Singer, song-writer Claire Anne Taylor (photo credit Erin Lee), will be sharing her soulful folk songs with the Bellingen Shire this Saturday 3rd February as part of the ‘Festival of Small Halls‘. The Festival of Small Halls is a series of tours that takes the best folk and contemporary acoustic artists performing at two of our country’s largest festivals, and sends them on the road to tiny halls in communities all over Australia.
“Taylor crafts songs that capture both the beautiful and dark elements of the human experience. Her music ranges from warm, mesmerising ballads to epic anthems. With vivid storytelling, colossal vocals and a powerfully captivating stage presence, her live shows leave the audience in no doubt that they have just witnessed something extraordinary.”
We have taken this unique opportunity to interview Claire Anne Taylor about the current tour, her debut album ‘Elemental’, released in 2016 and what’s next.
Claire you were born in Tasmania. Can you describe your earliest musical influences? Has your rural upbringing had an enormous influence on your musical development?
I learnt a lot from my family. My brothers taught me guitar chords from an early age and I always remember having music in the house. My parents are big music lovers and they raised us on a healthy dose of early folk and rock music like Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, JJ Cale, and Lou Reed.
Growing up in a remote, bush setting in Tasmania has certainly had an influence on my musical development. As a child, I always felt like I had freedom and space to express myself and this allowed me to explore my creativity from an early age. In my early teens, I recall my Mum saying once when I was feeling a bit angsty that I should go out into the bush and scream my lungs out. Always having the freedom to express myself had a big impact on both my personal and musical development.
You are from a family of musicians. You were obviously surrounded by music from a very early age. Can you describe your childhood?
My earliest childhood memories are of nights beside our open fire, listening to my Mum singing while my Dad strummed the guitar and the bare feet of my brothers and sister stomped the wooden floor boards. Music was the heart of our home, and I remember thinking that it must have a magic of its own, the way it brings people together and stirs such intense emotions in us. Everyone in my family plays an instrument and sings and we are all very passionate about music.
At what age did you start composing?
I didn’t start writing my own songs until I was around 15 years old. I always loved writing stories but I was too busy singing the songs of other artists I loved up till that point and then something shifted and I felt the need to start expressing myself through songwriting.
Your debut album ‘Elemental’ has been received extremely well- can you give us some background about the tracks, the significance of the title and what the album means to you?
The songs that make up my debut album were mostly written in the last couple of years leading up to recording them, but in some ways I have been working my way towards that first album for my whole life through all the stories and experiences I have collected along the way.
I had a heap of songs written and it was really a process of working out what songs would feel right together as a body of work and what songs would allow me to take the listener on a journey. The title ‘Elemental’ is reflective of my connection to the powerful forces of nature.
You are generously giving your time to the ‘Festival of Small Halls’- is the concept of taking your music to smaller communities an important one to you? Describe your motivations for being involved.
Absolutely. Being from a small, bush community myself, it has always been a dream of mine to travel to other small communities and bring live music to places that don’t often get it. Every night we are welcomed into a new community with warmth and kindness and it feels so bloody special to be a part of the Festival of Small Halls.
Is there another album in the pipeline?
There sure is! After the Small Halls Festival I am going to focus on finishing the recording of my second album and releasing and touring the album throughout Australia. 2018 will be an exciting year of releasing new material for me.
So any other major plans for the future?
I would love to take my music overseas in the future. In particular, I have my sights set on Europe and Canada. I would also really love to keep touring through remote places around Australia.
The Festival of Small Halls is produced by Woodfordia Inc in partnership with many other wonderful Australian festivals, regional partners and great lovers and supporters of folk and contemporary acoustic music. Claire Anne Taylor will be performing at the Eastern Dorrigo Community Hall, Ulong on Saturday February 3rd. For more details and tickets.