Persephone’s Lounge: Artist Sun Days – Taylor Abrahamse

Singer, Songwriter, Taurean

Photo by Elsa Hashemi

Sun Sign: Taurus

Venus and Rising: Gemini

“I think genres are a very antiquated notion. In the simplest sense, I’m a singer-songwriter, but I’m a singer-songwriter who loves everything and wants to explore everything. I’m very much a kid in a candy store. I hold onto an innocence and a young-at-heartness, and an idealism. Not out of naiveté, but as an act of rebellion.”

Taylor

Taylor began exploring songwriting by the age of twelve years old. He plays the guitar and sometimes dabbles with the keyboard and ukulele. He was largely inspired by the likes of CCR, Paul Simon, Queen and Elton John. By learning to mimic these artists, he said, “something that was my own started to emerge. […] What got me really songwriting was listening to Elton John in the dark, and looking through a skylight and seeing the stars, and just kind of experiencing infinity and a sense of infinite and creative universe that was possible through songwriting.”

Like a classic Gemini rising, he wears many hats. Geminis are best known for being the jack-of-all-trades of the zodiac, eager to learn new things, all whle coming up with different ways to express themselves creatively. In Taylor’s case, aside from making music, he’s also done voiceover acting and commercials. In the studio, he’s in charge of keeping the order of things, scheduling, and looking through music charts, all while keeping a balance between giving notes and feedback to others in between takes. “That’s tricky. That’s a hard balance to strike. I’m basically being my own producer. Going through all that later, taking the best takes and best moments, figuring out overdubs I need to do…. You know, all kinds of stuff. You gotta wear a lot of hats in the arts, and I do like the idea of wearing a lot of hats. But there’s certain hats I’d like to give to other people, ‘cause I think they can do it better.”

In terms of his sound as a musician, Taylor prefers being eclectic and following his own vision, rather than being confined to a particular genre, which makes sense, since his Venus placement is also in Gemini. Venus in Gemini aren’t focused so much on following a specific path, as long as it gives them the chance to express their ideas fully. They’re very much thinkers, and can easily overwhelm themselves by having too many ideas at once. Since this placement can get bored easily, it’s no wonder Taylor has an appreciation for all kinds of music- this is what allows him to stay motivated creatively. Aside from releasing an album in 2020, he’s also written a few musicals, some rap songs, and appreciates everything from jazz, to theater, to even metal. While hearing him play, something about his voice has a hint of nostalgia, but still manages to feel modern and distinctive.

As for the creative process, “It’s very much having ten jobs at once to be an artist. However, if all I was doing was creative stuff, the well would run dry. There’s a certain yin and yang you want to hit in everything that you’re doing.”

Earlier this year, Taylor had the unfortunate experience of losing the prime location to his music studio, Silverthorn. Silverthorn Studios was founded with his good friend Bryn Scott-Grimes around 2016. Over the course of two years, they designed and constructed the studio in a detached garage behind a house they were renting. Silverthorn Studios went on to attract people like Kiefer Sutherland and Jim Cuddy. So not only is he a musician, Taylor has an entrepreneurial streak, something very common with Taurus suns, since after all, Taurus is just as known for creativity as they are for wanting a legacy.

During the time the studio was open, their neighbors were very welcoming and supportive of the recording process. “It became this really special recording studio in the city of Toronto. It felt very much like a cottage in the city, a safe haven for really creative people, and just a way for people who need more than a bedroom and a laptop to make the music they want to make.” Silverthorn Studios has not only enabled the opportunity for various artists to record their albums and projects, it’s helped Taylor and Bryn in building a whole community.

“Despite having a lease till 2023,” Taylor explained, “the landlords decided to sell the house, which also necessitated selling the studio.”

They were given just a few months to make an offer in order to try to purchase the home. “Otherwise someone could just buy it and request that [the studio] and all that be gutted. […] Alternatively, we could sell it to someone who wanted a recording studio as a separate entity in addition to the home, that way, make a substantial amount of money. Or partner with some people in order to save the studio and still run it. The original studio had seven rooms, which is amazing for 600 square feet. So it had a live room, mixing room, and a bunch of vocal booths setup in such a way that you could really record a full band, 24 track recording, all at the same time.”

