Editor's Note: This story first appeared in its original format in the new issue of Variance. Click here for the full version.
Photo by Amelia Troubridge
The “Warnings” were all there in 2012 on his The Wheel EP. With only a handful of musical offerings made available to the public, it was already clear Vienna-based English songwriter-producer Christopher Taylor (aka SOHN) was on to something incredible.
Over the past year, his moody, sorrowful lyrics have taken shape and his breathtaking production has only tantalized the appetite of anxiously waiting fans. Until now. With the release of his debut album, Tremors, which has finally seen the light of day.
The songs themselves were mostly written at night though. “I had been so crazy busy,” Taylor recalls. “I finally got a few months in the studio, in my studio in Vienna, and I actually worked on my own songs for once. And I just sort of went in on it. Hard. I started working on it every night very late, until six in the morning. And it was in those late-night hours when everything would come together.”
After building buzz from his EP, working on his own material had unfortunately taken a backseat to his collaborations with others. But it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, as his projects with Los Angeles’ BANKS and London’s Kwabs had earned Taylor a newfound respect. And thanks to well-received remixes of Lana Del Rey and Rhye, his clout was on the rise.
“I found myself in trouble though,” explains Taylor. “I had to force myself to take on the attitude that I’ve had from being a producer working on other people’s music and take that into my own work. Disciplining myself to get it done. Because when you’re working on something for BANKS or Kwabs or Erik Hassle, you have to get that shit done. There’s just no excuses. And sometimes you don’t hold yourself to that same timeline when it’s only yours. With the others, you have labels and managers and they’re saying, ‘We have to put that shit out. Give it to us.’”
Listen to SOHN Cover "Say Something
In a way, working with his new label 4AD proved to be a double-edged sword, as Taylor eventually discovered. “When you’re working on your own and you’re with 4AD, who’s so cool and so laid back—if it took me three years, sure, the pressure would be on then, but they’ve been so respectful,” he says. “But the backside of that is that I’ve had to discipline myself because I knew this was the latest I wanted to release it. Originally, I wanted it to come out in November but I just didn’t have it. I couldn’t do it.”
Interestingly enough, Taylor he couldn’t have planned things out more perfectly if he wanted to. After putting so much time and effort especially into his work with BANKS, both artists are now surging and therefore shining a spotlight on each other in the process.
“It’s great that we’ve worked a lot together these past couple of years and now people are getting to hear what we’ve done,” says Taylor. “And it seems like things are going well, especially her stuff. Like she totally deserved that, she’s really so good. And it’s just sort of really bizarre probably for both of us because all of this stuff is coming at the same time. Really, we’re just these kids who are making music and I don’t think any of us really understand it, what it all might mean. Because all of this, the past two years has been building, but with no real destination in mind. The album is the destination. We know that now. And it’s becoming clearer.”
Now that the album is finally a reality, Taylor says he’s still figuring out his expectations for it, admitting he’s “not trying to get any specific message across. I’m making music from a very selfish perspective,” he confesses with a very matter-of-fact look on his face. “I’m making the kind of music I want to make. For me, the albums I enjoy the most are the ones where you can really get into them; they’re introspective. Somehow they soundtrack something going on in your own life. And if that were to happen with my record for other people, then I’d be really happy. To be able to soundtrack people’s lives.”
Next up, Taylor hits the road in Europe and the U.K. before returning to the States in May. And while he acknowledges he’s not one to speculate, he promises one thing. “When I was at [BBC] Radio 1, I had to cover a song,” he recalls. “They like you to cover very current songs, but I would have loved to do ‘Climax’ by Usher. That song gets to me like very few songs do. Like, I’m going to do that one day, just watch. I’ll probably wait to do it live during a show. That will happen at some point, it’s such a great song.”