Lady of Jazz: Teagan Taylor Trio

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Photo Credits: Charles Mancini
          Know who Teagan Taylor is? Well you’re about to! She’s  an extremely vibrant 20 year-old San Diego State Women’s Study Major and Jazz Minor from Imperial Beach with a voice that is as smooth and full bodied like a perfect glass of merlot that will only ripen with age. Her voice is a cross between Etta James and Norah Jones. Teagan’s schedule is always full with gigs and school, so I was honored that she took some time to hang out with me to talk a bit about her life as a student, musician, her band The Teagan Taylor Trio and her newest album Wonderland. Her band has been heard during the George Vargas Jazz 88.3, had shows at Humphrey’s, San Diego Padres Home Plate club. You can also see her play with the San Diego State Big Band and Jazz Combo #1.


Aftertaste - Teagan Taylor Trio

T: How long have you been playing the trumpet and singing? Do you play any other instruments? 
Teagan: I started playing trumpet when I was about eight years old and in third grade at Westview Elementary School, we were very lucky to have a music program there, I played at Mar Vista Middle and High School and now at San Diego State University, so I’ve been playing for a really long time. I started singing when I was little, but I was really shy. I would shut my door and I would sing all day and if I heard my mom coming, I would just be quiet. Then I did a talent show when I was 14, I sang a couple of songs by Norah Jones and Fiona Apple and I thought to myself, “well, that wasn’t that bad,” and have been singing ever since. I don’t play any other instruments. My dad Tim and my twin brother Dylan are the multi-talented ones.

T: Have you always wanted to be a professional musician? 
Teagan: Yes, I would really love to just play out all the time and being able to do it with my family has just been a very amazing thing. I’ve always wanted to play music since I was younger and my parents really pushed that, but I was really into sports. I’ve started playing softball when I was six and I’ve also played volleyball and water polo. But I didn’t like the drama involved in sports and I didn’t really like that, so I said, “Why not play music?” So that just kind of took over whereas before I thought I was going to play softball in college and go to the Olympics, but then I just wasn’t feeling that, so I stuck with music instead.

T: Who are some of your biggest influences? Who would you love to play a show with?
Teagan: For the trumpet, it would be my dad and grandpa. They both have been playing trumpet for a long time. When I first started to play an instrument, I wanted to play the sax because it was so pretty, but it was too expensive to rent. So my mom told me to just play trumpet because I would be just like my dad and my grandpa and I liked the sound of that. Chet Baker is my all time favorite trumpet player who happens to be an amazing vocalist on top of that. I love Miles Davis, Bix Beiderbecke, and Ruby Braff. My influences for singing are, Norah Jones, Ella Fitzgerald is my most favorite old school singer, June Christy, and Etta James. On the more contemporary side, I like Madeleine Peyroux, Melody Gardot, JamieCullum, and Zooey Deschanel. I would love to play with Jaime Cullum and Madeleine Peyroux, she’s fantastic. 

T: Tell me about your college experience and your full calender of constant gigging and school. What is your favorite class?
Teagan: I think I got really used to having a really busy schedule when I was younger. I started playing sports, so I was out all the time. I would have games or concert band performances. My parents were really good at teaching me how to multitask and learn how to manage our time. Sometimes on weekends when I don’t have a gig, I don’t know what to do with myself. My favorite class would probably have to be Jazz Elements or Jazz Theory. Rick Helzer is such a great teacher and I really like having him for Jazz Combo. I was really scared when I made combo #1 because he picks such crazy music and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to keep up. 

T: Do you ever get time to yourself? What are some things you like to do just to unwind?

Teagan: I’m busy a lot, but when I’m not, I love reading, watching movies, I love writing poetry, cooking and eating. If I had one job aside from playing music, I would love to be a food entrepreneur. With food, you get the best of both worlds. You can make it and then you get to enjoy eating it. That’s what I like about music and cooking, it’s very forgiving. You can make a change in a recipe or a song and it’s not that big of a deal, but it’s not the end o the world. 

T: Your album is amazing and moved me to tears. Can you tell me a bit about your experience recording it? What was the easiest and hardest thing you had deal with? How long did it take to finish? What label is it on? 

Teagan: It was amazing. We recorded it at Beat N’ Track Studios in Fallbrook with Dave Blackburn. We had recorded our first album I Can’t Complain at Beat N’ Track before and we were introduced to Dave through Peggy Watson whom I’ met in high school and who also sings on the album. I didn’t realize how much went into recording. We did everything live, I sang some harmonies, which I had never done before.  The hardest thing about recording the album was the trumpet solos because when you’re playing live, you’re just playing it and it’s dispearsed, but this is going on the album and you want that to be perfect, plus my mom, dad, brother, and the producer were all watching me and so I knew I had to get them perfect. The other things was doing my own harmonies, it was really tricky. The easiest part was playing live together. We play together so often that it made it easy to reproduce what we play live for the album. It also helped because we were able to record both, I Can’t Complain and Wonderland in 2 – 3 days. Both albums are on our own label and publishing company which are Jazzomaniac Records and Tootsie Tunes Publishing.

To the Moon and Back - Teagan Taylor Trio

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Photo Credits: Irery Aguirre
T: What has been your favorite gig and why? Are there any local musicians that you love to play with? 
Teagan: Our CD Release show for Woderland. It was at the 10th Ave. Theater and Arts Center. It was definitely by far the best show we’ve ever played. Over 150 people came and every seat was full that we had to bring in extra chairs. It was a free event, we provided food, drinks and our goal was to have people come and enjoy our music and hopefully they would enjoy it so much that they would appreciate us that much more and purchase the CD. We didn’t feel that it was fair to charge people to come see us play and then ask them to buy our CD. We wanted to celebrate the people who have been supporting us from the very beginning. It was so meaningful, my 80 year old grandmother came and it was just very special. Peggy Watson, who produced our album, Robin Adler, David Blackburn, David Beldock, Jerry Gontag, Burnett Anderson, Leonard Patton, Bob Magnuson, Duncan Moore and Ed Kornhauser. They’re all just so amazing and I love playing with them.

