Ed Crooks catches up with artist Isaiah Toothtaker on life, tattooing and making music with Max B and producer Kaytranada.
Yo Toothy, what’s up man? What you doing right now?
Working on designs, trying to push through a 4 month creative slump… Lately I’ve been having a hard time committing to my desk to draw. I’ve been running full speed for 4 years heavy duty tough work so I’m finally in need of a refuel. It’s all g tho.
How’s married life treating you?
Currently going through a divorce.
So where you from/ where did you grow up etc?
From Tucson Arizona, born & raised. Specifically, Old Pascua.
When was the first time you noticed tattoos?
Everyone in my hood had tattoos. I guess the initial tattoo that stuck out the most to me was my father’s, he had “Zeek” tattooed on his arm. His name was Philip but I think he gave himself that nick name in Prison & had someone tattoo it on him. Every time I saw it I couldn’t help but think: Why would anyone tattoo their name on themselves let alone a nick name, in case they forgot? lol now I think that’s pretty bad ass in retrospect.
How long have you been tattooing and when did you do your first tattoo? I heard you got into tattooing through some dude in a biker shop?
I started tattooing approx 18 years ago & gave myself my first tattoo then as well. I was hanging around the shop & then apprenticing a couple years before that but had been getting tattooed there for a couple years prior to everything. The shop owner & my mentor was the president of the Tucson chapter of the Hell’s Angels. The shop was the classic style biker street shop where people would walk in & pick a design off one of the many lamented flash sheet hanging on the wall.
How did you get to where you are in terms of your style- it’s very unique? Biggest influences etc?
I think this question deserves a different answer every time it’s asked because the more developed I become the more refined my opinion on how I crafted my current stylistics. I appreciate you thinking it’s unique, especially considering it’s applied in “American Traditional” aesthetic.
I think the majority of the influences come from reading more & less visual inspirations.
But all types of art have affect on me, Film, Fashion & architecture even.
Your shop is closed now right?
After selling the building I decided not to relocate the shop or re-open the business.
When did you start rapping and getting known man?
I started rapping when I was a teenager & started formally releasing albums in 2007. I toured the US in 2008 but I think the eve of 2009 - beginning of 2010 was when things really got moving.
I owned & operated “Staring Without Caring” for 11 years.
How was it working with Max B?
We did everything through his mother & manager since he had limited phone access at the time. He recorded all his verses through the prison phone & the producers made all the beats to his raps first then afterward I recorded my segments.
And what about Kaytranada?
Working with Kaytranada was chill, there was a tiny bit of a communication barrier since he was proficient in English & I speak no French. Kaytranada’s first video appearance was in a video of mine shot by director Baz for a song produced by Harry Fraud. A few other now known music producers were also in the video making their first appearance on the scene. So we were already familiar with one another, I reached out & he reciprocated. We had a few more songs than what was released but those beats went to Chance The Rapper maybe, I don’t wanna say for sure & get him sued lmao.
Are you doing much music wise right now?
Nothing. Although I am sitting on a few bangers produced by long time J Dilla collaborator ‘Mainframe’. I feel obligated to do something with them but haven’t had the time lately.
Who are your biggest music influences?
Impossible to answer there’s just too many. So so many.