I've secured a Q&A session with the previously featured artist Julian Shah-Tayler. Read below as he discusses working with Joaquin Phoenix, where he takes inspiration from to write and what's new for him right now. Enjoy!
Hi Julian, it's great to be able to send some questions your way. Firstly, the one I'm sure all my readers are dying to know about; how did working with Joaquin Phoenix come about? How was it?
So my friend Scott (Adamandevil) and I moved across to Los Angeles from England around the same time, and met up with an old friend, Alan McGee (Creation Records boss) who used to manage "Whitey" (my old band) to discuss him supporting our music with his new label. Alan had previously set us up with an audition for Courtney Love (another story!) and mentioned that he was considering managing a famous actor, whose new material was amazing. That actor turned out to be Joaquin.
Scott and I recorded and played with him for around 2 weeks, in which time we recorded on around 8 songs. (I played piano and percussion and contributed vocals) alongside Antony Langdon, (Spacehog) on main vocals.
The project was rehearsed with Wildcat Will on drums, but never ended up going to a live format, as Joaquin was called to do another movie and the momentum fizzled, Alan went back to live in retirement in Wales.
Joaquin was an experience to work with. His type of crazy comes with an enormous amount of creative flair and much more focus than people give him credit for. His songwriting (I understand in collaboration with Antony) is very tasteful and I love the songs.
Blah Blah Blahnik takes on a variety of musical genres compared with Un Ange Passe which tended to stick to just one. Why did you feel the need to mix it up on your latest offering?
I don't think that is the case at all. The "Un Ange Passe" EP is more diverse by far than BBB.
It varies from complete electronica to very organic and "real" instruments.
Compare "Lullabies" to "Wetter" from the UAP ep, and I think you will see the massive gulf!
I think BBB is much more homogenous comparatively.
I deliberately made the second EP sound "raw" and "rock" to illustrate that I could be more consistent in style than the first one.
I have a completely electronic EP in the pipeline as well as a totally live recorded one as well as the finished album....
Most of the artists I love have always managed to straddle different genres.
What is it about writing music that makes you want to keep doing it, and when did you first decide this was the career path for you?
I love music, and have been singing professionally since I was 5 years old.
I tried to quit, and worked in TV for a while. Much much more money, but I realised that I was not happy with the results psychologically, and I care very little for money per se.
I live for the audience. I love the fact that in the context of one song, you can reach people on both an emotional and physical level at once.
It is scientifically postulated that any concept can be articulated and memorised much more easily when set to music. The feeling when I have finished a song beats anything except the excitement that comes across peoples' faces when you play something you know has connected on a deep level with them.....
Where do you take inspiration from when writing your music and lyrics?
Everything and everywhere. My life. My music is my diary and my secret lovers and my open book and my own soul laid out for everyone to experience and interpret and for me to remember and reappraise on each subsequent listen.
A song that has a genuine resonance with me will always have a much more important life than any other song.
If it means something to me, it means something to people that are listening. One important lesson I had to learn!
'Show Me Your Soul' is a great track. How and where did that begin life?
Thank you! Actually that song has had a very long and troubled birth. My friend, Antony Green is an artist in life and paint.
He recently met Imelda Marcos, the ex premiere of the Phillippines.
She is very famous for two things: shoes and mismanagement of the Phillippines.
Antony is preparing an exhibition of shoe paintings with her permission. He asked me to write the soundtrack to the exhibition and specifically a song that would accompany the event as a multimedia portion of the press campaign.
Subsequently, I read a lot about Imelda; her thoughts and writing. I chose to focus on her intentions as a great figurehead who was misinterpreted by (or misinterpreted) the people she was representing.
She has a very interesting and very thoughtful soul that could be said to be lost in the shuffle in the wake of her deposition from the ruling position. Understand that she was one of the most powerful people in the world for a long time, and an icon of feminine power for so many worldwide.
The song, I wrote in one Los Angeles night in november last year, and finished it the next day.
How do you feel about the music industry in general at the moment? Are you excited or anxious for its current state and future?
I am excited, as it enables people like me (with no label support and no desire to be creatively straitjacketed by other peoples' opinion on what will "sell" ) to make music instinctively without the pigeonholes that ruin the inspiration that make it desirable in the first place.
What's new for you at the moment, and what does the future hold?
New for me is the pleasure of producing for other people, as my debut was very well received and I am being approached all the time to work with other artists to arrange, record and produce their songs.
I also put a new band together recently, and we have a residency at the R Bar in Koreatown, Los Angeles so we can build the live show to the best of our ability......
The future is today. One of my new songs, and a lyric that I love : "If tomorrow's what you want, then today is what you need. The future's always sliding out of reach......."
I wish to carry on doing what I enjoy - making music and making love.
Finally, can you tell us a secret?
The secret is that everything you could ever want or be is within you.
Each moment contains the fabric of every moment that is or ever was.
Realise that, and nothing will ever challenge you again.
A really wonderful piece of philosophy to round-off a great interview. I hope you enjoyed it :)