Maria Taylor is set to make an appearance at the Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix on Oct. 17. Touring her fourth studio album, “Overlook,” Maria found some time to sit down and speak with The State Press and share why this tour is going to be a drastically different experience.
The State Press: According to your Aug. 14 press release, you said you experienced some writer’s block before you were finally able to write your fourth album, “Overlook.” How did you overcome your writer’s block?
Maria Taylor: Well, I kind of tried a new experiment and I just decided I was just going to stay in my bedroom as long as it took. I had about a month off, so I said, “let’s just see.” So, I bought a case of wine, and I literally just told all my friends, “I’m not going to hang out. Don’t call me. I’m just going to be stuck in my room.” And I just kind of sat there and you know, nothing came, until suddenly, like, I wrote “Happenstance.” Then everything just started pouring out. I barely slept, I was staying up all night just working. It was cool. It made the album a lot more cohesive than my other ones because it was very focused.
SP: You said you wanted to capture the sound of the Alabama music scene in your album. What sets the Alabama music scene apart from other Southern music scenes?
MT: I don’t even know how to describe it. It’s something that everyone who lives there, we all recognize that Birmingham sound or that Alabama sound, but it would be hard for me to really articulate what I mean. I don’t know, just being born and raised there and just hearing music from all the different bands, there’s just some similar thread that everybody has.
SP: How did it feel to produce your own album this time around? Did you do anything differently?
MT: I’ve just been working with friends of mine who are producers for so many years, like, working on records for the past fifteen years. So, I kind of learned some of the tricks and how to get some of the sounds that I want, but I also worked with an engineer and friend of mine who lives in Birmingham and he’s a great engineer. It was really easy for me to be like, “OK, I want this sound,” and he’d be like, “Oh, like this?” and it would be perfect. It made it really easy to work with talented people who could also see my vision, but I also really wanted it not to sound too produced. I didn’t want it to be this crazy undertaking. I wanted it to sound pretty raw.
SP: You have done a few collaborations with Bright Eyes and we can hear you on songs like “Four Winds.” What was it like to work with Conor Oberst and his band and how does it differ from being a solo artist?
MT: Well, I was in Azure Ray — well, I’m still in that band. So, I’ve been in bands and worked with a lot of people my whole life. It was just like any other collaboration. You know, I mean, I collaborate with bands pretty much all the time. It’s just different collaborating with other people from your solo project because your solo project is pretty much your vision. At the end of the day, if you don’t like it, then it’s just not you. When you’re working with other peoples’ songs it’s all about making them happy and making sure they like it. It’s all very similar. When you put different people’s musical personalities together and create something, it’s one of my favorite things to do.
SP: Do you have a favorite story from the road thus far?
MT: Well, no real stories just yet! We’re all tired already. You can tell we’re getting old. We haven’t even played a show yet and we’re all complaining about how tired we are. Wow, we’re definitely in our thirties.
SP: What is the first thing you are going to do for yourself once your tour is over?
MT: Well, the first thing I am going to do is find out if I am having a boy or a girl! I haven’t really told any of the press yet, so why not? I can tell people now, you know, it’s been three months. I feel like, I might have to sit down sometimes during the set so I might have to explain anyway. This is going to be a different tour, very different. No drinking, I’m just tired and kind of sick. But I just decided, “No, I gotta do this, this is what I do. I gotta go on tour.” But now I’m kind of like, “Oh my god, did I take on too much?” It’s going to be kind of hard.
So, literally the day after the tour I’m going to the doctor to find out if it’s a boy or girl. Ah, crazy!
Maria Taylor will be performing with bands Big Harp and Dead Fingers at the Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix on Oct. 17. Tickets are $13-14. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the show starts at 8. This is a 21 and over show.
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