Aaron Taylor

Selected by: Sope Soetan

Name: Aaron Taylor

Where He’s From: “South East London, of Ghanaian and Antiguan descent.”

When He Started: 2016

Genre: R&B/Soul

File Next To: D’Angelo, Lynden David Hall, Omar, Anthony Hamilton

Sounds Like: “Simple. Soulful. Sincere.”

First Music That Inspired Him: “Some of the first albums I remember having were The Miseducation... by Lauryn Hill, Enter the Dru by Dru Hill and Kirk Franklin’s The Nu Nation Project. They all came out in 1998 and were vastly different, but I was fascinated by the production and it made me take more interest in songwriting.”

If a scholarly level of musicianship, seasoned instrumentation and lush vocals is what you’re after, look no further than Aaron Taylor. Arriving on the scene in 2016 with the release of his self-written, self-produced Still Life EP, across six songs, Taylor evoked the essence of neo-soul’s golden era.

The EP’s conception was spurred by Aaron’s frustration with the music industry. “I was initially trying to do stuff behind the scenes,” he tells TRENCH, “but I wasn’t well connected so I selfishly started a project of my own after not really having any artists to work with.” Still working a 9-to-5 job in admin at the time of its release, songs from the EP unexpectedly began to make its way into boardrooms of noteworthy brands. Case in point: “Lesson Learnt”, which was snatched up by Apple and featured in advertisements for their Apple Watch. A few months later, the continued traction of Still Life would lead to a coveted session on COLORS and radio support from BBC Radio 1Xtra and BBC 6 Music.

What makes Aaron Taylor so special is the various textures and nuances in his music. Pressing play on tracks like “Blue”, “Be Alright” or “If I Had To Write A Song About You”, old-school enthusiasts will hear how much he has studied and soaked up the traditions of classic soul music—which is heavily rooted in blues and the black church—complete with neatly arranged horn sections and crisp cadences. “The sounds of gospel are deeply engrained in my music,” he says. “Especially the chord progressions and approaches to harmony.”

Not one to be pigeonholed sonically, songs like “Spaceship” from Aaron’s third EP, The Long Way Home, and newly released single “Let Me Fly” see Aaron experiment with upbeat and funk-laden grooves. “I’m very keen to not keep repeating the same trick, so I try and dabble into other styles. The next album moves on a tiny bit from the neo-soul world I’ve been in so far.” After opening for Sinead Harnett at KOKO London in 2018, Aaron embarked on the biggest show of his career to date when he headlined the prestigious Jazz Café back in November, a full circle moment for him. “It’s a venue where I’ve typically played as a session musician for other people, so it feels like progress,” he says. “The Jazz Cafe is such an iconic venue so when I’m not overwhelmed by imposter syndrome, it feels like a huge honour.”

Continuing to build his live pedigree, Aaron will be making his festival debut next year at Brixton’s Cross The Tracks alongside funk/soul luminaries like Sister Sledge, Jazzie B and Giles Peterson. Be on the lookout for this hidden gem’s debut album in 2020.

TRENCH Highlight...

Posted on December 17, 2019