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Artificial Joy by Taylor's Universe

Jazznet Denmark did an interview with composer, multi-instrumentalist, sound manipulator, arranger, producer and record label owner and self taught progressive musician Robin Taylor, in the middle of february 2010. You can follow Mr. Taylor and his many on going projects on the following adress :

Jazznet Denmark : How did your adventures with music begin, did you have any musical training or are you self taught ? Robin Taylor : I have listened to music as long as I can remember. At my 8th birthday (I think) I was given my first Beatles record, and I became a fan right away. I felt very attracted to "electric" music and had this dream about becoming a musician myself one day. My first "real" instrument was a cheap electric guitar, that I had for my 12th birthday. I never had any teachers; just figured it out myself, learning by doing and listening to records.

JD : What music genres do you listen to yourself, and is there a certain kind of music that inspires you ? RT : I"ve listened to many kinds of music: popular music, hard rock, psychedelic, progressive, modern jazz, fusion, classical composers - you name it. Im inspired by anything I"ve heard.

JD : If you should mention 5-10 records that have meant something to you and your music what would they be ? RT : Tough question... well if I was going to pick 10 albums that have meant a lot to me I"d probably say:

The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper King Crimson: In The Wake of Poseidon Cream: Disraeli Gears Emerson Lake & Palmer: Tarkus Mike Oldfield: Hergest Ridge Weather Report: Tale Spinning Secret Oyster: Sea Son Gentle Giant: In a Glass House Dimitri Shostakovitch: Symphony No. 5.

I could easily mention another ten.

JD : To my ears you are a group of musicians who are in constant movement and going in many different directions from track to track and from release to release. Where do you get your ideas from and what is your secret (if you have one)? RT : My mind has always been bursting with ideas; I don't have a 'secret method" when I compose; I just go through the library in my head - made up from listening to thousands and thousands of records. There's always an echo of something I"ve heard that I"d like to do my own version of; refine to something personal - no matter what direction it's in - and I believe you can always hear that I'm responsible for it.

JD : Are you a full time musician or are all your different projects your second job ? RT : I'm not a full time musician; you can't do these sorts of things and make a living from them (in Denmark you can't that's for sure). Some of the others are playing full time but they have to earn their bread and butter by working with commercial artists in other genres.

JD : If a new listener were about to buy his first recording of your music which one would you recommend as the best introduction to your amazing music ? RT : That's also a difficult question - depending on personal tastes. If you"re looking for something not too far out I"d recommend "Oyster's Apprentice" or 'soundwall" by Taylor's Universe. Or the Art Cinema (selftitled) album. If you"re more of a free jazz (avant garde) aficionado I"d advice you to check out "File Under Extreme" by Taylor's Free Universe.

JD : Your music is hard to put in any musical boxes because it has so many different styles mixed with each other. In my opinion you belong to the progressive/rock/experimental part of the music world. Do you agree with that? And what are your opinions on that genre and genres in general ? RT : You"re probably right when using the term "progressive" on my music and probably not. Progressive Rock has become a "genre" with many directions: symphonic metal avant garde and so and so on. I"d like to see "progressive" more as a movement than a genre; bands and artists with different stylistic backgrounds working together creating new musical forms - or that's how it all started (back in the early 70's). Today there's a lot of so-called progressive bands who don't experiment at all; they just copy a way of playing that made fame decades ago. To me that's not "progressive" so maybe the term has lost its meaning. It's always restricting when you put labels on music that can't be labeled (because of its diversity). I wish we could use the word "fusion" because that's what this kind of music really is: a fusion of many genres - but that term has a meaning of its own today (electric smooth jazz).

JD : You have released numerous recordings over the years mainly on your own label Marvel of Beauty. Are there some of them that you see in particular as more important than others or landmarks in your massive production ? RT : Hmm... Typically I lose interest every time an album is completed (I get fed up in the process) but looking back there's a few that I like to think of: "Pork" (from the early years) and "Oyster's Apprentice" (both by Taylor's Universe). I would probably add two of my solo albums: "Deutsche Schule" and "Isle of Black" - yeah and Art Cinema (my first vocal album) is pretty cool I think.

JD : Of many you have two projects. One called Taylor's Free Universe the other called Taylor's Universe. Could you try to explain the difference between those is one of them completely planned before start while the other is not ? RT : After a couple of minimalistic solo albums I wanted to do an album with much more of a "band sound". That led to Taylor's Universe - my studio group. In general the music of TU is very structured but everything is possible - even moments of pure improvisation. After some years of working with saxophone ace Karsten Vogel he persuaded me to form a live band and that became Taylor's Free Universe. The idea was to get some people together and just have a go. No written material no rehearsals - we just brought in our gear and started playing whether it was on stage or in the recording studio. The result was quite odd and sometimes really exciting. We played festivals and made quite a few records (even got nominated for a Danish Music Awards Jazz) but it was a struggle to get gigs. The band folded in 2005 (after five years in service) and I returned to studio work.

JD : How is it to be a musician in little Denmark is there a live scene for the music you do ? RT : No the situation is absolutely hopeless.

JD : When I listen to your music I can hear some of the same ideas I hear when I listen to King Crimson and Robert Fripp. Are you inspired by him or am I way off ? RT : You"re quite right; I'm a big fan of Crimson/Fripp - especially for what they/he did in the 70's.

JD : What's your best advice for young aspiring musicians who want to make it in the progressive music world or any world for that matter ? RT : Be yourself. To me originality is the most important thing. And if you can't come up with something of your own don't play music. We have enough copycats around already.

JD : Where do you see yourself in 5 years still making music for the masses ? RT : The point is I have never made music for the "masses'; the things I'm doing are too far away from "mainstream" and if you"re not a mainstream (commercial) artist you can't expect a huge following. My music is a "minority" thing - unfortunately - but I am being honest to my art and that's very important to me.

JD : Finally what are your plans for the future and what will be the next release from the mighty Robin Taylor ? RT : I haven't got any actual plans for the moment. My latest album was released just before Christmas (we"re in February now) but I suppose I will return to the recording studios when spring comes (my energies are a little low this time of year). I"ve got a few ideas that might turn into a new Taylor's Universe album. We"ll see.


Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Taylor's Universe
  • CD Title: Artificial Joy
  • Year Released: 2010
  • Genre: Progressive
  • Record Label: Marvel of Beauty Records
  • Tracks: Work, Artificial Joy, Days Run Like Horses, Atmosfear, Laughter, Telephone, Fame
  • Musicians: Jakob Mygind (saxophones), Carsten Sindvald (clarinet, saxophones), Finn Olafsson (electric & acoustic guitars), Michael Denner (electric guitar), Robin Taylor (keyboards, electric guitar, percussion, tapes, glockenspiel, radio, effects, treatments), Flemmng Muus Tranberg (fretless bass guitar), Klaus Thrane (drums), Louise Nipper (voice)
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