Twenty Eleven (2011) was the grand split between puny living and a new lease on butt-kicking.
– Taylor creates an eccentric podcast, ‘The Taylor Show’, featuring comedy bits, songs, and interviews ranging from a singer he just met in the Greyhound station, to comedy legend Sean Cullen.
– A major Canadian producer, impressed with Taylor’s Youtube covers, offers to record and produce an album at low cost. Ultimately, the offer is eventually redacted due to some circumstances that crop up in the producers life. However, before then – Taylor decides early in the puny part of the year to take things ‘simpler’, and spends a great deal of summer time creating new songs and demos for this album, many of which don’t see much light of day, or see the light of day in different forms. Either way, it was all terrific training at revising, improving, and concentrating on the pure act of songwriting.
– Upon completing personal development programs that challenge and transform every ancient fibre of Taylor’s profoundly puny being, Taylor takes on a flurry of gigs, and challenges himself to make a music video and song in one day. ‘You’re A Wizard Too’ marks some major discoveries. ‘Maybe I actually can really sing, if I just give every note to the people, rather than using every note to try to appear a certain way to people.’ he said. Much vanity vanquished, sincerity gained, and a career he deeply doubted – now continued with freedom!
– Out of this development work, Taylor also gets out of his own way at acting auditions, resulting in more recalls and a lead role in ‘Beyblade: Metal Fury’, his first TV acting role in years.
– Taylor supports some children’s puppetry productions with original music and as various characters.
– Taylor & Bryn venture out to Halifax and play some very memorable shows. Taylor even walks across the street and plays a medley at a gay bar, winning their singing competition and 100 bucks.
– Taylor throws himself into University, particularly into Free-Improvised music, resulting in a final report that tops 150 pages and analyzes about seven CD’s worth of his recorded improvised music with others, and as a voice and guitar critter.
– Taylor relishes and mustards in moving to downtown Toronto officially.
(Click on images in the slider for details and a larger view)
Click On A Title Below To Be Directed To That Section:
The Taylor Show, The Hyphenates Vol 3, Knives
Demos & Rarities, Oddities, Free Improvisations,
Youtube Videos, Vimeo Videos, Lyrics Poems Etc, Dictations
The Taylor Show is a podcast that generally happened during the summer of 2011. Consisting of interviews, exclusive songs, sketches, observations and more – this was a fun reprieve from my Youtube page. Each episode is roughly the length of a sitcom episode, and all served to delight the small population who bothered to listen. This podcast also got some airtime on some small college radio stations. This extensive podcast used to be available online on an earlier website, and after a lot of tedium, on Itunes. Now, its exclusive to Abravaulters!
Most of the audio included in these podcasts you will not find anywhere else. See below the playlist for some brief commentary.
Although all the episodes are worthwhile, here are my favorites: 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10.
Track Reflections, March 2015:
Episode 1: This one is the first, so I’m still getting some of the ropes down. The medley off the start is nice – then I freak you out with an earlier version of a freaky little sound experiment where I put King Of The Hill sounds over carefully constructed Moog synth re imaginings of the theme song, etc. The whole thing ends with an interview with my cute little creation, Piggy the guinea pig. He needs to be developed further.
Episode 2: I really like the cover of TMBG’s ‘Number 2’ off the top. There’s been care so that it’s generally in rhythm. I had a sore throat, but its still good fun – like a Wings B side. Then, my fascination with Scatman takes over. I really would love to see Scatman: The Animated Series. He’s an unsung hero for sure. Then, we have wonderful music from Victoria Di, etc…
Episode 3: This one is mostly me spontaneously busking with pal Doug Tielli, who has some great music of his own. An unnamed few friends also pops by, one of them pointing to where Joni Mitchell used to live when she was early in her career in Toronto. Good fun!
Episode 4: Bryn and I are just beginning our little Halifax journey during this one. Lots of fun & chats in this one.
Episode 5: This is where it hits its stride of sorts – I love ‘The American Dodo’ bit a ton, definitely worth closing your eyes and imagining. Best live version of ‘Genes’ included here. There’s some nice music from an abandoned Mario musical, mostly because we didn’t really care about the subject matter and it was more a cash-in on a property than anything meaningful. Glad we made The Beaver Den instead. I accidentally had that extra minute on the end – but I also liked it cos its so strange hearing me pitched down that much.
Episode 6: More on the demos that pop in and out of the shows once we get to the demos sections. However, I will say I LOVE the Times New Romans epic bit, and hope you do too. Its later on in the podcast. Its very meta and a little hard to understand – but basically, its about filling a page, but written as if the letters (the ‘Times New Romans’) are marching forward, every time they type. Yes, it takes someone whose quite isolated to come up with something that odd. Also includes a spontaneous interview on a greyhound bus with an old highschool friend I stumbled into is fun.
Episode 7: This starts with James Atin-Godden playing ‘Mad World’ for me, and me turning it into the delightful ‘Hat World’. It was going to make a video for this little tune, but it never quite happened – just a gratuitious amount of hats. I actually made sure I had photos from online for every hat mentioned. So they exist. Then, the rest of the episode is the lovely singer songwriter Sara Rose Hebert who I stumbled into at a Greyhound station. This greyhound thing is a theme perhaps…
Episode 8: This is really cooky and fun and crazy. I deliberately sped up lots of spoken parts, because the content could still be gotten. Its a good idea for our modern world. The Tree-Otica is an amazing find, walking down the street one night. He would also graciously play and explain the instrument at an ‘Everyone’s Human’ event in 2012. The minutes with Doug Tielli are always hilariously abrupt, and you get my Chlorogenic Acid song, which I’ve always loved. Amazing to me that that came from a random Wiki article.
