Spotlight On... Phillip Jon Taylor

Following the release of his latest solo EP, Supportive Partner Please Stand Here, we shine a spotlight on Phillip Jon Taylor to find out more

Feature by Tallah Brash | 12 May 2022
  • Phillip Jon Taylor

Since PAWS released their fourth studio album Your Church On My Bonfire in 2019, frontman Phillip Jon Taylor has been busy working away on solo material, quietly releasing two full albums and an EP between February and November 2020. Fast-forward to May 2022 and he's released another EP, this time not so quietly.

Following a recent performance as part of VoxBox Music's Record Store Day event in Stockbridge, Supportive Partner Please Stand Here arrived last Friday 6 May via Wish Fulfillment Press and Bubble Core Records, and it's the most thoughtful and tender we've ever heard Taylor sound. We shine a spotlight on Taylor to find out more.

The Skinny: You made the move back to the Highlands recently – what was the reason for the move and how has it been?
Phillip Jon Taylor: I did indeed! At the end of summer 2019, I took up residence in a crofter's cottage not far outside the north eastern coastal village of Dornoch. Just over the firth from the town I grew up in, Tain. The last three years have certainly been interesting and even more challenging, as they have been for everyone. However, I definitely felt privileged to be in a situation out in the sticks here with a little more space than so many of my friends had in more populated areas/cities all over the planet during the height of the pandemic's grasp. I couldn't have seen it coming and the timing of my move was lucky.

The move was something I envisioned for myself for a long time, initially just to be more in touch with my late Nana Phyllis. To live more in time with the small coastal communities surrounded by nature that I was raised in. It's awoken some principal DIY ethics, and care to art practice that I desperately needed back in my life.

I'm now running my art publications and record label imprint Wish Fulfillment Press full time. Big lifestyle changes, ultimately! Living quietly and more thoughtfully. Hiking into the woods or hills on weekends. Surf when the stars align. Paint every day. Record music and make zines/prints. This is where I'm happy. I miss skateboarding with my friends on the Glasgow streets though, that's for certain! 

And am I right in thinking you’ve built your own studio too? What’s that been like for you?
It's a modest home studio, yeah! Super-small, but super-functional for what I need it to be. Over the years of touring and playing with PAWS, I collected lots of instruments from pawn shops etc, hoping they would one day have a space to live in and be used to make records. Weird keyboards and circuit bent equipment and guitars, each a little different to play than the last... nothing pro.

It's a small room above where we sleep and has been an office for me to work in from home and refine my practices, which I'm very grateful for. I'm recording to TASCAM 488 MKII and a DAW, making a variety of different kinds of audio compositions. It's also now the hub for rehearsals as me and some pals have been getting ready to play live shows! Excited for those.

You released your latest EP last week – tell us about some of the themes found across the record, and the inspirations which lead to the record’s eight tracks?
The process is totally different for me now with songwriting. It's really given me the opportunity to express myself in a studio setting on more than just guitar and vocals, and to use all the collected electronic equipment I have gathered; melodicas, omnichords. It's nice to just be able to sit down and work a song out from an idea you've just put down on drums sometimes. Play some patterns to click track, make a sequence, hit record. Add more layers.

I love playing drums, I don't know what I'm doing really, it's a monkey see, monkey do situation. I've been lucky to have toured and watched some incredible drummers night after night and even more so, to be in a band with my favourite drummer for ten-plus years! So I'm not short of inspiration. I love just picking up an instrument in the moment and seeing if I can get something going.

Hopefully people that listen to the tracks can make what they want of it and find something in it that makes sense to them. Mostly, it's about counting your blessings, the past/future/present, phases, reflection, going outside, stepping back from an everything online culture that doesn't feel genuine to me. I like making things and the hustle is hard but I'm so down for hard work, however, the social media grind is too much for me. It can be horrendous for one's mental health. Balance is a good theme I'd say for SPPSH.

Since the start of 2020, you’ve quite quietly put out a few solo releases. What does this mean for the future of PAWS?
PAWS are most certainly still a band! Josh [Swinney, drummer] is expressing his culinary talents down in London with Four Legs at The Plimsole. He was able to visit me on the farm during one of the lockdown eases and we recorded a new song. We both love how it turned out and how fun it was to do ourselves. We're going to put together some more in the near future when we both have a minute on the calendar. This October is TEN YEARS since our debut Cokefloat! was released! That feels ridiculous to type, but maybe [we'll have] some cool stuff to share about that later in the year...

As well as the EP, you’ve also got a performance coming up at The Great Eastern festival later this month. What does the rest of 2022 hold for you?
I can't wait for this show! A huge missing piece in my life up north is going to a show; playing shows will be so special. When the pandemic happened I adjusted to not going to a show or playing a show like everyone else, but here it just kept going despite venues opening/bands playing as Dornoch ain't on the touring circuit! Lots of cool live stuff to announce in due time so please do keep an eye out! Subscribe to the Wish Fulfillment Press newsletter!

Supportive Partner Please Stand Here is out now via Wish Fulfillment Press and Bubble Core Records; Phillip Jon Taylor plays The Great Eastern, Edinburgh, 21 May