Taylor Davis Interview 2015
We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to catch up with Taylor Davis since our interview with her back in 2013.
Since that interview she has released a new album of original music, gained a following of close to one million YouTube subscribers, and has announced her U.S. Tour starting in September, 2015! The following is a lightly edited transcript of the interview.
You just recently released your original album?
The original album, I released back in March 2015. It is my first original album. I have released a couple of original singles before that on my YouTube channel and for digital downloads. It was really exciting because it's my first original album. It is my seventh album total, but all the other previous albums were cover albums. This one is very special to me. I'm taking my time doing music videos for them. I'm definitely going to be posting though on my YouTube channel, but I want to do something extra special with the originals because I can be a lot more creative. That is why I haven't posted as much yet, but I definitely have some more plans for original videos in the near future.
What was your experience using PledgeMusic for the album?
PledgeMusic was really great! It was a really neat way for me to connect with my audience who was directly supporting me and was interested in supporting other types of projects like an original album. It was really exciting! You post special videos and pictures and share the entire process creating an album from start to finish. I used it as more of a funding platform as opposed to a pre-order as I hadn't created any other original songs fully before starting the PledgeMusic campaign. Between the time I started the campaign and released my album, that was when I was working on all the songs. It was definitely a lot to get done in a couple of months but it was really exciting and it helped me focus on having that timeline. It was great to interact with everybody.
Could you tell us about some of your inspiration for your original music?
I am definitely influenced very heavily by film, anime, and video game soundtracks. That is my favorite type of music. Nobuo Uematsu, he composed so many games, a lot of the Final Fantasy games. He is a huge inspiration to me. I love the more orchestral, epic style of music with a bit of a modern flair. Definitely orchestral because you have some different effects mixed in with it. Epic orchestral with a modern twist. That is my style.
What formats did you release your album in?
It is available for digital download on iTunes, Amazon, Xbox, Loudr.fm, my personal website, and Google Play. I also released it as an audio CD. You can purchase that directly from my website's original merchandise store.
Taylor Davis - Reflections (Original Song)
You also released a vinyl version for the PledgeMusic campaign.
I did. I just shipped those out Friday because I had just gotten them. I didn't realize how long it was going to take because I've never done vinyl before. It took an extra couple of months and thankfully my pledge supporters were really patient about it. I just got those in and shipped shipped them out. You have to order a minimum quantity when you are placing an order for vinyl. I have a couple extras that I'll probably put in my merchandise store. Those would be limited quantity because I don't think I'll be offering vinyl on any of my other albums in the future because it's a difficult process to get those manufactured.
You also just announced your tour later in the year.
Yes. This is going to be a U.S. tour this fall and we have about 20 different states and cities that we will be visiting. I'm really excited! I've only done a couple of my own live shows. Those were just two at a time last year in April and then September. It will be a lot different. It will be a city every night. It will be getting to meet so many different people in different cities. It's going to be really fun! The tour starts officially on September 29, 2015 and ends on October 28, 2015. It is almost an entire month.
How did you pick your locations?
The locations were what we thought my demographic would line up with. We were planning for more last-minute decision. I have never had a manager or agent before April of this year. One of the things we wanted to do when we chose my management was start to plan for a tour. Right away we started looking into venues. Thankfully we were able to get a lot of the nice rooms that we wanted. For my type of show it is a little more laid-back and a lot of seated venues. It doesn't really make sense for me to have the club standing venues. We wanted to choose some seated venues and some smaller venues. There are some larger venues on here too for a first tour. We are doing mostly medium-to-smaller ones because it is my first round and we want to see how that all will go.
Are you going back to the four locations that you went to last year (2014)?
Yes, I will be revisiting San Francisco and New York. Those are the ones I did – not the same venues, but the same cities. Same thing for September – L.A. and Seattle. I will be going back to The Triple Door in Seattle. It was a venue that I played last year.
Are there also VIP tickets for your shows?
VIP tickets will only be available in select cities for this first tour. I'll be making an announcement very soon as to when and where they'll be available.
