Julian Taylor’s treasure chest of songs

Julian Taylor returns to Barrie with new slate of songs destined for a 2019 album. He will be appearing at the Songwriter Series on Sept. 18.

The evenings tend to be just as interesting for the participants as the audience. Singer-songwriters Ariana Gillis and Ben Kunder will also be appearing.

“I enjoy them,” said Taylor. “Meeting other songwriters and listening to their work and being exposed to what they are doing is my favourite part.”

He has appeared here several times since Barrie was instrumental in returning him to a life in music, after giving up performing and getting a job as a bartender. Despite a certain amount of success, a 14-year run fronting the award-winning band Staggered Crossing, hit songs, five albums, nominations and more, Taylor was so disheartened after the band split up in 2007, he quit music entirely.

One wintery day, eight years ago, he did a favour for a friend who couldn’t fulfill a Boxing Day gig at a now-defunct downtown Barrie bar. Taylor and two other musicians left holiday family obligations behind and headed north from Toronto to play a bunch of covers for the fun of it.

“We played Motown covers and it kicked butt – it was really great,” said Taylor. “That was the original lineup of the Julian Taylor Band. It got me back into music because I was having fun again.”

They starting playing Motown cover gigs all over Ontario and the response they received led him to try writing again. After releasing one live cover album Hey Hey Two Two, original albums Tech Noir and Desert Star followed.

For his latest work, Taylor has taken a different approach to songwriting. Instead of starting with the music, he wrote the lyrics first.

“I was given this treasure chest by my mom for Christmas and it had the contents of my entire life in it – so it was an emotional ride,” said Taylor, who based the entire record on it. “Some memories, the ones I remember the best, are sitting on the front stoop of my grandfather’s farmhouse in B.C. carving wood when a deer popped out the forest and hung out with me a little.”

That experience became Back Again. Another song was written about a friend who passed away. A childhood memory of traveling across Canada with his great uncle at the age of eight was pieced together with adult memories of touring the country with his band and it formed the first single, Sweeter.

Taylor’s music has found its way onto the CBC national music charts, with two songs landing in the top 10 over the past year, as well as television shows such as Hilary Duff’s Younger, the Elementary TV series, Degrassi: The Next Generation, Private Eyes, Carter and a 2017 movie, Permission, with Jason Sudeikis.

Born in Toronto, Taylor is a mix of West Indian and Aboriginal heritage. He grew up listening to soul and Motown – his favourite – until he met a bunch of kids at school and was exposed to classic rock bands such as the Rolling Stones. He loved it. He also listened to music with his grandfather, who was a jazz fan and a blues guy. All of it has contributed to an eclectic style that is uniquely his. Today he tries to expose his six-year-old daughter to different kinds of music too.

Photo: Julian Taylor performs some of his new songs Sept. 18 at Donaleigh’s Irish Public House, in downtown Barrie. Visit songwriterseries.ca for more details.

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