Episode 9: This is a fun collection of scraps, and things I really don’t have permission to use, like ‘God’ by Elton John, and the Woody Allen bit. But neither does Youtube, and neither does anywhere. Its a changing landscape, c’est la vie. Good long improv in this too.
Episode 10: Lets just talk about Sean. Finally Sean – a true comedy hero of mine. Working with him in a musical at the Elgin when I was fifteen, ‘Snow White And The Group Of Seven’, was a life-changer for me. I always knew that I was going to approach everything with a sense of humor after meeting him. Its just too infectious, and I always found him incredibly refreshing. He actually reached out to me when I was doing Snow White because he sensed I needed someone to talk to, but I declined, cos ‘I’m a man’! I totally should have had many heart to hearts. He’s someone who I’ve worked with since and seen on occasion here and there, and like with anyone we often respect, I leave feeling ‘why the hell did I say that!?’. One day I’ll get it right! 🙂
Episode 11: A weird epilogue from 2012 promoting the Everyone’s Human event. I share some thoughts from around the time, and talk about the Landmark Forum. This episodes a tad dull, and really just a half episode of sorts – Like ‘The Critic’ ending with a series of web shorts in the early 2000’s. But, you can’t go wrong with ending the whole ‘Taylor Show’ journey with Scatman 🙂
The Hyphenates, Vol 3
See the 2010 page for the real creme de la creme of The Hyphenates series, Vols 1 and 2.
This is from a series of concoctions based on a vision 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.
The third volume is just a couple of folders (Sights, Sounds) – and can be found by clicking here. There’s some delightful stuff from a variety of people, and some weird images and lyrics of mine that can only be found there.
Knives (Ten Minutes To Make An Album)
This was just some spontaneous weekend fun with my then roommates. We gave ourselves ten minutes to make it, and for some reason it all mostly became about knives. It really became about fifteen minutes. All improv, all fun with sound – recorded through a crappy macbook mic. Its garbage :).
If you really want to, it can be downloaded by clicking here.
Demos & Rarities, 2011
The summer of 2011 was the last summer I spent completely at my childhood home, and it was also before everything really started to change. I had a big-name producer very interested in supporting me for a time after hearing some of my Youtube videos, so I hopped into seriously trying to figure out a solo album that he could produce. I struggled with a lot of these songs – it felt like an enormous pressure, deciding who I was as an artist, and representing myself as that. Keep in mind, I was still suffering from a lot of negative voices in my head at this time, mostly telling me I had already failed at life and everything I made was off track from who I really was no matter what I did. Hard to get up and make music with that screaming at you.
Most of these are acoustic, and are actually very promising pop songs. Some are just silly things still made for other purposes too. This was a time when I stopped vomiting ideas out and became far more interested in revision and making songs more accessible, and am I ever glad I did.
You can likely 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.
Track Reflections, March 2015 (Reflections updated a little in January 2017):
‘Good Things Come’, as I’ve written about before, was my live staple. I always knew it would be on an album. Its nice to have one song you’re sure of, because it becomes easier to know what limits to impose on your style for a particular album. If I started doing my insane avant-garde stuff on the same album, it simply wouldn’t have worked. It would have been candy and sauerkraut. This demo was made at the producers studio, very dirty and quickly just to test out some of his equipment spontaneously and get more acquainted.
‘You’re A Wizard Too’ is from much later in the year, one of the main exceptions to this playlist, and is a pivotal recording for me. This was written, recorded the day after my Landmark Advanced Course – where I’d had to very uncomfortably face how selfish I’d been my whole life. The music video was done the same day too. I wrote this song deliberately thinking about what I wanted to leave others with, and it was a musical re-telling of a lot of the deeply moving and transformative information we had been exploring throughout the program. We were asked to take on a task that seemed too big for us at the end of the weekend and share our results a day later – so I said I would write a song, make a music video for it and get it a million views, all in 24 hours. I made the lovely song, I made the music video at a friend from the program’s house nearby with their young son, edited it, put it up, and shared it like crazy. Its a rare achievement to throw oneself so completely into something so spontaneous. I delivered vocals I was blown away by – because I wasn’t caught up in myself and how I ‘seemed’. All of my energy was being put towards giving love to the listener. Its a subtle distinction that I’ve worked to continue with my music. I was actually tempted to quit music at this point in my life – had been for years, because I was so disenchanted with it – that is, until this song, and the people it had moved to tears.
‘Make Up Your Own Rules’ was a song from the summer that got refined in October that year, with my much more empowered outlook on things. I love the sentiment of this song, the melody, everything, and would play it live for a while. I want to find ways to do it live again. I think I just need Bryn to play the bassline with it. The long-form bridge is the trickiest part to do justice. Listen to the last minute or so of ‘Hurricane Eye’ by Paul Simon for a sense of the feeling I was going for. We tried to do it for the Mr Freeze album, but the band recording simply wasn’t cutting it. This same demo appears as something I sandwiched into ‘Digit’.
