By Julian Reece Goddard
Once in a while a young musician comes along who stands out from the pack. And I’m not referring to the way many artists believe they stand out, which is because their music is “honest” and “real.” Of course it is. Everyone’s music is honest and real to them. The stand-out factor I’m referring to is that intangible “it” factor you can’t quite put your finger on, but you know it’s there in so many aspects of what the artist does. 20 year old Taylor Caspersen has it. And you may ask “Who?” But you may not be asking that for long. Caspersen, multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter and producer, will release his debut full-length album July 8th, where he grew up – in Sooke – and I recently talked with him about his emerging career and the new album.
MM: What has the 5-year journey of making this debut album been like?
TC: When I started this project, the album was a very different set of songs. My production skills then were limited, my experience on the studio floor was holding me back even moreso, and I had no idea how I was going to complete any of it. But over those 5 years, I learned how to build my productions to sound exactly how I wanted them to. By the time I had learned the production side, I had swapped out half of the songs and added two extra tracks.
MM: Many musicians start playing music when they’re 10 or 12 and by the time they’re 25, they’re releasing their first full-length album. You started when you were 4 and are releasing your debut full-length album at age 20. Why do you think you have accelerated so quickly, in terms of developing into a multi-instrumentalist, developing early as a producer, being signed to a label, and releasing a full album? Was it that early musical start? Is it your focus or drive? The supportive people around you growing up?
TC: I had a tremendous amount of support from my mum who supported and entertained me in my every musical dream and idea. Without her mindset, in many ways I would not be who I am. Once I had a taste, I wanted to play all the time, but at school, my music time was limited. At lunch hour, I’d stay inside in the music room and play around with the instruments instead of going out to be among my peers. I was really a loner – and not by my own choice. I always tried to be more social, but no friends ever really stuck around, as I don’t think anyone else truly could grasp or understand my intense obsession with music. The only friend I could ever truly rely on to keep myself happy and positive was music. It never judges or second guesses me. But the number one thing that has kept me growing as an artist has been sticking with it even when feeling like you’re ready to give up.
MM: Name one specific artist who has influenced your style, and how/why?
TC: Many many artists influence me in many ways, but my absolute biggest influence is Bob Dylan. The poetry, the arrangements, the sound. There’s nothing I dislike about Dylan. He’s one of the best songwriters on the face of this planet and is truly unlike any other performer. His choppy and bold guitar style, brash but unique vocal delivery, and the ability to kill a man with his pure word-wizardry makes him iconic and irreplaceable in my mind. I’m really a Dylan-freak, owning copies of his full discography collection, including bootlegs, alternate takes, non-album singles and all that other fun stuff. There’s only one other songwriter that even comes close… and that is “Sugarman” – Sixto Rodriguez.
MM: Is there a track on this debut album that is more meaningful to you or stands out in some way?
TC: I’d say track five, Mr White, is probably the most emotionally involved and personally meaningful song to me on this album. I wrote this song for my girlfriend Amanda, as an anthem to carry on after having the toughest two years you could ever imagine. Her entire life seemed it was falling apart at the seams. She had been emotionally wounded and stepped on for her entire life by unthoughtful and uncaring family members who were negatively impacting her every step. This song came on the heels of her decision to rid her life of all of those toxic people, even though this would prove to be emotionally and physically trying. Mr White quickly transformed into a personal anthem for her to start living as a more positively minded person. She made this huge, unfathomable decision, and I really wanted to show my support for her and her journey, and by writing this song I was trying to show her that she can use her voice and the impact of her story to say and do whatever she wants to.
MM: What can people expect from the show if they show up July 8?
TC: If they get there nice and early, the first 150 guests in the door at the theatre receive a free limited edition copy of the CD. Also, the night will be hosted by our special guest emcees Forbes and Marshall, our friends and local morning radio legends, and will also feature fellow Mighty Speck Records roster artist Terry Boyle who will be opening the night of music with his passionate songwriting, charming storytelling, and virtuosic acoustic guitar work. After that, the Taylor Caspersen Project will be featuring a surprise bill of talented local musicians, including James Kasper on the harp and Thom Southwood on the keys.
Who: Taylor Caspersen
What: CD Release Show for Debut Album “After All These Years.”
Also featuring Terry Boyle (opener), James Kasper (harmonica), Thom Southwood (keys), Gage Patenaude (drums), and others.
When: Saturday July 8, 2017. Doors: 7:00pm. Show: 8:00pm
Where: EMCS Community Theatre – 6218 Sooke Rd, Sooke, BC
Tickets: $15 advance at taylorcaspersen.com or at Shoppers Drug Mart (Sooke), Stick in the Mud, Kemp Lake Music Cafe, and Shirley Delicious. Or $18 at the door.