By Jessica Jordan-Wrench
Chris Taylor is a prolific talent, almost absurdly so: multi-instrumentalist (notably, in the wonderful Grizzly Bear), co-founder of Terrible Records, producer, collaborator and now a solo artist, flourishing under the moniker CANT.
There seems to be no evidence however, of the weary arrogance one might expect with such achievements. Rather, Taylor devours each challenge with the effortless relish of an exuberant youth. He refers to the (some might say daunting) task of producing and releasing a series of split 7” as “a fun project”. Writing music for film is also “fun”, as is playing live. This infectious enthusiasm extends to his boundless curiosity ( “I just take the opportunity to absorb everything!”) and thirst for new experiences. Somewhat like the hero of a child’s epic picture book: visiting far-off lands, building rocket ships and defeating monsters - whilst inexplicably returning home in time for tea.
His debut solo album, “Dreams Come True”, is out now via Terrible Records in North America and internationally via Warp. Here’s what he told us:
What drove the decision to release a solo album?
I just had songs I wanted to write. I guess I just wanted to write songs and put them out on a record. Yeah, I dunno [laughs]: it just seemed the natural progression after that!
I understand you are releasing it on your own label, Terrible Records.
Yep, that’s correct. And on Warp in Europe.
What’s the relationship to Warp like?
My band Grizzly Bear are on Warp, so they kind of own me. They let me release it on Terrible in the United States though. It’s cool. I am excited to be working with Warp. I am genuinely excited about the record. It’ll be good to be put out over the two labels.
I understand you recorded “Dreams Come True” in just a week. How did that go?
Yeah, about a week and a half. Then I spent the next couple of months finishing the songs, adding bits, just figuring out how it was going to fit together basically.
And you're touring this autumn. What can we expect from the live shows? Will Twin Shadow [who features on the album] be joining you?
Oh no, he’s busy. He’s actually writing a record right now. I have a band I’ve put together to tour. A pretty standard outfit: guitar, synthesiser, bass, drums. So yeah – we’ve been practicing, we’ve played two shows. We’re just getting started.
How did the gigs go?
I think they went pretty good. I was excited about playing. I had a fun time.
Do they have a similar atmosphere to Grizzly Bear gigs? The same theatrics?
Well . . . I am not really in the position to talk to people about pulling out all the bells and whistles with the CANT stuff just yet. It’s sort of just getting going. It’s our first tour. It’s going to be fairly simple. I actually don’t mind that though. It’s going to make a nice difference. But . . . erm . . . we’ll see what we can do. We’ve been talking to a lighting guy to see what he can come up with. I don’t know. I like to put on a show a little bit.
In regards to your record label – Terrible Records - I understand you’ll be releasing a series of split 7”. How did that come about?
Well I guess it came about because I work with a lot of bands - and I knew that I could record and put out a song. Just casual, you know, just one track. I kind of want it to be a little time capsule. A little cross section in time to look back at. It’s a fun project. I am really enjoying it.
They are lovely items to own. Is the art work a major feature? Who does it?
The 7” series we have a generally fixed aesthetic program, just so that it holds together aesthetically. We were working with our good friend Clark Butterfield for a while and then lately we’ve been working with our friend Drew Heffron; he designed the cover art with me, for my album. He’s incredibly accomplished. Yeah, the artwork is great, a nice little part of the label.
Where did the name Terrible come from?
It’s my nickname. A lot of my friends used to call me that for years. Some still call me that. I thought it would be a good name for music – it sets the bar – we hope to live up to the name! [Laughs] It’ll be a bit of a challenge.
Going back to the CANT album, it’s quite an eclectic album – with a diverse sound. Do you have any particular influence?
I really like Joy Division and The-Dream. I like their sense of character and narrative; I try to do the same. With each song I decided I would try and tell a specific story. I just really wanted to do things in that way. And then I would chip away at each song. I didn’t really think of them as being part of some greater album; I didn’t really think of it in relation to that.
It’s interesting you use the term narrative. Are there any influences you have outside of music? Literature perhaps? Or Visual Arts?
Yeah, Visual Arts definitely. In terms of film makers; Wong Kar-Wai and Werner Herzog. I find the focus in Herzog’s films is really interesting. Wong Kar-Wai aesthetically is really rich; visually he’s really interesting. So, I don’t know . . . I just take the opportunity to absorb everything!
Talking of films, I understand one of your tracks was on the “Twilight” soundtrack – any plans to do more soundtracks?
Yep, that was with Grizzly Bear. More recently that that our music was used on a film called “Blue Valentine”. I’d love to make more music for film. It would be so much fun to actually write the music in relation to the visuals. Recently I have been writing with a mind to music videos, which has been really fun. In the future I’d like to do more . . . people just don’t ask! That’s why I don’t do more.
Do you feel as if you are stepping into the limelight with the CANT record? Do you feel any added pressure or attention?
Yes, sure, all of that, for sure. It’s a bit strange. It’s a little bit surreal that it’s actually happening; that we are actually doing it. At the moment we are just practicing with the band the whole time. It doesn’t quite feel like we’ve got going – we’ve only done two shows! But it is a very strange feeling. There is an added pressure in a sense. Taking the lyrics feels strange . . . it’s a different sensation, that’s all.
CANT - Answer (taken from Dreams Come True - Terrible Records / Warp Records) by Warp Records We talk to Chris Taylor - multi-instrumentalist with Grizzly Bear, co-founder of Terrible Records and notable producer - following the release of his debut solo album as CANT, “Dreams Come True”.
“Dreams Come True”