Twenty Ten (2010) was a year of absurd exploration, vegetation, degradation and hyphenation.
– Taylor releases his eccentric and endearing concept triple album of demo-style recordings, ‘Here’s Some Songs’, deliberately recorded in one month under harsh circumstances, and released early February. Once released, he immediately gets a dangerous case of pnemonia that keeps him from school for a few weeks and has him concerned for his mortality, presumably his body’s manifestation of the anxiety and confusion of creating the collection.
– Taylor and Bryn Scott-Grimes postulate a CD series for their University compadres called ‘The Hyphenates’ (Hyphen-its), part of a larger concept involving juxtaposition and gift giving. The intention of this particular initiative: to release a disc anonymously every month, collecting recordings from around campus (though mostly from a select team). These anonymous discs are placed on newsstands and disappear in minutes. Production energy proves too much for Taylor’s non-Landmarked noggin and after three volumes, it ceases.
– Taylor wins a competition to sing alongside pop sensation Zameer in Dundas Square as part of their ‘Desi-Fest’, and is invited to pretend to play sitar in one of his music videos.
– Taylor also organizes and releases a triple-length collection of recordings from 2007-2009 whilst struggling with his cripplingly low self-esteem and throwing himself into his Youtube page once again to try and fill the void. Poor misguided Taylor.
– There was another album he participated in around this time, a live concert album by Emma Louise Hewson. She would become a longtime girlfriend, partly due to Taylor embarrassing the heck out of her by kissing her on the cheek at the end of them playing Peter Frampton’s ‘Baby I Love Your Way’ at the show. A copy of this album currently can’t be found for inclusion.
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Click On A Title Below To Be Directed To That Section:
Full Albums: Here’s Some Songs, Best Of Taylor For Tape (09-07),
The Hyphenates (Vols 1 and 2), Live @ The Cameron House
Everything Else: Demos & Rarities, Free Improvisations 2010,
Videos, Lyrics Poems Etc, Dictations Etc
Here’s Some Songs:
Mostly written and recorded as a self-imposed challenge, in a month from December 2009 – Jan 2010, this is sixty original demo recordings. Available for free streaming and purchase on Bandcamp.
In late 2009, Taylor received a phone call from himself requesting he record a triple album in a month. He hopped right to it – recording, writing & rewriting this strange collection of demo recordings round-the-clock in his virtually abandoned University during the December break. Partly improvised, partly meticulously prepared – this is a true exploration of concept album – avante-garde folk/pop enthusiasts rejoice!
Purchase includes a full 43 page lyric, credit, art & photo booklet.
This collection is generously, some may say, preposterously advertised at $7 if you so choose to purchase. It is by far, best enjoyed with the carefully designed, and funny, lyric booklet.
The album art and lyric/credit/art booklet, is also available by clicking here.
There are reflections on many of the specific tracks, listed below the general album reflection.
Reflecting on ‘Here’s Some Songs’:
One day when I was 18, I received a phone call from myself. ‘Make a triple album in four days’. I eventually bargained him into a month. And so, that became the underwhelmingly titled ‘Here’s Some Songs’, a digital-only triple album I spearheaded and recorded, edited, mixed (and mostly wrote) in roughly one month at the end of 2009. The tunes are mainly skeletons, not fully fleshed out, but all tie together in a lovely loose narrative, gradually twirling into a descent to mournful insanity & back up again for an obligatory happy ending.
I wanted to make it for a couple reasons. I wanted to train listeners to listen to sound in a different context besides ‘these are 12 songs that were slaved over until they were just right’. I wanted people to listen like how ethno-musicologists might listen to records of indigenous tribes. I thought ‘how awesome to have that sort of listening context slapped onto an artist in the 21st century? This is what a crestfallen teenager makes in 2009 if he traps himself in a wasteland with nothing but a guitar, a laptop & his brain, isolated from the outside world, with no concern of commercial appeal. You could argue in the 2300’s they’ll listen to everything we’ve made now with that sort of context, but its a surreal pleasure to experience that now.
Also, I wanted to pull a bit of a Kenny Vs Spenny episode in musical form, placing myself in a ridiculous situation to accelerate my development. I theorized musical authenticity couldn’t help but shine through in my music if all I did was record. Its too much work to resist the truth in such a structure. This whole creature was also a pleasant diversion from preparing for music theory & Brazilian folk guitar courses which didn’t interest me one bit compared to the infinite buzz of songs in my mind that needed to be documented.
This collection was mostly recorded up at York University in a cold dorm at Winters College around Christmas break – A campus used to 50,000 people, suddenly became nearly a ghost town. I remember at the start trudging a few miles through knee-deep snow to the closest Long & McQuade to rent mics and cables while listening to Johnny Cash IV on an old CD player. I also intimately remember due to the snow, some nights I got stuck sleeping & recording in one of York’s many rehearsal rooms under brutal lights that couldn’t be shut off, just my jacket overtop trying to block the light and still curl around enough that it could also cushion the cold cement floor.
Simultaneously during all of this, I would send off tracks to a lovely guy I met on campus who was from Trinidad, who could shoot the tracks through a few compressors to do a basic mastering job on the fly for me. The whole thing also became a bit of a both internet collaboration with far flung Youtube friends featured on certain tracks, and other creative types around my dorm before they skedaddled for break.
There are also certain songs written around this time that found their way onto my upcoming album – fully produced on that, naturally. ‘Good Things Come’ and ‘Nothing’ being obvious contributions.
Some other songs I’m pleased with are ‘I Don’t Know You’, ‘Taste Of Heaven’, ‘Groban’s Disciples’, ‘Genes On The Other Side Of God’s Clothesline’, ‘Lonely Nights’ (With Victoria – that track was our first improv together – what an angel), ‘Hold Me Down Sally’ (Want to hear some ferocious honesty?), ‘Daylight Star’ (With generous contributions by the immensely talented Wim Oudijk), ‘Ribald The Rabbit’ (Lyrics written in one pass, recorded a few minutes later), ‘Love’, ‘The Father Of Imagination’, ‘Somehow I Sense’ …Well, I’m oddly pleased with all of it if I drive myself crazy enough.
This definitely epitomizes a unique part of my development – and is certainly a concept & execution I’m proud of, for what it is. Perhaps its the narcissists easy way out of facing the rejection of making something that’s considered a ‘bad album’ to instead make an album basically beyond categorization. Or, perhaps with this, I’m trying to train people to embrace every sound, however prickly, uninspired or sleep-deprived it may be – transcending those self imposed binaries of what is ‘worthwhile’ or not to hear.
For those willing to hear the thing all the way through with an open mind – I hope your avante-garde pop censors are tickled into a delirious, mildeww-y White Album-y black licorice state of infinite creative possibilities.
Track Reflections, March 2015:
“Good Things Come”, this is a pretty good straight-ahead acoustic version. Still an early version however, lacking some energy and hutzpha from what would come after.
“Good Headphones” was literally written as a warning to the listener, again, as if they didn’t know already, to not listen to this like your normal album. This is literally a bunch of demos collected together – unpolished guitar and voice stuff. Sure, it was put through some compressors to sound a little bigger in Trinidad, but that’s about it. Its fun to tease people with a dance beat, especially since they basically won’t hear it ever again on the album.
“Phones It In”, I enjoy this. I like the latter half especially, and all the insane lyrics and delayed vocal doubles. Definitely I wouldn’t have written ‘Ribald The Rabbit’ if I didn’t have so much fun making this. ‘Remember the days when people were free to sing a love song as they publicly peed off the top of the statue of Liberty?’ Yes. Yes I do.
“Father Of Imagination” is a lovely song, one of a few that are semi-self referential, out to justify the nature of this collection. But this becomes also becomes about something much larger and more beautiful than that. “The father of imagination says, everything you ever needed, let it out instead”. I should do this live for once! It feels a bit like a live Cat Stevens song, since the chords are played in a messy, but pleasant way. This one deserves a better recording… on my next album perhaps?
“Uphill” was one of the earliest ones recorded for this. It was recorded in a guys bedroom near the edge of the surburban housing section right by York University, with his equipment. This, ‘Tickle Of The Year’, ‘Duckman’, ‘Poser’ and I think another were recorded during the same session, multiple takes that I then mashed together and adjusted a little. Awesome lyrics in this one, except the ‘Take your precious Beatles away’ bridge. I think every songwriting can identify with this.
“You Came My Way” had some technical computer issues, but besides that, its very very nice. There’s one annoying computer moment that I couldn’t get rid of convincingly, and noticed a month after the fact. I should have considered just retaking the whole song, but I liked my sincerity in this version of it, so I kept with it.
