Liam Taylor clearly shares his personal expectations for long-term relationships.
“I wrote this song when I was starting to like this boy. I had never been in a serious relationship before, and I definitely yearned for one, but I was so guarded back then as well. I didn’t want to let that guard down for someone who was going to eventually take advantage of me, resent me and just waste my time,” Taylor said.
“And the end of the song though, it’s like I’ve gotten to the point where I’m in deep with this person. Although it’s scary, at that point I was like, ‘How can it be a waste of time if you’re with this person you love?’”
Throughout “Wasting Time,” Taylor unearths a deeply buried vulnerability as sparkling electric guitars, contemplative bass, intimate drums and gentle cymbals gradually ease his hesitation and fear.
He sings, “I’ve only known you for one small bit of my long-ass life/But the way that you’re pressing your lips against mine/Well, it feels so right/Oh, it’s almost as if I have known you for an eternity/So let’s take our time/And get high on each other before we leave.”
“Overall, the song’s theme has appeared in my life multiple times since I’ve written it, but I mainly hope people’s takeaway is that life is short,” said Taylor, who’s currently studying music at Columbia College in Chicago.
“The song is fun and groovy, and it doesn’t necessarily have to do with a relationship. It’s a bad-bitch anthem overall, because there’s no reason anyone should be wasting your time.”
Taylor created his “bad bitch” anthem with Detroit producer Sam Vallianatos and Chicago bassist Andrew King. “Wasting Time” initially took shape in Taylor’s home studio with Vallianatos early last year.
The Stratton Setlist recently chatted with Taylor and Vallianatos about “Wasting Time” as well as their backgrounds, previous releases, current collaboration and upcoming plans.
TSS: How did your musical journey start while growing up in Dallas? How have artists like Stevie Wonder, Chaka Kahn, Remi Wolf and Steve Lacy inspired you?
LT: I started doing community theater with my brother when I was five. That’s also when I started taking piano lessons. I was always in shows and musicals or practicing. I did a bunch of shows around the Dallas area, and I just kind of fell in love with the stage. As I got older, I started listening to a lot of new music and exploring stuff my parents never played for me. I learned a lot of new styles and ideas from just expanding my musical library that helped shape my sound today.
TSS: What do you enjoy most about attending Columbia College and being part of Chicago’s DIY Scene?
LT: Well, after I started writing music in high school, I decided I wanted to go to school strictly for music and not theater or anything. My counselor at school recommended Columbia, and after I came to visit, I knew I could see myself in Chicago. I love the location, and I’ve made such good friends. One thing I love about performing in the Chicago DIY scene is that I’ve met so many insanely talented people. Everyone has been so inspiring and uplifting and fun to work with.
TSS: Last year, you shared an acoustic version of the soulful ballad, “Can You Feel It,” on SoundCloud. The track highlights the pain and frustration of being stuck in the same situation day after day. How does it provide you with a sense of personal freedom? How do you hope it helps others feel free?
LT: “Can You Feel It” will also be on my upcoming EP, and I can’t wait to share the fully produced version. But yeah, basically, I wrote the song right before I moved to Chicago. I was feeling so trapped in the monotony of daily life that I had to do something to let my frustration out. I sat down at the piano, started playing these chords and freestyled over it until I came up with something that stuck.
What’s also crazy is that the song initially was two separate songs that I mashed up because I felt they went well together, and they told a story of where I was mentally. But the song takes me on such a rollercoaster of emotion that at the end of the song, I find that freedom in letting all the emotion out. I hope people can relate just by hearing the pain in my voice, especially on the record. Whew, it’s insane.
New Single + Current Collaboration
TSS: What was it like to collaborate with Sam Vallianatos on “Wasting Time?” How did Sam help shape the track’s overall sound and creative vision?
LT: I met Sam at a college party our first week of school, and we realized we were literally neighbors in our dorm building. We started hanging out all the time and just writing music. She would come up with these catchy chord progressions, and I’d just write out loud with her there. Collaborating during the early days of the pandemic definitely posed to be a challenge, but we’ve made it work.
But Sam is just amazing. Besides being my best friend, we always have fun working on music and recording together. She definitely knows me, she makes me feel comfortable in the studio, and I feel like we’re always pushing each other to be better. I love that.
