The best piece of advice that Aaron Taylor ever received was "Follow your heart." As cliché as that may sound, it becomes increasingly meaningful as we discover more and more about the budding London singer-songwriter.
Taylor unveiled his Better Days EP on Oct. 28, a multi-faceted and uplifting manifestation of funk and R&B plus a healthy serving of bonafide soul. The EP also signified a notable thematic shift from his previous Still Life EP, which was released completely anonymously and written "from a place of frustration." Although he's seen "better days" since then, Aaron Taylor upholds his artistic perfectionism, as he shared,
"I saw my music do better for me than it ever has; I've had doors open - doors that I had been knocking on for a while…However, there still remains a level of dissatisfaction. I am relatively easily satisfied but the truth is I want, if not need, better days: I want to be a better man, friend and human. I want to smile more; I'd like more reasons to be happy both from within and externally. I don't mean to sound pessimistic. I truly am grateful for the better days I've experienced. However it is hard to feel like these are the best of times when people in Flint are living with poisoned water. Refugees are left unwelcome and told to go back to their war-torn homes. Injustices in legal systems are rife. The economic disparity between races is still an uncrossable gulf. Racism is an ugly stain on humanity and yet we seem unwilling to change our clothes. Not the best of times."
Considering his music is undeniably special and his general outlook incredibly inspiring, we had to get the full scoop from Taylor himself. Read more about his lyrics, goals, and Ones To Watch in our Q&A below.
OTW: What was your thought process behind going from total anonymity to exposing your identity?
AT: It sounds slightly pretentious, but when releasing Still Life my goal was simply for the music to be the sole focus. I didn’t feel my image was important in how people received the music. Eventually, I thought it was only right that people get to know more about me, which is why I felt it was the right time to start revealing more.
OTW: What is the significance of the figurines on the Better Days EP cover art?
AT: My artist friend actually came up with the concept. Older generations of West-Indian Brits who came to the UK after the Windrush to settle seem to have this small fascination with ceramic figurines. When asking about their meaning, his grandmother’s response was that “They’re memories; memories of good and bad and where we’ve been and where we are now, when we could have, and when we couldn’t have.” This is one of the themes of Better Days and the more I sat with it, the more I thought it kind of worked, although a little left. There seemed to be an additional certain irony in their Aryan appearance and holding instruments.
OTW: There was a major shift from your previous Still Life EP to Better Days. Can you explain the differences and how/why they came about?
AT: Still Life was basically made as a last attempt to make things in my life work. I’d been trying to get things off the ground to no avail, and so it was made from a place of frustration. Better Days was made after seeing the “success” of Still Life and yet realizing there is still quite a way to go before things actually get better, personally, socially, globally etc.
[still life EP embed]
OTW: What's one lyric from the EP that resonates most deeply with you personally and why?
AT: Possibly a lyric from "Just Gon’ Wait:"
“They keep on killing our friends;
We don’t know when this will end.”
I think it sums up a lot of what black people have been going through this year. It’s maybe not as severe here in the U.K., but the ripples are felt globally, and I’m glad I managed to put it into a song somewhere.
OTW: What's the best piece of advice you ever received?
AT: Cliche as it is, probably “Follow your heart.” Nothing feels better than seeing the rewards of what you know you’ve always wanted to do.
OTW: How do you hope your music is received?
AT: Ideally, I’d like people to feel like they were hearing something of substance, whether musically or lyrically. It’d be great if it met them on an emotional level, reminded them of themselves, gave them something they were missing.
OTW: What can we expect in 2017?
AT: I’m working on new music. I’m still not sure what its final form will be, but I’m guessing another EP, hopefully in the Spring. I’d love to maybe collaborate with some cool artists too and get some cool live opportunities.
OTW: Who are 3 artists on your Ones To Watch list and why?
AT: Kadhja Bonet– Her album is so texturally rich and I think she really has something special. She’s simply beautiful to listen to.
Goldlink– I get the impression he’s a dark horse, as in we’ve only seen the surface of what he’s capable of writing. Pretty much everything he comes out with is gold.
Eryn Allen Kane– Her voice on "Have Mercy" is amazing.
OTW: Any shows in LA coming up?
AT: None imminently but I’d love to do one.