‘This Girl I Know’ began as ‘___ Pallatzo’, a song I was asked by a guy at University to write about the girl with the last name in question, for him. I had ten minutes before she would be coming into that practice room, and the idea was for us to surprise her with it. I loved short timeframes to write, and things being at stake – so, the early version of it turned out very well, and the melody went rather unchanged in this more flesh out version. Naturally it becomes ‘This Girl I Know’ to make it more universal. It feels like my ‘She’s So High’ by Tal Bachman. I love the last minute of it, when various things in the song all come together – a trick I always enjoy. Total sweet boy-next door style hit that never was.
‘Move A Little Lo’, was the song the producer was particularly excited by, and we started working on it a bunch. Included here is my initial demo, not the stuff we were doing together on it – which was beginning to sound sweet. Big surprise, he ultimately bailed on the project. This song got reinvented into ‘Kill The Melody’, a Taylor & Bryn showstopper and a fun chance to jam. This song tells the story of a kid starting to descend into doing bad things, but it all being justified by being ‘just a little’, like ‘just a little whack’, etc. Its a typical teenage angst song on the surface besides that – but I think the protagonist is also ashamed that he is sad and angry, which adds insult to injury and perpetuates it. He knows ‘you should never feel mad/sad, you think you’d better think’.
‘The Cannibal Man’ was just a fun departure. A morbid little diddy about cannibalism solving our overpopulation issues – both in the animal and human worlds. Its a very touchy subject of course – but, growing up on South Park and Randy Newman, I love music that approaches sensitive subjects in funny fashions.
‘(Don’t Let) The Same Damn Story’ is an epic, ferocious song of the human spirit triumphing over depression. Musically this song still resonates with me – not so much lyrically. I just can’t get myself to get that melodramatic about anything – I’m too zen these days. Especially since I kicked depression. The emotion and desperation is very palpable though, and it does compel me to rework this tune a little bit and do it again if I can find a way to fully relate again. The guitar part feels classic to me – the song itself almost feels entirely like one long chorus that repeats twice – just a big violent adventure, more from the latter-day Paul Simon approach to writing where a song becomes more of an adventure than such a cookie-cutter affair, while still keeping a sense of familiarity throughout. Two versions for you, the first one probably more engaging just because it has some reverb.
‘Miss Direction’ is a song that would appear in various iterations, and even stumble into the end of my ‘Delay-Prov’. It has some elements that are catchy as all heck. As I write this now, I’m also trying to re-write it for Taylor & Bryn as ‘The Never Ending Question’. I love how the chorus keeps jumping back and forth to the bridge at the end as we fade out – it feels like a late-60’s Beach Boys way of going out on a song – catchy, but also disorienting. It feels like half a song here in terms of content and story – its too vague what is really happening, but there’s a lot of nice harmonies in this demo, and some sick melodies. I enjoy the long form bridge as well. Ever since hearing George Michael’s more epic dance songs, I’ve always loved teasing people with long middle sections before returning to the chorus. They’ll wait for it if the chorus is sweet enough, and the wait will make it all the more sweet.
‘Your Friends’ is an endearing epic song about a mama’s boy resenting keggers and being way too serious in general. It was done in a comedic way with an unreliable narrator singing the song, but some of these things were true worries going through my adolescent noggin. There’s some lovely lyrics in here (At least until we get into the Family Guy stuff), I think my favorite were just ‘They offered you a beer, and they offered you a light. And you talked about your classes till you couldn’t see the sight. Of a succubus approaching with a promise in her heart, and an assumption that the light is better than the dark.’ I feel like in those short lines plus the music, I revisit a lot of the dirty, seedy spirit of many artist’s first year of University. I really like the existential quandary of the lines ‘What does that mean? Who really knows. How do we really see when we can’t really see what we show?’. Those are staggering ideas to me still. Its something actors always have to deal with – you have no idea what you really look like, and no idea what other people are thinking, so how can you really see or control what you are creating? I suppose today I see controlling and creating as contradictions, and the friction of the two is how we construct art.
‘Pavlov’ is a quirky little pop song, which was also sort of included in a song called ‘Serious Boy’, which was much more simple lyrically. Not sure what direction to go with it. ‘Pavlov’ is about trying to condition oneself to not think about the dark implications of Ivan Pavlov’s proofs on conditioning, mainly – does free will exist if everything we do is something we are reacting to based on our past relationship with that stimuli? Certainly They Might Be Giants would be at home singing a song like this, if it wasn’t for the language, and range. Not to be confused with the ‘Pavlov’ that appears on my 09-07 collection.
‘Robo-Crazy Horse’ was one that Mary Margaret O’Hara really liked the lyrics to when she heard it, and requested I send them to her. Its of course an idyllic picture of a wasteland. ‘Looking out over a floppy-disc lake. With a sun made of Jello and a coke can meadow’. It has a lot going for it – a good way to ease people into an album, to open it up. I saw it a bit as a rejected Neil Young & Crazy Horse song, hence the title.
‘Your Heart’, this demo shows a darker and more tender attempt at the song, one I think works better generally, and an approach I will continue to explore with it.
‘Memory Man’ would become ‘Gay Siddhartha VS. The Texas Chainsaws’. I was trying to write a simple folk song about an unusual subject, in the vein of Neil Young’s ‘King’, about his dog that died. The story is hard to follow, but I’ve always found the initial verses amusing, especially the first two lines. It falls apart after that, then sort of redeems itself at the end. I have a twisted satisfaction from writing songs that mix strange elements together, and almost feel like they don’t work – but on a meta level, they do. Its probably something I learned from the aforementioned Tim & Eric – creating something unclassifiable, or something that deliberately doesn’t work, and since it surpasses classification – it becomes art with a whole other set of lenses it can be seen from.
