Taylor Skye’s name has become ubiquitous when talking about various rising experimental musical projects coming out of London these days, but lately he has made his production flair personal, releasing a solo EP ‘Kode Fine and Sons’ this past May in addition to a variety of remixes spanning from Jockstrap to Frank Ocean and Beyonce. There’s a distinctive attention to emotion ingrained in Taylor’s work - a self-aware soundtrack that challenges the listener to confront where your mind goes when you’re alone in the midst of the crowd.
It feels like in 2019, pop stars have been rebranded and the term pop can be defined in a broader sense. As someone whose projects could loosely and probably lazily defined under the umbrella of “left field pop”, and who has previously stated in interviews how you “don’t see Ariana Grande that different to John Cage in the grand scheme of things” how would you define pop music?
To me Pop is yin and yang; black and white, sweet and savoury... I don't think I'm there yet. But I reckon when I'm 60 I'll be able to maybe make one real pop song.
An idea I’ve garnered from John Cage as an artist is that the central idea of the work itself lends itself to the ability to perform it and get an audience to engage. When I listen to your EP, it feels to me that there’s a certain technical deliberateness that forces more than passive listening. Is this your intent?
I'm not into easy listening music at the moment. Right now, I want to work when I listen to music. I want it to be hard, real hard. John Cage makes you work real, real hard.
With your recent work, it’s nice to hear a blend of more classic jazz elements alongside very honest, vulnerable pop songwriting structures and somewhat tongue-in-cheek lyrics. Do you feel this contrast is influenced by songwriters like Leonard Cohen, who to me was extremely successful at layering his songs with an underlying cheekiness throughout a surface layer of gloom or seriousness?
Yeah 100%. Leonard Cohen is real cheeky but I'm not sure if he was the one who inspired me to be like that. I think Stewart Lee had a big effect on me. And maybe Paul Dano too. But music wise I think James Blake’s bootleg remixes are pretty funny. And also, maybe like Muse's album ‘The 2nd Law’. I'm not sure it's supposed to be funny, but I think it’s hilarious.
Especially with the Kendrick remix, I was interested to see how you picked and chose what elements to highlight, and how you cultivated a moment in time you wouldn’t necessarily expect that illustrates an entirely different vantage point into the track. What’s your usual process with this type of production?
Remixes are one of my fav things to do. I was actually thinking in the future of doing an album of remixes of my own songs. So no originals, just remixes. It's completely done on instinct. It's probably the one time in life where I don't over-think things.
I also noticed on your Bandcamp page you noted that you had remixed the entirety of ‘Damn’ and made a film to go along with it - is this pairing of the visual important to your artistic process when creating something?
I think the fact that the video didn't come out signifies my lack of enthusiasm for visuals. It's really not a big thing for me. Sadly though, even if my artwork was just a block colour, it'd still be a statement, so it is something I must think about. Hopefully my own Virgil Abloh will come along soon and love me up.
Your music seems to tread the line between relatively insular thought processes in a way, paired with a production that’s to me quite jittery and anxious at times, do you consider yourself an introvert who at the same time is making thoughtful music to go out to? Do you find solitude a necessary counterbalance or integral to making art?
Yes. Yes. Yes. Solitude is a big thing for me. I like being by myself a lot. And I think it's in the solitude that the stuff that feels alien (in a good way), comes out. But I like being alone in the midst of other people. Like living down the road from my friends but by myself. I loved student halls actually, because I could be completely by myself in the midst of everyone.
Being involved in multiple projects, how would you define your work ethic and how you do you structure your output in terms of what feels right for each individual project? Do you feel like your current lifestyle in London lends itself to being able to be as fairly creative as you would like to an extent ?
I just need to do music most of the time every day. It's like bloody food and water. I love it!! So work ethic isn't really a thing for me - I just have to do it... London is great and terrible - wouldn't have met all my music maestro music friends if it wasn't for London Town.
What do you think is the significance of the club as a means of collective identity or self expression? Where do you go out?
To be honest, I'm not a clubber anymore - I probably get drunk like once a month at the most these days and I don't think I've been clubbing for maybe a year. Lol. I think clubbing is great though - less rules, less talking, less light. And great toilets to write poems about being single in.
courtesy TAYLOR SKYE
words RUBY HOFFMAN
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