One half of the songwriting duo Azure Ray, for nearly a decade Maria Taylor has been writing and recording music on a professional level. With the release of her second solo effort Lynn Teeter Flower, Maria ventures further into finding her own voice: capturing a type of songwriting with both a personal and universal appeal. Recently I had the chance to sit down with the songstress before her Toronto gig, to discuss the release and catch up on the latest from the Saddle Creek label:
Scene Point Blank: Your new album, Lynn Teeter Flower, runs a full gamut of sounds expanding from the work you did on your last record, 11:11. When writing was the varied nature a conscious effort or something that happened naturally when going into the studio?
Maria Taylor: I think that a certain type of song lends itself to a certain type of production. Some songs you can tell any extra may take away from it, well others can really improve with more layers. I mean, I would just go into the studio and really whatever happened naturally, happened. I wasn't trying to do so many styles but- well it's how it turned out.
Scene Point Blank: On 11:11 you had worked with two different producers in Mike Mogis (of Bright Eyes) and Andy LeMaster (of Now It's Overhead) who anyone familiar with Saddle Creek would recognize. Keeping with this fashion the new album has multiple producers as well. What did each person bring to the sound?
Maria Taylor: Well, different things. What Jim Eno, who plays drums for Spoon, really added most was the change of the beat. For my demos I'll have my own little playing or whatever, but I think that his drums on those two songs really changed the direction of those songs in general. With this one guy Doug Easley, his stuff sounded really organicâ?¦
Scene Point Blank: He's most known for his help with Cat Power's productionâ?¦
Maria Taylor: Yeah, and with Pavement. He recently worked on Willy Mason's new album and when I heard though songs, every instrument just sounded so true to itself. I really wanted to capture that type of tone. With Andy, he's like my best friend and we work so well together so, umâ?¦I'm sorry, I have an attention problem(laughs) hopefully that answered your question?
Scene Point Blank: (laughs) Mostly. Was there a reason Mike didn't return to help out on this effort?
Maria Taylor: He was doing the Bright Eyes record the whole time. We had plans to work together but Mike's really the busiest man I know. He's the kind of guy who books five things in the amount of time when he could probably only has space for two. The whole time he saying " I could do it," and I thought "how in the world are you going to be able to"â?¦and he was still saying he would until the day I was done. So I was just like "Well Mike, we'll do it next time."
Scene Point Blank: When reading through interviews, a lot of people seem to ask what the difference is when writing without Ordena as opposed to writing with her. Often overlooked, however, is your contribution to Now It's Overhead, fronted by Andy, whose record you both sang and played on last year. Is there any contrast into how you work while doing his stuff, as opposed to how he works when he's on yours?
Maria Taylor: Well, mostly, he's a producer and I'm not. So while he is working on my stuff he is actually changing the sound and varying what the overall songs ends up as. When I'm there working on his, I'll give him feedback or ideas but usually I'm just lending my voice or helping with a part he wants me on. So I'd say he's adding a lot more to my stuff than I'm adding to his.
Scene Point Blank: On the cover of Lynn Teeter Flower, we see the same little mannequin man from 11:11 hiding in the corner. What's the deal with him?
Maria Taylor: (laughs) Well it's suppose to be meâ?¦so it's a she. On 11:11 she's got my necklace onâ?¦I didn't want to put myself on the cover so I just thought I'd get a mannequin and that could be representative. For this one I think I'm just more confident and comfortable with myself in lots of ways, but musically especially. I had always thought it was cheesy to put your picture on the cover but this time after reflecting I changed my mind. This is me, and this is my solo record, and fuck everything I've ever thought about that. At the same time well putting myself out there I didn't want to let go of the past entirely, so the mannequin is in the corner as homage to that and to keep me company.