arm was gonna be a “T” with a crown on top of it and a basketball in flames under it.

I’m ok with that. My tattoos are really bad. Really bad.
I bet they’re not horrible.

They are. I have a loose quote from Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas that I got before I’d even finished reading the book. Unfortunately says “bad craziness—fine luck” and it’s bled since, so it kind of looks like it says “fine fuck” now. That was like the first tattoo I ever got.
Oh… my god. That’s amazing.

It’s wild isn’t it.
All your tattoos tell a story, you know? I know that’s a lame thing to say--

Some stories are better left untold I think.
Look, I have a Star of David on my leg.

Are you Jewish?
Nope!

Haha. So this isn’t your first time here is it?
No it’s, uh, my fourth time. I didn’t think I was gonna get in actually, because they banned Tyler. We also got banned from New Zealand and the argument is still the same there. We were going on tour with Eminem at the time.

Wait, Eminem didn’t get banned?
Right?! We can’t, but Eminem can.

But doesn’t he have all those songs about, y’know, murdering and raping women?
That’s exactly how I felt.

Milo Yiannopoulos is in the country right now . And he’s in our Parliament today, as a sort of guest. Free Tyler.
Free Tyler.

It all kind of started with a single woman who attended a show and then started an online campaign, right?
Yeah, we had a show and this woman -- who paid to come to the show and protest against us -- said that during a song, Tyler pointed at her in the middle of the crowd and said he was going to rape and kill her. It was like, what the fuck? There’s video of that night and it shows that that never happened, that you completely made that up. It was the craziest thing, I remember getting in the car and being like “she said what just happened?” During his show? Tyler stopped the whole song? To say “I’m going to rape and kill you”? Come on. People are so fucking crazy.

Look, I’ll talk to the Queen. I’ll get this whole mess sorted out. We kind of have a pretty good relationship so yeah, I’ll talk to Lizzy. She actually hit me up the other day so I’ve gotta get back to her anyway.
She hit you with you “u up?”

Exactly. If you had to name your fanbase, what would you call them? Tac-ettes? Taquitos?
Taquitos is so cute. But then there’s definitely going to be a grown-ass man who’s like “yeah I’m a taquito!” and that’s like, ugh.

Yeah you’re a fajita, buddy. A quesadilla at best.
Is there good Mexican here?

Not that I know of. Honestly. Like, some okay stuff. What is your favourite food?
I’m really into fried chicken and steak and I love Nando’s. Go there and get a four piece. Get spicy rice. I get it medium, I don’t need it hot.

What’s your McDonald’s order?
10 piece chicken nuggets, medium fries, double cheeseburger no pickles--

--Wait, this is all in one order?
Yeah, yeah. I look like this but I eat a lot. I eat at the same Italian place in LA every day. John and Vinnies.

Should I go there the next time I’m in LA?
Yes. Yes. Try the spicy fusilli, try the chicken cutlet, try the steak, try the meatballs.

Try everything.
You know when you have a meal and it just really cheers you up?

Yes. Yes I do.
I like to send my Mom to John and Vinnies, and put my credit card down so she can have whatever she wants. Courtney the Chef there really takes care of her, that makes me so happy.

Taco: fuckin’ Momma’s Boy.
Oh, yes. Yes. True. My Mom and me are really friends. Some people aren’t friends with their parents and I think that’s really important when you’re an adult. My Dad’s cool, too. He’s really into EDM. I took him to see Tiesto at the Staples Centre and he was a happy camper. He lost his fuckin’ mind. Have you ever seen Chapelle Show? You ever seen the camera that shows people’s true selves? So my Dad’s like the happiest, button-up kinda guy, but if you pointed that camera at him he’s like, yellow hat backwards and sunglasses on and just, unce unce unce unce...

He’s wearing a cut-off shirt that says “eat sleep rave repeat”?
Yes, exactly! That’s what’s going on inside him.

Are you going to take him to Burning Man?
No, I wouldn’t be able to go to that. I wouldn’t even survive, that’s such a different world. He wants to go to Tomorrowland, I think?

I’ll allow it.
You’ll let him go?

Yeah. It’s a green light from me on this one. Did you tell your mom about your first kiss, were you that close?
No. She knew about the first time I smoked weed and had alcohol, but my first kiss, nah. I was in third grade it was with this girl behind one of those big containers at our school, we kissed with tongue. Her best friend was jealous of me I think and he popped his head over while we were kissing and I was like “Go!” Then I didn’t have my second kiss until like, sixth grade maybe? That was my first real kiss. In sixth or seventh grade I really started making out with girls. I actually broke up with one of them because she didn’t kiss.

No!
Yeah, I broke up with her at the movies and my homie told me what to tell her. Still to this day I remember it: “Our relationship is like a sinking ship, it’s done.” Then I walked away. I might’ve done like a dance move at the end I don’t know.

That’s such a bad metaphor.
It makes no sense.

I need to reach out to this girl and see if she’s doing okay.
She’s fine, she’s fine, she has a baby and she’s fine.

credits


Text Issy Beech
Photography Hunter Ryan
Fashion Thalea MV
Grooming Colette Miller
@yungtaco