We caught up with Taylor Hughes of alt-pop outfit EXNATIONS.
So, who are you?
I’m Taylor, I play drums, synths and sometimes attempt to use my vocal cords for the band EXNATIONS.
Where are you from?
I’m originally from a small town outside of Baltimore, MD called Jarrettsville. Think Children of The Corn meets Is There Life Out There?
No, but for real, we had “Drive Your Tractor to School” Day…
How long have you been playing music?
I’ve been playing music since I was about five years old, my parents bought me an electric guitar with no amp after I asked for a drum kit. POWER MOVE. I picked up piano, violin, and cello along the way before getting a drum kit at the ripe age of 15.
What is your dream touring line-up?
EXNATIONS, Bleachers, Tegan and Sara – it’s so funny I didn’t even have to think about that one, my fingers just started typing!
What does music mean to you?
This is such a loaded question, let me just be dramatic and say: Everything. Music is my source of safety and bliss but also a huge source of anxiety and stress. Music is always there whether I’m happy, sad or I’m working on creating for EXNATIONS. Music is my constant, I know it will always be there.
What artists first inspired you to start playing music?
Five-year-old Taylor loved artists from Billie Holiday, Prince to Jimmi Hendrix. Anything my parents were playing in their ‘93 Jeep Cherokee while we were cruising around. They were both HUGE music fans so I got to hear a lot of interesting artists growing up to figure out what I liked.
It’s kind of funny because I always had a sense of rhythm before I knew what it was, I would pat the drum parts out on my legs and for a minute I thought I was psychic because I knew what would happen before it did, haha. It’s just always been natural.
What was the first record you bought when you were younger?
We’re going to skip past the Spice Girls and TLC even though I still love them dearly. The first record I bought that changed my life was The Strokes’ Room On Fire. I think I was in seventh grade, that’s when I knew I was cursed. It’s when the idea of being in a band first clicked. I forced my best friend to learn the songs on bass so I had someone to play with, we had a band throughout high school. Playing Le Tigre, and Boys Don’t Cry by The Cure are some memories I’ll always be able to look back on and laugh at.
What’s the most aesthetically pleasing album cover that you have in your collection?
I love this question, it’s a really hard one. I love The XX’s I See You, the simplicity and the metallic finish really do it for me.
What does your writing process look like?
A lot of dropbox folders, haha. Honestly, though, our entire career is separated into folders in a joint dropbox folder.
Anyway, it usually starts with Sal humming something on his work commute, when he finds the time he lays it down in Logic and then sends it to me once he’s ready to share. I pull it up on my computer and add my parts in, sometimes move things around and we go back and forth until it’s done. It’s really cool to write/record in your own space, by cool I mean relaxing and cathartic.
Tell us about your new single ‘John Hughes Movie Soundtrack’.
I remember Sal telling me the name of the song before I even heard any lyrics or demos and I was sold. A lot of friends who have heard our music said it belonged in one of those iconic John Hughes movies from the 80’s so we took it literally. Hope we did the legend himself justice!
Why should people listen to your music?
AH! Well, I’m going to be very bias here but let me preface with this: art is hard. Behind every track, visual, etc a lot of hard work, self-doubt and sometimes tears go into it. I think everyone’s music should be heard and given an honest chance if you’re lucky enough to come across it.
Now here’s the bias: These songs flowed out of us so naturally, they’re genuinely how we were feeling in the moment we wrote them. The words, the sounds, the structures of each song were viewed under a high power microscope because Sal and I may obsess over everything, haha. John Has to play our voice of reason sometimes.
If you like to feel feelings and dance it out you should listen to our music!
Recommend us a record, a book, and a movie…
Book: Love is a Dog From Hell by Charles Bukowski
Movie: Birdemic – it’s god awful in the best way.
Record: Ken by Destroyer
Any last words for the readers of Highwire Magazine?
Hope you love Pink Haze and we hope to see some of you at one of our shows on the Pink Haze Tour presented by idobi Radio!