CREATIVELY SATISFIED: A CONVERSATION WITH TAYLOR HOLLINGSWORTH

TAYLOR HOLLINGSWORTH ON WHERE HE IS NOW AND HIS NEW RELEASE TAP DANCIN’ DADDY

By Brent Thompson & Josh Matthews

Photo by Maria Taylor

hroughout his career, Taylor Hollingsworth has had very little white space on his calendar. In addition to a prolific solo recording output over 16 years, the Birmingham-based singer/songwriter/guitarist has had involvement in numerous musical projects including The Dexateens, Conor Oberst’s Mystic Valley Band and Dead Fingers (the duo with his wife, Kate Taylor). And when a guitar is not in his hands, Hollingsworth is a father, mixed media artist, and record producer. On AUGUST 2, Hollingsworth will release Tap Dancin’ Daddy [Flower Moon Records], a collection of songs he accrued over a number of years. Recently, Hollingsworth spoke with us about writing, recording, and side projects. 

Taylor, thanks for your time. If you will, talk about the creation of Tap Dancin’ Daddy

It’s songs that I’ve been working on over the last few years. I recorded them all at my house in my basement, old-school-style like I first started doing. I’ve got much nicer gear now, so it definitely sounds a little better [laughs]. It’s not super high studio quality, but computers, compressors, and mics are so much nicer now. You can get a pretty low budget set of gear now, and it sounds pretty good. To me, it sounds as good as I ever want to sound. I think for my songs and my character it fits well. 

Technology – home recording, iTunes, Spotify, and Youtube, among others – is such a prevalent topic in today’s music industry. The ability to record and release music on your own terms must be a real luxury. 

I’m always happier with my own recordings than I am with the studio stuff because sound quality isn’t as important to me as getting the actual takes and the right feel. If I can get the feel, I can spend so much more time playing guitar parts and doing cool stuff and experimenting when I’m home because I’m not on a budget; I’m not paying a studio an hourly rate. When I’m in a studio, I’m like, “I’ve got to get out of here quick – this is expensive.” So when I’m in my house, I can take all the d— time I want. I can mess around and tweak things, so I’m always way happier with that in the end. The sound quality isn’t as clean as some nice, big studio, but I’ll take the other any day of the week. A huge band with a giant budget can be in a studio and still take that much time to get that, but to me, time spent is more important than high-quality. I’m happy with it. 

What are the promotion plans for the record? 

I made a couple of solo records where I did zero promotion – I didn’t really tell anybody. I have done a few like that at my house, and those are some of my favorites ones that I’ve done. This is the first one where I actually got a real label and hired press, so I’m excited about that. This might be the first time I’ve ever done a home recording with actual real publicity. That’s super exciting for me. 

THIS MIGHT BE THE FIRST TIME I’VE EVER DONE A HOME RECORDING WITH ACTUAL REAL PUBLICITY. THAT’S SUPER EXCITING FOR ME.

What label is releasing the album? 

Flower Moon Records. My wife’s sister is Maria Taylor, and she has a band, Azure Ray, and does solo stuff. She started this label, and they’re putting it out. She and her husband run the label, and they’re kind enough to put it out. 

The album’s first single is “Devil N Me.” Is that song indicative of the overall record’s sound? 

There’s one other that has that vibe. Some of the others are more acoustic and more of a “songwriter-y” feel. It’s a little bit of everything in there – I thought they fit together. “Devil N Me” is a little different than the rest of the record. We thought it would be a good first single because it’s grabbing, and it’s probably the most rocking song on the record. The rest of the record isn’t that kind of blues rocker. I think the song “Tap Dancin’ Daddy” will probably be the second single. That song is probably more definitive of the record. 

Did you write these songs with the specific goal of making an album? 

No, not really. I do sometimes write like that, but these were all individual songs of their own, and I thought they worked well together. A lot of these are a stamp and statement of where I’ve been over the last few years. Musically, there is a lot of fingerpicking guitar and a lot of the train beat I’ve been using with Dead Fingers, venturing out of that slightly but with that repetitive, rhythmic feel. We also have a Dead Fingers record in the can and finished, but we haven’t decided when to put it out. We started the band together and then had a baby, and one of us has to be with the baby – you can’t both be on stage. That’s one of the reasons I’m back to doing solo. I’m always working on stuff – I can’t be still ever, and I’m very busy-minded. Kate always gives me a hard time because I can’t even go to the beach and relax – I bring stuff to work on at the beach [laughs]. I wanted to get back to playing solo and having an outlet – not just local shows – to put it out there more for a mass audience. 

Do you have any upcoming tour plans? 

I’m doing shows with [Oberst side project] Better Oblivion in early August in California – I’m opening for them. 

You have always been involved in numerous musical projects. Can you update us on any of them? 

Dexateens is kind of on hiatus. I would say it’s a part-time thing – I don’t consider myself a full-time member at this point. I was two years ago, but that was another situation where, creatively, I was not happy. I’m sort of selfish in that I have to have creative input, or I’m not happy. I don’t mean for it to be all about me, but it’s hard for me to get excited if I’m not creatively satisfied. I sort of felt like I got the fire going in that band and when I pulled out, I felt like it died again. It makes me sad because I’m not the main person in the band or the main songwriter. I wish that they would play more and I could play sometimes. I think we had some misunderstandings but had I been writing more of the material I think I would’ve been happier – it seemed very forced. Elliott [McPherson] is a great writer, and he comes in with so much stuff I don’t think he wants to put his [songs] aside for somebody else. I don’t mean that against him – he’s probably like me. We are very similar, and he even said once, “We’re a band full of Alphas, and somehow it seems to be working,” but I think that can only work for so long and we have to have our own things. I also played with The Felice Brothers in Conor’s backing band and toured with them for four or five months. 

What plans are on the immediate horizon for you? 

I would like to follow up this solo album with the Dead Fingers album pretty quickly if things go well. But I’ll say something and, the next thing you know, it’s two years later. But we’ve already got it done so we might as well get it out.

Taylor Hollingsworth’s album Tap Dancin’ Daddy is available August 2 on Flower Moon Records.