Julian Shah-Tayler is a solo artist who writes, produces and performs all his own music. He released an EP, Un Ange Passe, back in January and another one, Blah Blah Blahnik, in March. What amazed me about his music was how different the first EP was form the 2nd. I liked his sound so much that I felt I needed to ask him a few questions about his musical experiences.
Read the interview below as well as check out a new track from his latest EP below.
How did you first get into music?
I was 5 and my Grandmother decided that I should learn piano/trumpet and join the local church choir (Saint Wilfred’s in Harrogate, England). She had been a music teacher before she got married, and missed teaching little ones.My mother was also a singer, and had withdrawn from the opportunity to join the Welsh National Opera to have me…. so she encouraged me to sing in front of my school from 3 years old. I went on to sing professionally at Durham Cathedral Choir at 7, also joining the orchestra and playing the organ in the evensong services.
What influences do you mainly draw from in your music?
Most of the influences I have are from life rather than music. I appreciate the sentiments that certain sounds evoke, and I try my hardest to convey emotion as much as possible. It is a constant quest to encapsulate a particular circumstance or contain a catharsis of some kind. As far as musical influences, I love Radiohead, David Bowie, Scott Walker, Bjork, Roxy Music, Adam Ant, The Verve, The Beatles, Prince, Aphex Twin, Orbital, recently – Animal Collective, Yeasayer, and I must say the new Whitey album is absolutely brilliant…… Even though there are none of the songs we recorded together on it. He totally surpassed my wildest expectations!
You have just released your latest EP, Blah Blah Blanik, preceded by Un Ange Pass back in January, each album is different musically, how do you come up with the theme for each EP?
The first EP – “Un Ange Passe” was a dedication to my friend, Christine who died of a heroine overdose. She inspired or appreciated the songs on it very much, so I ceded to her family’s request to release a song I wrote in response to her death collected with her favourite songs as my first release, with a picture of her on the cover. She was a wonderful individual and I miss her every day. That is perhaps why the song selection was very diverse in style. The “Blah Blah Blahnik” EP is another “conceptual” piece in that it is dedicated to Imelda Marcos, the ex premiere of the Philippines. I must explain, as I understand David Byrne has stolen my thunder on that one! My friend Antony Green, who is an artist has put together an exhibition of paintings of Imelda’s shoes (with her permission) and he asked me to write a song to accompany the promotion of the exhibit. That song was “Show Me Your Soul” which I wrote after reading a very diverse and illuminating cross section of her quotations and critics. She is a very interesting person. The songs for that one were also designed to be a little more homogeneous than the previous EP, kind of to prove that I could do something a little more cohesive, although the reaction has been that it is just as “diverse” as UAP! I never have a template when it comes to writing music, so I am glad to stay outside the pigeon holes…. Seems like you have tons of music you are sitting on, How much music do you have? How many albums do you plan to release this year? I have a lot of music. I write every day whether it be for my solo project or for Adamandevil which is my band with my best friend, Scott. For that project, we probably have around 15 songs ready for an album, whereas for my own material (including old “band” songs- drinkme, Magic House) I probably have around 400 songs written, 50 or so will ever see the light of day! I write/produce with other artists and remix as well. I also record electronic/ambient music of which there are probably another 50. (Very Experimental, and only for the really interested!)This year, there are 4 EPs done and one album for the solo material. My biggest problem is my impatience to get out there and play shows, as I miss touring around the world. That requires me having a body of material that people actually WANT to hear!
Do you think the concept of an album is important these days?
Absolutely. I think the recent development of the “shuffle” generation has galvanized music into two different musical listener types. The passionate fan (read Radiohead fans…) and the casual dipper (read Justin Bieber) An album with a “concept” like “In Rainbows” or “Ziggy Stardust” will always weather repeated listens as the concept of those records is coupled with a meticulous attention to detail and a thread that binds the songs beyond their individual natures. A simple collection of songs thrown together will never resonate emotionally in the same way. I am not referring specifically to the whole “Yes” or “Pink Floyd” concepts, which can be overweening on the actual music, but I like cohesion, and the desire should be there to listen all the way through.
Has the blog-o-sphere helped your music career? Personal career?
I really appreciate the affirmation and the new people who get to hear the music, because I realize that I COULD make music in a vacuum for the rest of my life waiting for the mythical record deal, or film placement that would propel me to fame, fortune and dating Shannyn Sossamon, but I prefer the idea of reaching people who I can touch in some way emotionally, or just make them dance. It is one of the most valuable outlets that an individual can have to communicate with people outside the bedroom….. My experience of it so far has been so nurturing and helpful that I feel like at least I am appreciated somewhere! I don’t buy print press anymore, I read blogs everyday, and if I am anything to go by, I guess it must be increasingly the most important conduit to music lovers at the very least!
Superman or Batman?
Batman, hands down. (mainly for the outfit/movies)