‘Nothing Calls You’, became, naturally ‘Nothing’. This was recorded at the producer’s place again in the same session. I was having some sickness issues, so my voice was pretty gnarled up. Its a beautifully distressed song I wrote while taking SongStudio initially, and then refined in little ways over the years. It always moves me, and audiences. A song I’m grateful I wrote. People are surprised I can get this heavy. Its nice to surprise them, and get some tears flowing in the process. I remember one time in particular I played this in a York U dorm for a small spontaneous crowd at 3 AM. I opened my eyes at the end, and a young woman was staring at me, tears in her eyes. It was a special moment.
‘Something’ is my Maroon 5 style, merciless overt pop song – although the subject matter is pretty hefty and emo. ‘Black curtain hold my head low, I don’t deserve to breathe.’ Ouch. What actually inspired it, however was the shape of the verses in ‘Tempted’ by Squeeze. You know, the song that goes ‘I bought a toothbrush, some toothpaste, a flannel for my face…’. ‘Something’ sounds sweet fully produced, and becomes an unintentional companion to ‘Nothing’ because of its title. The singing is crud in this one. Recorded at the producer’s studio as a dirty demo.
‘Let Me Out’ is very much a Randy Newman ripoff off the start, inspired by his song ‘Guilty’. The rest of it is presented a bit like a children’s song in its simplicity, but its about a guy in a suffocating, abusive relationship. So yeah, this is a brutally sad song, really. He’s drawing comparisons to himself and a pet because of how he’s treated: ‘Let me out, let me in. Feed my snout. Let’s pretend’. He’s resigned to this fate. There’s some nice harmonies near the end of this one too.
‘Thought In My Head’, the longer studio demo. There’s a shorter one that perhaps works better, but the performance isn’t as interesting, so its not included. This is a song that feels a bit like certain Elvis Costello or Ron Sexsmith to me in how intellectual and passive it is. Another sad song – and in the pursuit of all honesty, its a song I wrote when I really didn’t know what I wanted to say, and I’d got myself in a brief case of the myth known as writers block. Its an old trick to write a song about not knowing what to write about when you don’t know what to say. I then refurbished the song so it became more about not being able to put voice to what you want to really say – which I think is a very interesting subject for a song that works very well. I allude to it in the horn parts for the studio version of ‘Something’… that’s what this whole song ultimately became. Its funny how all the ideas jump around.
A slightly later version of ‘Pity Boy’ from the Hyphenates version. Faster, also done at the producer’s place.
‘Rise And Fall Of The Rat Tails’ is an interesting little pop-ish demo song that I wrote after I could hear some braindead country rock in the distance when I was trying to sleep. Maybe it was from the car show down the way, I’m not sure (‘Bound to forget their souls at the car show below’). Lyrically, I envisioned a story of dirty redneck musicians getting rich playing corporate events and becoming pawns in some sort of country cult not unlike the famous short story ‘The Lottery’ everyone reads in high school. This song is a bit too obscure to really be understood, but I like where I was heading. I stole ‘mugger in a meadow’ from a Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy book, I think book 3. There’s some lovely lyrics that I think encapsulate a lot of the creepy corporate country cult energy I was going for: ‘I’d leave em walking like a ghost, when she needed me the most. We can think about it later, watch a talking alligator sing ‘Rat Tails Playin’ For The Millionaire’. I especially like the morbid humor of:
Muskrat band playin muskrat love
With artificial tans and a prayer above
The Govenor’s delight – a trout on the shore
If its dyin, just spritz it, and its sparkles some more
‘Young’ is a demo from September 2011, a tune coming partially out of my concern for actually working with the producer who wanted to forward me. ‘Somebody tried so hard to make me a star… I could see every twisty trail. I knew just when to duck from every block of hail. And now it seems that everybody knows my name. Can’t wait to end up like Kurt Cobain’. As you may be able to tell from that last line and the general sentiment, this song is also meant to be a criticism about the commercialization of youth by baby boomers. I sometimes wonder if we’re treated as something different – energetic, eager to make it ‘big’, and we buy into it – but really, we’re not that different. And really… when that ‘We’re young! Lets do stuff!’ energy is at play in popular music, what is it usually used for? It seems to sell pepsi and other garbage indirectly, and to distract people from the brutalities on the planet that really matter. Though you may be tempted to shout ’Shut up Lisa! Go comb your bonsai garden!’, consider there’s an lens of what it means to be young that young people are invariably viewed through, just as women and other races. Its just pure ageism. I could have just said that and saved a lot of this paragraph. I always grew up ashamed of being viewed as a dumb teenager by society, because it seemed no matter what I said, it was never taken seriously. Nor should it always be – but its, of course, not fun to grow up with that feeling. Sometimes what I did was whiny and irrelevant – other times, it was worth something, but it wasn’t heard because of that filter perpetuated through stereotypes of what young people are – pustule-ridden, confused creatures out to discover themselves and ‘make it’.
‘Pretty Boy’ is one I found after a lot of accidental digging. Its based on a song I’d written called ‘Summer, Don’t Go’, the previous summer. I prefer it in that shape, I think. I have no idea what this is about! Too ambiguous to grab onto, though clearly I was feeling whatever it was at the time. Very Randy Newman in its lyrical simplicity.
