Sean Taylor interview
added: 5 Feb 2013
interviewed by: John Millington
In an age of uber-manufactured music, talent shows and a culture of instant success, the true art of the music profession is being squeezed like never before.
It may not be a new phenomenon but artists are increasingly being moulded and essentially owned by record labels with the promise of vast public exposure and wealth.
The market is the puppet master, regardless of an artist’s style or genre.
But there is always, someone who bucks the trend, one who dares to challenge the status quo.
One such artist is guitarist and song writer Sean Taylor.
Although not exclusively a blues artist Sean sets strong guitar rhythms to thoughtful engaging lyrics, often looking at modern day social issues.
His outlook is simple: “I love hearing peoples back stories. An artist must understand the world.”
This is certainly reflective of his album “Love Against Death” with tracks such as “Kilburn,” “Stand up” and the anti-
Thatcher belter “Coal Not Dole.”
His next album which he has recorded out in America promises to have a gruffer “more live” sound.
But whatever technical or atmospheric improvements can be made, Sean is uncompromising about the art and his outlook.
Catching up with him in a North London Café before his tour out in Australia next month, he tells me why he will never compromise the art in favour of commercial success.
“That way lays madness,” he says. “I love being an artist. There are enough distractions as it is – music is a saviour.”
“When I am working on the music I feel free.”
At the same time of extoling the virtues of classic song writing, he is equally scathing about talent shows such as X Factor, describing it as a “showcase of mediocrity.”
“They soak up 24 million people (viewers) a week. I remember when it first came on the scene ‘it’s just a joke, don’t take it seriously,’ he says with a wry smile.
“Before you knew it they have taken over the country.”
But rather than putting it down to bad taste among the public, Sean wants to find out why so many people are falling for bad music alongside as he puts it “monster” politicians like London Mayor Boris Johnson.
“Capitalism overwhelms people,” he says.
“IF you surround someone with bad culture, they are going to react that everything is a popularity contest.”
“A classic case is Boris Johnson who is a monster, who has said all kinds of terrible things.”
“But because he has a good media team around him, they have made him into a likeable oaf.”
“It’s the same in music” he adds. “When you surround people with empty manufactured shite, that’s what peoples emotional and political intellect becomes. “
Despite strong views on politics and the state of the music industry, Sean is not setting himself up as a rebel firebrand.
In fact he likes to be ambiguous in his song writing just to draw in his audience and to “keep them guessing.”
“It’s pretty dark what I write. It is not happy clappy,” he jests.
His musical influences span the genres but in particular he looks to song writing maestros Tom Waits John Martyn and Leonard Cohen for inspiration.
It’s clear Sean is uncomfortable about being put into a box – a trait which will make him attractive to the rebellious music listener and at the same time annoy marketing agents.
He puts the diversity in his artistry down to his humble upbringing in multi-cultural London.
Extoling a side of London not favourably reported in the mainstream press, he recalls fond childhood memories, saying:
“I remember going to school in Criklewood. The school prided itself on taking in refugees from Africa and Bosnia.
“I just found that really fascinating and even magical – to have all these cultures and experiences in on place. I want to know what happens to people, in their lives and what drives them. “
“I’m proud to be from London where there are all these cultures and different nationalities. “
“It’s dangerous, fascinating fast paced and above all fun.”
So what does the future hold and will the promise of fame wear him down to sell out?
“I am beholden to the music industry, the business side of it,” he admits.
“The best thing any listener can do is trust the art not the artist.”
With that note of pragmatic caution, Sean seems set to light a path for budding songwriters in austerity Britain, who are keen to elevate their voice above the white noise of mediocrity.
• SEAN TAYLOR WILL BE PLAYING at in CHICHESTER on 13/02/13 and London at the Slaughtered Lamb 19/02/13. To buy tickets please go to: http://www.seantaylorsongs.com/
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