Will people be able to upgrade existing tickets to VIP tickets?
Yes. The VIP is going to be a completely separate purchase. It is an upgrade on top of a normal ticket. The VIP experience is going to include meet and greet. I don't know if I can guarantee anything else at the moment for sure as we're still working out the details. It is definitely going to be a meet and greet and were are hoping to put some other stuff together once we hear back from the venues.
For your YouTube channel, you have over 940,000 subscribers now. That's pretty amazing! How does that feel?
It's pretty crazy. It's hard to even conceptualize that many people being interested in what I'm doing. It's very humbling. I feel blessed that I'm even able to play the violin for a living let alone have this large of a following and have this many people supporting what I'm doing. I'm incredibly grateful to everyone who has subscribed or supported me in some way or another from liking my videos to buying my music to coming out to a show. It's definitely the only reason I'm able to have the type of career that I have right now. I'm very excited about it and looking forward to doing even bigger and better things in the future as everything continues to grow.
What other advice would you have for other musicians out there?
Definitely look for ways to be creative. I would just say to make sure that you do something first and foremost that you're passionate about. For a lot of people, video game music or anime music – the type of stuff I'm doing - that might not be what they're passionate about. If you find the type of music you love the most and share that with people, it's going to make a difference. If I was doing classical music, it wouldn't be the same because I don't have the same passion for classical music or any other type of music. This is why I have stuck to the genres that I have instead of branching out a lot. That is music that makes me the happiest. I feel that really shows in my playing and in my videos. I think that if other musicians do what they are most passionate about it will really show and attract people to them. Also, working hard and keeping up the practice. There are so many different ways you can promote yourself with the internet and social media. Sometimes you just have to think outside the box a little bit and get creative. You don't have to be signed to a record label anymore in order to make a living doing music or doing what you want to do. There are a lot of different options out there for people. You just have to look into it and be creative - piece together the kind of career you're looking to have. It is definitely doable, it just takes some time. Not everybody gets it fast. If you're really persistent with it, that can definitely be possible though a lot of people say that it's impossible to have a career in music. There are really a lot of ways that you can make it work.
You released a Jurassic Park theme to go along with the release of Jurassic World. What other ones can we look forward to in the future?
Jurassic Park Music Video - Taylor Davis
Definitely look for some more Zelda in the future. I have a Kingdom Hearts video coming out soon as well. Also, some more anime. I'll be doing some Sword Art Online. Later this year, I'll be doing some more popular movie themes. I'm sure people can probably guess with what movie is coming out in December. I'm excited about all of those.
Update: Taylor has now released her Kingdom Hearts and Sword Art Online videos. You can check them out on her YouTube channel.
Kingdom Hearts: Hikari (Simple and Clean) - Violin Cover - Taylor Davis
How often do you usually put up a movie relating to movies and anime?
I definitely release one video a month sometimes it's two videos per month. A lot of times I release videos as I feel like and there is no real timely nature to it. I just feel like doing this theme. Sometimes when it does make sense for Jurassic World coming out, I already have the Jurassic Park theme done on my movie theme album that I released a couple years ago. It made sense to hold off until a new Jurassic Park movie. That's why I released it around the same time to get people excited about the movie and theme. The same thing with new releases later this year. I'll wait to release videos when a movie is coming out because people will probably be more interested at that point.
Could you tell a little about your current process for your videos and how you create them?
Thankfully, with support from sites like Patreon, and with the amount of people that are buying my music, I can afford to do some nicer quality videos. Before I used to have to do everything myself. Now I'm able to increase the quality for all my viewers and make more elaborate productions. There are two different video teams that I work with on a regular basis. One is Fifth Gen Films and the other is Landon Donoho. They're both great! I feel that they both have really good skillsets for different types of videos. Depending on what I want to do with the video, I will say, "Hey – this is what I was thinking." Since this is what they do professionally and they are so creative, we'll talk back and forth about a concept for the video. I'm usually very open to listening to their ideas. I don't have any experience with film or anything like that. I'm definitely open to what they want to try with the videos. We'll just talk about a concept.