“Taste Of Heaven” is a fine, fine tune. I love the melody, I love how it starts – this beautiful, pure thing, out of nowhere. My friend Mariam generously played piano for it – a tremendous talent, but she was so nervous about it. It never occurred to me that ragtime style piano may be something she’s not used to. I’m also a stickler for how things are performed, which didn’t make it easier on her. I ended up doing it in bits with her, and I then had to edit the piano part together very very very meticulously from all the best moments in it. It sounds like one take, but I promise you its around 50 little bits strung together. Much easier said than done with live piano. Nice harmonies too from me, for someone who doesn’t understand vocal harmony yet. The very simple piano solo at the end is me. I subtly sing a second of ‘Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life’ from Monty Python near the end too… because it shares the same do0-woppy chords.
“In Passing” is a pretty amazing harmonic/melodic marvel. Wouldn’t be out of place on a later Beach Boys album with some of the odd things in does musically, that somehow sound totally natural as well. Think ‘Wonderful’ from ‘Smile’. Its a song that perpetually modulates because of how the verse is shaped. The bridge doesn’t work that well, although I love the way I play guitar during it. It confuses the song a bit harmonically. I’d rewrite the bridge and rework the ending so I get back to the initial key in a more logical way.
“Put It On Again”, as a break from the craziness of some of these songs, is a more straight-ahead song, like a Tom Petty song, hence the double entendre that maybe only I got of ‘I feel so petty sheddin all my skin…’. It even sounds vaguely like his song ‘The Waiting Is The Hardest Part’. The first part of the album was always meant to be more familiar and acoustic anyways, so this came naturally. Good melodies in this. I remember the big harmony moments be hard to make sound big. Recorded in Florida, believe it or not, in a little getaway from Canada my parents had started renting, and ultimately buying and going to frequently.
“Ribald The Rabbit” is a very fun little bit of wordplay and liberation. Weird, and short and ends abrupt like a White Album track or something. Definitely that White Album or Daniel Johnston spirit is throughout this collection – that ’embracing the mess’ approach. I was literally recording around the clock beside a few hours sleep, like a slave, for over a month to make this album happen. The idea was to write and record two tunes a day, plus maybe one song from throughout the year that I had written – plus mixing, plus a pseudo-mastering session. So yes, it was insane. This all came out in one flow – lyrics in one flow, then the melody in one improvised flow. It sounds so rehearsed, but it ain’t. This was recorded on a day when I was comfortable with, but not delirious, from my recording process yet. This is some sense-assaultingly creative imagery. Just so much lovely stuff going on. Give it a couple listens and it all starts to make full sense, too. I sometimes go to shows not knowing what to play, when I have all these fun nuggets just waiting to be unearthed. This recording is definitely a sort of lightning in a bottle – very natural, all perfect for what its meant to be – like a Melanie Saftka recording (except her voice is beyond compare and has no drawl) – one bare and dirty take, and you’re done. Hooray! I would double the original vocal take a couple times with a slight delay, giving it a thicker sound. You can hear that effect in a lot of John Lennon recordings. Favorite bit of wordplay: ‘Nympho-myopic, hope she’s thinner than his chocolate. Though she never could catch a break, from that Kit Kat Bar’. Its just wordplay to the excess.
“Heaven” was a piano improv by Mariam, the lovely friend who played on Taste Of Heaven, put in just to give an ear break from guitar and me. This is her much more in her element of that time period – beautiful, complex improv. This was a couple fragments stuck together, with obvious fading in between, alluding to a passage of time, and helping to ease into ‘Glad’ which has some of that same angelic feeling.
‘Could You Be Glad??’ was titled as such to be more like ‘Do You Realize??’ by The Flaming Lips. I love the idea of making visually inventive titles with bad grammar and punctuation. Mostly an early 2000’s phenomenon. Sk8ter Boi anyone? The ‘Out of tune no matter what I do’ was a reference to the guitar that I couldn’t quite get in tune. But that’s also quite in keeping with the spirit of this album, challenging the listener to like everything. This has a lot of lovely classic feeling things going for it – I should really do more with this song, maybe expand beyond the joke ending. The ‘As you go take the reins of this feeble old game, member when things change, they just stay the same’ line is something that has been echoed in all the huge realizations I’ve had throughout the last few years.
‘Time Goes By’ is a pretty big mess, but it works in that DIY way. This is where the album stops being normal, easing into the insanity that will really start coming in parts 2 and 3. Love the abrupt stop at 1:06. I reference a Modest Mouse song a little in the middle too, the very scary thought of ‘we have one chance to get everything right’ in life. The guitar hook is sweet!
‘Please Mr. Newsman’, I really like any dense harmonies. This is one of the first time I realized how awesome they could be, especially with that last chord.
‘Real Love’ is a nice mellow idea with some nice, beat up vocals. Not recorded well enough and too long, deserved a better performance. Turn up the volume a ton. The minutia of the guitar gets a bit lost. Some awkward extending of certain acoustic sections as I remember the lyrics. I think I was inspired by ‘Voice From The Wilderness’ by Martin Tielli. The idea was to write something that would have a lot of dynamics in the guitar part, so that reverb would explode out suddenly in abrupt moments, like that whole album. I love that quality acoustic guitar can have. Its a song that, because its played so small and sparse, like this one – you almost imagine you’re in the wood, and very lonely. There’s something beautiful about that. Also, a section of this would be reused in ‘Changed Guy’ in the 2013 Demos section, a bed track being doing in a studio with a full band.
‘Hopeless Romantic Forever’ was the first appearance of some things the brilliant Wim did for me. Another online friend, from back as far as the Myspace days – every album he makes rivals the brilliance of Brian Wilson’s Smile. My favorite is The Love Album. Highly recommended purchase. Such a terrific sense of humor and free spirit he has. In a just world, he would be a megastar – rather than a guy from a Dutch band who had mild chart success decades ago there. Awesome stuff. This song had nice ideas from me, but isn’t quite working. Its too complex for no good reason, although I like the lyrics. It seems like it was dying to just be a pop song, but I made it into an overly twisted one. The recordings not good enough either, even for a demo-ish recording for what the song really is. Personality is missing. I wanted Wim’s stuff to come in at the end so it would freak people out, wake them up from a sleep of sorts. I should have used him in the whole song. I think this song was inspired a bit by the fast version of ‘No More Lonely Nights’ by Paul McCartney. I steal that baseline and chord progression in the chorus. ’Serotonin sister, how I missed her’ is my favorite line in it.
‘Hold Me Down Sally’ is so sad. It kills me. Its not perfect, but it kills me. There’s some seriously real desperation in this, that is beautiful and ferocious. Every time I hear the ‘all the pain in the world’ part come in, and the slight distortion on the ‘never told why’ – Jesus. It definitely gives me chills every time there. I wish I got rid of that stupid ending. I think this one deserves a better recording too, but to get quite in the headspace of this song again – I’m not sure I could. I’m not struggling through life like I was then.
‘Daylight Star’ has some fans, me included. There was a fan in the states who wrote me a long letter about how it allowed her and her grandma to connect. It was absolutely wonderful to read. Wim’s synth orchestra contributions definitely made a huge difference. Brilliant stuff. I took out certain parts of it, and put other things in other spots and through a filter, etc. Its just so cool – how it warps between happiness to air raid siren darkness, back to joy. The harmonies are tight, the mixing is balanced. This one is actually quite polished, not in keeping with most of the collection. And much more fully produced of course. I would use elements of this in ‘Intuition’ later on, but it works just as well as a song in its own right. The latter harmonies are Wim himself. ‘One day you will walk a mile. Forgettin how to crocodile. Murky water, float away, for irrigate the blood and brain’. Wonderful stuff all around.
‘Nothing’, the early recording. Recording back at home in Bridgenorth, with a very painful to play classical guitar. This song is actually brutal to play in general – keeping the guitar part in the verses going with a barre chord on the 7th fret, plus the hammer on note, gives me a cramp every time. I have to play a bunch and stretch well to get through it comfortably. In the years since this version, I play the chords in open positions during the chorus – this gives my hands a break and adds more dynamic to the song. The albums jumping back and forth between depressing and optimistic. Always a wonderfully harrowing song. Later versions get better.
‘I Don’t Know You’ is really really awesome for the time. Its an epic. I like that I was willing to go so simple and spacious with the verses. I love the shocking walls of Beach Boy-style harmonies and returning to the little guitar idea in ‘Uphill’, sliding back and forth between two chords. There’s some guitar stuff that bugs me. It definitely gets messy in spots, but you get the idea. This song is just about the agonizing loneliness and insincerity I experienced at school, and just not getting people – not getting the appeal of destroying my head with alcohol constantly, etc. I think most of that’s pretty self evident in the song itself – its very easy to make sense of. I also really like that it takes so long to get to the hook and title of the song. I guess that aspect of it was inspired by ‘Turn It On Again’ by Genesis. My favorite part is actually just the last forty seconds or so. Repeating that one hammer-on, just on its own, as the guitar is put down from another layer. It just sounds so damn lonely, and then little macbook recorded reprise of the melody on guitar. Its like we’re traveling somewhere new, preparing us for part two of the album. Notice the little bit of reverb as that last part swells up in volume and fades away. I love that. All the little things.
