COVER STORY – FEBRUARY 2014: Maria Taylor’s Balancing Act

MariaTaylor-1The past few years have been a whirlwind for singer-songwriter Maria Taylor. She packed up her belongings and drove from California to settle in Alabama, had a baby and more recently got married.

All the while, Taylor, who is half of the indie pop duo Azure Ray with Orenda Fink, has been writing, recording and releasing music. Her 2011 release ‘Overlook’ was one of the best albums of the year and now the new mother and newlywed follows that hallmark album up with her fifth solo full length album ‘Something About Knowing.’

The 10-track album is filled with of all kinds of beautiful sounds – distorted guitars to mandolins to synths and electronica, a balancing act of indie pop and country-folk.

“Well, on the seven songs I recorded with Mike Mogis, I let him decide on what instruments should go where. I gave him demos so that he would know the general direction, but he’s next level. I trust whatever he thinks is best for the song.”

Some songs were written and recorded while pregnant and some afterwards and it’s no surprise these songs are glowing with bliss, hope and anticipation. Her son Miles even makes his recoding debut at 16 months old on the bouncing “Up All Night.”

“Yep! That was Miles. Well, at 16 months, he already has great rhythm and loves to strum the guitar. I’m waiting for that declaration to become a musician when he’s 4 and I’ll say “Great! Here’s the set list, son… let’s get on the road:”

Taylor also keeps another family member close by when making music; her brother has played bass on almost every song from all of her solo records as well as other instruments.

“Out of everyone I’ve ever met in this big world, I would pick my brother and sister to tour with. (Unfortunately with schedules and babies… it can’t always work out). We don’t really have sibling rivalry in my family. I mean, we get annoyed with each other from time to time, but we are each other’s biggest fans.”MariaTaylor-2

Scheduling is not only an issue with touring but for making a new record. Taylor had a balancing act of being pregnant, delivering a baby, making wedding plans and all the other day to day life jobs to contended with while trying to make a new album/

“This record took a lot longer to write. I had to learn how to work in spurts. ‘Overlook’ had a raw sound, I wanted to do as much live as we could. I wanted it to have a southern rock element to it. With ‘Something About Knowing,’ I wanted to take the sounds and styles of everything I had ever done and combine them.”

Taylor has clearly accomplished so much in the past few years, not only personally but professionally. She is down-to earth and balanced, whether it is with her solo music or with longtime collaborator Orneida in Azure Ray.

“I love my solo project because I have the freedom to write and record different kinds of songs. There is no real aesthetic to my solo work, it’s all over the map. Each record has a mixture of rock songs, country songs, folk songs, pop songs. Also, with my solo work, I often get my family to play with me which makes it even more special. With Azure Ray it is more focused and has more limitations, but I love that about it. It’s something really precious to me. It feels more refined and it represents my friendship with Orenda.

Taylor does have the luxury of making her own choices when it comes to her music. However, being a working musician and a having a family does come with a cost, both literally and figuratively.

“At this point it’s [music and family] the only thing I know and love. As I get older, and now having a child, touring gets harder and harder. It takes a lot out of you. I would like to do more work from home. Writing for movies and TV shows. It’s hard to make a living making music these days. Internet is awesome for exposure, but terrible for album sales!”



Sat, Jan 25 Birmingham, ALc The Bottletree
Fri, Jan 31 Atlanta, GA The Earl
Sat, Feb 01 Carrboro, NC Cat’s Cradle
Sun, Feb 02 Washington, DC Rock and Roll Hotel
Wed, Feb 05 Philadelphia, PA Boot & Saddle
Thu, Feb 06 Brooklyn, NY Knitting Factory
Fri, Feb 07 Cambridge, MA Middle East
Sat, Feb 08 Ithaca, NY The Haunt
Sun, Feb 09 Toronto, CA The Drake Hotel
Tue, Feb 11 Chicago, IL Beat Kitchen