Interview with British blues rock guitarist and singer, Joanne Shaw Taylor

Interview by Mark Dean

Antihero Magazine‘s Mark Dean recently had the opportunity to chat with blues rock guitarist Joanne Shaw Taylor about her upcoming album, Wild, and much more!

Joanne Shaw Taylor

Photo: Christie Goodwin

Why pick Nashville for recording the album, as it is obviously a location more suited to another musical genre than the blues?

The studio (Grand Victor) was chosen by my producer Kevin Shirley. He recently recorded a Joe Bonamassa album there and had a great experience, plus the musicians he wanted to use specifically for my album we’re all Nashville-based. It’s obviously got a rich connection with country music, but it’s just generally a very musical town.

What did producer Kevin Shirley contribute to the JST sound? Did you consciously decide to take your sound in a different direction or was that just something that evolved naturally from working together?

I think Kevin had a pretty clear vision of what he wanted from this album, which I think was that he didn’t want to take me too far away from what I’d done previously, just improve and expand upon it. He knows me as an artist well. He knows and is sympathetic to the fact that I’m a blues/rock artist and on one hand I don’t like to stray too far from that but on the other hand I, particularly as a singer, like to push myself a little to find material that’s not the standard 12 bar, e.g. “Wild is the Wind.”

Who played on the album with you? Was it the regular band or musicians from Nashville? If different, can you please introduce them to me.

The band we’re all Nashville-based. Drums: Greg Morrow, Bass: Michael Rhodes, Guitar: Rob Mcnelley, and on Keys: Steve Nathan.

Did the environment cause you to approach the songwriting process in a different way? i.e., as an influence?

Not really. I’m pretty used to writing anywhere. Home, on the road, etc. That said, obviously, since we we’re writing with Nashville-based writers, the songs took on a slightly different sound to my previous albums that I had written myself.

If you could go back in time and give your younger self one piece of advice, what would that be?

Worry less. I’m still working on that. Just focus on being the best you can be and work hard. Surround yourself with the right people and the rest will fall into place.

Joanne Shaw Taylor

Photo: Christie Goodwin

What was your first personal recollection/introduction to music?

My dad was a huge music fan, so around the age of 13 I started digging into his record collection. Predominately a lot of blues and classic rock.

Was it difficult to break into the industry, and are you still facing barriers?

At first yes, I was a 14-year-old school girl from Solihull, so as you can imagine trying to convince gig promoters I was the leader of a competent Blues band was something of a challenge.

I wouldn’t say I’m facing too many challenges now. I’ve managed to build something of a steady career for myself and I have the right team around me to help maintain that. That said, the monarch of “FEMALE” guitar player is getting somewhat old now. I’m a guitar player. My being female doesn’t affect my tone too much and I’m obviously a female so it having to be mentioned constantly is somewhat annoying and pointless.

Have you had to fight record labels to avoid being falsely packaged?

Yes. That’s probably been one of the most annoying things. I’ve always had quite a clear view of who I am and how I wanted to be marketed. I’m still running into that as people do tend to have ideas of how they think or want you to be packaged, but by and large I just ignore it and do my thing.

Joanne Shaw Taylor

Photo: Christie Goodwin

Personal career highs and lows to date?

Highs, making this album with Kevin, making my previous albums, all the touring I’ve been able to do. Lows, all the stuff that goes on behind the scenes to make it all happen… it’s a lot of time away from friends and family, relationships suffer.

Do you still feel that you have a lot to prove?

I hope so. I want to keep improving. I still think I could be a better player, singer, songwriter and performer. I’d like to keep working for many years to come so I think re-inventing yourself every now and again and pushing yourself is important. if for no other reason than to keep it interesting for myself.

Do you have any interests/hobbies outside music or is it all encompassing in your life?

Pretty much! Any time off is usually spent catching up with friends, family and my boyfriend. I love to cook and am an avid reader.

Finally, you have done many interviews but who would you like to sit down and interview, why, and what would you ask them?

Tough one as a lot of my heroes are gone. I’d have loved to interview Prince. I have no idea what I’d have asked him. His work ethic always fascinated me as much as his music… perhaps I’d have started there.

About Author

I'm a 40+ music fan. Fond mostly of rock and metal - my staple musical food delights. Originally from Northern Ireland, I am now based in the UK-Manchester. I have a hectic musical existence with regular shows and interviews. Been writing freelance for five years now with several international websites. Passionate about what I do, I have been fortunate already to interview many of my all-time musical heroes. My music passion was first created by seeing Status Quo at the tender age of 15. While I still am passionate about my rock and metal, I have found that with age my taste has diversified so that now I am actually dipping into different musical genres and styles for the first time. Photo: Mark Dean with Jeff Kendrick of Devildriver - Photography by Olga Kuzmenko