‘Common Treatise’: Typical dorm room kinda discussions. Ugh. Although there’s not a lot of spoken tracks on the album, I still wish there was less.
‘Extreme Hit Or Miss Part 1’ was another song that would get better when done by Bryn & I as a duo. Its messy and busy here, simply put, but it does have some charm to it. Of course, the messiness of it is very much in keeping with the spirit of what the album was supposed to be, an avante-garde pop exploration of demos. But gees, deep down I did want this one to feel more accessible. I remember it being a real trouble getting this version to have an energy, even for a cruddy demo that I’d be happy with. Nice synth sax by Greg Fiske, another online friend. He definitely helped save this track. The ‘out of guitars’ line is just me being insecure and trying to acknowledge how I know this one isn’t quite working. It still seemed like a natural way to open up part 2 of the collection though. I enjoy certain parts of my improv. Recorded in Florida in a bedroom around there.
‘Extreme HOM Part 2’ is mostly Bryn’s creation in his rap phase. This was his chance to shine and have fun. He wrote the lyrics in a nearby Starbucks, then came back over to his room on campus, loving called ‘The Boiler Room’, cos its so hot there. One of the earlier things recorded in the whole journey of this – along with ‘Nice Job, A**hole’, ‘Waiting For Myself Not To…’ and ‘Lady Music’. All done in that Boiler Room. I only appear very vaguely and briefly in this tune, although I mixed it.
‘This Might Be Considered…’ is a song that’s just brainless free improv fun with Jessie Rivest improvising some singing. The title was inspired to be so long by reading some of Sufjan Steven’s song titles. The harmonies were mostly all added by me after getting her main part.
‘Waiting For Myself Not To Need To Wait Anymore’ was my attempt at keeping in 5/4 time. I screw up at certain times, Bryn too – but we don’t really care. Its part of the charm. Sweet distorted harmonica. Very Paul Simon-y sounding voice and lyrical elements. It very much feels like a nervous Jewish man put to sea shanty music – Woody Allen on the sea. This is the part in the album where we’re getting more and more sophisticated slowly – we’ve got distorted guitar all of a sudden on the album, etc. It just keeps crazier from there. The middle of the album, up to track 38, is perhaps its golden period creatively.
‘Reverse Reverse Psychology’ – There’s a video of some people just sitting down listening to this song all the way through. Very weird find online, but love it nonetheless. A weird album inspires weird responses. This song references the chord progression and energy of Nick Lowe’s ‘Cruel To Be Kind’, hence referencing it in the chorus. The whole thing is written to be very esoteric and hard to get into, like certain They Might Be Giants album tracks that are very catchy, but you have no idea what’s going on. The crazy reversal stuff was done by having one channel be playing forward, and one playing backward.
‘Colonial Basterd’ is where I start letting the weird in even more. This one is also too busy and noisy at times like Extreme Hit Or Miss, but not as bad. Its kind of made to be really hard to get into in the last two minutes to emphasize the ‘F you Mr Chairman’ energy from the start. As a song itself, I’ve always really liked this. Such an inventive melody, pre-chorus. Love playing an unreliable narrator in the verses, and the venom of it. This is like a darker companion song to ‘Clubland’ by Elvis Costello or something. ‘What goods imagination when its never gonna keep you safe? Come back to the Hilton, there’s a theme park for every race.’ ‘How I want to hold you. How I want to destroy you.’ Is such an apt description of the dark underbelly of capitalism and what the American dream has frequently been warped into. Its a song meant to make you feel uneasy in a nice way.
‘Groban Disciples’ is a crazy tune that really works a lot better production wise, even though its also messy. This is definitely an apex of brilliance for that period. Very proud of this. The drums recorded through a little cruddy mic by Simon Dennis make a huge difference, and were done after the fact. He did an incredible job for adding the drums in after the fact, which I had no idea is an incredibly dumb way to record, since I was so used to doing everything myself. Its also got that Frank Zappa sarcasm dripping throughout it, and my impersonation of him doing mock little sentences in songs like ‘Dancing Fool’, even a ‘Booahh’. Its very in-your-face the whole time. ‘I am eighteen and balding, and I carry a purse. I have never perspired more than the worst.’ Real mature, Bradley. Recorded this the same day as Good Things Come. This song was all a big middle finger to pretentious music theory girls, and people who could grab pointless details of music theory a lot better than me – and I guess vocal choirs on tour. Definitely one of the most elaborate and sophisticated, yet completely immature songs I ever did. ‘Keep on marchin’ kids!’ What a hillariously disturbing sentence 🙂
‘Nice Job A**hole!’ is a sweet little bit of steady pop. Wrote it after seeing an artist I sensed was totally full of shit who was still swaying the crowd over. I realized I felt the same way about myself all of the time at that point as well, and so it became about me. The verses are about a lazy bugger in a ‘This American Life’ documentary episode, who toured with Hall & Oates in the early 80’s and did nothing since but be a drain on his wife and a deadbeat drinker, adding new meaning to the ‘Nice Job A**hole’ sentiment. He got people believing him, and then he squandered his gift. I think this demo was recorded with a click track. You can really tell. I wish were more done with that level of care, but that wouldn’t be in keeping with the spirit of this album, I guess.
‘Ten Seconds’ was mixed in an airport on the way to Florida. Better than I remembered, but that’s not saying much.
‘Real People’ is a nice jazzy country song that blends some things from an idea called ‘Another Useless Day In Useless-Ville’. This works really really well in my opinion. The base take of this song was recorded in a totally different studio of a University friend. Lovely shaped little acoustic song. Definitely a lost gem. Overdubs done in Florida. Some very balanced messy vocals and extra guitars – not in the category of too much like some other songs.
‘I Don’t Need You’ is my attempt at a Tegan & Sara style song. I wanted to make girl-punk. Its not that good, except the chorus and bridge. I think I didn’t care if this song was good or not, it just had to feel like it was by someone who had had no formal songwriting training or experience. Its supposed to just evoke a dive bar and tatoos. And it does that, at least for me. ‘CBGB’s closed when I got creepy.’ Such a pandering punk line 🙂
‘Hey Poser’ recorded early on in the process. You can tell I’m not tired, and there’s more care put into the mic placement, etc. Recorded in Shiva’s bedroom with his setup. He sent all the songs I recorded through some tube compressors out in Trinidad whilst I was making the album, hence making them fatter. I like the false endings on this one.
‘Lady Music’ is a live favorite. Inspired by listening to Neil Young’s ‘Heart Of Gold’ live DVD, or at least half of it. I was trying to write a song he would be likely to sing. It was also about my guilt and difficulty being a musician, and struggling to feel inspired. Bryn was very reluctant about doing such simple harmonica, but it really makes the song. Wonderful. Also had a random Youtube friend in Eastern Canada do some fiddle for the song that he sent off, Braden Gates.
‘Party And/Or Have A Good Time’ is just a joke song. Inspired, believe it or not by ‘Tracks Of My Tears’. When I heard that old classic initially, I found it funny that Smokey Robinson sang that he was ‘the life of the party cos he told a joke or two’. Once I heard that line, I just imagined him in a cardigan sweater at a very ‘good boy, Christian’ sort of party, singing that song. So, I wanted to do my own take of that energy and make an exciting song that really feels like it would be best sung by Ned Flanders, cos its so tame. ‘Potato sack races. Everyone’s in first.’ ‘Aquafina on the rocks, get that black stuff of your eyes’. Just thinking of really lame things, and then getting my friends and people from my floor to make some party sounds on it who… at least at that point in their life, were intensely into all kinds of drugs and malnutrition. So, it ended up being pretty ironic having them on the song. Sidenote, I almost completely stayed away from all drugs and alchohol during University, and really, throughout my entire life. It always dulls my creativity, and of course I don’t need to speak into their other horrible dangers. I also have never smoked, except one puff that I immediately regretted. ‘Carrots and Apple Pie!’ ‘HOT YOGA!’, best ending to a song ever.
‘Phones It In (Socks)’ is with my good internet friend Bill Elder (Billtvmacon). Once it was clear to me this whole album would be a bit of a grand internet collaboration, I had to get Bill involved somehow. So this little thing was what we worked out. I like that ‘Phoning it in’ takes multiple meanings on this album. There are definitely parts in this album that feel a bit phoned in.
‘Your Tickle Of The Year’ is a dark little ukulele tune. The lyrics are hard to get your head around but its a very bittersweet song for sure, played on baritone ukulele, like ‘Hold Me Down Sally’. One take. Arranging the songs it suddenly became clear that it would be nice to end part 2 with something much more laid back since there was such busy insanity in Part 2 for the most part. Some really harrowing Radiohead-ish moaning in this near the end. ‘Lawchairs in a tinfoil breeze. A doll for Soviet Kamikaze. People come and go in threes’. ‘Garbage rats and skate on sleet’. ‘Hard eyes in a weary home’. Abstract imagery that very much, for me anyways, evoked a dysfunctional family living in a landfill and slowly dying. The tickle of the year is slight joy the character feels for a second once a year, that just makes the next moment, when he reminds himself of his situation, that much worse. In some abstract way, this must be biographical. I could feel so depressed sometimes that it definitely seemed like I might experience the kind of happiness I did as a child once a year for a fleeting moment.