Gerudo Valley (from Zelda OoT) Violin - Taylor Davis
A lot of times, because I've played the games or watched the movies, I'll try to find a way to tie my music video back to the game. The Zelda ones are really nerdy. Ocarina of Time was one of my favorite games to play when I was younger. Doing the whole hints of gameplay in the video, that pretty fun! Sometimes something like that or The Last of Us video, that was something where we did more of the setting similar to the game so that it looked like I was actually in the game and we had a sketch thing at the end of it that was a little nod to the gameplay. I like to do creative stuff like that. A lot of times, if I don't have a huge concept idea of what to do for the video, we will just try to find a really pretty location so that it gets the viewer to get the vibe of the song through the visuals. I'll do that through what I'm wearing whether that is cosplaying or just wearing something that looks like it could have been from that game or movie.
What are some of your favorite places that you've filmed at so far?
I loved filming in Sedona, Arizona. That's where we filmed Gerudo Valley, The Lion King, and Bolero of Fire. That was such a gorgeous location. We went at a really good time of year when not many people were around. It was actually really cold. That was a little bit difficult with the costume, but it was just so beautiful – the scenery and the weather was great for us. That was definitely one of my favorite places.
I've also filmed a lot in Oregon because Fifth Gen Films is based out of Oregon. There are a lot of great locations that we've used. The majority of my outdoor videos have probably been shot in Oregon. I have done a lot of different video trips with Fifth Gen Films.
Can expect to see more albums related to movies and anime as well as more original stuff in the future?
Yeah. Definitely! Depending on how much my originals pick up on my YouTube channel, I would love to do more originals. I had such a good experience creating the album. People seemed to be really happy with how it turned out, which is great. I think as I release more music videos for those, depending on how those perform and how people enjoy those, it will dictate whether or not my next album will be more originals or more covers. I love the cover music. It's what got me interested in music in the first place when I was younger playing video games. Whether it's originals or cover, I'm excited to do something that I'm passionate about.
With your original album, how long ago did you start working on some of the songs?
I started working in November. I've worked with a producer for a lot of the tracks. We started working together and some of the songs actually – two of them, Morning Star and Hidden Falls, I had written very simply and not produced at all. Hidden Falls was originally a piano piece that I had composed in middle school, and I had just never done anything with it. I didn't know how to use the computer programs back then. That one was fun to completely re-orchestrate into a fully produced piece. Morning Star was something I had written in college for piano, trombone, and violin. I used to play in a church group. That is something I had done a long time ago too and completely re-orchestrated it and reproduced it for the album. That was fun! There were a few other songs like Dawn of Hope on the album that was something that I had originally put on MySpace six years ago. It was pretty poorly produced. I had always been self-taught with my computer programs doing the production. That's why it was nice to be able to afford to work with a producer on this album and make it professional sounding. My skills have gotten better but still not the same as when you are able to work with someone else. That was really nice for the album. Altogether, November was when it really started in terms of putting the album together and working on these songs.
That's really cool that you had some from a long time ago that you've been able to include in there as well!
Yeah, I've always really enjoyed messing around with composition. It was never something I really knew how to get out on paper or get out on the computer what was in my head. It has been really nice the past few years learning how to do that on the computer and also working with other people to bring ideas to life. I've really enjoyed that original stuff. I've been playing around with different melodies for a long time now. It's really nice to be able to finally explore some of that.
Going back to the tour, are you also bringing someone else along with you?
Yes. My really good friend, Salome Scheidegger. She's become a really great friend of mine. We met through the video game rock band that we were both a part of that started a couple of years ago. She and I kept in touch. And met up at a few different gigs that we've played at the last few years. She performed at my two shows in September last year and we had such a good time. My first two shows in April, it was still a good experience but I was alone on stage. It just didn't feel complete somehow. It is also a lot more nerve-wracking and not as much fun performing when you're by yourself – or at least that's how I feel. Having Salome with me in September was such a different experience and we had so much fun together. She's a great person and an amazing musician. I asked her if she wanted to be a part of this tour and thankfully she said, "Yes." I'm really excited to be going on the road with her because not only is she a great musician but she's a really fun person to be around. I know we're going to have a lot of fun.
