Though Aaron Taylor made his debut with anonymously released 2016 EP, Still Life, the London born and raised musician, songwriter, and wielder of powerful, soulful vocals has always been drawn to music. From the time he broke his elbow as a child and refused the accompaniment of anything other than his mother and a toy guitar, to the release of latest single, Get Through This, just one month ago, the man has always been a living bridge between soul music’s vibrant past and its quickly escalating, boundless future.
A key part to a particularly abuzz UK soul scene, Aaron Taylor is at the forefront of global music’s shift towards the popularization of jazz and soul, and just like the stylings for which he ingeniously creates, he as an artist is also poised for much-deserved further growth and success.
We were lucky enough to chat with Aaron Taylor, ask some questions, and try to better understand him both as an artist and an individual.
RNGLDR: London has always been a central hub for the global music scene, but in recent years, with the explosion of grime, neo-soul, modern funk, and electronic, not just London, but the UK as a whole seems to have gained a serious edge. So, assuming the trend continues, what is the next style currently bubbling in London’s underground, that is bound for global reach and success?
Aaron Taylor: I'm not 100% sure. One of my friends and I were talking about how "pop" is changing. Pop may have once upon a time been solely associated with the likes of Katy Perry, but if you look at what's popular and viral now, it's almost all hip-hop/trap. In direct answer to your question however I think it's nice that jazz/soul is getting an underground resurgence and it'd be great if that became the main sound again.
RNGLDR: As music continues to grow and expand, it seems more and more that the traditional virtues of genre are no longer relevant. So, if you had to describe your sound with the made-up name of a style, what would you call it?
Aaron Taylor: "Souleil." Music of the sun and soul.
RNGLDR: Artists like Anderson .Paak, Otis Junior, Alxndr London, Joel Culpepper – just to name a few – seem to be taking over music thanks in part to their soul and funk inspired elements. What does it say about the state of global music scene that artists that can be described with the labels of neo-soul and modern funk have been consistently gaining popularity at a greater scale?
Aaron Taylor: I think people will always be drawn to soul - it's never really died. There's something deeper about it. A bit like gospel. It's the goosebumps that you get almost every single time. People always recognise the realness of it. I'm really grateful to the types of artists you mentioned because they're placing it front and center again in a fresh way but keeping that essence.
RNGLDR: We publish a weekly series called Dream Venue that takes the reader on a hypothetical journey leading to the perfect live show in the perfect setting. If you could have one evening culminating in the concert of your dreams, how would it unfold and who would perform?
Aaron Taylor: I prefer intimate over stadium settings. I'd love to imagine strolling into a low-key dark venue - probably in some kind of basement and discovering someone like Donny Hathaway at a piano or rhodes. His voice is all I'd need.
RNGLDR: How about in the opposite direction - what is your Dream Venue as the artist performing?
Aaron Taylor: I don't think I have one! I've typically always preferred the studio to the stage if I'm to be 100% honest.
RNGLDR: Every week, we also publish an article discussing possible collaborative projects that we want to see in the music industry. Who would you like to see work together, and why?
Aaron Taylor: YEBBA and Jazmine Sullivan so they can battle out their riffs.
RNGLDR: We featured you in our Collab Elation series a few weeks back next to DC-born, Berlin-based artist Olivier St. Louis. What would be your thoughts about working with him?
Aaron Taylor: I'd be open to it. I saw him when we opened for Laura Mvula and it was the first I'd heard of him.
RNGLDR: We’re absolutely in love with the Colors project. What was it like working with them, and how has their exposure effected your career?
Aaron Taylor: They were great - I emailed them to ask if I can be on the show and they replied really quickly to say they'd heard of me. I think their platform definitely helped a few more people find me. Since then they've really gone big now so I'm glad I got it in before then. I don't think it's affected my career in an obvious way but it's nice that people can see the live side to what I do.
RNGLDR: One question everyone has about Colors – did you get to pick the color for your show?
Aaron Taylor: No, they chose it.
RNGLDR: If you could spend time with one artist, dead or alive with whom to work and learn from, who would you choose?
Aaron Taylor: That's really hard but maybe a male vocalist like Stevie Wonder. His vocals plus his musical ability and songwriting make him one of the best.
RNGLDR: What is your favorite neo-soul, R&B, or funk album of all time and how has it inspired you and your music?
Aaron Taylor: Probably D'Angelo's Voodoo. The sonic texture is just so perfect. It sounds so fresh to this day. I also rinsed Miseducation of Lauryn Hill growing up. When you analyze them they're both really simple in terms of instrumentation - not too much crazy things happening in regard to production and that's the organic approach I'm trying to maintain in my stuff. With the advent of technology music sounds so "AI" now which has it's place but civilisation has been banging on drums since the beginning of time and you can't beat that [pun not intended].
RNGLDR: One of the things we find most attractive in an artist is the presence of multidimensional talent, and you’re certainly in possession of a unique set of skills. In your case, how do you balance keyboard and guitar instrumentation with vocals as well as with overall production? Does one drive the others, or is it completely dependent on the song, the project, and the mood?
Aaron Taylor: I don't really play guitar well and almost all the guitar on my tracks are done by my friends. I just tell them what to play. It really depends - I learnt extensively by ear and I tend to hear what I want, even if I can't play it technically all the time. With my production I really like to take my time in the craft without overthinking it. I'm pretty simple in approach I think. Same with vocals and harmonies etc. I tend to go with whatever comes natural to me. If I have to force it then I'm probably working on a bad idea.
RNGLDR: It’s been a little while since you’ve released a project. Anything you can tell us about what’s next for Aaron Taylor?
Aaron Taylor: My next EP, The Long Way Home should be out early summer.
RNGLDR: Can you leave us with one quote, one anecdote, or one joke as a final sign off?
Aaron Taylor: "Always tell the truth, even if your voice shakes."