Some of these appeared in my Free Improv disc collection for that year of University, others briefly but not fully in the podcast, others for other reasons. They often express my increasing interest in dabbling with electronic sounds.
Some reflections on the tunes are after the playlist.
Track Reflections, March 2015:
‘Chlorogenic Acid’, Fear not, a lot of the things in the oddities section aren’t things that have already appeared to some degree in the podcast. I will say again, this is just an awesome bit of fun based on the compound, and clicking ‘Random’ on Wikipedia. This was electronically sped up a bit, and includes some banjo. This was as a result of a friend’s awesome idea to collect a community to make songs about every Wikipedia article. Of course that will never happen fully, but to a certain degree it could. We came up with it first, and its still a community I would love to make and support.
‘Tranzac Jingle’ was shared with a bulk email telling people about a gig. Its absurd, becuase it was literally made a few hours before the gig, certainly wouldn’t have helped attendance much. It was a great show however, because legendary singer/songwriter (and sister to Catherine) Mary Margaret O’Hara was graciously in attendance. I love her spirit.
‘The Best Year Ever’ would have made a good opening to a gimmicky musical. I really don’t know much about Mario & Luigi and the whole culture behind those games, I never played them growing up. So this was a shot in the dark mostly that worked. Not really knowing how to write a musical yet, but trying, and having fun. This musical never really happened because we decided we wanted to focus on different material, and things that actually interested us; so that’s how ‘The Beaver Den’ came to be instead.
‘M & P Forever’ is a really nice tune for the subject matter. If a musical is meant to be ridiculous and a bit like a B movie, these songs excel. If this was Sondheim, this would not fly – however, for what this show was trying to be, this is perfect. Recorded this in a cushy bedroom while dog sitting with then-girlfriend. The sweet lick around 3:00 would find its way in various iterations of The Beaver Den.
‘Wikipedia!’ is Tim Heidecker in his duo, Heidecker & Wood, over a live stream show. I jammed along and recorded it. I sent my contribution to their jam to them for fun, and never heard back. However, I did share Boyzone’s horrendous cover of Cat Steven’s ‘Father & Son’ with Tim, and he did retweet that to his hundreds of thousands of twitter followers, with the response: ‘Jesus that was amazing!’
‘Herbalist Quane’ makes me feel pretty. The rain sound is actually used not just to be pleasant, but to drown out the hiss of the microphone. Works very well.
‘R Newman Taylor Mixed’ is Randy Newman blasphemy, but a lot of fun. I love him, and I love making fun of him. I’m proud of turning ‘grind you down’ into something that sounds like its repeating in a swanky club. It would be creepy and delightful as heck if young people actually danced to this. Made as a birthday present for a friend.
‘Bobby’ was written about above in the Taylor Show sections. I’ve included the more coherent version, and the more chopped up, avant-garde version for a contest by avant-garde elite John Oswald. John is famous for being one of the original people to combine different artists together to make new music (‘Plunderphonics’, he called it) – he got into a lot of legal shit, but inspired a whole new wave of music making and hybridization that I find tremendously exciting. Sampling was made into a visible thing as a result of him. Met him a couple times. A twisted part of me really likes the agonizingly long ‘track skipping’ sections I added in, where a single sound repeats for an arduous length of time that you can’t predict.
‘Flavorful’ is from a podcast I was a guest on. I guess the opening was too weird, or they didn’t realize I sent it to them, so it was never used. If I had left it to the latter part it would probably be used.
The last few tracks are me reading excerpts from the book ‘The De Of Piglet’ as a birthday gift to a friend. It was one of her favorite books that she shared with me, and I presumed she enjoyed audiobooks. It also came with a personalized song, that would be silly to share here.
Free Improvisations, 2011
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 2010 – April 2011. 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 certain tracks used throughout that assignment are found in different playlists and albums, especially my solo recordings – much of this is exclusive to this section of the Abravault.
Aurally, this is truly no-man’s land: You may have no idea what’s going on sometimes. Probably I don’t either. This is almost EVERYTHING from my recording project from that particular year, in weird orders. Over a hundred different tracks right here.
No track reflections for this puppy. I already did that with the assignment I did! I have to guard my sanity! 🙂 In the ‘Dictations’ reflections section I have an example of what one of my write-ups on one of these files looked like.
Their odd numbering system is based on what their number was on their corresponding CD. Soundcloud mixed the orders around a bit – so now, its a tossed salad for you to nibble at.
Thanks to all the talent who participated with me in these over the semester.
Youtube Videos, 2011
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. However, I won’t make as many notes, since you can click on the videos themselves usually to learn more about it, and read the video descriptions.
Video Reflections, March 2015:
“You’re A Wizard Too” I’ve said a lot about in regards to the track itself. All there really is to say is in those sections. What a cute kid! My favorite it hitting my guitar with a toy hammer. Thank you to the Persads for letting me into their home.
“Daylight Star Art Drawing”, is a little video compilation someone made to the song from ‘Here’s Some Songs’. I just found it now, four years later – no idea it existed. How fun! Thanks Jimmy’s Quantum Leap Studio!
“Where Have You Been”, a fun Rihanna cover, made for kicks very late at night on New Years Eve. Seemed like a neat way to ring in the new year with some pretty and talented ladies. The mirrors were my idea.
