Interview with Ben Taylor

ben taylor
Ben Taylor

Interview by Scott Preston
Photos by Patrik Andersson

As the son of James Taylor and Carly Simon, Ben Taylor was born into a musical world with much promise. His older sister, Sally Taylor, found her niche in the industry early on, but the younger Taylor never sought to follow the footsteps of his famous parents. His childhood might have been surrounded by recording sessions and tours across the world, but initially it wasn’t in Taylor’s mind to become a singer.

Taylor was raised in Manhattan and spent time in various private schools before leaving them behind in ninth grade. By now, he’d taught himself how to play guitar, but traveling the world and connecting with nature was Taylor’s passion. Trips across Asia and Europe opened Taylor’s eyes to Earth’s greatest features, leaving him to think he’d might like to be a gardener or a farmer. Still, he had his hand in a few musical makings. Before he turned 20, Taylor’s cover of the Beatles’ “I Will” landed on the soundtrack to a domestic comedy featuring Paul Reiser, Bye Bye, Love. He eventually recorded an album for Epic’s label The Work Group, but it folded shortly after Taylor inked his contract. He was left feeling disenchanted, unaware what he was supposed to do with his life because he still wasn’t convinced music was for him. Taylor would soon come to realize that music was the only career he’d understand. (1)

Cincy Groove: I see your album “Legend of Kung Folk” came out just this past Sept, did you have any collaborations on the album?

Ben Taylor: On the last track on the album I did a duet with Jamie Cullum. I had Mike Rowe play keys on a lot of the album. I had Rick Marotta drumming on most of it as well.

Cincy Groove: I see that one of the songs you sing is in a Honey Nut Cheerios commercial in Canada?

Ben Taylor: Its actually a cover I do of a Macy Gray song, I Try. I was pretty excited over it, because I ate Cheerios when I was a kid. When you are approached about doing a commercial you think about what you are endorsing and where its made, all that kind of stuff. Do I want the Cheerios money? Hell yeah, that’s some of my money back (laughing). My picture is also on the back of the box with the Honey Nut Cheerios bee.

Cincy Groove: What was it like growing up around so many famous musicians?

Ben Taylor: It was pretty amazing. At the time I never made the distinction between them being famous and just being friends of my parents. (James Taylor and Carly Simon). In a lot of ways I still don’t. We were around some pretty heavy cats growing up there’s no doubt about that.

Cincy Groove: When did you first pick up the guitar?

Ben Taylor: I think I was 11. I remember thinking, Oh yeah I gotta learn how to play this, because I can guitar this instrument around. My parents weren’t so over supportive as to put any kind of pressure on me. They were very careful about that.

Cincy Groove: Do you remember the first song you ever wrote?

Ben Taylor: Absolutely, its on not this latest album, but the one I released in 2005, Another Run Around the Sun. The song is called “Surround Me”. I think I wrote it about 9-10 years ago. I started writing my own songs pretty late in my musical upbringing.

Cincy Groove: Do you have any big shows coming up?

Ben Taylor: Yes, I have a week of shows coming up supporting John Hiatt on the west coast. Then I have my own headlining tour I’m trying to book for this January.

Cincy Groove: Who are some of your influences?

Ben Taylor: Paul McCartney, Taj Mahal, Neil Young, certainly both of my folks (James Taylor & Carly Simon), The Beatles, Bill Withers, Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, Cat Stevens.

Cincy Groove: Are you working on any new projects?

Ben Taylor: You actually called me in the middle of me setting up my studio. My girlfriend and I are gutting my house. She lives in the spacial dimension where we are all supposed to be. For some reason I’m dreamy and wordy and just can’t figure out spaces, so thank god she is helping me. We have been setting up the studio so David Saw and I can start recording. We are doing a cover album and one of the songs we are doing is the Macy Gray song that’s in the Honey Nut Cheerios commercial “I Try”. Its something we have been thinking about doing for a while, we just never had the time.

As soon as that’s done, I’ll get to work on the next full length studio album which I already have most of the songs ready for and I have the producer picked out. Hopefully I’ll have some time in December to get that going.

Upcoming Ben Taylor tour dates:
For complete show details visit –
November 10, 2008 House Of Blues West Hollywood, CA – opening for John Hiatt
November 11, 2008 The Graduate San Luis Obispo, CA – opening for John Hiatt
November 12, 2008 Herbst Theatre San Francisco, CA – opening for John Hiatt
November 13, 2008 Mystic Theatre Petaluma, CA – opening for John Hiatt
November 14, 2008 Grand Sierra Resort Reno, NV – opening for John Hiatt
November 16, 2008 Moore Theatre Seattle, WA – opening for John Hiatt
November 17, 2008 Aladdin Theater Portland, OR – opening for John Hiatt
November 18, 2008 Commodore Ballroom Vancouver, BC – opening for John Hiatt


source (1) – Starpulse