Influenced by the likes of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen, Josh Ward Taylor has been a staple of the music scene since 2006. Championed as “a songwriter’s songwriter” by Ishrat Ansari, owner of legendary music hot spot Café Vivaldi in Greenwich Village, he blends traditional folk with modern blues, delighting fans on both sides of the Atlantic with music that means something. With his new album “Hummingbirds” due out in the near future, he kindly agreed to this interview to chat inspirations, dream shows and song-writing.
PW: Please introduce yourself.
Josh Ward Taylor: Hey! My name is Josh Ward Taylor.
PW: How would you sum yourself and your music up in a couple of sentences?
JWT: I’ve been a singer-songwriter for nearly 20 years and most of my music is reflective of my own personal experiences with life, love, faith, and growing up. I think writing has always been the most natural way for me to better understand myself, others, and the world around me a little bit better.
Which bands and artists did you grow up listening to and how did they influence you?
JWT: I was a teenager in the 90s, so I was surrounded by the sounds of the Seattle grunge scene, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and those types of bands. That influenced me to want to play music, and to relate to my friends at the time, but my earliest memories are listening to Springsteen on long car rides up to the Adirondacks as a kid and when I moved out on my own down to Georgia for the first time, I would listen to nothing but Bob Dylan. It really shaped the way that I approach the writing process.
PW: Have such influences changed over the years?
JWT: Those influences still hold down the foundation of my writing, but I’m always looking to branch out and listen and learn more about the craft. Most of my influences in recent years have been all the great live music I have heard from local artists in the NYC area and beyond, many of which I consider to be dear friends. To me, it doesn’t matter what style or genre it is, as long as it is coming from a place of truth, honesty and conviction. That’s all that matters in the end.
When did you first realise you wanted to be part of the music industry?
JWT: It continues to be a reluctant process for me to try to figure out what it is that I want out of music. All I’ve ever been sure of is that I love writing and performing and then bringing songs into the studio to make them into something that people might be able to relate to in the way that I do.
PW: Was there an album you listened to or concert you attended that made you think 'yeah, I want to do that'?
JWT: I definitely remember seeing Tom Petty and John Fogerty play in the pouring down rain at music midtown in Atlanta about 12 years ago and that was pretty cool.
PW: Is there a band or artist out there you might say you're similar to or do you make a determined effort to be something completely fresh?
JWT: I always welcome comparisons, and I never felt the desire to reinvent the wheel in any way. I think one of the great things about music is to carry your influences with you into your own music but by saying it in a different way that’s distinctly yours. The real connection with music in my opinion comes from the fact that two different artists who never met and never heard each other, from completely different backgrounds and regions of the world, could end up writing a very similar song because we all have this collective consciousness of music history that inspires us.
PW: Tell me about your new single "Hummingbirds." Is there a story behind it?
JWT: I still don’t know really who or what this song is about, but I wrote it on a blistering hot summer Saturday several years ago from my old apartment on 29th street. It was one of those city days when nobody is around and you have nothing to do but think about your life. I wrote about a romance that fell apart after a short period of time and was just reflecting on that idea of people, places and things coming and going, so quickly, kinda like a pair of hummingbirds I guess you could say.
PW: How does your new album of the same name differ from your previous releases?
JWT: Will Hensley produced my last record and he produced this one as well, but there are completely different musicians on this record. I loved the last record from 2012, and this one just has a different vibe and I think we left more space for dynamics this time around.
How easy/hard do you find the song-writing process and who/what most inspires you?
JWT: Writing has always come naturally for me. I just pretty much pick up the guitar, start mumbling, and then words come out. I’m generally inspired by life in general. Sorry if that’s vague.
PW: Which song, in your opinion, is the greatest ever written and why?
JWT: Wow. Impossible question. I think “Chimes of Freedom” is pretty incredible from a lyrical perspective and seems to encompass the whole range of human experience somehow, but there are other songs that I would put in the greatest song category like “Let It Be” or “Amazing Grace” with much fewer lyrics, but a powerful message all the same.
PW: If you could play one venue anywhere in the world, which would it be and why?
Carnegie Hall. It just has such a classic feel to it. I saw Ryan Adams there in a solo show and it was incredibly raw.
PW: If you could share a stage with three other bands or artists, who can be living or dead, who would they be and why?
JWT: Dylan, Springsteen, and Hendrix. Those guys are all just larger than life and are masters at what they do.
PW: What are your touring/performance plans for the rest of the year?
The rest of this year I’ll be primarily working on finishing up and releasing the record with a release show later in the year.
What are your thoughts on social media and do you agree that it's necessary for bands and artists today?
JWT: I think it’s become such a permanent part of so many of our lives that it’s hard to not see it as a perfect avenue to share new music/shows, art, etc.
PW: How has it helped you establish yourself?
JWT: It’s given me as an independent musician the ability to share music with people in a way that would not have otherwise been possible through just a website or pretty much any other means. It’s a great vehicle to connect with people.
PW: What does the rest of the year have in store for you?
JWT: The rest of this year I’ll be primarily working on finishing up and releasing the record with a release show later in the year.
PW: Finally then, what's your ultimate ambition as an artist and what would you have to achieve in order for you to happily call it a day?
JWT: I wish I could go back in time and tell my younger self this, but there really is no “ultimate” ambition that would make me want to say, “alright that’s good, I’m done”. I have come to believe that music is a lifelong pursuit that should never end until you die. There are no deadlines, everyone is on a different path and has a different definition of success. To me, success is just keeping that desire to make music alive for as long as possible. If you’re still curious enough about the world around you to keep writing, and you’re humble enough to believe that your best work has yet to be written, then you’ve succeeded, and if people listen and it connects with them, even better.