‘Genes’ was actually initially written after I was in a small-town Ontario singing competition in their big hockey arena. Two of the judges loved me, and one of them gave me a awful grade and said I sounded like a girl. I was hurt that someone in a position of authority could be so biased and cruel – and I wanted to find a way to put it into a song. I blended it in with general religious small town fanaticism as well and made it about a couple things. The 2011 dirty demo of this song found in one of The Taylor Show episodes is wayyy better than this version. I mention Jimmy Scott briefly, who was an unbelievable jazz singer who I was once told by a professor I sound like. I looked him up and fell in love instantly. He was a singer so great and so maligned and misunderstood throughout his life, simply because his voice never changed. He always sounded young and bright, much like me. You must look him up, and the documentaries about him. One of music’s best kept secrets, and a tremendous influence on so many singers since the 60’s. The world wasn’t ready for him, just as – I feel sometimes – the world isn’t ready for me. And I don’t mean that in a pretentious way – there’s a ton of vaguely successful artists that have something peculiar about them that people struggle to appreciate or outright despise since it is so outside their zone. So many people immediately hate anything foreign. Jimmy Scott was definitely in that boat. I wrote an acknowledgement to him on his facebook page – his wife found it and I believe read it to him. A couple days later, he passed.
‘Mr Moan’ just sucks. Part three in general is lacking in a lot of ways. Like lots third parts to any trilogy. The lyrics are just so weird, and its just me saying stuff to sound smart and quirky. This leaves me totally cold and makes my brain hurt. Its contrived absurdity that is totally uninspired, and so it doesn’t really work. I should have used a song called ‘Wink And The Gun’ for a banjo tune instead, and fleshed that out.
‘Christmas Lady’ was written and recorded a day after I was locked in the music building at York. Nobody was around that night, and I was recording that whole night in a dirty music cubicle. Trying to leave back to my spot, the doors were all locked – so I literally had to sleep in that dirty music cubicle – with automatic lighting that wouldn’t shut off. It was like how I’m sure many homeless people sleep – for example, sneaking into an open door in a bank and sleeping by an indoor ATM. My awful, completely lit sleep was interrupted by a custodian who found me. I had some breakfast, and then in my delirious state, wrote this little song. Its not clear enough what the song is about unfortunately. I wrote it as a dark tale about a newly immigrated Canadian who works at a parking garage. His only connection to the world seems to be a billboard he can see in the distance. He gets sad when the billboard changes throughout the year to various things – Nestle Cream eggs, the Michelin Man. But is always happy when his Christmas Lady is on the billboard again. Its a story of a loner who is completely isolated and foreign with a small sad existence, but it is presented as a love song. The land of opportunity has afforded him no more than a pretty billboard. Its written like a brief operatic piece – it was inspired by some Charles Ives piano compositions that had operatic vocals and lyrics to them. I forget the name of the album, but it was a fun find. You can hear the influence the most during the bridge.
‘Gettysburgers’ is really weird and hard to get into. This is both of us just messing around trying to freestyle and generally not doing very well at it. There’s no reason for this to be on the album. This sort of thing solidifies how part 3 was supposed to be a disappointment, my descent into madness. This is sort of thing is my Jar Jar, or my Ewoks.
‘Sleek Child’, etc… was all recorded at a real piano, with phaser and other effects added after the fact. If something has a weird title, its usually a crap song. I actually like a lot of parts of this though. Its definitely inspired, tacky weirdness. Its like the ghosts of a 1980’s wasteland, singing and playing on a beat-up old piano they found.
‘Valentine’ was actually written all the way back in 2005, but it was on my mind somehow. I always liked the melody. Wrote it after learning the chords in John Lennon’s ‘(Just Like) Starting Over’. The ‘STFU’ off the start is supposed to signify the madness and the darkness taking over more. I was just frustrated because of the noises happening around my dorm while I was trying to recorded. I was definitely going a bit crazy. ‘Warm blue flame, hazy heat it brings…’, that whole line is a direct quote from Elton John’s ‘Bitter Fingers’.
‘The Great Gig In The Room’ is awesome! Finally something that really redeems this section. Victoria is awesome is why. This is all just free improv fun in one of those crappy cubicles, me playing piano very intuitively. Really having no sense what I’m doing in terms of music theory. Just totally feeling it. I didn’t play a sing note I regretted. Totally being taken over by a higher power for this. Title an obvious homage to Pink Floyd.
‘A Hypothetical’ is total BS. This never happened. I found it funny to make things that sounded really pretentiously awful that nobody would get and it would make people want to punch me in the face. This was one. It still makes me chuckle. Its read like a serious poem, or like I’m on NPR, but its ridiculous.
‘Somehow I Sense’ is a wicked Tom Waits sort of thing blended with warped sounds of my cats making sounds and fighting. Everything is digitally detuned in this song. Its awesomely creepy. A bit inspired by Elvis Costello’s ‘When I Was Cruel’ as well. I love the obnoxiously out of tune ‘who here is perfect…’. It ends with just sounds, like a lot of White Album tunes.
‘Home’ is me getting really desperate and missing home after forcing myself to be at York for two weeks of my recording process. In the cold, on a mostly deserted campus. Literally I could walk around for a whole day, and maybe see one person. It was like being the last man on Earth.
‘Salt Shaker/If Only…’ is all improv. And all just uninspired weirdness from being really tired and effed up. I made sure to put the creepiest stuff near the end.
‘John Cage’s 1:44’ recorded much earlier on in the process, same session as the initial layers of ‘Real People’.
‘Keep It Yourself’, still not optimistic totally optimistic but shows the album starting to get brighter. Christ, I really needed this at this point. To hear a melody again. The chorus and latter half was written, I think, in 2006. It just popped in my mind somehow, so I did it. I love how it transitions into the chorus. Still not really a complete song.
‘Good Morning…’ Oh gees. No, the crazy isn’t quite over yet. All a big weird disturbing improv/few lyric fragments pre-written and with a weird harmony added too. Detuned to make it even weirder. This one is more funny than scary though.
‘Dear Friend’ is also weird in a funny way. Its a conversation back and forth, signified by the panning. I like how freely absurd the discussion is – it really takes something to be this crazy. Its also rather profound if you play close attention. It feels like a Mr. Show sketch without deliberately trying to be one.
‘Lonely Nights’ is the second magical improv with Victoria. This one, I play much simpler piano, and added on more delay after the fact. This is also very very special. More conventional, I think we recorded this one first to warm up.
‘Love’ was the last song recorded, and one of the last tracks in the collection. One of the best songs written during the period. I was trying to think of something Leigh Nash from Sixpence None The Richer might sing. She’s an angel. Maybe she will one day, with some nip and tucking to this song. The bridge wouldn’t fly, that’s for sure. I’m very proud of the lyrics below, especially the beautiful cruelty of ‘for a moment, you’ll never forget’. That is what death is described as by some survivors, and advertised as – a moment of pure peace, and then the long sleep.
Why do you linger on this thing called death?
What’s so bad about it?
Sure, you disappear, but then you talk to the stars
And for a moment, you’ll never forget
That there is love…
The Best Of Taylor… For Tape! (2009 – 2007)
Even though it was released in 2010, find it on the 09 – 07 page.
Pronounced Hyphen-its, the idea being to put things that normally don’t go together, together. Three collections varying in length and content, initially released with the intention of being mysterious monthly collaborations between creative types at York University. Two of the three of its collections were released in 2010. Disks were burned and stenciled by hand, making each one one-of-a-kind. Some were left in record stores in mysterious places, others placed in mysterious places around the York campus, and gone in minutes.
Volume one consists of 24 tracks entirely by myself and Bryn Scott-Grimes, volume two of thirteen tracks from a larger variety of contributors. Both Volume 1, and Volume 2 are available on Bandcamp for only six dollar, and five dollars, respectively.
Both lyric booklets for these collections can be found by clicking here.
This is the start of a series of CD, concoctions based on a visionary movement lightly conceived of by Bryn Scott-Grimes called ‘The Hyphenates’ (Pronounced Hyphen-its)… which is far too grand to explain properly by myself. However, you may gather some sense of it as time goes on if you follow Bryn’s life. ‘Hyphenates’ is not a band, but it is a collective of sorts around creating new and wonderful combinations, hence the hyphen to connect the two.
Basically, we wanted to start a way for artists to express themselves around campus freely, and document the proceedings, so during our second year at University, we created these disks and actually put them out around campus in strange and hidden spots… and also very visibly on top of newspaper stands. They would contain content created recently by the artists.
