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Taylor Mayd for HBO series

US musician searches for Trini talent
Published: 
Thursday, October 19, 2017
Phillip Taylor has been on a year long search for talent in T&T for the upcoming HBO series, Trini 2 the World. PICTURE ANISTO ALVES

Philip Taylor seems very comfortable in Trinidad. The American rock performer and music producer from Tennessee has been on the island for the past year and a half in the hope of finding the voice of T&T. His search is not like TV shows The Voice in the US or even the local Rising Star, he has been listening and observing what talent we have here.

Last year, he was part of the Thrive International project which hosted workshops and auditions for Trinidad performers. His search continues and he’s confident there are artists who can step up to the plate in Trini 2 The World, to be co-produced by HBO Urban Music Supervisor/Director Don Bartholomew and aired on the cable channel.

Leaving behind his contract with Epic Records in 2004 and Sony in 2015, to create his independent label Taylor Mayd, the ras-styled musician understands the need for artists to have creative control over their work and more successful careers. “In general, the major label paradigm is only valid for a small percentage. Then the label lies on what they spend—they overspend and over-hire, using as many as 30 people on person’s career,” he said.

For his experience, Taylor said he was unhappy. Although, while he was at Epic Records, he already had a Number 3 Rock Radio Hit, Let Me Out, as part of the band Future Leaders of the World (Flow). The band transformed to Machina which included former Evanescence members John Le Compt and Rocky Gray. By then, he learned about engineering, eventually working with award winning producer Toby Wright who was responsible for the sound of Metallica, Mottley Crue, Korn and Alice in Chains. After the Machina project, Taylor pursued a solo project and got signed to Sony. Again, he was not happy with the label. “I decided to start a professional group, a label, hopefully overcome some of the mistakes that I experienced,” he said.

Taylor Mayd is not a new invention, Taylor stressed, but places emphasis on ethics—a marriage of making good music and not taking advantage of the artist as a commodity. By extension, he said, Trini 2 The World is going to be a high-quality product that offers opportunity for more successful careers. Taylor is inviting artists with potential to email their work by October 27 as a preliminary audition. An announcement will be made on October 30. Once selected, the performers will participate in a live audition at Vas Lounge, Rust Street, St Clair, a week later. From those performances, there will be a shortlist of five. Thereafter, the artists will travel to Tennessee where they will be housed together to focus on their work. But in the end, only one performer will receive the contract with Taylor Mayd. This in essence, is the concept of Trini 2 the World as it will present how these artists work under these settings.

Taylor is excited by the outcome, since he realises that music for Trinidadians is more than soca. “It shocked me that people did different genres. But although I know what caught my ear, but it (the music) sounded different. It is distinctively Trini,” he said. “I met Five Miles to Midnight and they found a way to recreate in a unique way. They put a spin on it.”

The absence of soca for the show’s talent consideration, Taylor said, has to do with its posturing. “It’s not about exclusion but integration into mainstream culture,” he explained. “It has to be done subtly and craftily. It has to be gently introduced.” He added, part of the problem is that artists are trying to stay too rigid to a format that is fixated with Soca Monarch. On the other hand, Machel Montano, Bunji Garlin and now Voice, who will perform the soundtrack for the show, have demonstrated the possibilities of blending soca with other styles. Nevertheless, it is the Trini uniqueness that swayed his business partners Robert Venabile and Jean Le Phare to agree on the project. Now that Bartholomew has seen the inroads made and is available for production, the project is moving full steam ahead. The show is scheduled for airing on HBO in September.