Catch an interview with Julian Taylor and head to all the sites below for more.
When did you know you wanted a career in music?
Julian Taylor: I knew that I wanted to play music at a very young age; probably around four. The first person to inspire me to play was my father who is an accomplished classical pianist himself. The next artist that really made me want to do this was probably Michael Jackson; I was gaga for Thriller when it came out. My father took me to see the Victory tour three times. Later on, I fell in love with The Stones, Tom Petty and The Grateful Dead. After that I went through a pretty big Alt-Country phase. My old band even made a record with ex-Wilco member the late Jay Bennett. Now my taste is all over the map. I love indie stuff like The Arcade Fire and The Weeknd, but Jazz seems to be a huge thing for me now.
That jazz influence seems to be prevalent in your most recent singles. What made you come around to this change in sound that's so different from some of your previous albums?
It was part inherent and part accident. My Grandfather loves jazz, blues and soul music. I was raised on it from a young age as well as the Motown and Stax sound because of my mother. Four years ago I was working as a bartender when I decided to get back to playing music. In order to make a living my band had to play covers; we decided to perform all these old tunes that I had grown up listening to. It seemed to feel real good and audiences loved it. By coincidence, a buddy of ours was tinkering around with the same sound in his home studio; we connected because he had this jam that he need a melody and lyrics to. That's how "Never Gonna Give You Up" was born. Since then we've stuck with that sound. It seems to work. On my own I do a lot of folk music stuff, but the band has found its niche with soul, jazz, reggae and a rock tint.
So you took a break from music after Staggered Crossing broke up? What made you decide to start making music again?
I did. Staggered Crossing was my life for close to 15 years. We had tried so hard to break the band and came so close but so far away at the same time. It became real difficult to keep pressing. The band was tired and not focusing on the music so I became a bartender at an Irish pub in Toronto for a few years. I kept going to open stages but stopped writing and performing professionally until I had the itch again. Now I've been playing four nights a week for the past five years.
That's great. How has your music style evolved since coming back to writing and performing again? Do you have a different appreciation for music after taking that break?
The music has changed in a lot of ways. In the old days I wrote most of the Staggered Crossing music. Since coming back to music I have let go of the feeling that I have to write everything; I collaborate with other musicians and the members of the band a lot more. Our keyboardist is a fantastic writer and producer and one of my other friends has been really instrumental with adding some cool lyrical content too. For my solo stuff it's all been written on acoustic guitar or piano but for the band it's been a bit different. Some stuff has been born out of jams and others have been presented as musical compositions by other members, like our keys player and I go take them and write the melody.
Of all the songs you've written in your career, which one(s) has held the most meaning for you?
I would have to say "Be With You". It's never been recorded other than the live acoustic version on our YouTube page. It's not like the soul sound that the band has but it means a lot to me. In fact, I think music should be based on how songs make you feel inside. Anyway… the song was written on a day when I was invited to go do a singer-songwriter workshop at www.campooch.org which is a camp for children suffering with cancer.
My friend works there and asked me to come up; the experience changed my life. Here were all these children suffering from one of the world's worst diseases and they were full of life and so thankful for everything. I have continued to do things with the camp and help whenever I can; it's very rewarding. I wrote "Be With You" on site at the camp. It was an awe inspiring day. We even auctioned off the painting from the "Never Gonna Give You Up" video for the charity: http://www.samaritanmag.com/1406/band-auctions-painting-youtubes-mysterious-drawing-hands
That sounds amazing. Is there anything fans can do to support the charity?
Yes. They can always donate on behalf of the band by visiting their website: www.campooch.com.
You've recently entered "Zero to Eleven" in CBC's HNIC Song Quest competition; what would be the best way for your fans to get the word out there for other fans to vote for the song and what would it mean for you to win?
The best way for people to vote is by going to the band's CBC profile and clicking on "like" or by spinning the song. Years ago Staggered Crossing was aired during the playoffs and it was an amazing feeling; the whole country heard us. It would be very cool to have that happen again. Also, if the song gets picked, we will have one more thing to present to radio stations that don't play us. The band is so close to the breaking point and something like this would just help us out a lot. We'd love to tour the world!
Any favorite concert experiences or bands you were most excited to work with?
I think that certainly Staggered Crossing's first tour was the best. We were 19 years old and touring with a Canadian west coast band, Spirit of the West, whom we became great friends with. They really showed us how to do it and how to maintain it. At such a young age we were out there drinking our faces off and being really unprofessional. They stepped in and showed us that if this music thing was going to last that maybe we should reign it in a bit. Another highlight was getting up on stage singing back-up vocals with AC/DC. That was amazing. Malcolm invited me up after our long stint in the bathroom backstage but that is another story all together. One I cannot tell.
Sounds fun. What projected release dates can you share with fans for this latest album? Any upcoming singles to look forward to?
We are working on pre-production for the album and hoping for a Fall release. We do have a few singles almost done but not sure when those will be released. "Never Gonna Give You Up" seems to have legs and if "Zero to Eleven" gets picked up by the CBC, who knows what could happen. Either way, a song should be released for Spring 2014. I may release some demos for free before then.
Is there anything you can add that you think your fans would like to know? Basically pertaining to the band or your music in general, that is.
I guess I would only add that being a musician is my favourite thing in the world and that if you want it, you can have it. It takes a lot of hard work but nothing easy is really worth doing anyway.
We love what we do and we are good at it. The coolest thing about being in a band is that at any given moment when you're on stage, doing that thing you do, you can honestly really be the best band in the world. That's how it works. Every band in the world gets to experience that once and a while.