IT has been a frenetic and busy twelve months…
for young George Taylor. He has been turning heads with a steady stream of singles. His debut album, Give It Up, got him a deal with Warner Chappell – having amassed over two-million streams in a couple of months. His music has made its way to Zane Lowe – he backed I Hear Your Song, Sweetness on his Beats 1 show. Ears are turning onto his unique blend of sounds. The London-based musician has brought out Ophelia. I ask about the song and its origins. Taylor explains the process and story behind the song: emotion and a hard situation few would expect to hear - given the sweetness and purity of the song.
He released The Youth, his previous single, last month and is one of the most consistent artists working right now. I ask Taylor about his upbringing and introduction to music; some of the artists who have influenced him and what it feels like having the support of big names – and getting those all-important streams on Spotify. He discusses the future and what it is like being signed to Warner Chappell.
Hi, George. How are you? How has your week been?
I'm good, thank you.
I've had a good week and I'm heading down to Cornwall on a train as we speak.
For those new to your work, can you introduce yourself, please?
I am a twenty-four-year-old singer-songwriter; currently living in London - but I grew up near Leicester. I started writing songs when I was, about, thirteen - and have kept going ever since.
I've spent a long time preparing my music over the last couple of years. I'm very excited to finally release some of it.
Ophelia is your latest single. What can you tell me about it?
Ophelia is a song I wrote after a girl that I knew who was over in London on holiday – and, sadly, ended up getting sectioned - she was in hospital for a while. She has since made a full recovery and returned home.
Visiting her in the hospital was an eye-opening and emotional experience - and something I really wanted to write about.
It sounds like it was a tough and emotional song to put together. How hard was it writing and recording it – given it has very personal aspects to it?
Sometimes, my songs can come together very quickly: sometimes, it can take weeks. I wrote and recorded a full demo of it just over a year ago in my bedroom at home. I finished it in about twelve hours, from what I remember.
I really wanted to 'go in' musically and lyrically on this track - and try to create the right juxtaposition between a dream-like state and an epic-sounding chorus.
It was a song I wanted to write to try and make sense of all my experiences of mental health - so, it definitely felt and feels emotional to me, yes.
It is your second single in a month – following The Youth. It seems like you are in a productive creative state. Are you already looking ahead to the next song?
I'm always writing (or trying to) and I'm very conscious of not letting that slip. As with anything: the more you do it, the better you get.
I've got lots of new material that I'm excited for people to hear. I will have another single coming very soon.
Can we expect an E.P. later this year?
We will have to wait and see how we are going to release the next batch of song. Maybe that will be in the form of and E.P.
You are signed to Warner Chappell. Do they give you a lot of freedom to create the music you want? Is it quite comforting having their backing?
Warner Chappell have been so good to me since I signed a publishing deal with them just over a year ago.
I signed in the New York office and I have spent a lot of the last year over there and in L.A. writing and recording – and, I suppose, developing as an artist.
I feel very lucky to have met and worked so many amazing people both here and across the pond. The whole team around me, now, are giving me unbelievable support.
The single, Give It Up, notched up a couple-of-million Spotify streams. Is it quite humbling knowing so many people connected to it?
It's nice that a lot of people have connected with that song. I didn't expect that at all for the first song that I put out.
Now, I'm mostly (just) looking forward to my new material.
I Hear Your Song, Sweetness caught the ear of Zane Lowe. That must have been quite a moment? Is he someone you look up to?
The man, the legend played it on his Beats 1 show. I used to listen to him a lot on the radio - especially in the good days of The Strokes; when he would basically play them on-repeat.
He's obviously a great name in the industry so I'm really grateful for his support early on.
How many tour dates do you have planned? Will you be playing live a lot this year?
For the moment, I'm just letting a bit more music out - and it looks like I'm gonna be on the road before the New Year.
I can't wait to get playing shows again.
Tell me how you first came into music? Is it something you were fascinated by as a child? What kind of artists did you how up listening to?
I can't remember music ever not being an obsession.
My dad would always be playing us Dire Straits, Pink Floyd and Madness - and my first connection with music, I remember, was in the car hearing Sultans of Swing ("Check out guitar George/He knows all the chords").
When I was nine or ten, I started listening to a lot of David Bowie and listening to weirder Pink Floyd records like Meddle - and some of the Syd Barrett stuff.
In my teens, I discovered Bob Dylan and, I think, he probably got me writing songs. As I got slightly older; I started listening to Blues and Soul music. I fell in love with a lot of the great singers: Al Green, Janis Joplin and Otis Redding. This probably helped me develop my voice.
Music is demanding and time-consuming. Do you get a lot of time to chill, and if so, what do you like doing?
I seem to have weeks at a time where it can be really nonstop - and, then, weeks when there is not much going on. I think that's just to do with the stage I'm at.
So, yes, I definitely get time to chill. I enjoy playing ping pong and going to the pub when I can.
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
I can't wait to see them do well.
If you had to select the three albums that mean the most to you; which would they be and why?
Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon
This often feels like an obvious choice; I don't care: I think it's the greatest record ever made.
Grizzly Bear – Veckatimest
This was a very significant album in my life when I first started writing music.
It felt like one of the best written, strange and interesting things I'd ever heard - especially in modern-day guitar music.
Radiohead - In Rainbows
I didn't really get properly listening to Radiohead until I got a bit older.
But, this record, was a mind-blower for me.
What advice would you give to any new artists starting out right now?
Just do it all the time.
Play, write and listen all the time - and constantly push yourself to get better.
Also, a lot of people will try and tell you it's too hard to do - but just ignore all that bollocks and do it.
Finally, and for being a good sport, you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Some Things Last a Long Time - Daniel Johnston
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