“Deer” is a music video I directed for my friend & amazingly talented musician, Doug Tielli, back in the summer of 2011. I listened to his whole album and scribbled out a bunch of premises for different songs. This somehow seemed like a lead single to me, so we went to work on it. I wanted to make a more ambitious one-shot video, but this, regardless, worked great with our minimal resources. Very nice, lazy summer memories – hanging around his place for a few days, and getting to make a video. I would also film part of Copy Cat’s video for ‘Work Like You Do’ the next year in that exact same park. Doug would play trombone on my 2015 studio album. I keep calling it that, because, as of typing this, I still am not 100% sure what the title will be!
“Grey Eyes” would have been done earlier that year, on a day where I didn’t have to go to University, since classes were cancelled from excessive snowfall. Beautiful melody – better version here than what would appear in The Hyphenates. Little sound glitch near the end (where audio from another clip has shifted over the music), but it oddly almost works.
“Taylor Abrahamse”, a random upload from someone of part of a celebration show for a magazine on campus that I would make articles and poetry contributions to. This is just the middle of the improv, or so.
“Dumb Foods” would have been made when I was asked to fill in for someone on their Youtube page, as a guest making a video for their subscriber base. Would have been done in 2010, but re-uploaded in 2011 after I guess it was removed. People were positive about the craziness. An early T & B bit of youtube-iness.
“Delay-Prov” is the video to go along with the audio in the dictations category of this page. Pretty special moments of improvisation. Too bad the guitar was a little out of tune, but still this was a great experience for me, and one of my first times doing deliberately humorous improv music.
“Halifax” is fun. This is raw footage I decided to just upload of a trip to Halifax Bryn & I took. This is me winning a talent show in a gay bar directly across from the Hostel I was staying at. I improvised a couple medleys that night of songs. I won, I think, $100 that night for first prize.
I also included a couple of the Bill Tv Macon/ACB videos that were either about me, or included my music in some capacity. They used me for the ACB theme music, and made a very sweet surprise video for me one time. Awesome guys.
“Hot Dog, Sausage, Veggie Dog”, from an awesome vendor on campus – with myself, and my friend Alvin accompanying. Too bad the camera died. This deserved to go viral!
“Nerds In Love” was a piece with contemporary dancer Shannon Roberts that we made together for a special event. Drummer Raphael Roeter joined in a little later on to give it some variety. It was a semi-improvisation, that mutuated with each version. This is the one we performed publicly. Lots of fun with a pretty woman!
“Rebels In Vari Hall” is just silly raw footage fun, and a homage to ‘Give Ireland Back To The Irish’ by Wings.
These were filmed by professor Ronald L. Grimes, and have been used as study tools in his lectures on Ritual & Improvisation.
Urban Fairy Tales, a Toronto puppetry troupe, rehearses, then performs “Be Careful What You Wish For,” a spoof of the royal wedding ceremony of William and Kate. The performance is improvised on the basis of a scenario for which Taylor Abrahamse improvises vocal and guitar music.
This was just a fun way to do some stuff during the summer. It was great getting to spend time creating in a fun atmosphere. The show isn’t brilliant, but it works pretty well. The guy who plays the prince missed an important vocal cue near the end, so the ending song doesn’t quite feel complete, but you can fill in the blanks.
Taylor Abrahamse improvises with voice and guitar at a York University improv soiree and during a concert at Free Times Cafe. Captions are from an interview with Taylor.
Continue to look at a variety of videos and mini documentaries he has created by clicking here.
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 years 09-07, 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 in this year – some of it rather depressing, but certainly there was much more effort put on creating coherent final pieces, and revising, rather than constantly creating something completely new. There was also more writing than usual on looseleaf paper this year, which currently hasn’t been scanned over to here.
There is also a small folder of academic writing, which includes a little bit of typing (particularly Essays) from around this period, available by clicking here.
Dictations are generally that initial spark of an idea or a song, 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.
In this year in particular, I have a lot of solo improvisations below. Sometimes, they are me trying to figure out a song and dictating possible directions – but more often, in this year, they are done more as performances.
I should also mention, I would be crazy to truly go through all of the dictation files available to me. 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.
There’s reflections on select dictations after the playlist.
Track Reflections, March 2015:
‘Nuages’, already included on the 2010 page. Really put here just for reference to the similarly formatted long-form guitar/voice improvs that follow.
‘Delay-Prov’ was an improvisation with a slightly out of tune guitar, unfortunately. There’s also an alternate version that is edited down for time, so its just the things that are working the best in it, and has some crazy reversal sound effects stuck into it in post. I love the ending of this. You can really dig into the beat, and its fun sounding like Supertramp. I return to ‘Miss Direction’ at the end of it, cos it feels right – as if often why I do what I do. You know what? For fun, I’ll actually show you my write up in my meticulous improv assignment about this song.
Its an example of many write ups that eats up three pages or so. Its a glance into how I would think back then. And how, when occasionally cramming in writing (such as with this Abravault at times), sentence clarity suffers.
[A.] Disc: 1 Track: 8 Title: ‘Delay-Prov’ Date: January 21st, 2011, Roughly 10 PM
Players: Taylor (Guitar & Voice) Length: 11:54
- General Mood, Energy, Where Played: Nervous, high. Improv soiree.
