Melbourne’s Jan Taylor dishes on music, influences, and teases upcoming releases.
Melbourne-based solo artist Jan (Jonah) Taylor has recently released two new singles, Tone Deaf and Undone, from his upcoming collection of songs Flashbang Mannequin.
With more new releases on the horizon, Jan Taylor sat down and had a chat with his brother, content creator Campbell (@wakeupcampbell).
The pair discussed their shared upbringing, Jan’s extensive list of influences and the creative process of making music as a solo artist.
Campbell: Jonah. It’s good to have you here mate. How you going?
Jan Taylor: Yeah good thanks. How you doing?
Campbell: Great mate. So where should we start?
Jan Taylor: Oooo. Probably my name I guess hah. I’m Jonah but when it comes to my music I go by Jan Taylor. That’s Jan pronounced Jan. Oh wait, that’s not going to make any sense when written hahah. It’s like a Y sound. Yarn I guess? It’s Dutch. Jan is my middle name, which was also my Pop’s name.
Campbell: So what first got you into music? What were your inspirations?
Jan Taylor: To start it was definitely Dad and his music. Growing up we moved around every couple of years because of his job. Hong Kong. Taiwan. New Zealand. Australia. Vietnam. And all throughout that constant state of change he played a lot of different music that really stuck with me. Dad got me addicted to Gorillaz, AC/DC and Aerosmith when I was really young. And Foo Fighters, Nirvana, Oasis, Muse, The Killers. All these bands were looming big over my childhood. I have a very clear memory of the first time I heard Monkey Wrench (Foos) back when I was like eight. That song really opened up a lot of doors for me musically.
Campbell: I remember seeing Muse together in Hong Kong in 2009 for our first concert, and then Gorillaz not long after in Auckland.
Jan Taylor: Absolutely legendary.
Campbell: Sure was. What about music from your teenage years or early 20s?
Jan Taylor: Pink Floyd is easily my number one. Nothing even comes close cause The Wall and Dark Side changed my life hahah. Gang of Youths, INXS, Radiohead, and Mac Miller would also be up there as favourites.
I take influence from a range of stuff. I am in awe of Sam Fender. Not only is he a lethal guitarist, but he writes beautifully powerful lyrics too.
The Smiths and Joy Division influence my bass lines, but so do Royal Blood and Queens of the Stone Age and they’re vastly different. Dave Grohl would probably be another inspiration when it comes to vocals and just all round musicianship I reckon. He is the GOAT.
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Campbell: He is. What’s an experience that’s had a prominent impact on you and your music?
Jan Taylor: Tone Deaf is the big one. That was the band I was in back in high school in Vietnam. The song I made is about them. Tone Deaf was just a brilliant combination of mates from different backgrounds all sharing an incredible love for music. Because we were all expats, and expat families move around a lot, band members changed over the years. But the energy and passion for the music never changed. Our first drummer was from the UK. Our second drummer was Korean, our pianist was Thai, bassist was French. I’m Aussie hah. That experience formed who I am and so Tone Deaf the song was written during lockdown after I’d gone from living with you and the family in Vietnam to living entirely on my own in Australia during lockdown. I was just constantly reminiscing about those teenage years with my band mates.
Campbell: Building on that answer then. What are some of the key themes throughout your music and lyrics?
Jan Taylor: Nostalgia about the past, fear for the future. There’s a recurring theme of identity and working out my place in the world. Thoughts about expectations and reputation. And all of that overthinking was fueled by isolation. A lot of my songs were written during lockdown when I was living on my own with my greyhound, Prince. So I feel there’s a central theme of being lost in your own thoughts. There wasn’t much else to do but overthink life I guess.
That’s not to say all the songs have an oozing feeling of dread or isolation. Far from it. I write what’s on my mind. Sometimes it’s just nonsense about garlic bread or Shrek or my dog haha
Campbell: So what does your creative process look like?
Jan Taylor: Well as you know, I do everything myself. Playing. Singing. Recording. Mixing. Mastering. And releasing. And I have my lil setup at my desk where I’m surrounded by my guitars and keyboards and drum kit. I’ve got posters of my favourite bands and a weekly planner to keep me focussed. And I sit and usually start with some bass or an interesting guitar riff and go from there. I just do what I reckon sounds good.
And that process has been going on for a good 3ish years where I’ve now got a lil bit of a collection of songs waiting to be released
Campbell: And that’s what Flashbang Mannequin is? That collection of songs you’ve built up?
Jan Taylor: Yeah. Calling it an album doesn’t quite feel right hahah. Albums are way more focussed I think. Like usually you have it in mind that you’re out to make an album when you start making stuff. But I’ve just been making random songs and now I’ve got a solid 15 I really love so I’m starting to release them.
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Campbell: And is there a set release for the entire collection?
Jan Taylor: Tone Deaf and Undone are out now. I’ve got two more singles I’ll be releasing in the coming weeks. Then by the time those are out, there’ll be another couple until eventually I’ve released enough to be labelled as the Flashbang Mannequin collection.
Campbell: Sounds good. Can’t wait to hear it all.
Jan Taylor: Thanks bro.
Campbell: So any final things to add?
Jan Taylor: Yeah. A massive thank you for all the support I’ve had so far. Each and every person that listens to, likes, shares, or even thinks about my music is a legend. You are all absolutely incredible and make each and every thing I do a million times more fulfilling.
And a final thing, my Instagram is @thejantaylor. That’s the best place to keep up with any news I have. There’s a link in my bio there for music, other social platforms, my TikTok. All that jazz. Any announcements I have in regards to live gigs, new releases or anything at all will be on my Insta first so that’s the place to be.
I’m going to make something as good as the Shrek 2 soundtrack hahaha
Wait and see.