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INTERVIEW: Joel Taylor

Hi Joel, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

I’ve been great. Just came back from playing a few shows in New York and LA, and now working on some new music. I’m feeling great!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Moment’s Notice”?

“Moment’s Notice” is my latest single, and I have to say its one of the more personal songs I’ve ever written. It’s kind of a gospel hymn of sorts, and really anthemic. I came up with this “Stomp Clap” and a big Organ drone at 3am one night.  I quickly started writing, as I thought I was on to something. Started as a big choir song… and it eventually turned into “Moment’s Notice!” I love old gospel, blues, southern records from the 50/60’s so thats what I had in mind!

Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?

“Moment’s Notice” was really inspired by my first arrival in the US. I moved to LA from Australia, the week I finished high school, and instantly I really knew that I had made the right choice, and could forge a new path for myself… one that was completely up to me.

It was a fresh start. That’s what “Moment’s Notice” is about, “showed my demons – made them leave, ” – then I wiped the slate clean and started again. It’s kind of a song about my rebirth!

Did you always intend for this to be about domestic violence or did that come about throughout the process?

No, not at all. Initially it was shaping up to be just a song about second chances, and starting again – but as I got more honest with myself, and the feeling that led to that “fresh start” –  it really was rooted in some heavier stuff. There was a reason I so badly wanted a fresh start. I grew up in a house with an abusive alcoholic, and that really shapes you. Dealing with any domestic violence and alcoholism – you’re really dodging the “landmines” daily, living in a really stressful and intense environment… there are many pitfalls and over all craziness that fits in that package.

So, what started out as simple song about second chances turned into a powerful therapy session for me, in processing lots of memories and trying to create something positive out of them!

Did you have to push yourself to write this song?

Not really. I wrote it in about 20 minutes. It just was flowing. I actually wrote it before a publishing meeting. I felt like I wanted to play them some different songs in the morning meeting… so I stayed up all night… and this is what happened!

Any plans to release a video for the single?

There is a video coming out shortly that I’m really proud of. Directed by the awesome Phillip Montgomery, and staring my friends Graham Sibley and Sarah Utterback, and a little kid named Sage Quinn – three very talented actors. It is a really raw look at a dysfunctional household with lots of alcoholism, tension and I guess hints of violence. We really went for the jugular on this video, and it turned into a really beautiful and powerful piece. Can’t wait for everyone to see it.

How was the recording and writing process?

The writing process was really easy – but the recording took a little longer. I played almost every instrument and sang all the background vocals for the choir, etc. It was a lot of work. There are about 50 tracks of choir alone. It was really fun, but I definitely experimented a lot on creating the vibe of this song. I wanted people to feel transported as soon as they heard this stomp/clap and big drum. So dialing that in and trying to create the right anthemic vibe was really what I was after. I produced it myself, which is really fun – but also maybe not the best idea, as I am my harshest critic!

What made you want to go for a Gospel approach to the music?

I have always loved gospel records, old soul records, old blues records – so partly I feel as though its just in my blood. But also, this song just naturally came out like that. In fact I tried to kind of incorporate the gospel elements – but not completely lean on those, as I really didn’t want to rehash something thats completely been done before. So I tried to make a gospel feeling song with some modern production elements and and approach of a singer songwriter. But I have always loved old gospel records because of the emotion that seems to seep out of everything. I just wanted to do my best to recreate something that feels as powerful as some of my. Favorites – like Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, The Blind Boys of Alabama etc.

Do you tend to take a different approach when you are collaborating with someone else rather than on your own?

I guess so. Mostly I’ve only written by myself, with a few exceptions, so I’m newer at collaborating. I really enjoy it, it’s fun to get someone else to throw things out there that you’d never think of. I think when I collaborate I like to use the chance to not take the first step and instead be the springboard for ideas and THEN leap on in my own world. Otherwise, I think I would just bulldoze people with my ideas, because I’m used to being the only one in the room. So lately, I’ve been just trying to be a spring board and a sponge and then I’ll dig in with a million ideas. It’s definitely made me more patient!

Does the new single mean we can expect a new material? How’s that coming along?

Yep! The new material is coming along great!

I have an EP that I’ll be dropping top of 2019, so I’m excited about that! Then following that, I’m going to release a full length album. New songs, videos and I’m really excited for that. As a songwriter, I really feel strongly about the whole body of work and not just “singles” – so at the moment I’m putting finishing touches on the new music, but it’s coming along great. It’s eclectic. Rocking out, soulful, poppy, weird and not poppy, sad, dancy. It’ll be fun!

Any tentative release date or title in mind?

First quarter 2019 for the EP, probably Jan/Feb. The album a little later in the year.

Will you keep diving into deep personal themes on the record?

Definitely, there are a lot of personal songs/themes in the other music. Sometimes they’re well disguised, sometimes its obvious. But there are some personal stories that are really heartfelt, and there’s also some stuff thats just “plain made up. ” 🙂

Any plans to hit the road?

Yes! Early next year I will be on the road all over. West coast, some east coast dates, in the south as well and then hoping over to SXSW. There’s plenty of shows ahead of me!

What else is happening next in Joel Taylor’s world?

Lots of breadbaking. I’ve been getting into that a lot. Lots of cooking in general. I’m making some pastries, bread, I do some woodworking whenever I have some spare time. Those things, plenty of writing and recording, some tennis and just enjoying the journey of growing my fan base and making my way through the music world!

About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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