LT: I knew Andrew from school, and I just asked him out of the blue to record bass for the song. He is insanely talented and delivered such a good take. He also played one wrong note near the end of the bridge that ended up changing the tone of that section making it 10 times better. That’s what I love about music, because even though it was technically a mistake, it made the song much better and more soulful.
TSS: Last fall, you released a live performance video of “Wasting Time” as part of Dearborn Dreamscape. How did you become part of that live music series? What did you enjoy most about sharing the stage with Sam for that performance?
LT: My PR manager, Siena (Moccia), wanted to do a live and filmed show with me and a few other artists. I helped her plan it after she reached out to me, and we wanted to create our own Tiny Desk moment. That performance was so fun, and since it was being filmed, we only had a handful of close friends come to watch. Having that intimate acoustic show with bunches of people dear to my heart … that was like the highlight of that month.
TSS: What upcoming live shows do you have planned for April?
LT: As of now, I’m not entirely sure. April’s pretty dry performance-wise because I’m trying to finish this EP and get it out as soon as possible. But we might have events lined up closer to the summer.
TSS: You and Sam are currently working on your debut EP. What’s the status of the EP? How does “Wasting Time” help set the tone for it?
LT: The EP is called How’d I Get Here? Its projected release will be (this) summer. We chose “Wasting Time” to be a single because it was the first song we wrote together, and it’s such a groovy song. A lot of the other ones are more emotional and not as pop-sounding, so we thought this would be a perfect song to have as a debut. Each song on the EP sounds different from the next, so I hope everyone can find something they enjoy within it.
TSS: How did your musical journey start while growing up in East Peoria, Illinois?
SV: Growing up, my parents pushed me in the direction of sports rather than music. In high school, I participated in concert/marching band, and once I got my own laptop, I started making beats and recording covers of my favorite songs for fun. I try to listen to as many genres and absorb as much as I can.
TSS: What do you enjoy about attending Wayne State University and being part of Detroit and Chicago’s DIY music scene?
SV: I didn’t decide to pursue a music degree until late in my high school career. Wayne State has a great music technology program, and once I toured the school, I felt very comfortable on campus. Detroit also has a wonderful city life and such a rich, interesting music history.
Detroit and Chicago have the most welcoming and driven music scenes, and I love being a part of both of them. I’ve met so many different artists and have made so many connections living in both cities.
TSS: You’ve built an impressive Bandcamp discography of bedroom-pop instrumentals, including “1 pm Hangover,” “Maise” and “For You” since 2018. What’s it been like to write, record and release those tracks and see your sound evolve over that time?
SV: It sounds cliché, but writing and producing music is very therapeutic for me. I try not to force anything and just let my ears do the work and go with whatever feels good. For my own sound, I like to start with an emotion or feeling and try to write music to express that … which is why most of my music is instrumental pieces. I love working with Liam because we think so similarly, and his lyrics are real and raw. You can really feel what he’s singing about.
TSS: What was it like to collaborate with Liam Taylor on “Wasting Time?” How did you help Liam realize his vision for the track?
SV: I met Liam at a college party our first week of school. To be honest, I wasn’t planning on going to the party, but I’m glad I changed my mind at the last minute. We clicked immediately, and after realizing that we were neighbors in our dorm building, we started hanging out all the time.
He played me older songs he’s written, but never fully produced. After listening, I wanted to work with him immediately. As if living in two separate places wasn’t hard enough, the pandemic did not make things easier for us, but I am proud of us for sticking it through and making it work.
TSS: You and Liam are currently working together on his debut EP. What have you enjoyed most about working with him? Why did you select “Wasting Time” as the first single off of the EP?
SV: Watching these songs come to life, one by one, has been so fulfilling. If I could use one word to describe what it’s like to work with Liam, then I would choose “easy.” We are so comfortable and open-minded with each other and our ideas. Writing and working on these songs together came so naturally.
Other than being the first song we wrote together, “Wasting Time” should be the single because of the energy of the song. The groove is infectious, the melody is unforgettable, and you just can’t help but want to sing along.
TSS: What plans do you have for writing, recording and releasing your own new material this year?
SV: I actually have a couple of instrumental pieces that I’ve finished that are ready to be released. The EP is my top priority. It’s challenging to find time between school, work and performances to consistently put out new releases, but I’m sure you’ll be seeing some new material from me this year.