VH1 “You Oughta Know” winner, Russell Taylor, speaks on new album “War of Hearts”…
W hat inspires your artistry? Is there a legendary figure you resemble?
I am inspired by many things and many people. The Harlem Renaissance with artists like Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin and singers like Nina Simone, Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder and Foreigner have all inspired me. Even current artists like Beyoncé, Kanye West and Lady Gaga have inspired me because all of them think outside the box. I am the sum of all I see, hear, read and experience. That is the beauty of Art.
How did it feel to win VH1’s “You Oughta Know” Contest and how has it propelled your career?
It was an awesome moment for me. It meant that I was reaching people outside of my usual zone. It was a tremendous boost… Folks who may not have seen or heard of me have become #souljers. It is an awesome feeling.
What was your experience performing on VH1’s “Big Morning Buzz?”
It was surreal! Years before, I was backstage in the same studio with another artist on TRL, and I remembered thinking “man… one day I hope to play here.” And that day came… I had a moment looking out onto Times Square during my sound check. I look forward to more of those moments.
“War of Hearts,” was the winning song and video, what inspired you to write it?
I was writing with my friend and producer Tim Kvasnosky in his LA Studio, and we pulled it out of the ether – the TV show “Scandal,” each of our personal experiences and our friends; they were all influences.
How long have you been singing and when did you decide you wanted to make a career of it?
I’ve been singing all my life! As a kid – I was a ham for the stage. It wasn’t until I was in undergrad that I realized that people looked forward to hearing me sing. I am still not entirely sure I believe that they do – #artistscurse.
So you have traveled all over the world. What is your favorite city and why?
Paris is my favorite – it was my best feeling show. I gave into the audience; I gave into the moment; I gave into the art. I have been chasing that dragon ever since!
Which artist, out now, you have a musical crush on and would like to bring into your music world?
I have a few – in no particular order – Adele, Lianne La Havas, Laura Mvula and Alice Smith.
You have shared the stage with many big-names. As an opening act, who was your favorite artist?
That is too hard to choose. They were all very gracious and welcoming. I will say that I have made some great friends from these opportunities.
What award could you win that makes you say, “I’ve made it?” What steps have you taken to accomplish this?
A Grammy would be a nice start! Hahahahaha ( but that is regarding music. I got my eyes set on a few others too. I am a member of NARAS – every eligible musician should join because your vote and voice really do matter. Being a member of NARAS is 1/3 of the battle – doing the work is another and assembling a strong team is the final 1/3.
What is your expectation for the new album “War of Hearts?”
It’s just the right amount of polish, with just the right amount of raw and it is all my truth. The album is my truth about love, life and the pursuit of happiness. It is my expectation to have my record appeal to the masses!
How do you give back? How do you inspire people coming behind you?
I am a part of a network of artists that hustle and support one another. As other artists have helped and continue to help me, I always pay it forward. I also work with a few charities that support young creatives of color, as well as fight against bullying.
Who would you like to shout-out to?
I’d like to shout out my #souljers and dream chasers. Once you identify your dreams, never give up. Your dreams are your life force.
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Copyright 2014 USL Magazine