TEN QUESTIONS WITH CHRISTOPHER TAYLOR
Christopher Taylor writes uplifting, conscious, rhythmic, and soulful songs that inspire a sense of spirituality and self-inquiry. His music conveys positive and inspiring messages, combined with rich vocal harmonies, solid rhythms, and the beautiful tones of his acoustic 12-string guitar. Christopher’s music is a unique and refreshing blend of clear, enticing sounds, with reflective insight with deceptively simple lyrics.
1. What was it that got you interested in music?
I began playing the drums at around the age of five. It seemed to calm me down growing up. When I was about 12 or 13, I played the drums in a band with some friends and later I picked up the guitar. I was inspired by all the music of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. I lived just ten minutes from the Forum in Inglewood where all the great bands would play which was very inspiring.
2. Who are some of the artists who influenced you to become a songwriter?
The artists and bands that inspired me the most in my songwriting and musical style were Cat Stevens, The Moody Blues, and Supertramp to name a few. At some point along my journey, I decided to create my own authentic style of music. Some of the bands I saw live when I was growing up included; Fleetwood Mac, Peter Frampton, Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, Queen, The Bee Gees, The Moody Blues, ELO and many more.
3. You also play the dulcimer? What drew you to this unique instrument?
Before I started recording my “Remains to be Seen” album, I was buying quite a few instruments on E-bay. I saw someone was selling this interesting looking instrument at a reasonable price, so I decided to buy it. I never played dulcimer before, and fell in love with the sound. I never took lessons, just played what I enjoyed hearing. I was inspired to see how it would sound on my song “Stranger,” and I love how it came out. It’s a very enjoyable instrument to play, and I’m currently in the process of recording a hammer dulcimer album which I plan to release in the near future.
4. There are some big name musicians playing on your new album including; Richard Handy on sax, flute and woodwinds (Carole King, James Taylor, Sting, Dave Matthews Band), M.B. Gordy on percussion (John Legend, Doobie Brothers, Common), vocalist Onyay Pheori (Earthharp Collective, Grey’s Anatomy, America’s Got Talent and… ) Jack Lee on bass, guitar, vocals and keyboards (Earl Scruggs, Tracy Nelson and more). Please tell us about this experience recording with these artists and the making of “Remains To Be Seen, Vol. One”?
It was very inspiring and enjoyable collaborating with this talented group of artists and musicians. We all had a great time in the studio and we enjoyed the creative process of playing our parts and creating magic together. I feel grateful to have this caliber of musicians play and create their magic on my album!
Jack Lee, John DeMarco and myself were the mastermind team producing the album. I made the final decisions on the production and mixing, but I always appreciated everyone’s ideas and creative expression. I was very pleased with our harmonious process. It was a great learning experience inside and out.
It was also a pleasure and inspiring experience to co-create the song, "Whisper" with songwriter Tony Lauria. I showed up one rainy night in his studio because he wanted to hear my drumming on some of his instrumental songs. I believe it was our first take with my ceramic doombek drum and the magic just happened! After listening to his song many times in my car I wrote some inspiring words that I thought would fit the song. After my lyrics were recorded, Tony polished the song with his electric bass, electric guitar and I added some shakers from the Amazon rainforest.
5. Many of your songs seems to convey a positive message with titles like, “Love’s Around the Corner,” “The Sun Shines,” “Come To The Center,” and “All of Me”.
My music and songs bring purpose and meaning to my life. They convey a message of healing, hope and inspiration for myself and hopefully others. It’s a gentle way for me to connect with myself. We are all dealing with all the complexities, emotions, traumas, trials, tribulations, and the mysteries of life. My music seems to help me along the way. It has been my salvation, and the words provide the messages I need to hear. I live for the music, and I feel very fortunate to have received this gift.
6. What inspired you to take this unique direction with your songwriting? Is there a spiritual message you are trying to convey?
My music subtly conveys a sense of spirituality and self-inquiry. The variety of instruments we use, the production, and the arrangements also give my music a unique sound. For example, on “Stranger” you will hear the beautiful tones of the hammer dulcimer. On “The Sun Shines” you’ll hear the pennywhistle and saxophones. The kettle drums make an appearance on “Oudmon.” Other instruments on my “Remains to be Seen” album include mandolin, flute, 12-string acoustic guitar, a ceramic doombek drum, and the harmonica just to name a few.
7. Please give us some insight to your songwriting process?
I most often come up with a rhythm on my guitar, and then I hum melodies until the sounds I make turn into words. I never know what the words will be until they come out.” I feel strongly that my lyrics are notes from my subconscious, telling me things that I needs to hear, or emotions I needs to set free. My songs are like my musical children with messages that feed my soul.
8. “Oudmon” is a fun song, and that is quite an interesting title. What is the story behind this song?
“Oudmon” was written about one of my housemates named Oudie. He had Down’s Syndrome, and was very devoted to Amachi, the internationally popular Indian Saint. He would listen to traditional Hindu chants in his room which was across from mine. One day, I started playing two chords and called out the nickname, “Oudmon,” that I had given my friend. I saw he became very happy and excited when I sang his nickname. Oudie would reply “Hari Bol” which translates as, “Sing the praises of God.” And so… the song was born.
9. You mentioned that you want to convey a message of healing in your music. Would the song, “Stranger” be an example of this?
“Stranger” is a song about my childhood. In this song I am trying to connect with the part of myself that was confused, disappointed, sad, depressed, and lonely. I had a very difficult time growing up as a child, and I found that the best way to deal with my emotional pain was to put it in my inner closet and close the door. Through my music, my words, and playing rhythms, I was able to express my feelings and share my experiences. This allowed me to connect with others, and give that child the love he was looking for with a new message of hope and healing. To this day, this song reaches the memories of the past and brings new hope into the moment.
10. Is there anything in particular that you'd like people to take away from listening to your music?
I would hope the listener would enjoy the music, words and production of the songs. All the variety of the of the instruments played on my new album and the messages that come forth. Hopefully there is a message for them that is helpful to their well-being.
The 12-String guitar is very prominent in your music and the guitar you play looks and sounds amazing! Is that a custom-built guitar? Please tell us the story behind this instrument?
Lance McCollum was a builder of great guitars. Some of the players of his instruments include Roger Hodgson of Supertramp, Martin Barre of Jethro Tull, Winfield Champion Todd Hallawell, and Grammy winners Mark Mancina and Doug Smith. In his career Lance built approximately 250 guitars.
One day my good friend Robin showed me his new acoustic guitar he just purchased from Lance McCollum. After playing this magnificent and elegant guitar I was inspired. Fortunately, Lance lived only 20 minutes away so I called him to see how I could purchase a guitar. I knew he was becoming a very famous guitar maker. I found out he was back logged for a year so I realized after meeting him and seeing his workshop (1996) I better order two guitars (a 6-string and a 12-string) from him right now.
I picked out the wood and some beautiful designs and a custom lotus flower on the 12th fret on both guitars. My 6-string is made from Koa wood and my 12-string is made with Tasmanian Blackwood from Australia. My 6 string was his 64th guitar and my 12 string was #79. I am very grateful that I was able to meet him and have two of his guitars.
Unfortunately, Lance is no longer with us. I am grateful to have known him, his wife and three children.
What do you do in your spare time?
I enjoy the outdoors! I love to hike and take walks in nature. I love to soak in the hot springs, practice yoga, play pickleball, visit Hawaii and of course playing music and recording. I enjoy swimming in the ocean of Maui and the waters of Lake Tahoe. I enjoy watching NBA basketball, and since I’m originally from L.A., I’m also a Laker fan.