Ontario Presents and its member presenting organizations recognize the importance of presenting Indigenous artists, stories and culture as part of their presenting practice. As we continue to encourage the respectful presentation of Indigenous art, we will be featuring an Indigenous artist each month in our e-newsletter and blog. Our sincere thanks to Denise Bolduc for conceiving of and continuing to support this Spotlight Series. Spotlights are developed with the artist, and are intended simply to share the artist’s work and foster greater awareness and understanding of the strength and diversity of Indigenous art available in Ontario and beyond.
This month we spoke with Julian Taylor, singer-songwriter and frontman of funk, soul, & roll group The Julian Taylor Band.
Find out more about the band here.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your music?
When I was about 5 years old my parents had me take piano lessons. I played for about six more years after that and still do a little bit although it’s not my main instrument. I switched to acoustic guitar around the age of 12. I had been to a few campfires where people were playing and singing folk songs and it just mesmerized me.
My cousin lent me her classical acoustic guitar and I began teaching myself how to play. I never looked back. Once I was able to play songs on an acoustic I graduated to the electric guitar. I play both quite often and write most of my songs on these three instruments, the acoustic guitar, the piano and the electric guitar.
In a previous interview you said that you wanted to play the guitar as a kid because you couldn’t bring a piano to a party – is that kind of shared experience what drew you to performing?
Ha. That’s funny. Did I say that? I must have cause it’s true. You can’t really bring a piano to a party or a campfire. They’re extremely heavy and flammable. I certainly did get the performance bug at camp and at church to be frank.
At camp they had talent shows and I’d get up and perform. I would do improv comedy or play and sing a song. I loved it. To get a reaction from the audience was like a drug and still is. At church I sang in the choir and would sometime do solos. I liked that very much, plus my Uncle was the director of the choir and my dad sometimes played the church organ. It’s a very musical family on both sides.
When did you first start writing songs as well as performing?
I began writing songs and making things up when I was 4 years old which is probably why my parents put me into piano classes. I’d walk around the house humming melodies and saying, “Do you like that one daddy?”.
He tells me that story all the time. I think that he likes telling it to people. It was rather embarrassing then but I’m over it now. I like the story as well.
You’ve played solo and with different groups, how did The Julian Taylor Band come together and develop its own unique sound?
I’ve loved playing for so long now. It’s like my little escape into a safer world. It’s helped me understand this world better and the problem that we face as human beings and as people. Some chords are easy while others are complex just like our everyday lives. Playing solo allows an individual, me in this case, to face those things head on.
When others accompany an individual in a group those same things happen but now they are a shared experience and that is something very beautiful. I believe that each of us has our own sound. Our own resonance so to speak, and that is what makes up a unique sound. No matter how hard I try I could never sound like anyone else and neither could my band mates.
What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects that you would like to share?
I am always writing and performing. Music is my life. I just released a new Julian Taylor Band album called Avalanche in the spring of 2019. We’re already working on demos for something to come and I am working on a solo acoustic album as well.
And who knows, maybe I’ll even get the old gang from StagX [(Julian’s previous band, Staggered Crossing)] together and bash some stuff out.
Where can people connect with you or get in touch?
I suppose that the best place to connect with me is online at www.juliantaylorband.com
Thank you to Julian for taking the time to talk with us!
Photo by George Pimentel