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Making a Connection: Talking to Nick Taylor about finding a voice and making music that matters

31 May 2024

Can we start with a bit of background? What has your musical journey been like, and how did you get from those first musical steps to where you are today?

Nick Taylor: I started playing music (trombone) in middle school when I joined the school band. I loved the ensemble atmosphere and hearing how different compositions came together with a full band. In high school, I continued playing in concert and jazz bands, and I also started singing in different ensemble settings. When it came time for college, I chose to pursue jazz voice at the University of North Texas. I quickly found that wasn’t quite right for me so I stopped studying music formally and spent time instead diving into folk and americana music while teaching myself guitar and banjo. The goal was to be able to write my own songs and accompany myself, though I wasn’t sure what style of music it would be.

It took me a long time to get to a point where I could start writing songs, but I got there eventually. I started playing open mics in Austin after I moved here then started booking solo shows around Texas, and then was approached by producers out of Nashville about working together on an album. I had planned on putting an album out soon so I had the songs all lined up and ready to go. After the album was recorded, I put a band together in Austin and now play a mix of solo, duo, and full-band shows throughout Texas.

Are there any obvious musical influences, both in how you think about music and, perhaps more precisely, artists whose echo find their way into your work?

NT: I think most of my musical experiences end up influencing me in one way or another. I grew up on country music and always enjoyed it, but I never really considered it influencing my own music until I started writing; then it was fairly obvious to me that country/Americana music was where I was headed; it’s just what came out any time I tried to write a song, so I figured I’d explore that and see where it could go. Folk, jazz, classical, funk, R&B, rock, and pop-punk are all big influences as well, but it’s less obvious to me how some of those influences show up in my own music. 

I think an important aspect of singing and songwriting is finding your own voice and I’ve really tried to put that in the forefront of my songs. I have been told I sound like or have elements of a lot of different artists, some of whom I’ve honestly never even listened to, but it’s always different. It seems to be more dependent on the listener than on my actual influences. I can say that some of my favourite songwriters are Jason Isbell, John Prine, Loretta Lynn, Kris Kristofferson, Guy Clark, and Gillian Welch

I was listening to Not Alone and thinking about the difference between americana and country music. Where would you say you sit on such a spectrum?

NT: I always tell people I play Americana music. I feel like it isn’t quite country music and isn’t quite folk music, but it’s certainly heavily influenced by both. I also feel like there are certain thematic expectations in “capital c” Country music that I don’t necessarily aim for in all of my songs. 

Austin, Texas, has always been known for its eclectic and creative music scene. What is it like to live there today?

NT: From a music and performance perspective it’s still a great city to live in. There is never a shortage of gigs to play, and most of the venues in town pay well. The musicians in town are also top-notch, and being around great players elevates your own playing and generally just makes playing music more fun. That being said, it’s becoming more and more difficult to afford to live here and pursue music; I’m working three jobs just to try to make everything happen. 

Are any messages being delivered or themes being explored on the album and in your music in a broader sense?

NT: Not Alone is more of a collection of songs than a concept album, but I will say that most of the songs in some way fit within the album title in that they try to help listeners feel understood or not alone. Ultimately, what inspired the title is the opening track, “Dogs”, but it reaches farther than that. I write my songs with the hope that they can foster a connection with listeners, whether through the lyrics or the composition, and I wanted to make sure the title conveyed that.

You say that you only wrote your first song at 25. What are the various advantages and disadvantages of coming to the craft at such an age?

NT: I mentioned earlier the importance of finding my own voice, both as a singer and as a songwriter; one huge advantage of taking so much time before writing my first song is it gave me a lot of time to work on that. I’ve found all that time to be a disadvantage, too, though. Since I wasn’t playing shows during those years, I was losing out on a chance to develop my on-stage presence and crowd interaction skills. I’ve since done a lot of work on those things, but for a while, I was just getting in front of a microphone and singing songs to no one in particular and not giving much of a show. 

And finally, what does the future hold for you, and what do you hope it holds?

NT: I really hope this album is successful, but this is just the beginning. I plan on making plenty more music in the future and building up my audience, both at home and abroad. I would love to get to a place where I can play shows around the country and around the world for folks who feel connected to my music.



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