Q&A: Nick Taylor – Emerging Austin Americana Artist
by Kelly Kling
Nick Taylor wasn’t always cool, calm and collected in front of crowds. In fact, when his music journey began in high school, he often auditioned for solos in his musical theater class sitting under a desk facing the wall. But his rich voice couldn’t stay hidden for long. He was accepted into the prestigious voice program at the University of North Texas in Denton. His journey eventually led him to Austin, “The Live Music Capital of the World,” where he is now pursuing his musical dream.
360°Sound: How long have you been singing and playing guitar?
Nick Taylor: I went to college to study music, but that didn’t last long. I didn’t really fit into the academic music scene, but it was still my passion. I took the extra time I had after switching majors to teach myself guitar with the hope that someday, I would be able to write my own songs.
What made you decide to dive into the Americana genre?
I got really into folk and Americana music when I was in college. Some friends introduced me to a handful of artists, and I started down this never-ending path of new artist discovery in the genre. I really liked the stripped-down, raw feel of just a guitar and a voice. Something about it seemed truer and more accessible to me than other genres I had been exposed to, like Texas country, bluegrass, and jazz. That’s not to say I don’t still really enjoy other genres of music— there was just something about folk and Americana that I connected with at the time and still do. When I started singing, it was mostly jazz, and that’s actually what I studied for a short while in college. But when I finally started writing, I think it was always in the folk and Americana vein.
How old were you when you wrote your first song, and when did you first write one you felt really represented you as an artist?
I didn’t write my first full song until I was 25. It took me awhile to find my voice as a writer. There are a lot of quarter-songs and one-liners sitting in notebooks and memos from years of trying to figure out what I wanted to write about and how to express what I was feeling in a way I felt good about. Once I finished that first song, though, that was it. I felt like I had finally found my voice as a writer, and since then, it’s been a lot easier for me to write songs that I feel represent me well.
Tell me about recording your first EP, Family Tree. What was the process like?
At the time, I had been wanting to record a few songs professionally so I had something concrete to show booking agents, but what ended up happening was a lot more exciting than I could have hoped for. I was introduced to Nick Diaz (aka Buenos Diaz), another Austin-based musician, at a show in East Austin in late 2019. I learned he had a studio just down the road, so we exchanged numbers to link up and discuss the process later in the week. We scheduled everything over drinks a few days later, and I went to his studio to record my songs shortly after.
The whole process went really smoothly, and I think the songs were all recorded in just an hour or so. Nick even did all the mixing for me. Later that week, he offered to connect me with someone to master the songs and even suggested a release show. He set all that up as well. I owe him a lot. None of this would have happened if he hadn’t helped me in all the ways he did. What started as a simple need for recorded material turned into a full EP, mixed and mastered, and a release show. Like I said before, the whole process was just really exciting for me. I couldn’t be more grateful for that opportunity.
What do you like most about performing?
The connection with the audience. It’s the same feeling I got when I heard live music for the first time. There’s a force in music that seems to connect everyone in the room and when you’re a part of it, it’s intoxicating. It’s a type of connection I think you don’t get from many other things in life. It is unique.
You had some shows lined up for South by Southwest this year, but 2020 unfortunately had other plans. How did you continue to harness your creativity in quarantine?
It’s been really hard, honestly. However, I was given some good advice early on in my music journey: learn how to be told ‘no.’ That’s basically what happened this year — the universe slapped my live music prospects with a huge ‘no.’ So, it’s been a good lesson in taking a step back and doing what I can in the meantime. That’s mostly been practicing. I have a lot more time on my hands to practice and learn these days, and though my writing productivity has slowed a little, you’d be surprised how much creativity you can pull out of the corner of a one-bedroom apartment.
Tell me about what’s next. Will you record another EP or a full album? Do you see yourself working with other artists or having features on your next release?
The next step is live shows once everything is back to normal again, whenever that is. After that, I’ll probably put a few singles out and eventually a full album, ideally with a full band. I think collaborations can be fun and produce some interesting work. I don’t know for sure if that will happen on the next release, but I’m up for it!
Stream Nick’s Family Tree EP on Spotify. It’s also available on Napster and other streaming platforms.