With the new j:dead EP, Visions of Time now out on Infacted Recordings, we thought we would have a talk with Jay Taylor about his project, the EP and whatever else tickled our fancy.
Jay Taylor, welcome to the descent into darkness that is Onyx.
Let the descent commence!!
You released the brilliant new single, I’ll Wait and though it has a heavy dance beat, it seems a very full of longing in the lyrical content. What was the inspiration behind the song?
Thank you! The whole of the new EP was written whilst we were all in lockdown, and I think it is fair to say that we have all felt a sense of “longing” over this time period with restrictions. In terms of my own writing style, I do like a mixture between ambiguity and direct content as when I listen to music myself I enjoy having my own take on what I hear and what it means. That for me is half the fun in connecting with a song – you connect with it on your own level. So in this case the longing can be connected to anyone or anything you love or enjoy doing. In my specific case, my partner lives in a different country and it has been extremely hard realizing you are no longer in control of things that affect your emotions.
Gone were the days that I could simply “hop on a plane” and see her, and if you wanted to do that there was a very clinical process to follow. Not a normal process or feeling to have when you just want to see someone! The overarching theme in I’ll wait, is “if” we can all wait for things to change. Again this theme is throughout the whole EP and provides its title – Vision of time. Time can change everything for the better, worse, or for change’s sake – and we have no control over this.
So, would you say that covid has had an impact on the new EP Vision Of Time, as well? A lot of the lyrical content is about time, waiting and unable to move forward.
In short yes – but for the better and or worse depending on how you look at it. Personally my life has changed a lot over the last few years, and then this was compounded with being stuck inside. Now, my mantra for j:dead was that i would always keep writing, i would take every opportunity if i could see benefit in doing it. So obviously I have had huge amounts of time indoors where I wanted to feel productive – creating music filled this gap for me, and is now part of my weekly life, and I really do enjoy it.
The overall “time” concept for the EP isn’t so much about being “unable to do things we want” – although that is one of the emotions encapsulated within it. But, I have come to realize that over time anything that you believe couldn’t happen in a million years – could happen! This break in normality I think has shocked our perception of time, and time can change things in our lives and we have no control over it. I myself like to be in control, but I have had to deal (like everyone else) with the punches and gifts that time provides. I’m trying my best not to pun a Forrest Gump quotation here, but you never know what is around the corner.
In the dark of space, no one can hear you scream, so puns are acceptable. In that vein, was it also covid that drove you to make a video with a bunch of dummies?
Ah the pun gate has been opened!! Yeah covid did play a small part in having dummies in the last video. But I have a great partnership with Mark from Mondo-Cheapo who does all my video content. Mark has a great visual mind, and with the location we were using, covid restrictions alongside the images of “replicants” it seemed fitting to have these “unfinished replicants” in the video. Mark and I are currently working on ideas for the next single/video, as i want to ensure that each single release had visual content alongside it
The Teknovore remix of I’ll Wait is stellar and the Lights Of Eurphoria version is beautiful. How did they become involved?
I was very pleased to have these talented artists contribute to the single release! So George (TeknoVore) and I had been working together on some collaborations for some time. Obviously, shortly before I’ll wait was released TeknoVore and j:dead released the collaboration track Tearing me apart. I really enjoy George’s production work so I just had to ask him about a remix for I’ll wait. Hopefully in time everyone can hear some of the other tracks we have been working on as well – as there is more to release. The Lights of Euphoria remix came via Torben from Infacted. Torben has been a big supporter of me since I signed with them and it was a real pleasure to have them take on my track as well. Lets hope you can hear j:dead return the favor to them in 2022!
We would love to hear those remixes! You also have more guests contributing mixes to the EP, including the wonderful Rotersand and Nature Of Wires. Does it feel a little mind blowing to know these people and have them remixing your work?
Well, 2022 will be a very busy year for j:dead releases. I already have a further 8 songs which in some way feature j:dead fully complete and waiting release dates plus another 3 in the works or due to start. On top of this I am already in final production stages for my 3rd release which hosts 7 original j:dead tracks. I have been constantly working on music and working with other artists which I really do enjoy. I have been in this scene since I was 17 years old, and what really blows my mind at times is the diversity of people behind the artist name. I think gone are the days of “fan-boy-vibes” when it comes to working with most artists (as i either know/met them or know them by association), but it is an amazing feeling knowing that j:dead is being accepted amongst them. Each remix on the EP is fantastic in its own right!
Talking about Torben Schmidt and Infacted Records, what is it like signed to a label with someone at the helm who is so well respected in the electro-industrial scene? How has it affected you as an artist?
The biggest thing for me with Infacted/Torben is knowing that I have someone who has my back. Since the very beginning Torben has always been so supportive of my music, and from that moment has made sure I have a platform to continue making and releasing music. Without a doubt this has allowed me to open doors and reach a wider audience than I would have been able to on my own. There are many artists doing things on a DIY basis at the moment and for some it really works for them.
But for me, I want to use my time in the most creative way possible. Don’t get me wrong – I have to do a HUGE amount of my own “admin” work when it comes to releases with marketing and so on. But I am a big believer in having a great team around you who have experience. Everyone who I work with is better than me at doing what they do. This gives me more time to focus on writing as well as living my life (with a full time job, 2 young children, bills etc etc). I’m proud to be an Infacted artist – and I owe a lot to Torben for believing in me.
