When Taylar Elizza Beth greeted me at Seattle-based producer and DJ WD4D’s Beacon Hill studio earlier this week, she was the vision of calm and cool: long black hair, dressed in a black two-piece jumpsuit, with the fat blunt perfectly balanced between her fingers. Fresh off the release of her new record UNDERCOVER LOVERGIRL, both WD4D and Taylar Elizza Beth seemed confident and excited about introducing the world to her new dance-forward project at a release party on Friday, February 3.
“I hope people realize that this is the kind of music I’m making from now on,” she told me while sitting on the couch next to WD4D. “It’s an elevated sound, an elevated quality, and an elevated confidence that I don’t think I’ve had in the past.”
The record finds Taylar Elizza Beth (aka Taylar White) at a decidedly different point in her life than her previous records, one where she’s in full self-healing mode. Since her first album’s release at the end of 2019, a lot has happened—the pandemic, quarantine, the slow creep back to live performances, and copious amounts of time to reflect. After recently going through a difficult breakup, White felt moved to create music for people who have "gotten hurt and had really gotten hard against love in a lot of ways, but knows deep down that love exists and love is real because they’re full of it.” Undercover lovergirls.
That desire coincided with connecting with WD4D (aka Waylon Dungan), a longtime Seattle hiphop and electronic DJ and producer who has toured with PNW legends like Blue Scholars, Abyssinian Creole, and Common Market. After running into each other at a party in 2021, Dungan eventually agreed to do a couple of live sets for White last year before both decided to embark on a creative collaboration together.
They dropped NINETY THREE back in March, a quick-but-playful three-song EP that plays like an experimental mixture of both White and Dungan’s styles. Working together was “definitely a process of learning each other’s language,” said Dungan, but one they found super generative. It led to them putting together a longer project over the spring and summer, which eventually culminated in UNDERCOVER LOVERGIRL. And for the first time, White has a producing credit on her own full-length record.
“I’m really excited to have that credit because it’s important to me as a woman to have more say about what beats I’m on and what the beats sound like,” she said.
Like White’s previous releases, UNDERCOVER LOVERGIRL is still very much grounded in rap and pop but more electronic-forward than her other work, mixing her reflective musings on love and care over WD4D’s booming, dubby beats. “LOVERGIRL” is a standout in this regard. It’s a track that has White reflecting on the lack of accountability in her life, repeatedly singing “I forgive myself” over a woozy, hazy percussion. And on the turn-up ready “GEMINI MOON, her lyrics explore the contradiction between the public and private self.
But for all the vulnerability that the record dives into, there are moments of levity through UNDERCOVER LOVERGIRL. On “UNDERCOVER,” the screeching synths and a sexy bassline throb underneath White’s whisper-like style. “I am not your lover, I am not even your friend,” she raps menacingly. “I’m a demon undercover / I can blend in with the men.” And on “MONEY MANTRA ($$$),” the wobbly, house-inspired chorus could easily play at a dark, sweaty club or rave.
White said this record was an opportunity to shuck the labels of “rap” and “hiphop” that she often gets sorted into, and show off her versatility as an artist. As a listener, I kind of like how uncategorizable White’s work often is—her flow is gritty and singular, but there’s a tender, poppier sensibility with how she glues her songs and albums together. When I asked her how she would categorize herself, White paused for a moment before saying: “grunge fantasy.” Immediately, I could see how it encapsulated a lot of what UNDERCOVER LOVERGIRL embodies, glamorous and messy excavation of love. It really works.
White and Dungan will have their first chance to test the record out on a crowd on Friday, February 3 at the UNDERCOVER LOVERGIRL release party at Madame Lou’s. The evening will be a mixture of performance and dance, and White said she has a couple of surprises up her sleeve. They both hope to bring the album out on the road over the year, and play shows down the West Coast and festivals. They're ready to show the world what they've been working on.
Taylar Elizza Beth and WD4D are playing an Undercover Lovergirl release/dance party at Madame Lou’s on Friday, February 3. Tickets are $15 and the gig starts at 10:30 pm.