RGM INTRODUCING – WE INTERVIEW NEWCASTLES SIMON TAYLOR
Hiya Simon thanks for joining us in the virtual RGM lounge today, grab a brew and take a seat.
What made you decide that music is a thing for you?
I was always very keen on music and listened to music avidly as a teenager and young man, absorbing all kinds of influences along the way as it transpired. It wasn’t until I was 24, though, that a switch flicked inside myself and I picked up the guitar again after two years of it lying dormant by my bedroom wall. Practically as soon as I did this I began to get loads of little ideas for songs and that began my career as a songwriter
Introduce us to you and your musical history.
I spent about nine years from that point learning to play guitar and write songs before beginning to gig more regularly in 2011. I had a Latin/ funk/ jazz 5-piece band called Simon Taylor & The Sundowners from 2012-2016 and we released music and played at festivals. Since 2016 I have been performing under my own name, performing solo since 2018.
What was life like for you before music?
In terms of actually making music, I was kind of lost before the transformation occurred at the age of 24. I had no sense of direction but that all changed when I found I could write music
What was the first song you heard that steered you into a music path?
In terms of being a music fan, David Bowie was the first artist whose music I really responded to. In terms of being steered into a musical path that happened when I was 19 and on holiday with my girlfriend of the time in Benidorm. I saw a flamenco guitar teacher and pupil in a plaza there and the scene just ignited something within me to want to be a musician. I got my first guitar not long afterwards.
Where do you feel you currently sit within the music industry?
At a rather obscure point if truth be told. I’m not gigging very much due to my mental health condition so I feel a bit out of the loop. It is a change I intend to make soon.
If you could wish for one thing to aid your career what would it be?
To get this funding I am currently applying to record more music soon.
Do you ever worry about people taking things the wrong way or cancel culture? Discuss….
I’ve written lyrics in the past that I probably regret a little bit now. Slightly salacious lyrics, perhaps. But if they scan o.k I’ll tend to just leave them in when performing or recording them now as that was probably the way it was meant to be. I’m a different person now, more grown-up hopefully, but it’s no good pretending that wasn’t what I thought at the time. That seems inauthentic. I’m a songwriter, not a saint (news flash). You live and learn.
Do you sign up to any conspiracy theories? If not why not?
I don’t sign up for conspiracy theories in general, no. Why not? Russell Brand, Donald Trump…
What was the worst experience on stage?
As mentioned I have a mental health condition and I was having terrible anxiety issues on-stage around about 2018. One time I had a panic attack on-stage and managed to play through it somehow. Another time I was slumped on the floor of a car park after a performance, just totally physically and mentally burned-out. I had a breakdown not long afterward. Another time that year it felt like firecrackers were going off in my head on-stage. Anxiety does strange things to you. I got over it though and am o.k gigging now.
Tell us something about you / each member that you think people would be surprised about.
People seem to be surprised that I’m 45 when they see me as I’m the baby-faced type. I feel 45 though, my back aches and I’m currently doped-up on medication for my mental health that is affecting my energy levels.
What makes you stand out as a band/artist?
My music was described by one reviewer as “honest” and I’d like to think that I’m growing into a role as someone who communicates the issue of mental health through music in an authentic and hopefully even attractive way.
I hear you have a new music, what can you tell us about it.
My new e.p is called “Karma”. It is a collection of the three singles I recorded at Blank Studios in Newcastle upon Tyne last year plus another track that took me four and a half months to record at home plus a live and demo version of songs.
It features my brother Paul Taylor on keys, Richard Millington (drums), lan Paterson (bass), David Matthew Gray (trombone) and backing vocals from Lesley Roley and Marie Halling. It is called “Karma” in reference to the karma of people who were making my life a misery at the time I was planning the e.p and also my own karma in reacting negatively to them.
I now take the word “karma” to mean accepting that higher forces are at play in your life and you don’t have to seek justice or vengeance at every turn as the world will administer both in its own sweet time.
What was the recording process like?
The recording process was inconvenienced by the fact I was stuck in a Majorcan psychiatric ward the day that recording was due to begin in August 2022. I had had all kinds of trouble in my personal life and it had reached a head just before we were about to go into the studio (it’s a long story how I ended up in a Majorcan psychiatric ward).
But the musicians and producers involved in the project were total pros and stuck by me and we ended up recording everything at Blank Studios and The Production Room in Newcastle between September-November 2022. Producer Lisa Murphy was lovely to work with and empathetic to my situation, which was exactly what I needed at the time.
What was the biggest learning curve in writing the new tunes?
Perhaps the catchiest song on the e.p, (“The Girl Can’t Help It”) took about 15 minutes to write. It’s not my personal favourite but others seem to like it. Sometimes the songs you slave away on that mean a lot to you don’t register so much with others while the ones you dash off in a few minutes can resonate more. But you need to go through the discipline of writing the former to get to the latter, I learned.
Would you change anything now it’s finished?
Probably one note in one of the songs that I would have liked to have re-done. Other than that, Lisa gave me more than enough time to communicate with her any production ideas for the tracks and I’m happy with how everything has ended up sounding. Particularly given the circumstances surrounding the recording.
Is there anything else you would like to share with the world?
Keep an eye on your friend’s mental health if they’re struggling and let them have a moan if they need to. Try not to cut them off if they’re opening up on something that is clearly troubling them. Otherwise, it might be better for all concerned if you start hanging out with someone else if you can’t give them the time of day.