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Interview with Joanne Shaw Taylor

Singer and guitarist Joanne Shaw Taylor first entered the industry at the age of just sixteen when she was discovered by Eurythmics mastermind Dave Stewart.

Her debut album, White Sugar, was recoded in Memphis, Tennessee by acclaimed producer Jim Gaines (Santana, Stevie Ray Vaughn) and was awarded Best New Artist Debut at the British Blues Awards 2010.

She reunited with Gaines once again for her sophomore album, Diamonds in the Dirt. The critical reaction was positive, with Premium Guitar stating that ‘Taylor brings a new authority to her playing, songwriting, and smoky vocals.’

Joanne Shaw Taylor talks about her love of blues and her career to date.

Having already toured with Black Country Communion last December, how did you come to land two support dates with Glenn Hughes next month?

Glenn and myself share the same promoter and they felt that the pairing was appropriate I guess; I’d certainly like to think so. I was born in the Black Country and raised in the West Midlands area so as I’m sure you can imagine my father’s record collection had Deep Purple and Trapeze in heavy rotation! I’m a huge fan of Glenn’s, as a singer and now having come to know him as a person. He’s just an incredible talent and an equally wonderful gentleman.

Would you say that your songs first come together on stage or in the studio or where do you feel most at home?

As it stands I would say I do the majority of my writing offstage. We’ve been keeping a rather hectic tour schedule for the previous two years and I’ve found it something of a bus man’s holiday if you will to take time out from that schedule to write and record. In terms of where i feel most comfortable that would definitely be on stage.

Do you feel that recording in Tennessee gives the sound an edge that you would not have achieved anywhere else?

I think the benefit of recording in Tennessee for me is more the effect it has on my frame of mind as it is the effect it has on the sound of the record. I consider Jim Gaines now to be a member of my family so naturally not only do I look forward to seeing him and working with him but I feel very at home now in Tennessee from my visits there to see him and his wife. Add that to the fact, that as a state, it has that heavy southern laid back vibe, and yes, it’s a unique place to record.

Can you single out one specific album that you feel was a big influence behind you becoming a musician?

Yes, Stevie Ray Vaughan In Step. That was the first blues album I heard (blues album, the first album I ever brought was a Prince one). Stevie was an incredible ambassador for the Blues particularly for my generation. He just brought a different kind of package to the table and was so accessible.

What kind of equipment do you use and what is your most cherished instrument?

My most cherished instrument is my 1966 Esquire. It’s my main guitar. I don’t really feel the need to carry multiple guitars with me I have that one that is as comfortable as a guitar as I hope to find so I just carry that an a few back up telecasters in case of technical problems. In terms of Amps my favourites I have are a 65 Fender Bassman head and Cab, A Custom Made Louis Electric Head and 2 X 12 and a Blackstar Artisan 30.

You made a film called Deep Blues: how did this come together and what how do you think this experience has changed you?

I’m afraid I didn’t. I’d love to tell you I did but I’d be lying. Dave Stewart made that film and my name is related to his often and facts got changed somewhere. That said it’s a brilliant film! hard to find but well worth it if you’re a blues fan!

Joanne Shaw Taylor

Joanne Shaw Taylor

Due to your association with Black Country Communion, have you considered working with their regular producer, Kevin Shirley, and what kind of relationship do you have with your producers during the recording of your albums?

I’d love to work with Kevin. He’s an incredible producer and an extremely interesting character so yes It would be interesting to say the least. Up until this point I’ve only worked with one producer really and that’s Jim. We have a great relationship as I mentioned earlier. It’s a hard thing to do really, hand over your sound, songs ideas, etc., to one person and hope they make the best of what you have but if you get it right it’s very rewarding.

How have American audiences reacted to a young, white English girl playing such raw blues?

Things are going well in the States we’ve been touring heavily there for over a year now and I’ve been based out of Detroit for two years now. I love it, It really is home. They are generally pretty rowdy but very supportive.

Having grown up with so many influences, who would be your dream collaborations, both on stage and in the studio?

Well firstly someone who does something very different to what I do or does something I can’t. There’s a long list but Glenn Hughes would be one! He promised me some singing lessons though so I’m happy with that for now.

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