- Intentions Before and During: To somehow top ‘Nuages’ for people, or do something that rivaled it – entertain everyone and explore my envelope even further by adding delay. I’d thought about the other one plenty, and I seemed meant to do just as well – though its quite amazing that we must rely on short moments to prove all our hard work, especially when in my case, its hard to see what work I actually do because so much of it is gathering and practicing other songs and having conversations with people – its only up there that I can properly practice putting them together, since I listen to my picture of the audience and its not nearly as satisfying doing it on my own. It’s a bit like eating my hand playing this stuff for myself. The ideas need to go out, not in again, or I sort of inbreed with myself! However, despite not wanting to practice, I did spend a few minutes deciding some ideas I wanted to work in – only the Mastercard one actually rising to the surface. I also studied various forms of twelve-tone retrograde with Matt that night in my tutorial to try and have different parts of my musical mind more likely to fire – since despite my outgoing nature on stage, my willingness to really think differently than my norm is still quite paltry. I don’t always feel bad about that, mind you, especially as unapologetically, a more ‘popular sounding’ musician.
- Musical/Design Ideas Used: I talked in length about this song with Ronald Grimes when he interviewed me, as he played me the video. The same scatological music playing technique I did before, again, starting in E as a safe bet, and on an electric guitar for something fundamentally different. The guitar is out of tune, and I’m baffled I didn’t do anything about it, but looking past that, I’m playing well (Though it painfully shows itself during the ‘Hear me, heal my heart’ and ‘Once Upon A Time There Was An Ocean’ bits around 7:00). To challenge myself, I go to the i at 0:56, but realizing I have nothing but esoteric ideas here that feel false and strange for the sake of it, I get back into the major version so it feels more structured. I’m also scared at this point that I could lose the audience, so I want to go into some entertaining stuff for a little while before possibly returning to heavier ideas. When I go into ‘When I’m 64’, I save myself with the out of pitch ‘valentine’ by accusing myself of ‘drinking wine’, so there’s a clever little answer. Or perhaps something more akin to political rhetoric, ‘focus on this, not on that’. The wine drinking idea gives me an excuse to play drunk guitar briefly at 1:58. This song is remarkably bipolar, especially in minute two, where it really finds its stride: I jump from a very heavy question to mocking the blues upon the word blues. Noticing that alone gets laughs, I milk it, and make one of my favorite moments that proves the power of the pregnant pause. I’m riding the wave now, but I’m thinking far harder about getting laughs, almost like a monkey that needs them to live than really feeling I have something inside. While I suppose it can’t be noticed from the outside, I’m sure karmic things like that build up, and give me shittier ones like the next. I’m surprised how much enthusiasm there was for the start of the soy milk piece – a return of the idea from September (Disc 4, Track 2). I felt both comforted and sick during this, scared I couldn’t keep the laughter up – I’ve had a string of a lot of them, and if I didn’t unwind it soon, the next serious bit with stick out like a sore thumb instead of a sensible transition. My guitar playing seems especially monotonous in this one because I’ve already played in this guitar genre last soiree and mocked it with the blues bit a minute ago. In an ideal world I would find a way to diversify the nuance of this instead of so much rapid hammer-claw picking in the same pattern. In minute four I really lose it because I’m trying to grab onto a shock laugh like the ‘fuck you soy milk’, except, no one’s biting: ‘No one cares about this, but this is my outlet, so shut up!… I’m gonna sing all the stuff about musicians that you don’t care about!’ (4:45). Lesson #356: Don’t accuse the audience of anything unless you specify it to only a few people so you can still have someone on your side. Recalling some laughs I got in the summer learning ‘I Touch Myself’, I grab upon that again at 4:53 to resuscitate the beast, not even thinking about musical or lyrical flow anymore – I change keys to G. I suddenly feel too resistant to continuing to be crazy, and thinking maybe I can go to something emotional again, I go to the relative minor into my own song that goes over well with crowds, ‘Lady Music’. However, it doesn’t pack the same sincerity and earthiness on an electric guitar, since it’s melody and lyrics are so much like something from the Grand Ol’ Opry. Dan Schnee comes nearly from nowhere (some vague connection between Dmaj7 played rigidly and the precision of oriental music he is fan of). The descending keys help mix up the piece a great deal and let me keep the piece entertaining – and ‘in’ jokes are generally more successful and are an easier kind of wit for friends to comprehend. At 5:50 to 6:19, the chord progression and rhythmic phrasing is painfully familiar and effortless to me. I want to make sure I’m more aware of things like that as I do them. I think I’ll have more awareness of them if I don’t play people’s ‘dancing bear’ on stage – because that is better in the end and makes all my improvisations in this genre more consistently good, instead of a tightrope walk where one is sure to dastardly fall at some point or another and taint the whole thing. We almost see this again at 6:27 to 6:28, the IV to the iii to the VI. However, in this case it becomes the V/IV and I turn back into E. The complexity of the next guitar bit while thinking of words to go with it makes the words come out as vague: ‘My bedroom is inside me… It wouldn’t lie to me’. I desperately call out ‘Can you hear me?’ to break the spell and perhaps now have a chance to restart it, which I soon really get with the inclusion of delay. I instinctually do clipped lines so the echo can come through more, starting at 7:23. 