Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Featured Artist Interview - Scott Dean Taylor

Until doing this interview I hadn't realized that Scott possessed such a great depth of character along with his transcendent talent. I had heard of Scott from friends - notorious in certain circles as a huge asshole with an ability to produce music rarely equaled in Wichita - but hadn't really had a chance to sit down with him on a level that was any deeper than the conversation you have with your local barista. The following interview was extremely surprising and enlightening for me.

Scott has Tourette's - twitches as he calls it, but is quick to point out that his 'grade' of the disorder isn't the same as the kind parodied in South Park - "I can handle my shit pretty well. Mine is really mild, so I just tell people I have it to take the stereotype and stigma away from it. I've met people who really have it - I would never tell them I have it. Like 'Hey man, I have Tourette's too, but I don't do all the weird shit you do.' No way. People ask me what's wrong with me and I tell them I have Tourette's so that they see that it's something you can handle, and that it's not a big deal."

A: How does having Tourette's and being a drummer coexist together?
S: Creating is something that I think takes it away. It's still there, but it's so far in the back of my mind that I don't even notice if the twitches are happening. When I was growing up people would ask me about it and make fun of me about it. I learned early on how to deal with that through humor and then later on with music. I mean someone making fun of you because your eyes are twitchy - there's worse things. I started drumming at ten years old and my parents, I think, realized that I wasn't twitchy as much while drumming. They're my biggest support system - I mean being a drummer is not the most profitable thing to get into.

A: How did you end up getting into drumming in the first place? Did you just wake up one day and say, "Ah! Loud Noises! I like those!"
S:  You know, everyone these grand stories about that - I just had some great teachers. I went to Goddard High and had the right teachers. It just was an easy transition from learning to being a working musician, but again - my family was very supportive.
Through my whole life everyone has told me I don't twitch as much when I drum, but I think I probably do, they just don't notice it. My mom thinks I'm cured because she's seen me my whole life and she's used to it. I'm certain the symptoms at least go way down when I play though. The main cure for all of - well of anything - would be meditating and staying in the moment. I think I could suppress what I have if I tried to constantly.

A: That doesn't sound fun.
S: No! It'd be awful. Just an existence of total friction. Because I play so much I get to stay in the moment more than most people.

A: Recently Matt showed me this piano player, Keith Jarrett, who can't help but make vocalizations when he plays, which also seems to be a type of Tourette's, but is the complete opposite of what you have.
S: Keith Jarrett is a huge inspiration for me because of exactly that. People hate his doing that! Some people just cannot get passed it. Sometimes he's in key with what he's playing and sometimes he's not. Keith Jarrett said if I stop doing this, if I didn't make those sounds, I would die. Obviously that's just a jazz musician, being a jazz musician - an pretentious asshole - but it's a beautiful statement.

A: Why are Jazz players pretentious? I mean, you can look at a drummer playing Rock and a drummer playing Jazz and it definitely looks different, but is there an actual difference? Can you, Scott, go right now and play a Rock show?
S: Honestly anybody can do this. Unless you're tone deaf  and even then anyone can put sounds together. If we really think about music today - which we should be - Rock music and Jazz music are dying. The question of what is Jazz, what is Rock, putting broad labels on them is killing those types of niche music. Which it should. We should totally deconstruct everything we play and just call it art.

We all like to think that our tastes in music are really admirable and the second we find out that a musician has toned down something so that they can make money - Kanye, Bob Dylan - the second we find out they've quote unquote 'sold out' we turn on them.

I mean Bob Dylan going electric we turned on him. It's unnecessary. The only reason an artist sells out is so that they're harder to categorize and they can get as many people as possible to listen to them - if Bob Dylan just played finger pointing folk songs he wouldn't be Bob Dylan, or if Kanye was just a typical rap artist. We'd have to search for them like we have to with Phil Ochs and Dave Van Ronk - so thank god they did sell out, otherwise no one would know who Bob Dylan or Kanye are.

A: Selling out in any other form of art - an illustrator doing animation for a commercial - is so much more acceptable than in music, where as if you become successful as a musician people get really upset about it.
S: People should quit being assholes towards people who get popular doing music. Though there's two different sides of this: the 'I need people to hear me so I'm going to speak to them' and the 'I do not care if people hear me. I have to create, so I create.' I feel like I fall on that side - I strive to fall on that side, to remove the vanity from it. The whole question goes back to trying to be successful or even why do I have the drive to create? How can I make myself a person that doesn't care to be successful? It's the freedom from the pursuit of happiness, or the freedom from the pursuit of success - saying I do not need people to listen to me to be successful, I need to internally feel both.

A: You don't actually compose before hand a lot of what you play, correct? But when you create something absolutely gorgeous, which I know you do frequently - is there not a feeling of wanting to share it? Why would you if the goal is to not be driven by vanity?

S: I would love to say to you - to be able to say in general 'I don't need anybody to hear me play.' I try to play something different every time I perform because I've had to struggle through anxiety and my twitches from a young age. Very few things take away my anxiety, alcohol - when I was younger weed helped, now it doesn't, it makes it worse - but creating in a moment takes away my ego and anxiety. It takes away the whole world. I just exist inside my creation and I feel so much lighter. Just like in Milan Kundera's 'The Unbearable Lightness of Being' which was written as an answer to Nietzsche's philosophy of eternal repetitiveness - which is weighty. Milan Kundera puts so much emphasis on the beauty of your life ending. The significance of the moment as opposed to the eternal. I know every time I play that that particular beauty will not exist again - I will never do that same thing again. It exists in the past.

 All of our anxiety comes from knowing we are going to die - that we will not exist anymore and all of the work we do is trying to deal with that. When I'm creating in the moment I'm not dealing with the eternal. The question of why someone creates art and why somebody doesn't kill themselves are the same question. 

Why am I here? There's so much pain mixed in with so much happiness and joy- it's so up and down all the time. Why do I get on stage and perform? Money, happiness, connection -things that you can't hold onto. When you die you can't have them anymore. You play a great show tonight, but tomorrow you're back to work. That being said, my answer to why am I here, why do I create - is that act of creation removes the question. I create in order to exist in a moment where that question doesn't.

A: And performing?
S: I perform, at a basic human level, for the connection. I mean the argument to all this - the philosophical question of creation and vanity - is just play by yourself in your room - and, well I do - all the time. And people say 'well that should be enough for you', but for some reason it isn't. Most days I'd agree that it's human to want to be successful, to connect with some people. But you end up disconnecting yourself from yourself - you are creating for someone outside, and in my reality I think that's a bad thing. Stating your goal is the first step to failing, but I would really love to get to a place where I don't need people to listen to my music - and I'm not there yet - I'm constantly reminded of the fact that I will never get there. There will come a time when the last person who knows who Beethoven was dies - just as when I die my music won't matter anymore. Everything becomes irrelevant with time. We should all be striving to constantly answer our own why.

Scott Dean Taylor and the other members of Daydream will be performing tonight at Roxy's Downtown @ 8pm. Can't make it? You can follow the other project Scott performs in Luna Copii on Facebook for information on upcoming shows.

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