The dozens of CD’s for each run were gone in minutes… and we seldom heard back from anyone about the project… no media attention, nuttin. It was an attempt at triumphing over the impenetrable wall of banality we interpreted at our educational establishment – simply sucked into a void, never to be acknowledged. Oh well.
The idea was to put out a disc every month, and maybe become an unknown and charming part of the campus atmosphere. After the first volume, more people were on board, and it was slowly growing. But as with most people (before taking rigorous personal development programs as I did later on), we gave up and prioritized our studies, and there were only three collections made. The third, to save on production costs and time, was done just as an online zip folder.
Track Reflections, March 2015:
‘Mustache’ is a dumb little song, an attempt at writing a thoughtful sounding song about nothing, trying so hard to sound like its about something. In ‘The Song Creation Formula’, one of the 33 progressions observes that simple chord progression and finds a lot of lyrically ‘thoughtful’ songs that use it: ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’, ‘Purple Rain’, ‘Big Yellow Taxi’. That’s why our silly little music video for it, is, well – silly, and also tries to look very serious. However, I realized after the fact this song could be interpreted a plethora of ways that are actually quite sincere and sad. Is a ‘Mustache’ a symbol for manhood that I can’t quite escape?
‘Everything Wants To Rhyme’, as with some of the more produced song demos on the collection, were done during a University hiatus… I think because of yet another strike, I’m not sure. Its a bouncy song that takes advantage of a melody that would eventually make it’s way into Mr. Freeze, on my 2015 release: ‘I don’t want to be anybody else but me…’. There’s some cool panning guitar solos in this, and I really like the sentiment of the song. It would make sense to rewrite this as a song exclusively for kids. I’m also such a natural improviser at this point that you will hear improv bursting at the seams in this recording too.
‘Recording (Feat Cold)’, of course, improvised. I like short things that seem like they summarize a period in time. There’s not a lot of music about being sick at home with a cold or the flu, even though it is a very relatable human phenomenon.
‘The Hidden Language’ was definitely inspired by watching some episodes of ‘Bored To Death’, a series about cool people in NYC that doubles as a sleuthing detective series, and then thinking of the ‘White Album’, where there’s numerous strange short songs about very odd subjects, done in a polarizing way. I love thinking, and know there are, certain amazing people out there who keep the world together, lead an extraordinarily unusual life, yet are also completely unknown. I hope there is a little Jay out there, a kid whose up to a ton of things in New York, kicking buttowski in the shadows, with two Dads who make sculptures together. There’s something very funny and inspiring about that kid to me. I was also in a phase of thinking ‘obscure means you are a better person’, so, some of these things he does will simply land as pretentious and self-indulgent (‘Famous clothes you drew? Closed-position fugue?’ Really?), but I think the sentiment comes across. The chorus steals the ‘Hit The Road Jack’ and ‘Bored To Death’ theme song walk down pattern. Favorite line: ‘You found the crack of Kerouac and now you’re home free.’
‘I Won’t Be Your Modern Family’ was really just about some distaste with living around the York University Village – a soulless suburban mecca full of houses so cheaply built, you worry you could blow them over with the right sneeze. I hate housing made simply for the intention of holding people within them that have no personality. This is just a teenagery rant about a bunch of things, and disliking the terrific TV series on baseless grounds.
‘Like A Broken Record’ makes use of some fun bits of studio magic. For example, there’s moments where I reversed the words ‘Like A Broken’, and then learned how to say them backwards, to see if they could sound like ‘Like A Broken’ again when reversed again to make them forwards. I succeeded in a creepy way – I think Twin Peaks had a character who did something similar, and of course Lisa in ‘Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part 2’. The few lyrics were from a girl in Haliburton when I was taking a creative writing camp for a week. She worked at the kiosk where they sold general Haliburton knick-knacks, mugs, art, etc. A classic Canadian summer job for pretty, cynical teenage girl. She was very nice. I wanted to show her what a couple lines of lyrics can become to inspire her to continue creating – I shared the finished product with her via email, but never heard back. There’s some sweet harmonies here, and its a nice use of drum machine.
‘Val Marie Trailer Trash’ is a sweet Bryn instrumental. While I will refrain from reflecting too specifically on his songs since… well, I’m not him, I will say we recorded it at my little home studio from my youth out on the outskirts of Bridgenorth, ON. He got in trouble by some people from Val Marie because of the title. Its a small town in B.C(?) that he actually very much liked- some people just don’t get creative license.
‘The Girls In Our Lives Part 1’ and ‘Fresh Cuts From Your Local Abrynhamse Butcher’ are both somewhat improvised, ‘Girls’ more so. This is our rendition with new lyrics of a Randy Newman song, hence my bad southern drawl. Fun fact… I saw Randy Newman in concert the following year and burned him a CD with songs in my canon that he greatly inspired, and some covers of his songs. I gave it to an usher who promised it would get back to him. I hope it did. I didn’t put any contact info on the CD however, so I may never know unless I meet him and bring it up to him. Other songs on the collection of course included ‘Pity Boy’, included later on this collection.
‘Hope And Possibility’ is a blend of a few things, lyrics from a little idea called ‘Four Eyed Helix’, slowed down substantially, then a rap section, etc. There is this bizarre distortion happening in the final file, even though the project file itself wasn’t clipping any step along the way. Strange. Its a very optimistic ending, that is a hybrid of a lot of things that have been used in different combinations. The ‘If You want to fly’ section was also used in what used to be a live staple because of its blistering guitar speed ‘Don’t Let The Same Damn Story’, which you can find in the 2011 demos. This is a pretty messy pseudo-tune, especially the ‘drums’, but, hey.
My Tracks In Vol 2:
‘Nuages’ was an improvisation, and sort of a life-changing experience for me. I realized how important it felt for me to make other people laugh, and that I could do it in a pretty natural, effortless way. Its pretty magical that this is recorded. Notice the moment I get my first chuckle, I start making the whole thing about the crowd, rather than simply being on stage, doing yet another improv. This was an instance where I let myself totally just give to the crowd, not getting caught in my concerns while improvising – and I think the sincerity speaks for itself. To make something like this, you need to build up an excess of creative thought that just gets to burst out however it bursts out – otherwise it comes across like an uninspired rehash. To compare it to Mc Hammer, this is my ‘U Can’t Touch This’ of free guitar and voice improvs from that time – Delay-Prov was my ‘Too Legit 2 Quit’, and everything else was, well… the short lived ‘thug life’ phase.
‘Santa Claus Is A Fine Fine Woman’, a Christmas song for horny teenagers. Santa Claus is a lesbian, and we have a barrage of funny dirty imagery, all sung by me playing Elvis. Yup. I think it speaks for itself.
‘Grey Eyes’ is a nice little melody. This is an earlier version than you get in the Youtube video of the song from 2011. This was written like a troubadour song from the 60’s, and was an optimistic way of reconciling a completed relationship. I had a very striking experience at a Youtube get-together at the Hard Rock Cafe in Toronto – where a woman I knew as an online fan was there, and started crying the moment she saw me. She pointed this song out as something that meant a lot to her, helped her get through some very difficult things. That was an amazing, gratifying experience.
‘Inspiration/Happy For No Reason’ was an improvisation, the first part semi-written before turning the mic on. The title of the latter part is also the title of a book. I love the sentiment of that, and find it very true – the moment your happiness is dictated by circumstances, it is immediately stymied. However, happiness for no reason – now that is power.
Live @ The Cameron House, August & September, 2010
These are two recently unearthed performances – the full August performance, a some of the September performance. Treat it like a bootleg. Looking back, they seem like a pretty strange, lazy, meandering sets – but they’re a fun slice of history nonetheless. They’re recorded right from the mixing board, so the room sound and reverb gets lost unfortunately. Some of these records mark the only times some of these songs were performed live.
Both of these times, I would have been opening for my friends, the Pigott Brothers, very talented duo who took a liking to me while we were all on Canadian Idol together.
It was a phase where literally due to living conditions where I had to be quiet, I had developed a quieter singing voice. That habit took a while to undue. You’ll also hear one of the few times I botched a Queen song live!
So lets begin with the August playlist:
Track Reflections, April 2015:
While both of these sets sound pretty dreadful, they have their moments. The sound is taken directly from the board. I remember my vocals coming through louder and clearer than they do here. I’ll talk about some of the tunes below. The vocals in general feel too soft, and I have absolutely no diaphragm support throughout a lot of this. Strange.
‘You Came My Way’ is done with a lot of great tenderness and intensity here. It doesn’t totally work, but it works in a lot of ways. From ‘Here’s Some Songs’ initially. One of the few times this was ever done live.
‘The Pig And The Man’, is presented in a slightly later form than the initial demo – not sure if its better this way or not. Regardless of the song’s intended form, I’m just generally a bit too unhinged here; rambling on about things in the middle of the song instead of just playing. I also can’t make any sense of the ‘Architecture lifeblood’ line, even with the explanation. It was something simpler in the months prior, and should have stayed that way 🙂 Almost steal from ‘Suite: Judy Blue Eyes’ by CSNY at the end, but I narrowly avoid it!
