June 30, 2017
To use the first person in an introduction is something that should (apparently) be avoided, but today, me, myself and I all agree it's okay.
The first time ever I laid eyes upon the enigmatic Daniel Taylor, I thought “Who the fuck is this mod-revival pixie prancing around Dada at five in the morning.” Little was I to know that a) this would happen more than a few times more, b) soon enough the tables would turn, and I would become the sunrise prancer dancer, c) Dan Taylor would eventually become one of my closest friends in this city.
“Scratching Beijing” co-founder Thanh Le Dang was the first person to mention his unique, instrumental use of vocals (“I have no idea what's going on with those noises coming from his mouth.”), and if you listen carefully enough someone, somewhere within the second ring road will be both trying and failing to do an impersonation.
I've had the honour of joining Dan with The Harridans, Luv Plastik, and countless other one off musical adventures – but now it's time for something different.
With a focus on the melodic and harmonic foundations of what makes a song a “standard”, Dan's new musical offerings feature a string trio (who you'll probably recognize from the hundreds of other projects they've been involved in), acoustic guitar and piano.
Just because something is uncomplicated doesn't make it easy. With only a short time between first rehearsal and first show, the deadline was tight. Here's what happened one boozy rehearsal earlier this week.
Dan Taylor – Guitar / Vocals
Mathias Boegner - Violin
Heike Kagler - Cello
Dan Zylinski – Double Bass
DT: It started quite a while ago with me contacting Daniel, because me and Heike play regularly, on a weekly basis, and I had some new songs that I thought were not quite right for our duo project, so I thought about bringing in some new players, and contacted Dan, and we contacted a different violin player. We had a practice, and then we sat around for a year doing absolutely nothing. About a month ago, we thought “Why don't we just book the show and find another violin player?”, so we did that, found Mathias, Dan was still around, I came over for cocktails, we talked, and we started from there.
It started out with just me writing out some stuff with some keyboard playing the strings parts, and then bringing it to the guys. The majority of it so far is planned and written out, but already, even though this is only our second practice, already we are extending certain parts, adding new things, and it is actually a project that will hopefully build organically and we can add new parts and new ideas the more practices we get in.
H: Our duo, Dan and Heike is going very well, and these songs just require more strings, and also do have a bit of a different feel to them, but still, all the Dan Taylor goodness. I think we're all very happy to be kicking off this new project.
D: I think we all feel very chilled out about it. It's not some big “revealing...of... something incredible”, it's just a couple of songs we want to play and I hope people like it. This is the beginning. This is the start of something. The start of a project that I know can expand. We can bring in more influences, and it can change as well. I think booking this show, and booking it so close to our first practice gave us a bit of a kick up the bum to get out there, get on stage, and play these songs.
H: It's funny because it's something people would normally say “Oh yeah, it's our first concert, so therefore the pressure is on!”. We just chill and enjoy beautiful music, and making beautiful music.
DT: When I originally started this project, I wanted it to be, I just wanted to write some very basic, nice simple love songs, or nice simple pop songs. I don't know, like Paul McCartney or something you know. With The Harridans, and other projects that I played in, even the stuff with Dan and Heike, it can be quite contrived in a way that I want to build a world around the lyrics and the music. I want it to be very stylized. Whereas this, I just want it to be nice music, played with some string players. Nice chords, very simple lyrics, I didn't want it to be too bizarre, too out there, I just wanted it to be very pure, very nice, very easy, but I do think that it started off like that, but we can take it into maybe different territories. I just want it to be simple, nice, classic standards. Me and my friend Eric always talk about “standards”. I like this idea that something's not too focussed on the sound of it, not too focussed on the ability on the instruments or the instrumentation itself, I just want it to be simple tunes that hold up, and are very uncontrived.
H: I'm also a fan of just simple, beautiful melodies, and I think that's really a forte of Dan, to write these beautiful songs because it's not so simple or easy to write simple songs with simple, beautiful melodies that are just so catchy.
I'm looking forward to when we're really confident, and don't have to think about what's coming next, or the structure of the song, and won't be concentrating on not playing the wrong note. Then we can improvise at certain points a bit more, and just at the right moment hold, have that little hook, and then go back into that lovely melody that everyone has heard already and learnt to love.
DT: The songs are very early on in the stages, but I think this project is nice. I think that sometimes, I shy away from melodies sometimes, especially when I'm playing more rock music, or punk type music, I think that to do something that is unashamedly melodic, and romantic, and sweet, almost a bit charming, I think it's pretty fucking cool.
It's this one side of me that has to come out. We’re playing with The Peppercorns – me and Eric always take about this side of our music writing that is very romantic, and I don't think a lot of people, well they definitely don't see it with our other projects, particularly our bands, and it's this side of me as a songwriter that I have to get out and I think that Phuture Vulture and The Absolute is a way for me to just write something that is very untainted by any sort of image, or any sort of ideology behind the music. It's just writing very simple, very nice music. It's just bits of wood and strings and it's very simple and very relaxing for me to play this type of music.
DZ: I'm not as confident on the upright as I am on the electric, which is my forte, but I like taking myself out of my comfort zone, I've recently started doing hype-man hip hop stuff as well so whatever challenges you takes you to a better level after it. Whether it be a successful gig, or an unsuccessful gig, you'll learn from it either way.
DT: We all do different things. Heike plays in a lot of groups, Dan plays in many groups, Mathias is a professional expert of the violin he works in the classical world... I think actually we all play music full time. That's what we want to do. We're not just sort of hobbyists – we take this seriously.
H: We've all known each other for quite a long time, or played together. Dan and I have played together for a long time, and then Mathias and I have done various classical projects and classical music stuff. So we're all linked in and I do think it really makes a difference. Also, if on a personal level you don't get along or like each other or something, you can still be professional and make music, and maybe you can make good music, but it's going to lack a certain character. For this, we have an awesome group of guys together. Really happy to play with you guys.
DB: I'd say we're a bunch of babes.
H: I thought I was the babe in the group?
DB: We're all babes. You can't see it because we're on radio, but Mathias is wearing this tight fitting leather shirt, like The Hoff...
H: Playing together, communicating, and so on, I think it takes time to grow together as a group. With rock bands you would call that “tight” or something, but this also I'm looking forward to the moment we all feel super confident with these songs that we can really sway together, breathe together, well tight communication on stage musically.
M: I was introduced by Heike, I'm very grateful. I'm very happy she introduced me to Mr Dan, and Dan, and Dan, and they are so fantastic musicians, so thank you so much. It feels very good to do something like this. The whole rehearsing atmosphere STARTING with a nice cocktail is outstanding and inspiring, and I love it.
H: I think a lot of different styles of music all have their validation and they all touch people in different ways, and also different people have different styles they like or don't like, so really I don't think that everything just has to rock, and make people jump around or something. Yeah you can have that effect on your audience, or touch people in a different way. In the same way, quiet, beautiful music is also, even more so, or maybe in a different way, really can touch people and it's all valid.
Phuture Vulture and The Absolute are joined by The Peppercorns and Mimik Banka (previously known as 16 Minutes) at DDC, Friday June 30th.