June 18, 2014

Photo Credit:

Ben Taylor

Location: Tisbury, MA


Artist’s Work:

Ben Taylor


Tisbury, MA



Ben Taylor, born in 1977, is a musician and actor.  The Ben Taylor Band released their debut album, “Famous Among the Barns,” in 2003. Subsequently, Ben released a solo album “Another Run Around the Sun.” This album, more acoustic in nature, was in line with Ben’s family roots, and featured his sister Sally Taylor as well as Kevin Bacon. In the last decade, Ben has released several EPs and albums including:  “The Legend of Kung Folk” (Sun Pedal Recordings, 2012), the first of which to be released on a Label.

Consenses Interview with Sally Taylor:

What made you want to participate in the project?
It was a good opportunity to make some music that was an observation
and didn’t involve my own self judgement. It wasn’t really about me or
attached to me or expressing me really but rather it was about me
listening to something I had committed to listening to, an image you gave
me. I didn’t pick it out. I merely committed to being the image’s
audience and interpreter. It was a relief in that my interpretation didn’t
get subjected to the same scrutiny and self criticism as it does in my
normal writing. I saw it sort of like and assignment: “What is the song of this
tree?” “What is it singing and how do you interpret it?” rather than “How
are YOU feeling about this tree and how do you see it.” It’s more “How is
this tree feeling?”

So you’re identifying as the tree. 
Yeah. I was not there to analyze myself or scrutinize my perspective in any
way. I was just listening to the story of the tree and like a stenographer,
recording the sounds.

So did that feel freeing?
Yeah. It was like a free song. A song I got to make without being my own
sort of neurotic police enforcement. I wasn’t considering an audience, just
being in observance of the voice of the tree.

Who was seeing this image?
I was but I was listening to what the tree had to say and laying that down.
I was more of a stenographer. A vibrational Stenographer. I was
recording the sound of the roots descending down. I was recording the
sound of the branches reaching up

Why did you choose to make this an instrumental?
I had lyrics written at first:
“If you want to get up you got to go down, If you want to get high you got
to dig deep, if you want a big smile you got to not frown, and if you
gonna be _____ you got to be sweet” It was like the story of the tree. A metaphor for it’s motto. You got to have deep roots in order to go up to
the sky. It’s the song of the tree.

How did you build the song? 
I really sort of just built the song around the tree. It was this big huge thick
tree. So I started building it with these thick deep low sub base tones and
by the time it started sounding like the picture looked it didn’t want the
words any more so I took them out.
The lyrics came first. Then I built the root system next with (deep thick low
base tones and then the sound began to represent what was outside and
around the tree’s structure and got into the ploom of the whole image. It
became very cosmic. It gave me quick access to the stars going through
the roots. by the time it started sounding like the picture looked it didn’t
want the words any more so I took them out.)

What part of the image informed your interpretation the most:
The big hump that it looks like it’s sitting on. It’s like it’s not even sitting on a
flat piece of ground it’s like there’s such a huge amount of tree
underneath it. It’s what you don’t see that makes me feel like that’s what I
wanted to personify with the music.
I imagine it looks just like it does on top just a huge thick tangle of
subterranean wood and then where ever the roots ends it goes down
energetically below that into the earth and where ever the branches end
up top they go upward into the sky and maybe they even meet up again
somewhere down the line.

How do you normally create music?
Normally I just wait until I just find something that wants to be expressed
musically as a song and I put whatever part down that I can whether it’s
guitars vocal or lyrics and I just sort of flesh it out. I write a story out of my
idea. For example: It could be a guitar part that starts the same place
that it ends up, that turns up as a little wheel that feeds itself around and
then It wants to have words or notes that go with it or maybe I’ll find myself
saying something in conversation like “You got to set a good bird free”
and realize that’s a great song idea so I’ll realize OK that’s got to be the
center of the chorus. The idea “You got to set a good bird free” Then I’ll
just work with the way the words sound to make them scan right and
rhyme right and then I’ll fill in what ever blanks are there to be filled in

How was this different?
There was a lot more room in terms of interpretation. I didn’t have to use
words or use things that would make it turn into one thing or another. But I
was really just assigning sounds to the shapes. Rather than taking an idea
and turning it into a story. I was just taking this collection of shapes and
putting them into a tapestry of sound.

What tools, strategies did you use to assign different shapes their sounds?
Just intuition. The big stuff wanted more gravity so it wanted to be low
and warm and dark and the lighter stuff, the shapes of sky for example
wanted to be brighter and higher and cooler and loose. And there are
some shapes which just seemed sharp and and they wanted quick
descending wamp wamp wamp wamp sounds and some of them want
descending “woooohhhhh” and “bjjjjewwww”

And then there’s a bit in the song where it gets all of the sudden it breaks
into a completely different rhythm. it gets heavily swung and breaks into a
whole different pattern and that was the attempt to express where the
tree leaves itself and a the drum rolls come in and that’s where you get
outside the boundaries of the tree itself. It’s where the tree enters it’s
energetic life. Where it exits in the air around it.

Did you enjoy this project?
I think that it’s a really cool thing to participate in because you really do
have important parallels that get drawn between all these different art
forms and people don’t acknowledge the similarities as much as they
should. I tend to think that I’m so unvisual that if somebody asks me to draw
something I’m just incapable. I can’t make something that I see in my
minds eye on the page but this is a cool thing for a musician to be able to
say OK I want to make this photograph out of music I want to make this
image out of music. It maybe even made me feel a little more confident
about my understanding of lines because to think of them in this
language that I understand rather than this mysterious terrifying thing
really just made the whole thing easier.

Sal: I just think that we have a specific niche that we get to fill with being
musicians and a way of expressing our interpretations. Then if I say explain
“Tree” to me, you might sing that song. And I might sing a completely sing a
completely different thing and the painter, hearing my song about “Tree”
might paint something completely different than what they’d paint to your
“Tree” but this whole project is basically an giant acknowledgment of our
misunderstandings of one another’s perception and an appreciation for
one another’s point of view.


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