Julian Taylor is an overnight success over two decades in the making. Ever since the Toronto singer-songwriter released his latest album, The Ridge, to the world on June 19 (Juneteenth, also known as Freedom Day), people have been tuning in from all corners inspired by his deftly, heartfelt songwriting that seems to have come along at just the right time.
“I’ve been overwhelmed and shocked by the response because I didn’t realize that people really gravitated towards them as much as they did and I’m honoured,” says Taylor of his songs, over the phone from his home in the Danforth neighbourhood, while also managing to feed his eight-year-old daughter lunch during the interview.
The original plan was for Julian Taylor to release his new album this fall, but he decided to leak one song, “The Human Race,” and as he says, “People just really really dug it.”
“I found that the conversation opened up and what ended up happening was people really felt affected by the music,” he says.
Taylor has been around the Toronto music scene for a long time, born into a musical family with a father who played classical piano and a mother who loved Motown. Other early influences included Jim Croce and John Denver.
As a teenager Taylor remembers his first gig at a place called the Spectrum as a member of the band SBB — yes, simulated bacon bits. But it was as a member of Canadian indie rock band Staggered Crossing that Taylor first made his mark on the musical landscape.
Staggered Crossing released five studio albums during the late ’90s and early 2000s before calling it quits as Taylor embarked upon his solo career and added an additional six albums to the mix including his latest.
The Ridge was inspired by a series of letters to people in Taylor’s life, friends and family and even himself. He would head out into the woods, turn on his phone and just speak to them.
“For instance, I would start off and I’d say, ‘Dear Mom and Dad,’ and then I would just talk to them. It was really therapeutic,” he says. “I mean, they weren’t there. And I’ve never shown them the videos, but I spoke to them, and then later, I would watch the videos and transcribe exactly what I said. And from there I wrote the songs.”
One particularly touching song, “Ballad of the Young Troubadour,” Julian Taylor wrote to himself and references his decades in the business on the road from town to town.
Although Taylor is a dramatic live performer, the current pandemic is curtailing most performances, but he has managed to live stream a few things from his Facebook page, and he is even doing a concert at a drive-in movie theatre as part of Ottawa Blues Fest later this summer.
“I always think to myself I’ve done every gig in every choice imaginable, and then something comes up, and it’s like, nope,” he says.
For more information on Julian Taylor, go to Juliantaylormusic.ca.