We had the good fortune of connecting with Taylor John Williams and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Taylor John, is there something you believe many others might not?
Quality > quantity:
When it comes to writing and releasing music (especially when you’re starting out), I think it’s a bit of a trap to prioritize quality over quantity. Of course you want to always be doing your best work possible, but unless you’re a born genius where everything you touch turns to gold, getting to your best work will likely require you to be prolific as opposed to overly precious. More work leads to better work. I know people who are unbelievably talented, yet their concern with everything being “perfect” causes them to never release any music, and thus they don’t experience the growth that comes from doing so.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’ve had a deep passion for singing from a very young age; it was something that came naturally. However once I began going to school, my shyness and self-conscious side took a firm hold and I never sang around people. I kept the music in me buried deep until my senior year of high school, when I began dabbling in songwriting and performing. I had an amazing literature teacher who was very encouraging of my poetry assignments, which inspired me to pick up guitar and start turning my poems into songs. I quickly fell in love with the process. A few years later I auditioned for the 7th season of NBC’s The Voice, and ended up doing far better than I’d ever imagined. The spotlight I got from my time on the show enabled me to make music full time, which I’ve been doing ever since.
The music business is a constant challenge. One day everything feels right as rain; the next I’m paralyzed by self-doubt. But that’s the nature of being privileged enough to create something as subjective as art for a living, and if you want to do it bad enough, you have to push through those paralyzing moments with ferocity. Frank Zappa had it right when he was asked about advice he’d give to young musicians…
“Here’s the secret…there are two things that you have to do; one of them is to not stop, and the other one is to keep going. But when you get there you’ll find out that it’s still tough”.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’d advise sleeping in, then making your way to the Figaro Bistrot on Vermont Ave. for coffee, Champagne and french fries. Once you have a nice equilibrium going you can meander over to Skylight Books Arts Annex just north up the street and thumb through some graphic novels or learn a bit about Japanese art deco. Then you could take a nap because the Champagne is wearing off and you’re a bit drowsy and it’s best to be sharp when braving the streets of LA. Afterwards head to Sonoratown in DTLA for the best costilla burrito you’ve likely ever had (they make their flour tortillas with lard and it’s fantastic). From there you could go to Echo Park Lake and find a nice patch of grass to sit on and do some quality people watching, or rent an overpriced pedal boat to navigate the lake and wonder why you didn’t save that money for an eighth of marijuana from Greenhouse Herbal Center on Hollywood and Harvard. End the evening with dinner at the Black Cat in Silverlake and a movie at the nearby Vista Theatre. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Aside from the immense support from my family and friends, I’d like to give a shoutout to producer and Jazz icon Alan Jones for graciously guiding me through my first two albums (Song of a Dead Man / Hiraeth), and to my current producer Thomas Greene for not only being a great collaborator, but for folding me into his family and making LA living a lot less frightening.