Julian Taylor is embarking on a new journey with his upcoming album The Ridge, and he wants to take music fans along with him. The Canadian singer-songwriter just released the title track from the album on April 10, and stopped by to not only preview his latest record but discuss how the coronavirus pandemic influenced his plans for release.
Plus, how exactly do musicians pick out titles for their records, anyway?
You can listen to “The Ridge” now on iTunes and Apple Music, and pre-order the full album of the same name on digital, CD or vinyl through his website. Follow Julian on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube for even more leading up to the release of his record on June 19.
Brittany Frederick: You had originally planned to release The Ridge in September. What made you decide to move up the release date to June?
Julian Taylor: I decided to release it earlier due to the current state of the world. The music on this particular album is introspective and warm. One of my friends who played piano on the record said that he thought it’s music that the world needs right now. I wasn’t sure about it and asked my family what they thought, and they agreed, so the release date has been moved.
BF: How did you decide on the title of the record? Did you just pull a name from one of the songs, or is there a specific reason you went with this title?
JT: The title of the album was originally supposed to be Little Big Man. It’s what my grandfather used to call me when I was a little boy. He and my grandmother lived in a little town called Maple Ridge in British Columbia. When she passed away, I wrote the song “The Ridge.” So the song title is actually short for Maple Ridge.
BF: Of the eight new songs included on the album, is there any one in particular that stood out to you as you were recording it? What should listeners be looking out for?
JT: The last song on the album is very special to me as well because the words that I speak are from a poem that my late grandfather wrote. I found it when going through their stuff when we closed up their home.
BF: Every song on The Ridge is based on a true story. How does it affect you as an artist when you’re writing songs from a place of true events?
JT: It’s not easy to share everything that has happened to me and my family, so I chose to share only what I was comfortable sharing.
BF: How would you describe your experience recording The Ridge in the studio? What was your creative process?
JT: I recorded the album with my cousins, who drove from Kahnawake to Toronto for a weekend. We’ve jammed at family events before but had never recorded anything together, so this was really special. The whole album is about my family, and to have family members perform on the album is beyond anything that I could have ever hoped or imagined.
Some great musicians from Toronto joined us: Miranda Mulholland, Burke Carroll, Derek Downam, Dala and Kevin Fox. I co-produced the album with my good friend, Saam Hashemi.
BF: You’re also still active with your band, Julian Taylor Band. Have you found that your experiences with the band influenced your solo music?
JT: I don’t actually know. I suppose that there’s always a song or two on our records that sound somewhat like the solo stuff that I am about to release. I love the band, and I am still active with my band. Performing with the group and writing for the group is a very different [experience] for me. It takes more endurance because the music is quite vibrant.
Sadly, I haven’t seen my bandmates in weeks, and any engagements we had have obviously been canceled. Just before COVID-19 came to North America, we were working on writing songs. We now have to do that remotely. We have not gotten that far yet, though. Everyone is just trying to get used to this way of life right now. Hoping things shift sooner than later.
BF: Do you have one artist, or one album, that has particularly impacted your life and you’d want to pass on to other music fans?
JT: Oh, there are so so many that have impacted my life. I love Bob Marley and think that his music is so important to the whole world. Have you listened to those records since the lockdown? If you haven’t, you should, because they sound so relevant.
When I was a little boy, my mom gave me a Jim Croce tape that changed my whole view of songwriting. His songs are stories, and I really identify with that. I am also a big fan of Rhett Miller, who is the singer in the Old 97’s; he’s a great performer and very supportive of my music. Others that have been really supportive whom I adore are Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo, William Prince, and AHI.