Michael Green Interviews... Ollie Taylor
Originally posted on March 4th 2020 here is a Q & A with singer-songwriter Ollie Taylor. He talked about his experiences in music.
Where did it all start for you getting into music?
I grew up surrounded by music. My dad would play record after record from his massive collection of 45s and LPs. I would be listening and absorbing every note from artists such as Wishbone Ash right through to Motown. It was like magic to me! From a very young age I was lucky enough to have a concoction of instruments to mess around on from tiny Casio keyboards to my dad's guitars. Eventually we got a piano which I still have to this day! When I got to middle school that's when drums really came into my life. I would be in the practice room every lunch break, smashing away, honing my skills slowly but surely. If your mind's set on something at that age you can conquer many hurdles very quickly! Drums continued to be the main focus of my life up until recent years. My debut album wasn't called 'Little Drummer Boy' for nothing. Who are your influences? Ooooh this could go on forever but I'll try to keep it brief. In my teens I was well into Genesis, Marillion, Yes...basically I whole load of prog! At one point I tried to rebel against the music I grew up on, listening to things like Blink 182 and Limp Bizkit. Stuff that was on heavy rotation on Kerrang during the noughties. This was relatively short lived when I came to my senses and realised that what I truly loved was the old artists from my dad's record collection. My love for prog never died but I did expand my horizons further. Other big influences for me have got to be Tears for Fears, Jeff Buckley, The Police, Kate Bush, and even a good dollop of Deftones. Bloody love me some Deftones! Floyd, Radiohead, Bowie, Grace Jones, Steely Dan, Peter Gabriel, and Björk were also big in my world.
With songwriting where do you tend to get your inspiration from e.g how do you start your songs & what's your process?
My formula (which I'm sure is very common) is to sit down with a guitar or at a piano, write the instrumental first, proceed to hum gibberish over the top of it until I find interesting vocal hooks. Then I vibe off of the music to come up with the lyrics. I let the words come to me as the music is playing and form them within the aforementioned gibberish.
Often I will imagine myself in certain hypothetical situations and harness how it would make me or somebody else close to me feel. Some of my lyrics are based on genuine life experiences but the most important thing for me is to be able to provoke a raw emotion or feeling within myself or the listener.
How important is it do you feel it is to listen to current music as well as music from the past?
Obviously music from the past plays a massive role in my musical journey. I do think it's important to have one foot in the now however. I wouldn't say I'm right on the pulse but I'd like to think I know what's going on at least.
Having said that, I don't think you should push yourself to sound 'current' just for the sake of it. If you write from the heart and using your influences (whether old or new) you will surely come up with something unique!
Loving some of the jazz artists coming out of London and Poland at the moment. Loads of great new jazz! Check out Algorhythm, Alfa Mist, Yussef Dayes. Also very much into solo artists Blood Orange and Kapil Seshasayee. Really amazing new stuff from these guys who think outside the box.
Do you feel it is important to watch other acts perform and to watch other live music?
I do! I wish I had the chance to watch more actually. Many of the best bands and artists I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing are ones that have been playing at the same gigs as me. The unknowns that keep on pushing the boundaries against the odds.
Finally what tips do you have for anyone starting out when it comes to songwriting & performing?
Try not to fall into the trap of writing music for other people. Write stuff that you get off on! If you love it, so will somebody else.
As for performing, I'm still finding what works best for me. All I will say is that if you fear putting yourself out there in front of an audience, do it anyway. You will not regret it! I think it's also healthy to keep momentum whether that's in the studio or live. I lost momentum after I released my debut simply because I didn't perform live. Luckily the spark has returned!
To find out more about Ollie go to ollietaylormusic.com
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