7:39’s ‘yeah I guess… yeah, that’s delay’ proves however that better than the audience laughing at how clever I am is the audience laughing after all that at how suddenly dumb I ams bee’han. I start to go into a rhyming fun again, which brings me back to Queen. It’s funny that I feel a need here to clarify that I should be saying ‘Queen’s last song is a twenty minute track’ – proves my obsession with perfecting the details in my mind, because a subtle re-classification can mean a totally different creative response I make. In the middle of my thought, I realize the delay is far more fun than explaining stuff with it, so I devolve into a much-needed break from words. Now we get into my favorite part of this piece – to think of a sentence like the chessboard one, is a beautiful thing, and the delayed reaction and the bafflement of the audience is freaking fantastic. It makes me really feel like the audience is listening – and it breaks up the continuing monotony of the same kinds of laughter. I take a musical break again here, using a simpler more predictably escalating melody over the chords as to ensure there wouldn’t be anything too harmonically unusual with the delay going on. The ‘metal’ palm mute chord strumming also ensures a way to mask the chaos that delay can have. I think I go to the ’14 year old girl’ idea simply because I knew it might also elicit laughter – kind of controversial of it to elicit laughter when we think about it. Going on that logic, I soon start singing at 9:45 about how my character met Johnny Depp once – I was trying to think of who an arrogant tween would aspire to. I start reverting inside myself at 9:47, cancelling my rhyme, hoping like at the start with the ‘word that rhymes with eight that I don’t want to use’, that it could speak for itself, but it doesn’t work quite like that. I switch gears again, searching for a song that could be very moving played with delay instead of just laughing at it. But even that turns topsy-turvy on me, ‘With Or Without You’ by U2 also gets laughs. The F to G in the bass made me think of what is always my strongest guitar card – any ideas that play with 11th chords. I go into a lovely idea I came up with in the summer, but create new stuff in between which makes me riff on about sounding like Supertramp (I did!). This melody of that ‘verse’ is often in my head now for some reason – its like I’ve finally found some peace to this song, so I’m just finally enjoying myself, so the recording resonates with me here. I know by this point that I’m simply building up to the amazing pre-prepared last melody: ‘You don’t need to worry, you have it all figured out. You don’t need to worry no more.’ And I truly, truly didn’t! A Bryn-like ‘yeah’ solidifies a close.Evaluation: My evaluation is that I’m not good at saving my criticism for the evaluation. This song I’m in certain ways even more proud of than Nuages. While Delay-Prov starts in monotonous territory, it soon finds some very interesting and unique ideas due to the addition of delay. I find I was freer with letting myself flop a little, but even more desperate to hold onto the vibe once good things started cumulating and the instinct to top the last idea rose and rose. This is because, fundamentally, I was in the slightly wrong headspace until the last minute or so, when I knew I had stumbled upon a place where I could bring out my ace chord progression and hooky chorus. It’s really heavenly to me, and I find myself feeling very proud of it – also in part because of how much of a shock it is to have that stuck at the end of one’s piece. It represents a delirious, catchy scatological, craziness I’ve dreamed in my mind about for years and can still barely describe – where one can be taken into an extraordinary place by twists in music, like in fact, what Debussey’s ‘Nuages’ does to me when its at its most legato and sweetest moments. I can only wonder what would have happened if I didn’t worry throughout the whole thing. It would have also greatly improved my vocal timbre, which feels too tight to me at most points except the end. That being said, perhaps the next ones an example of trying that relaxation and it seeming ‘too comfortable’ at times. I guess I have to test my boundaries to know what they are though, and then meet with the assassination committee in the middle to know how to break the rules.
“Controversial” is actually from a little disc I made for the fun of it for a small-town barber. She wanted some of my music to play in the store, so I gave her something very one of a kind with some surefire recordings, but also some improvs I made just for her, and for my Improv assignment that year at University. You will hear other songs throughout this that are from the same collection for her.
“Solo Improv” I really like the observations I’m just spewing out off the start. This, I don’t think was actually the ‘controversial’ track included on her CD. I refrained from cursing on that CD 🙂
“God” is a semi-typical free-improv bit of fun. Draggingly slow, trying to be a pseudo-jazz lounge standard. I usually left the comedy stuff for just me when improvising.
“Gonna Have That Feta” is when I had the brief-lived idea to make a CD completely collected of songs that were a minute in length each maximum – but I wanted them brilliantly produced, with full bands. Would have been fun to do, could still do it. But why? 🙂
“Nothing Left” is a Todd Rundgren sort of thing. I suck at piano. I was very tired, just trying to get it down.
“Intuition” began just walking around campus one night, playing around like a kid in a parking lot. I was just out to free my mind and see what ideas would come to me. It takes a very different shape on ‘The Very Best Of Mr. Freeze’ of course.
“Heart In The Water” would be a nice song to finish. Pretty coherent dictation, usually there’s more second trying at certain lines. Etc. The last two lines made it into ‘Gay Siddhartha’.
“Poet-TRY”, total junk.
“Depressed/Mountain Range/Gods The Human Race” is a long pseudo-improv with some piano players. Its pretty draggy and not meant to be that exciting, except moments where I go into Ke$ha of all people, and the never formally released Freddie Mercury outtake ‘Yellow Breezes’. More a meditative exercise. I go in and out of a lot of different ideas from around this time period. ‘Mountain Range’ actually goes back a couple years at the songwriting program SongStudio. They loved the chorus, thought it utterly classic and amazing – hated the verses – because they made no sense, naturally 🙂
“Sheep” would be a nice song if finished. Definitely oddly shaped here. Can’t find a file that proves it, but I worked on this tune plenty more after these two dictations.