‘Calls You In’ is a early version of a tune that would become ‘Misdirection’, then ‘The Never Ending Question’. The melodies & guitar parts kept circling their way into different songs over time. Its a neat form here – maybe its best this simple. I can never decide 🙂 Some nice vocal acrobatics near the end.
Then I botch ‘Killer Queen’ and try ‘Dreamers Ball’, both Queen tunes. One by Mercury, one by May.
‘I Don’t Need You (But I Wish I Did)’, in its only public performance. From ‘Here’s Some Songs’. Just spontaneously filling time on the seat of my pants.
‘2012’ is a fun improv. Not great, but fun insanity. I like when I get caught up in explaining that 20 plus 12 is 32. Fun way to drag it out.
‘I Love People Like You’, is the only time I attempt this original tune live. It works pretty well. Its a little too boring for my taste on my own. I think with extra acoustic guitar (and a new, better performance that isn’t pulled from my butt), it could work very well though.
‘Colonial Basterd’ from ‘Here’s Some Songs’. Better live version I think than the Dec 8th version I also managed to find. I blend it at the end with an idea that hasn’t been fully developed called ‘Morning Time’. I know I try it on its own with some improv thrown it, and you may be able to find that it in the 2011 Improvisations section.
And we end with one time, out of maybe two times I ever tried doing ‘Love’ live. Not the most exciting ending – I immediately remember feeling like it was a misstep ending on a softy.
And Now, The September Show:
Track Reflections, April 2015:
This is really half a set. I think Bryn took the first half of the set, as my gift to him. Really doing oddities here, truly putting myself on skinny branches and just trying stuff out with little preparation for kicks, and for a small audience.
I think this set works better in its lax-ness than the other ones – even though the recording quality is even weaker than the other set.
Soundcloud is messing up and isn’t letting me move the first track to the first position, but FYI, its meant to be at the top, not the bottom 🙂
‘Short Improvs’ is worth hearing. Love that crowd! Turn up the volume so you can hear them. ‘It doesn’t compare to sucking it right out of the udder’… Lovely huge laugh. I feel like the ‘dangit’ was recorded after the fact. Not sure where it came from.
‘Daylight Star’ from ‘Here’s Some Songs’ with some extra weird things added in 🙂
‘Rain Rain Rain’ is a Rhestatics tune I spontaneously do. Wonderful tune! To have a song so spacious & nuanced. Listen to the Rheos initial version. It feels like beat poetry that you actually want to listen to 🙂
‘Summer’ is a total lost gem I wrote. Beautiful melody. Very rough live version of it. Fascinating verse structure – chords are amazing there. Abrupt change to the chorus that works very well – which is why I thought of ‘Smile’, where every thirty seconds feels like a new song. This is the only time I ever tried playing this song live. I could resurrect it for sure, give it a good treatment with my expanded skills now. Little too draggy, but really pretty, though the lyrics don’t quite make sense yet, and I’m clearly not quite sure of the shape yet.
Last chord is pretty unsatisfying! I needed to play the minor version, not the minor b6. Gees 2010 Taylor, you should know that 🙂
Old actor plays the part of the worn out gumshoe
Same as me, when someone really matters, they’ve had enough of needing you
Young painter makes his mark, searching time for something true
Him and me, somewhere in the distance – the flame that everyone will walk through
Summer, don’t go. Cos you’re breakin my heart,
Breakin my heart, and I can’t stand to lose it again.
‘Texan Love Song’ is total spontaneity, an Elton John tune from ‘Don’t Shoot Me, I’m Only The Piano Player’. Never tried to play it before! Wingin’ the chords. Never tried it since. Its Elton doing some sort of heavy-handed version of Newman’s ‘Rednecks’, but a year before that song existed.
Then I suffer my way through the ‘Duckman’ rant off the start of the set. Epic fail.
Followed by the safety net of ‘Good Things Come’.
Demos & Rarities, 2010
Demos are ways of recording a song without solidifying the final performance, arrangement, and whatever various studio magic can be done to a song so it sounds ‘stereo friendly’. The fundamental purpose of a demo is just to get a song down, so you can hear it objectively and figure out what is working and not working about it. Usually, I have the tendency of making a demo and then neglect the song for a new idea. However, sometimes, old ideas filter back into the new ones. This is a sample of demos, either very rough or somewhat more carefully written and produced, from 2010. Some are unreleased outtakes from ‘Here’s Some Songs’ or other projects. Some of them weren’t removed without some reluctance – others just make no sense whatsoever, even with the passage of time.
You can attempt to find lyrics for the songs in this playlist by digging through the lyrics for this year, available further down this page, or by clicking here.
See reflections on select songs below the playlist.
Track Reflections, March 2015:
‘Good Things Come’ as a solo demo, recorded at that producer’s place. Solid version, better than the ‘Here’s Some Songs’ version in term of energy.
‘Keeps On Turnin’ is an earlier version of ‘It Keeps Turnin’, very different how it is presented with Bryn & I, and me as a solo artist from here on out.
‘I Hate Myself’ is exactly what it sounds like. Mostly improvised, done line at a studio deep in North York I spontaneously went to, scouting out places to record a full album that never happened around this time. It does a pretty eloquent job of encapsulating how awful I felt around this time in my life. There’s a sincerity, and a defeat in how I’m singing, that I can only really get if I let go of any expectations when I’m infront of a mic, but have a very clear sense of what to sing about. As endearing as this can be in many ways to a listener – I’ve never found making music that is this depressing worthwhile for me as a performer. But maybe its like how Randy Newman described his song ‘Old Man’. That song has moved me to tears on multiple occasions, but he has seldom or never played it live because he’s not sure how a song that depressing and cold can be useful to anyone. It certainly was for me, however.
‘Nanny Wilford’ is a song I made as a gift to my grandmother. This is really lovely and sweet. She’s an amazing woman. A pillar of her community, and an inspiration. ‘The cats a copacetic. Be sure Grandpa has his diabetic… pills’, such a great rhyme.
‘Diary Of A Youtube Comment’ is a striking improvisation put through some filters, me literally reading a comment someone left on one of my videos. Personally, I love this, and find it wonderfully refreshing. Was definitely a fun cathartic way of expressing, through someone else’s words, things I had been worrying about at the time. The latter part is me taking advantage of the ‘Hidden Track’ from my 2006 work, ‘Hitler! The One Man Rock Opera’.
‘I Was Born To Be A Clown’, I think was made because of the fleeting idea of creating an entire album of songs that were 1 minute (tops). I wanted to make a stupid music for this, with me in a clown costume – just to be weird and esoteric. I also wanted to make a video that would be an instructional video on how to use a spoon. Just fun. This feels like I wrote it in a lucid dream or something. I really like it! The use of the word ‘cacaphony’, and the odd-lengthened bars especially.
‘The Pig And The Man’ went through a couple different forms, and I don’t think the furthest along one was ever recorded. I kept making it more accessible from here. The idea was to write a quirky love song – its innocent enough in how its sung that I just think ‘cute and funny’, not ‘bestiality’. But… if it is, at least its consensual bestiality. She’s a smart pig, she knows what she’s doing. This was written after my then girlfriend gave me a thank you card that had a pig and a man on the cover. This was my attempt at returning the favor – I could see how in different circumstances, a woman might get offended by this song :).
‘Meeting Stephen Page & Ron Sexsmith At Songstudio 2009’ could go in a couple places technically. This is raw audio of doing two takes – there’s lots of little improvisational differences in each, but I’m also recording with confidence and clarity to pre-written lyrics & a vague sense of chords/melody, and with decent enough equipment, so I don’t think it quite fits the ‘Various Dictations/Improvisations’ section of the page. I think take 2 is cleaner & better here. The idea was to make a song where none of the lines rhymed that sounded like a serious folk song – and to write a song about my confusion about continuing to make music around this time. I met two role models at SongStudio the year before, and it haunted me a bit, since neither of them seemed very happy or engaged. Well, hey, it was early in the morning, and Stephen was in the midst of his highly public drug use allegations, and splitting up with Barenaked Ladies. But still – in my little 18 year old brain, I took their state as some omen about the future. Its an omen that I don’t take very seriously now, but I still sometimes wonder if the journey of life will wear me down despite my best intentions. Not a very worthwhile thought, but one we can all identify with I’m sure. This song is also about meeting people you respect, and regretting your conversation with them – which is usually how it goes when I meet people I respect, or celebrities. Its become more common over the years, so I’ve gotten a lot better at just seeing them as people. In the case of Stephen, I replayed the idea of saying ‘I even said quirky’, over and over in my head, as if was somehow a bad or dumb word to use when describing BNL. That’s another very relate-able human thing: to replay conversations in ones head, and regret arbitrary details of them. Really like where this was headed – maybe I should play this again. Its definitely interesting, and vivid, and unusual for me. Its just about a real experience, and lays it out there in a pretty clear, narrative fashion.
