Harvey Kubernick interviews:

JULIAN SHAH-TAYLER

QUOTE FROM ROBERT MARGOULEFF:

 "I have spent a lot of time and energy with Julian Shah-Tayler in the studio. He is a superb talent and is very driven to succeed. He has a great live show and is a strong songwriter."

 

Q: You were recently discovered by Dave Stewart. Tell me about the origins of that encounter and have you collaborated with him recently? As a youth were you a fan of blues music?  

 

I am currently working with the excellent artist and magazine publisher, "Marvin" with whom I'm producing/cowriting a new LP. He recently introduced me to Dave Stewart (of the fabulous 80s electro band, The Eurythmics) who cowrote the first song with us. 

 

Q: I suspect Duran Duran and Roxy Music were essential listening.

I do love me some Bryan Ferry, that's for sure. Although Japan and The Cure were my 80s New Wave of choice.  

Q: David J. and Alan McGee have praised your work. I suspect you are into Bauhaus and Creation Records.

Absolutely. I was inextricable with those bands in London

Q: You met David Chatfield in 2014 at the finals of the LAMM JAM music competition put on by NARIP on August 27, 2014. You were fronting a band, The Singularity. Initially he represented you as a music attorney and caught you at The Viper Room. The deejay Jonathan L, a two-time winner of the International Radio Personality Award 2015 & 2017 started to play your song “Wetter” via Radio from Berlin, Germany, 14 radio stations across the world, many of which stations are located throughout the United States, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong; on four continents. It seems to be your most streamed song. Tell me about “Wetter” and your songwriting work in general.

I wrote "Wetter" for JC Chasez while I was writing with him in Los Angeles. I decided to keep it, as people really liked my original demo. I have just finished writing my new album, titled "Elysium" which was inspired by my Muse. It was written through the phases of the development of our relationship from the start to now. I write best from personal experiences. Songwriting is therapy and catharsis for me. 

 

Q: There’s another song I have heard of yours. “Darkling Universe.” It garnered airplay. The genesis of that song and subsequent recording.

   

I was asked to write a song for working out at the gym and was feeling quite industrial and electronic. I started with the live bass line and synths. The guitar riff came at the same time as the lyric and is confessing an urgency and magnanimity combined. There is a middle section breakdown in the coming album version that becomes funk. It seemed to capture the imagination of a few DJs who know of me. I'm thrilled as it's a wonderful live song.   

 

Q: Do you write lyrics and titles first? Does the music or a melody happen and it evolves from there?

There is no formula for inspiration. It happens every way. Differently every time.  

 

Q: Do you employ seasoned musicians on your recording sessions? 

 

I generally play everything myself, but I have had Alain Whyte (Morrissey), David J (Bauhaus), Carmine Rojas (Bowie/Rod Stewart), MGT (Tricky/Mission UK), Chris Olivas (Berlin) Jagz Kooner (Primal Scream), Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Durga McBroom (Pink Floyd)  when I wish for an extra special sauce. They are all wonderful players and have made some of my favourite records of all time.   

 

Q: You have been in the studio with producer/engineer Robert Margouleff. Tell me about working with him.

He is a magnificent, storied genius of the electro/rock/funk crossover moment. He has been so wonderfully supportive of me and provided me with some of the best guidance of my career. We will work on more music very soon, as he has just finished his book and is reaching out to do some more stuff together. His encouragement of my various playing styles and corralling of my direction has been invaluable to me. 

Q: “End of the Line.” I just heard a re-mix of it. Strong.

Thank you.  

Q: You are working on a new album. After working with David Chatfield and hearing his remix, does that change your thinking in any way that effects your songwriting or production ideas? Sumthing Strange liked Chatfield’s remix ideas so much, that they asked him to co-produce their current single and the next one.

 

It has taught me to be a little more restrained in the "musical sprawl" and to focus on the "hooks" more. Very excellent insight 

Q: After talking to David and hearing his remix, would you consider working with Chatfield in a co-production capacity or production remixer in the future?

Absolutely. We have discussed it at length and I would be thrilled to make a record with him anytime.  

 

Q: Your stage show. You are booked or play in different forums. Tell me about when you perform as a solo act. All original material? Do you have a band and/or still work with Singularity?  

When I perform solo, it's mostly originals. "The Singularity" was always a live iteration of my studio based solo work, so I will most definitely put together a band to play soon for the new album. I enjoy the opportunity when I perform live to rip out one solo on guitar or play some bombastic piano, but I prefer to just sing mostly. Prince was always my idol and I admired his ability to do all things in moderation and just be the band leader. Cool cat number 1!  

 

Q: There are also some dates where you do a David Bowie-themed show. You have done this before and after he passed away. Can you discuss Bowie with me? What drew you to him. His stage act or the songs. The impact and influence of Bowie on your own endeavors. Your tribute group, "The Band That Fell To Earth: A David Bowie Odyssey."

 

Bowie was always a shadow for my own music. People tell me I sound like him vocally and musically as I was originally heavily influenced by the artists who were heavily influenced by him. When I discovered his material for myself later in life I was, of course smitten and adopted many of his musical tropes by osmosis. I am also massively impressed by his interests, compassion and outsider role. Interviews with him influence me as strongly as concert performances.  

Q: Then, there is the blueprint or presence of Depeche Mode. Obviously a big fan and you perform in a Depeche Mode tribute band.   

I love Depeche. Martin is the 80s Electro Bowie. Beautiful songwriter. 

 

Q: Your catalogue has been placed in films: Maleficent (2014), Plush (2013) and Riot On Red Church Street (2012). Talk to me about the marriage of musical recordings that find a spot on the screen.

I often make music that makes sense in scenes with visual impact. Whether it be active or contemplative, I have a song that would work as a companion to the mood and scene. I love that marriage, and am often asked to provide music for TV/Film placement.  

 

Q: You’ve won awards for composing for movies, the 2014 Golden Trailer award for “Maleficent” as well as ASCAP’s Homegrown Hits “Talking In Your Sleep” 2012. Is it a different set of musical muscles creating tunes and recordings for a visual medium? Or, in these situations where it was existing recorded catalog and then licensed for film?  

 

I prefer and most often get the placements from already existing songs, but with Maleficent I was drafted with Daisy O'Dell by Disney to come up with the piece that we subsequently arranged into the music for the award winning promotional film. That was a deliberate and manufactured context, whereas normally I write how I feel and mostly that results in a visually appropriate composition.