T: I noticed your Dad is on your album Wonderland, what is it like working with him? Do you and your dad collaborate collectively or does he let you call most of the shots? Do you have any other family members that play with you?
Teagan: It’s the most amazing thing in the world. When I was younger I’d see a lot of girls who didn’t really have a strong relationship with their dads, they don’t do things together  and I would hear them asking for new cell phones and cars and I just thought to myself, I can make music with my dad! That is such a special thing and a very special bond. There’s nothing better than playing music and creating something so beautiful with the people that you love. I’m so happy to be close with everyone in my family. When we write, we do everything collaboratively, but the lyrics are all my own. I’ll come up with some lyrics and a melody and he’ll hear what is supposed to happen. He’s just a fantastic musician, he didn’t go to school for music, he’s completely self taught and to be able to hear how a song is supposed to sound just based off of my lyrics or a melody is just an amazing gift. He’s definitely the best guitar player I’ve ever known. He’s also great at theory. My boyfriend calls him the Theory Wizard. My brother Dylan also plays in the band with us; he plays the bass which he taught himself how to play so that he could be in the band with us. He’s so modest, but he’s really a brilliant musician.

T: You have a little rap in “Aftertaste”. What was that like? Do you like rap music? What inspired you to do that?
Teagan: When we wrote this song, we had this section that was going to be the solo section and once my dad was doing his solo he mentioned that a rap would sound really nice over that. So my dad inspired me to do it. At first I wanted to have someone who was really good at rapping, but my dad encouraged me to do it myself. So I just wrote the lyrics and it just works out.

T: Wonderland is dedicated to Maxine “Mickey” Cummings, can you tell me a little bit about her and how she has influenced you?

Teagan: When I was in high school we would play the VFW and we would be on the stage, but the bar was around this wall and that’s where everyone would be, so we were basically playing to nobody. Well, one day a family friend of ours came by and told us he worked at Mickey’s Bar and Grill located in Imperial Beach and that he was a drummer and that we should play together. He introduced us to Mickey and she was in her 80’s and is the only person I know that has an almost Jazz jukebox. I actually interviewed her for our local newspaper. Anyway, she liked us so much and she didn’t have a license to play live music but she did it anyway and we played there every Sunday for a long time. We had our first CD release party there and she just kind of gave a home base. She was so sweet and kind and she would let us have anything we wanted to eat after we were done playing. She set up a little table that was reserved just for us after the show, it was just so cool. She would stay for about an hour and half and then she would just leave, but she was really the sweetest thing. When she passed away, it was really hard and she was such a really important person and supported of what we did, so it was hard for us to lose her.

T: Where would you like to be in five years? Do have any big plans for the next year as far as gigging, possibly a new album? 

Teagan: Hmmm, five years… I would like to not be in a long distant relationship with my boyfriend who lives in Brooklyn, New York and we just had our five-year anniversary. Musically speaking maybe go on tour, more albums, growing as a person, learning more and more, and just playing more. I would love to incorporate music with women’s studies and I would really like to help women who have been through tough situations. Music and writing has really helped me in a lot of ways and I would like to pass that on to others. For the next year, we’ll probably put out another album, we definitely have enough material, but we’re not in any rush. The more we play those songs, the tighter they will sound and then on the album it will be that more amazing. We’re going to be going to Rochester, New York. We’ll be there for over a month and I think we have six to seven  gigs planned. I’m also getting that much closer to graduating and that’s a little weird because I just turned 20 and I couldn’t believe it because I still feel like I’m a little kid. 

T: My favorite song is “Fight Or Flight”, what was the inspiration for that song? Do you have any favorites from Wonderland and why?
Teagan: I remember hearing someone say fight or flight and thinking that was such a weird term and the lyrics just came to me. I wrote the lyrics months before we ever sat down and tried it out. It was one of those songs that were begging to be written because the lyrics and the melody were stuck in my head. Some of my favorites are “Aftertaste”, it’s just real different, fun to play and it’s a really rocking tune. I really like “To The Moon And Back” and “Love Me Today”. It’s one of the more serious songs and it comes from a different place from a place in me.

T: Teagan, on behalf of Tunage Magazine, thank you so much for chatting with me and giving our readers a chance to get to know you a bit more.  Before we end our interview, can you tell the readers something personal about yourself?
Teagan: I hate mean people. If I think I might have said something to possibly hurt somebody, it will bother me and will have to go and say I’m sorry. I’m very honest and I don’t like hurting people.

You can catch Teagan at gigs all over San Diego, just jump on over to her website to find out more about her and view her very full schedule at www.teagantaylor.com, you can also see her once a month at Little Italy’s Farmers Market from 9-1:30 and at her next gig on April 20th at Claire De Lunes at 8pm where you can also purchase her CD Wonderland for $15. She is definitely one Jazz act that you don’t want to miss!

Check out the exclusive playlist and poster in out media page!

- Tunage

Written by Lili Mooneyham

 


Bonita Coulson
04/16/2012 3:47am

Great interview! Probably the best I've seen with Teagan. She is a very talented lady, and the band is great. If anybody in the Rochester, NY area sees this you have to make it to one of their gigs there, you won't be disappointed.
~ love ya Teags!

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07/16/2012 5:59pm

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