‘Cat Scratch City’ is just some junk I made after watching ‘Cool World’, Ralph Bakshi’s attempt at making ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?’, which generally flopped. I was, in a sickly way, inspired by David Bowie’s early 90’s work (‘Black Tie White Noise’ in particular). Since years ago, I’d always developed a fascination with obscure parts of an artists career – lost in time, usually for a good reason. Heck, that fascination is part of why I find The Abravault such a fun task sometimes. This feels a little like Bowie’s song for that movie. PS. I think Bowie’s ‘Earthlings’ album from 97 is my second favorite Bowie album ever. That’s some heavy, ferocious, fearless, noisy, so 90’s (in a great way) stuff.
‘I Love People Like You’ was recorded at another studio I tried out for a couple hours in pursuit of finding a place for a proper studio album that never really happened back then. Its still sort of in-progress here. A tune written just out of gratitude for finding a friend like Bryn, really. I think that’s pretty self-evident. I like the chorus. Notice all the ‘one day’ thinking I had. The irony of saying ‘one day’ is you also cut the possibility of it happening now, so I would eventually totally change the way I spoke around, and that made a huge difference. ‘One day this sucker will unwind’, I’m referring to in particular.
‘Xenophile Blues’ was made after learning the definition from my friend. She’s constantly on the verge of homelessness – a very intelligent Asian woman, later in her years. I learned a lot from her about Chinese culture and all the great, lost Chinese music from the 50’s and 60’s. She would end up getting a grant from the Ontario Arts Council just to take guitar lessons from me. She’s very sweet and pure, but simultaneously persistently blaming others for her lot in life – which, of course, never forwards anything, and she’s simply not willing to give up that resentment. I really like this song. It takes patience, but it rewards in some unique chord changes, and a really clever bridge that I’m very proud of.
‘Everybody Loves The Raymond’ is an expansion of a hilarious jingle by counterculture comedy duo Tim And Eric. They made a few unsolicited jingles for various corporations – ranging from butchering ‘Let It Be’ for: ‘When I find myself in times of trouble… RADIO SHACK!’ to ‘Digga digga digga digga Taco Bell!’. I took their jingle for NBC(?), whatever station played Raymond, and expanded it into an all out tribute to Ray Romano. Silly fun. Made a slideshow video for it too.
‘In Cars’ track which is me (badly) doing Randy Newman doing (Gary) Numan’s ‘Cars’. Pitched down digitally, of course.
‘The Things A Mother Can Do’ is rife with lots of in-jokes, so don’t expect to understand it. All you’ve got are your assumptions. The melody is pretty nice at times, love the verses and the chord voicings there. Made as a birthday gift to my Mom, natch. Sloppy job, I remember wanting to re-do and improve it for her that year.
‘Independent Thinker’ sounds like something that would be in the soundtrack to Juno if done properly. Its a good melody again, very interesting and memorable. Very small, to the chords – very different than how I normally write. I usually make interest melodies with large ranges – refreshing to hear the alternative. Perhaps the time where something like this would really be hip has already passed – its 2015 as I type this.
‘Boy On The Mountain’ is from the same studio session as ‘I Hate Myself’. The shape is a little awkward, extended here and there, just so I can remember words. Nice chords, nice ideas – but a depressing song that does nothing to benefit me – it seems to just act as a re-enforcer for ‘things suck’. It doesn’t feel like art in that way to me – it just feels repetitive and unhelpful.
‘Simon Smith’ is a Randy Newman cover, naturally. Wonderful song, like so much of his catalog. He’s just the master of the song that sounds so simple, but communicates so much more. So much tension in my voice from perpetually singing softly in this phase.
‘Nonchalancing The Bear’, an epic one-take guitar/voice improvisation was recorded, oddly enough, after watching ‘Avatar’ in a Florida theater, and being disturbed by a giant 3D ‘Join The Army’ propaganda ad that played before the film – virtually setting up the entire film to be an ad for war. It was a mix of being afraid of people being brainwashed into causing some futuristic war, and my general teen angst and depression around the time, filtered together. If you’re patient with it, I think it can actually be very hypnotic and entertaining.
There’s some other ‘Here’s Some Songs’ rejects also included here – just things that were made in that period for whatever reason. Mostly self-evident why they weren’t included. ‘Seed’ makes no sense, with loud vocal things there in an attempt to cover edits – its a faint homage to ‘American Tune’ by Paul Simon. ‘Paul…’ has a lovely weird, long title that I think aptly represents its justified obscurity and mediocrity.
Free Improvisations, 2010 (Some Of That Project)
Each year in Contemporary Musicianship & Improvisation, the coolest tight-knit class you could possibly ask for that was at York University, we had a major assignment: To make a very meticulous catalog of our improvisations we took part in that were dictated throughout the school year. In this case, September 2009 – April 2010. Tracks could range from deliberate improvisations in class, improvisations at various events, or records we had done separately that had improvisational elements. We would analyze them based on a variety of perspectives (tone, timbre, rhythm, how we were listening to the other players, etc), and then write what we thought worked and didn’t work about each recording. When I finished these assignments each year, they would be roughly 100-150 pages, include 8 discs or more of music, and have a meticulous, multi-layered table of contents, as well as a CD of selections from the best and worst of it.
While sprinkles of things used throughout that assignment are found in different playlists, especially my solo recordings – below is a playlist of recordings from the 2009-2010 school year.
Aurally, this is truly no-man’s land: You may have no idea what’s going on sometimes. Probably I don’t either. There’s some crazy, awful, and awesome stuff here. This is some of what I could find from that collection. This is probably a fifth or sixth of all it’s content. For 2011, I managed to find the entire project and just slapped most of it into a playlist on that page. I know the rest of the 2010 files are somewhere though, and that’s all I need to know.
No track reflections for this puppy. I have to guard my sanity, and there’s not much to say that isn’t already documented in the final assignment. Some tracks repeat themselves in other playlists. Most don’t.
All videos completely edited by me, except if on another channel. Ordered generally from newest to oldest, with some of the highlights placed near the start. Plenty of these are only visible here, and have since been made unavailable on the main Youtube page. This is simply because some of these are so old, they no longer reflect me, are honestly (embarrassing!), and it would be confusing for newcomers to my page to see such drastically different Taylors from far bygone years hop around their ears.
If a video bores you, don’t be afraid to skip ahead, I’m sure you’ll find something you like.
I’ll make some notes on some of the videos below the playlist. Not as many since you can click on the videos themselves usually to learn more about it, and read the video descriptions.
Video Reflections, March 2015:
“Zameer – Teri Yaad”. This was his official video for a song he wrote about his father’s passing. I was invited to pretend to play sitar in the music video after winning his ‘Sing With Zameer’ contest, and accepted. It was very nice of them to offer. A long, fun drive out to a University theatre with some of Zameer’s crew. You will see me for little snippets here and there in the video. The sitar, unfortunately, was broken, so it was just for show. I remember the woodwind player being an extraordinary man.
“One Year Of Love” is a Queen cover. Spontaneous, raw, lovely vulnerability in my voice. I save myself from ruining the song with weird wrong notes a couple times! Just in the nick of time. I slur the ‘hungry for your touch’, and save it with a moment of fake sobbing. Very in-tune with the audience here. Such a lovely crowd that night!
‘WaterCAN!’ and ‘F*** The G20?’ was just me filming where I went a couple times in the summer. Just generous, spontaneous advertisement for some people I met on the street. Edited them, just cause. Probably found some of the girls cute too, and wanted an excuse to talk to them.
‘Dayton’ was filmed in Peterborough on a lovely night. Randy Newman song. Me & the camera lady watched Davy Jones perform in the park that night. That was two years before he passed.
“Blatant Update”… all those videos are pretty self-explanatory. They took way too long to edit (which is why I only did it four times), and were a really fun exercise in doing something ambitious. They’re also very narcissistic, and despite all the effort – weren’t getting me the views I was expecting. People want to know from the title that they’re getting songs, man! There’s a lot of good fun here. These are an excellent look back into the past. Lots of weird editing, weird happenings. The full video of ‘Lets Fighting Love’ never happened that I advertise in one of the videos, unfortunately. I would accomplish way less in my life if I kept doing these videos.
‘First Dates’ and ‘Puberty’ were really fun little improvs, that worked out very very very well. Its easier to do solid improv when you have a great crowd, and you have broad subjects suggested to you.
“Rare Unseen Taylor…” is just stupid. I was going to call ‘Here’s Some Songs’ ‘Love, And Fear Of…” for a while.
“South Park Vegetable Medley…” was for this thing the South Park website was doing where people could make congrats videos for Matt & Trey on 200 episodes. Obviously I jumped right at it and in the 2 minute time limit crammed a lot in. This was featured as the main video for that congrats video thing for a while. Lord knows if they ever saw it.
