Canadian Taylor Johnson - aka musician The Hope State - is celebrating the successful release of his brilliant debut album Skeletons, which dropped in November of last year. Following that collection of immense storytelling, we caught some time with the artist to find out a little more about his work, future ambitions and more...
For those who may be new to your music, how best would you describe your sound?
I would say indie rock with sprinkles of folk and pop... and an emphasis on heartbreaking.
What challenges have you faced in the music industry so far?
I’ve been working in the music industry since I was 16, so I’ve faced my fair share. Writing music for people who just wanted to emulate certain sounds or subject matter was probably the most difficult. However, since choosing to focus on The Hope State instead of ghostwriting the challenges don’t seem so bad because it’s all for something worth all of the hardships.
How difficult would you say this career path is in terms of making a name for yourself?
It’s extremely difficult. There is just so much stuff out there... so separating yourself takes a lot of time and effort. But if you’re in it for the right reasons and work hard and are patient enough and passionate enough things always seem to happen. It’s just how much you really want it.
How important is it for you to have creative control over the work you produce?
Overall very. I would feel very weird not having control over the songs I’m putting out into the world. I still love collaborating with people and experimenting with ideas. Having a song evolve with a bunch of brains working together is very special. Luckily I’ve never really had a lot of people telling me what to do or what I should change... maybe I would benefit from that?
Where do you draw influence and inspiration from for your work?
I don’t draw a lot of inspiration from music, oddly enough. I tend to get inspired by travelling, and spending time in different settings. I love seeing how people in different places live. It’s such an amazing thing that makes me feel so small, in a very good way. I like to tell stories with my music, so visiting a new place opens my eyes to people living lives that awaken something creative in me. Everybody has a story that will break your heart, and I want to tell them all. Being in nature tends to stir the writing cells as well. It’s when my brain is the most clear and can really concentrate on creating.
If you could collaborate with anybody going forward, who would you choose and why?
I’ve been lucky enough to work with a lot of people who were on that list, which I’m very grateful for. I’ve always wanted to work with Alex Ebert, he’s always felt like a kindred spirit to me. But I’ve been digging into Rick Rubin’s catalogue lately, and having him as a producer would be one of the greatest bucket list collaborators I could imagine.
Tell us a random, funny fact about you that not many people know.
Growing up, my real career goal was to be a professional stuntman. I chose my back up (music) after I realised how fragile bones are, and the constant stress I was putting my poor mother under.
Do you have definitive aims or goals for your career?
If I can be on the road 10 months out of the year travelling around and playing music I will be the happiest person alive. It’s all I’ve ever wanted.
Where do you hope to be this time next year?
This time next year, I would love to be touring Europe and and the United Kingdom. It’s the top priority of the band right now. I’d also like to have some progress made on the next release.
What should we expect from you in the coming weeks and months?
Lots of shows. As many as we can possibly play. Some live videos, and songs to be released and we’ll also be heading back into the studio to put together some more recordings. We’re not sure if it’s going to be a full-length or another EP, but we have a lot we’d like to get out for everyone to hear in the very near future.