Where studios like this often cost thousands to record in, they were able to provide the same exact services for around 500-600 dollars per day. “It created an opportunity for innovation and true chemistry while recording that isn’t available in a lot of environments,” and never at that price point.

Taylor and Bryn looked to various investors, and by this time, Taylor said he was “talking to the walls and crying, screaming- just doing everything I could to save [Silverthorn], literately telling it everything was going to be okay at night.” Understandably, when it comes to his goals, this is where his Taurus sun shines the most. A lot of people underestimate Taurus due to them being a bit shy and introverted, but you probably don’t want to get in his way, at least not without a fight. Taylor had a lot of anxiety during that time, but still would spend hours a day, every waking day, working to save the studio, connecting as many potential investors as possible.

“There were certainly plenty of celebrity musicians I spoke to, and they literally didn’t even qualify for a mortgage, but we miraculously found the investors. At first we had a few different investors, and it was all gonna work out in a very mutual way. I was still gonna live at the house with some friends. The studio would be used by these people. It was also gonna be supporting a charity for underprivileged [creative] kids.” However, a different offer came in the day before Taylor could officially sign the paperwork. The offer made was $1.42 million in cash to the landlords, from someone looking to completely rid of the studio space altogether. They offered a little less than the main offer of approximately $1.45 million from Taylor and his second set of investors, in the end, it still sold largely due to “the nature of bully offers meant that the landlords had to accept the second offer.”

“This was easy money […] for the realtors.” Taylor pointed out. “I worked ten times harder than them, finding all these really needle in the haystack people to come through” to help out. “It was like trying to slay a dragon and losing.” Further proof of how problematic the current housing crisis is, and that these days profit seems more important than community well-being. Taylor and his team also had done interviews with the media, but for some reason, the interviews were never aired, much to his disappointment. “We had a camera crew from a major network in the studio, and all kinds of weird stuff” [happened after]. Somehow, the story had been squashed completely.

On the upside, Taylor currently has an agreement with Hugh’s Room, which happens to be a place that as he puts it, is “a middle ground between Free Times Café and Massey Hall”. It’s been around since 2001, and the owners had the chance to visit the original Silverthorn location before it was destroyed. Over the years, Hugh’s Room has been a place for emerging talent, which is why it’s so important for the Toronto music scene. At the moment, the owners of Hugh’s Room are trying to buy a church in the East End, since they themselves had to give up their original venue due to a skyrocketing rent increase. Part of the agreement is should they be able to purchase this church, Silverthorn would be made a part of that location, as both a studio and a secondary performance venue. “Frankly, music is an ecosystem and if you kill one part of it, it all starts to crumble. And that’s what I see happening in Toronto.”

Taylor also added, “I hope [the owners of the house] know that anytime they listen to music or watch Netflix or anything, that none of those creative people who made that stuff would approve of what they did.”

Aside from attempts to rebuild his studio, Taylor is in the midst of a Canada-US tour. In terms of people he’d like to collaborate with, aside from his idols Paul Simon and Elton John, he would also like to work with Jim Carrey, “just because [he’s] someone who I feel is so expressive and has musical instincts, but maybe hasn’t got to nurture them as much. I’d love to work with someone like that. […] Someone who you know has something incredibly special and tremendous potential. When I worked with Eddie Kramer- he’s the engineer for Jimi Hendrix and all kinds of people, he just took a chance on me,” Since that collaboration gave him the opportunity to really expand and grow as an artist, he hopes to pay it forward with other artists as well.

Despite a lot of the technological progress in the music industry, Taylor would like to see more innovation and less of a need to follow trends, which has happened with many musical talents over the years. “There’s something kind of empty that I can feel in so much music. It’s not necessarily for the lack of skill, but lack of soul.”

Karina


To listen to Taylor’s music, you can find him on Soundcloud, Spotify or whatever is your preferred streaming platform. Be sure to check out his website, as well as Instagram @taylor.writes.music

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