“The Art Of Self-Advertising” is an utterly ridiculous video, a sequel of sorts to Rajdin in how absurd my claims are. Some footage is home footage from a family trip to Florida. ‘Affectionately known to his friends… as God…’. Its so fun to see this again after so many years. Remembered nothing about it.
“What You Can Accomplish In Three Minutes” was a beautiful music video edited in, you guessed it. Three minutes!
“Mustache” was a music video made for the fun of it, very carefully edited, and deliberately done to look a bit bad – the cameraman (Bryn) appearing frequently off of mirrors, etc. Me playing emo, and things generally not making any sense. It was a lot of fun.
“Another One Bites The Dust” was performed at this really fancy underground restaurant at York University. This raked up views fast – just me spontaneously doing the song, and rockin’ it. If I had a camera on me in all my spontaneously done covers, I would definitely had a strong chance of being a Youtube celebrity by then. But it was not meant to be.
Lyrics, Poems, Etc:
Click here – literally, right here – and you will find a monster-sized folder rife with some of the lyric/poem/etc fragments or final results that were typed out in the year 2010, for an insight into the creative process. While there’s a lot of bad ideas here – at minimum, there’s usually a couplet or two that seem pretty good, great, or profound every couple files. The idea isn’t to entirely present things I’m proud of, just like with the rest of The Abravault. There’s a wide variety of stuff – a lot of it pretty bleak in this year, if you’re into that sort of thing.
There is also a small folder of academic writing with a little bit of typing from around this period,
which, as it so happens, is available by clicking here.
Notes From The Woods: There is also a collection of poetry and prose from a week-long poetry camp that I took from this year. I curated a little collection, which includes selections from others who participated in the camp with me, along with some of my own creations from that week. That collection can be found by clicking here.
Dictations are generally that capturing of an initial spark of an idea. These can be done in a variety of circumstances – with laryngitis, very softly as to not bug the people around me, full-out, etc. In the playlist below is a sampling of dictations. I would be crazy to truly go through all of them. Really.
If I truly looked through all of my recordings on my phone, laptop and other devices – the amount of content to sift through becomes 500-1000 files per year – ranging anywhere from a second to a couple hours each. Simply put, I would probably spend the next year of my life reflecting on my life and sifting through files rather than living it. This screen-cap put some of the tedium in perspective of how much there would truly be to look through. At a certain point, I have to trust that the best of my thousands of dictations find their way into my work unconsciously.
After the playlist, there are reflections on some of the dictations that are included here.
Track Reflections, March 2015:
“You Rock” was an idea with the verse lyrics rather spontaneously written by my girlfriend of the time on a piece of paper for me. I took them and started making a song with them for her. Its a nice idea worth fleshing out, and it feels good with the drums. Clearly just a slapdash dictation with a macbook built in mic.
“De-Evolution” could be a fun throwback hip-hop track. There’s what were the full lyrics for it in the Lyrics folder, as well as a lot of other songs from this period.
“Don’t Need An Army To Fall Asleep” is done coherently, but still with hesitation and stopping, as with a lot of these dictations. Remember, I wasn’t thinking anyone else would ever be hearing them. They literally exist so I don’t forget the gist of something. Get through the first forty seconds or so and you’re rewarded with a promising chorus. Its an interesting title, a take on an anti-war message perhaps? Its a contradiction in terms, like someone saying ‘you need this like a hole in the head’.
“Thank You For The Dreams” pseudo improved, based off lyrics I had just vomited out. Recorded very late at night (2 or 3 AM) in my dorm room at York U, being rather melodramatic. Granted, It was what was there at the time for me, and I was having a hard time coping with my self-esteem. Someone must have been nice to me, or betrayed me somehow, or both – and so this was provoked. I was also still getting over larygitis. The first couple minutes really work, then moments throughout. Doesn’t get much more real than this.
“Tale Of Me” is a lovely little diddy, that I have played live before in full form. This takes the last two minutes of the song, not the whole thing. I worried for a while it sounded too much like ‘Tears In Heaven’ in the guitar part at times. As I type this in 2015 – who knows, maybe it will make it in full form to ‘The Very Best Of Mr Freeze’, coming soon. We did try and record it in the studio. Here, my friend Alvin Yang joins on spontaneous drums. At about 0:46, one of the few instances of me being super out of tune in any track. I have no idea what happened. A random throat spasm.
“Sell My Soul” sounds like a melody that I’m trying to figure out, clearly a homage to Buddy Holly with the ‘uh ohs’. I know it steals a melody from an Elvis Costello song off of ‘Trust’ in this shape in the verse, so I may have to change it if I ever do more with it.
“No Pleasure”, I was printing something at the same time, a school essay I think – and I forgot I was still recording. A little ear break for ye in the silence as it prints.
“Four Eyed Helix” would make its way, sort of, slower, into ‘Hope & Possibility’ on the first Hyphenates album. Some starting and stopping, as I try things differently. A little disorienting, but you get the gist. Nice melodies. Always liked the lyric: ‘Weary stick walking through the sprawl. Tumbling treasure out the walls. Fake leather purses and twenty year old gumballs.’ That’s my experience going to a low-income Toronto sprawl mall in a nutshell.
“Never Felt So Free” would find its way into Miss Direction, in part.
“Walking Through The Fog” is a pretty straight ahead moderate song. Hate the extremely uncreative, generic chorus, until I mock it by going Barry Gibb high for no reason. Verses are nice, inspired by ‘Piano Blink’ by Hawksley Workman.
“Spit It Right Out” is a cool little half finished song that was written by tuning the whole guitar into a pseudo C tuning, inspired by my friend Victoria Di Giovanni. Different tunings rock. Its very fun, not practical for me live however. I had a blast coming up with it in the sun, and I was so worried I forgot the chorus melody. I eventually get it, but it takes a while. I went further with this song as well, but she’s still not in any final shape, nor am I sure she ever will be.
“If You Be Groovin High” is me the sickest I’ve ever been. I literally can’t sing, can barely breathe without coughing, so the melody is taken over by the guitar as I speak the words. It sucks.
“Posturpedia” has a nice melodies, mostly improv.
“Chastity Belt” is like many dictations that litter my hard drives: Its just me fiddling around while recording it, seeing if anything good comes out of it – trying different things together again, seeing what fits, if I get any further with anything. In this case, not really.
“Walking In My Shoes”, like a pure old blues song, and ‘Gods Song’ by Randy Newman. Nice guitar hook. Recorded with a crappy mac internal mic, as often. Really depressed that night apparently… Like, Daniel Johnston sad…
“Feeling Yourself In Sector 8” a play off of “Feeling Yourself Disintegrate” by The Flaming Lips in title. But that’s where the similarities end in the real bud of the idea. Just messing around, but some cool main melody in that verse. Its like ‘Hopelessly Devoted To You’ from Grease, but about Aliens.
“Let Cheese Reign”, super generic song, but still pleasant. Like the verse, but the ‘filler music sound’, as I describe it as in the chorus bugs me. This shows you how it easy can be to write that generic pop song half the world goes crazy for. Its just usually not what I’m interested in writing, unless I can find the right way to make it interesting to me, or if it has an inch of something refreshing in it.
“This” is what I call the obvious song, and it goes a little like this… ‘This’ landing on a super dissonant chord. It was a nice idea that nothing has happened with so far.
“Diary O Music” is why feelings don’t really matter. I’m way more interested in the feelings I’m committed to having these days, rather than having whatever one I randomly have in some instance stop me and treat it like it actually means something, and then add fuel to the fire with a tune like this. As a result, I experience joy a ton more. Hooray!
“Rain Rain Rain” is a Rheostatics song I was having fun pretending to fully know, and dabbling with covering. Hear just how high my voice can go in this too, around the 2:20 mark.
“Great Depression 2014” was a semi-improv idea. Of course it didn’t happen in 2014, but I look forward to a total economic collapse of the western world, if it results in a return to peacefulness.
“Strange Improv” was recorded at one of many free improvisation soirees that I attended while taking that class at York University. There’s so many of these sorts of things, they really deserve their own section, and will get one eventually. Each student in that small, selective class (Between 8-12 of us per year) had to write a meticulous journal analyzing all of our improvisations, that included meticulous tables of contents, many CD’s worth of material… Mine averaged at 100-150 pages each year in that program, with approximately eight discs of solo work and various collaborations. I wrote a bloody book each semester during that free improv program! Did I mention meticulous? It was fun, and certainly satisfied my tendency to obsessively organize things. Like this Abravault is!
“Come In My Cave” somehow was written based on a title given to me by a friend. I was in the ‘green room’ of the Freetimes Cafe, waiting to go on with some time to kill, so I gave him a little song based off his title. The chords are pretty cray cray as you go along with it, some very odd jumps that narrowly work, especially right before the title line.