A fan favorite on season 7 of NBC’s The Voice, Taylor John Williams won audiences over with his musically advanced and incredibly memorable covers of some of the industry’s most renowned songs (make sure to check out his blind audition, his heartbreaking rendition of “Mad World,” and his take on the Beatles’ “Come Together.”)
Promoting his self-released EP, Song of a Dead Man, across the country, the artist lands in New York City’s The Cutting Room this week to perform his soulful tunes. We reached out to him prior to his appearance to chat about his first experience with music (“It sort of feels like it got into me”), how performing live feels like having a session with “100+ individual therapists for two hours,” his current relationship with former coach Gwen Stefani and more. Take a look.
Taylor John Williams: Since my time on The Voice ended, I’ve been doing everything and anything to ensure that making music remains my “job.” That’s my primary concern [and] prerogative. That means (thoughtfully) saying yes to virtually everything that comes my way and remaining grateful for every opportunity to sing a song and speak my mind. I try to frequently remind myself that, while there is much work to be done, in so many ways I’ve accomplished my “dream.”
Describe your experience on The Voice in three words. Would you have changed anything about it?
Williams: “Ready,” “set” and “go.” That may seem vague, but those three words sum up so much of how I felt during my time on the show.
I wouldn’t have changed anything about the experience, because if I were to shape it to work out perfectly for me, than there would have been no way to truly grow as a result of the outcomes. Above all else, I’m so thankful that I was able to go through such a demanding, difficult and emotional process. It gave me a highly concentrated dose of knowledge.
Do you still chat with your former coach Gwen Stefani?
Williams: No communication with Gwen. The whole coach/artist thing is a bit of a misconception. There was certainly a decent amount of time spent with the coaches and valuable insight shared, but we’re talking about high profile musicians with a lot going on professionally and personally. Once you’re done with the show, you’re pretty much done with the show. But, I could be the odd man out. Gwen and Ryan Sill are probably at a bowling alley sharing a root beer float as I’m talking to you.
How did you get into music in the first place?
Williams: It sounds convoluted, but it sort of felt like the music got into me. There was never really a time where I “decided” that I wanted to pursue a life through music. There just came a time when my happiness suddenly depended on it. I guess it was towards the end of high school. I had a language arts teacher who really appreciated my writing and encouraged me in the classroom. It was one of the few classes that made me care about the quality of my work as opposed to the quality of my grade. I would eventually turn some of my poetry assignments into songs after playing around with a guitar. I guess that was the start.
What inspires your music?
Williams: Mostly, pain. I find hardship and heartache to be highly motivating when it comes to crafting songs. I’m often pinned as the “dark one” because of this, but I don’t really associate pain with darkness. Darkness implies negativity, doubt and despair. I, however, think pain is one of the most wonderful things about existing (not that I’m capable of comparing it to the wonders of not existing). It’s the friendly reminder of our impermanence. It’s what makes pleasure tangible. I don’t do this to be masochistic. I don’t “enjoy” pain. But I appreciate it and, through music, I celebrate it.
What would you be if you weren’t a musician?
Williams: It’s weird to even hear myself say it, but I like the idea of being a boxer. I think this comes from the temptation of using a completely different set of skills than I’m used to using. My therapy comes almost 100% from getting to share my stories through song. Using fists would basically be the polar opposite of that, and it’s intriguing.
What can we expect from you at The Cutting Room?
Williams: You can expect me to be honest, 90% sober and immensely appreciative of every single person who decides to attend. It feels like I’m getting paid to have 100+ individual therapists for 2 hours every time I have a show. I don’t take that lightly.
What’s next for Taylor John Williams?
Williams: Not really for me to definitively decide. There are so many moving parts and individuals necessary to make strides in this industry. All I can do is continue to write, share and keep saying yes.