She'll be at all of the shows and we'll be doing a lot of pieces where it will be similar to what you hear on my album. I'll have orchestral backing tracks, but it will be live violin and live piano. Either the piano arrangement will get created to accompany the song or the piano will be taken out of the track and replaced by Salome's live playing. A few of the songs we're just going to do violin and piano only. It will be a little bit more acoustic. It will be really nice and mix it up a little bit.
What do you do to handle your nerves when you're in front of people?
At this point, I feel like I have been wanting to do a tour for so long and do more live shows. I do get nervous because I want to do well and I do prepare a lot for the show. Mistakes do happen and stuff happens when you're performing live just because of excitement. I try to put in a lot of preparation so that the more I've rehearsed the less nervous I feel. It becomes second nature when you play the song enough times or you've gone through the lines you're going to speak. Just making sure I prepare enough ahead of time so I feel very confident going in to a show. That way I don't feel nearly as nervous.
How often do you find yourself practicing the violin?
Lately I've been trying to get at least an hour in per day. Sometimes there are stretches of time – like a week or so - where I won't really be able to do much practicing because I'm handling other business aspects of things. I did just get management in April. The hope is the transition of some of the stuff I've been doing on a regular basis over to my management such as more business oriented tasks. It's a little tough for me as I am so used to running everything myself. There are so many emails or checking up on the social media sites or planning for new videos, planning for performances. I try to delegate a little bit more now when I can so I can concentrate more on actually playing the violin. Especially since I have a tour coming up I really want to make sure that I have enough time to prepare for this. I'm definitely going to be bumping up the practice time as it gets closer to the show. Hopefully I'll be doing three or four hours per day at least.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
I would just like to thank everybody that has supported me for the last five years whether you are a new fan or a really old fan. I appreciate it so much because before I would definitely not be doing this as my career if it weren't for the people that have been supporting me over the years. I'm incredibly thankful for that. I look forward to seeing as many people as possible on the live tour. It is such a different feeling performing live than it is performing for a video. It is so exciting to actually meet those people instead of just them as an icon on YouTube or Facebook. It is such a neat experience to be able to have that face time with real fans. I'm very excited for that! I look forward to seeing everyone at the shows.
People can purchase tickets through the official website?
Yes. Definitely. I found that out the hard way the other day because there are apparently websites that will try to upsell your tickets by hundreds of dollars. All my tickets should be between 15 and 25 dollars maximum. If you see them for higher, then that's definitely not right. I encourage people to get it through my website. All of those links are correct. I also have all the dates and links in my video descriptions on my YouTube videos. They are all the same links, they just take you to that particular venue's website to purchase the tickets.
Thanks so much for talking with us!
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Taylor Davis 2015 Tour Dates:
September 29 - Iron Horse - Northampton, MA
September 30 - RegattaBar - Boston, MA
October 2 - Highline Ballroom - New York, NY
October 3 - Jammin' Java - Washington, DC
October 4 - World Cafe Live - Philadelphia, PA
October 6 - Park West - Chicago, IL
October 7 - Magic Bag - Detroit, MI
October 8 - 3rd and Lindsey - Nashville, TN
October 9 - Vinyl - Atlanta, GA
October 11 - Alberta Rose - Portland, OR
October 12 - Triple Door - Seattle, WA
October 14 - Yoshi's - San Francisco, CA
October 16 - Hotel Cafe - Los Angeles, CA
October 17 - Hotel Cafe - Los Angeles, CA
October 18 - Mesa Arts Center - Phoenix, AZ
October 20 - Rose Wagner - Salt Lake City, UT
October 21 - Soiled Dove - Denver, CO
October 25 - House of Blues - Houston, TX
October 26 - House of Blues - Dallas, TX
October 28 - Rollins - Austin, TX