Often artists don’t get the support from labels that they need to grow, which is possibly why Infacted are so respected. Also that many fans don’t realise that most acts in the gothic/synth/industrial cannot make enough money from the music they create and it is a labour of love for them and a catharsis, would you agree?
I think it’s all about balance. Putting the sole responsibility to grow on one side of the business relationship will never work. Not unless someone has a HUGE amount of money to throw into marketing – and then the artist most probably ends up in debt to the label anyway and has to pay it back. Everyone has a responsibility to play their part, and if everyone is moving in the same direction with the same level of effort then you can achieve better “results”. This is how it is working for me at the moment and something that I strive to continue.
Torben will always be respected because he is honest, hard-working and trusts his instincts – by far he is a person which you feel like you want the opportunity to work with. Yes it is very hard for any individual to make a living from music alone but i think it depends on a range of elements – but most importantly your own personal choices in regards to the life you want to lead. For me, I want to ensure that i don’t have to worry about money or question myself in regards to how i spend it. Therefore a “9-5” job works for me because i know how much money i get each month, i know how many hours i have to work, and I don’t have to be concerned in finding the “next contract/invoice etc”.
I believe (and there ARE good examples of this) that if anyone wanted to live off a life in music they could. But it would have a big impact on their lifestyle as well as having to diversify what they can offer to people. I see many artists offering their talents for mixing, sound production, mastering, video editing, artwork etc etc etc. And these people deserve huge credit for achieving their goals through hard work – but long gone are the days where you make your own music, it sells and provides you an income to live off. Also I do think that “audiences” are becoming more aware of this as well.
Social media and DIY artists have flooded the interwebs with their own personal stories and goals. This exposure goes beyond the artist/ band name – as the people themselves become the brand. And when people become the brand, audiences become more aware of the mechanics behind the band name. As for j:dead, I make music because it makes me happy. If it makes others happy along my journey then I couldn’t ask for much more than that.
I have to ask, you said you have two kids… do they like dad’s music?
Yes the kids love it! Music is a big part of their lives and they enjoy all types of music. They usually are the first set of ears to hear any song I write, as I play it on the car stereo on the way to school etc. It’s helpful to know you have a catchy chorus when a 6 and 4 year old can sing it back after hearing it once. My favorite part of the kids listening to my music is the “misheard” lyrics. J:dead songs in my house usually get referred to by their misheard name!
Honestly, who doesn’t like a misheard lyric or two to spice things up. You said earlier that you started your career in music quite young, at 17 and in this time includes working with Tactical Sekt and Tyske Ludder. How do you think being in these acts has helped you grow as a musician?
Well, in complete honesty I don’t think I would have the life I have today (let alone just music career wise) without those 2 acts and the amazing friends behind them. Anthony from TS took a wild punt on me playing drums for his band. I was young, inexperienced and didn’t even know the genre/scene. But it worked extremely well. Without this my life and the people in my life would be completely different.
The same goes with Tysker Ludder. Both of these acts have trusted and allowed me to grow as a live musician, and embraced my energy alongside it. I have never created any music for either of these acts so I cannot connect my own writing experience to theirs, but like I have said before. You can’t do everything on your own, and via these acts i have met some amazing and talented individuals i can now call my friends – and some of these friends are integral to the overall j:dead final product. And the same goes for my partner as well. We first met when we toured together with Tactical Sekt and Grendel (she played keys in Grendel). I owe a lot to the people who trusted me, as it has made me who I am.
So what music was young Jay into before he joined an industrial band?
ALL THE METAL!!! I got into metal metal music when i was 14, and throughout my teenage years it evolved into “the heavier the better”. At first it was bands like Slipknot and Mudvayne. Then it was Meshuggah, the it was bands like Decapitated, Car Bomb and The Berzerker. I rarely listened to anything else up until the age of 17/18. I always appreciated dance music – but at the time it was a guilty pleasure. Joining Tactical Sekt helped me broaden and appreciate electronic music. It helped me discover that aggressive or emotional music isn’t just captured it all out guitar riffs and guttural vocals. Metal music is still a big part of my life, and I hope in a way this comes across in my writing style for j:dead.
So once Captain Metalhead of the HMS Squealing Guitar Riff but since then what you listen to or find yourself drawn to?
My normal “go to” genres now are a mixture! Pop, dance, Metal, 80’s, Industrial, synthpop, Synthwave, prog. Its safe to say that my musical taste moves within my two main focuses of “Electronic” music or “Guitar/Rock” music, but long gone are the days where I have a criteria of what it must be. In simple terms – if its a good track, then thats what it is. It doesn;t have to fit into many other boxes than that!
I think you can see that in your song composition now, that your musical tastes have broadened.
You said you have finished the next EP and already working on more songs. What is in the future for Jay Taylor and J:dead?
I hope to have another EP out by the end of the year. This will host 7 original tracks as well as a host of remixes again for physical copies sold, plus alllll the collaboration work I have been doing with other acts. I understand this is VERY fast paced for releases and that comes with its benefits, but in all honesty I hope that this pace can slow slightly with the introduction of more live shows. The live element of j:dead is very important to me, and I want to invest more time in this as well as writing. For me as an individual I will continue with drumming for my other live acts as well as continuing to remind myself I need to keep doing things that make me happy – not what is just expected of me.