At this point, you may or may not have seen the odd post on Musicalypse regarding Taylor Davis, an American violinist who has made a name for herself on YouTube. With her European tour starting just last night, we thought it was fitting to share an interview we did with her, regarding working on YouTube, her new album, and more! Do check it out!
You’ve shared your journey about your career on YouTube in one of your vlogs and you talked about the high and low points in your life; if we’re being more specific, what were some of the best and worst moments of your journey, and how did you deal with or react to them?
There have definitely been a lot of highs and lows along the way! I think that’s something that makes this kind of career difficult, but of course also interesting. The first time I ever did one of my own live shows, that was so exciting. It wasn’t a huge show and it didn’t sell out or anything, but just being able to perform my own show for a crowd of people who actually knew who I was and enjoyed the music I was performing was such an amazing feeling. Low points happen all the time, and I try not to focus on them too much but I’ve had a lot of disappointments along the way, mainly in the form of people making promises that didn’t end up coming through, people trying to use me, and people being dishonest and telling lies to me and about me. No matter how many times those things happen, they’re never easy to deal with, but I’ve had a lot of those experiences at this point so I know how to deal with them in a better way now than I did when I was first starting out!
Are there any songs that you’ve tried to learn and failed because they are too difficult/they don’t translate well to the key range the violin covers? Are there any songs you wanted to learn but didn’t bother trying because it was too daunting?
There have been songs that I’ve thought would be fun to try on the violin that ended up not really translating well. I think the songs that sound best on the violin need to have a strong melodic line, otherwise it can be hard to make a nice arrangement out of it. I always like trying a song, even if I know it’s going to be very difficult. That being said, I have tried playing many classical songs that I’ve never practiced long enough to feel comfortable performing. I really respect classical music and like incorporating it in my practice routines, but I don’t have the passion or the patience for what it would take to actually be a great performer of that type of music.
What was your favorite video to film? Which was the toughest video to film (weather, etc.)?
I loved filming the video for one of my original songs called “Hidden Falls.” The weather was great, the hikes to the waterfalls were a lot of fun, and it was really just a nice, easy shoot in beautiful scenery! One of the toughest ones was my video for “Gerudo Valley.” We almost had to stop filming because it was so uncomfortably cold, even though you can’t really tell that from the video since it’s brightly and warmly colored. I love that video though so I’m glad we powered through!
Which was your favorite outfit from your videos? Do you design and/or make them yourself, or does someone help out?
I had a lot of fun wearing the Sheik costume for two videos [“Bolero of Fire“ and “Song of Time & Song of Storms“]. I borrowed that from a very talented cosplayer named Seifer-Sama. Sometimes I borrow costumes from cosplayers, and other times I’ll purchase a costume from somewhere online. Other times, when I’m not going for a cosplay look, I’ll just try and find some unique pieces on Etsy or other sites online. The outfit from my latest video, “Wilderness,” is pieced together from so many different places. I got the faux fur hood from a site called Spirit Hoods and also the skirt from Etsy both about 2 years ago and was just waiting for the right video to wear those, and then the top, boots, and leggings were all from different places too. Sometimes when I have some down time I’ll just browse all sorts of stores online for cool pieces that fit my style and I’ll just hold on to them until the right video comes along!
I imagine that you’re more interested in working on new songs these days, but if you were going to go back and rerecord and do a new video for a song, which one would it be?
That’s a tough question! I think it would be fun to maybe do something a little more special for the Skyrim Theme since that video ended up being popular despite the more basic style.
Our parents’ generation is often a little behind the times technologically speaking – how do your parents feel about you being a YouTube star?
I’m very blessed because my parents are both really supportive of it! My mom has always been my #1 fan when it comes to my music and she is so happy that all those years of encouragement and violin lessons are paying off, haha! When I first started posting on YouTube almost 6 and a half years ago, I had graduated college and was working a business day job, and I had no idea YouTube could turn into a full-time career. When my following started growing and I saw an opportunity for this to turn into something more than a hobby, I told my parents I wanted to quit my day job and work on my music full-time to see if this could become my career. My dad was apprehensive since it’s obviously not a traditional career path, but now he’s so interested in the business aspect of what I do and he’s so supportive and proud of what this has turned into so I’m grateful that both of my parents kept an open mind about it.
Are there any dark sides to working on YouTube? For example, commentor trolls, etc?
Absolutely. Of course the negative comments and trolls come with the territory and are some things that you have to learn to deal with, even though it does hurt your feelings. As much as I love what I do, I’d be lying if I said this was a perfect job and that I loved everything about it. It takes a thick skin and a strong sense of self to put yourself and your art out there in the world for people to judge. With how social the internet has become, everyone has the ability to share their opinion about everything now. I’m grateful that in most ways, because the reason I was able to turn this into a career was because of all the wonderful and positive people who watched my videos, shared what I was doing, made nice comments to encourage me to stick with it, etc. But of course the downside is that it also leaves the door open for mean people to say whatever nasty things they want about you. Now that I’ve achieved a certain level of success, I always have a constant stream of people who are sharing their opinion, both good and bad, about what they think of me all over these different social media sites. I’m fortunate because my audience is so positive, but I still do get mean comments every day and they still sometimes hurt.
It can also feel overwhelming to have so many voices talking at you every day, whether they’re good or bad. Despite the fact that I chose to pursue a career that is fairly dependent on social media, I’m actually pretty introverted and still don’t feel comfortable with all the attention, so I’ve really had to work hard to adapt to that because I want to have a connection with my fans even though it feels unnatural for me sometimes. There’s also so much about my career that not many people can relate to, and while sometimes those are the things that make it so unique and special, there have also been a lot of times where I’ve felt very lonely and isolated because a lot of people can’t relate to this.
Do you have any career goals, or any specific things you’d like to achieve?
Nothing too specific, I’d just love to continue my career as a musician for as long as I can. I hope that I keep enjoying what I’m doing and that my fans will also continue to enjoy what I’m making!
It might be hard to describe with instrumental music, but what sorts of things inspire you to write your own music?
I really like to write music that makes me feel something emotionally. A lot of the time, I like to write songs that make me feel positive or inspired, and that’s a huge theme on my latest album. Everyone has hardships and trials to deal with in life, and I love hearing from fans who have told me that my music has helped them emotionally through a difficult time. When I was going through a few difficult years dealing with bullying and depression when I was younger, I looked for ways to escape and found a lot of peace through video games and music. The fact that some people tell me that my music is that peace that is helping them through a difficult time is so meaningful to me because I know how that feels. I will feel so happy if my music is able to help anyone in a positive way.
On the new album, do any of the songs have specific feelings or meanings or themes that are associated with any of the songs?
I named a few of the songs after images that I envisioned when listening to them, but I try not to be too specific because I know that some people will envision and feel completely different emotions when listening to the same songs, and I think that’s really neat! I love that about instrumental music. One of the songs is called “Hunter’s Frontier” after my dog, Hunter, that I lost in February to cancer, but I think it’s the happiest song on the album because he was honestly the sweetest and happiest animal, so I wanted his memory to live on like that.
I know you’re going to be quite busy on the tour, but did you consider at all trying to do any filming while you are touring (for an upcoming song, for example)?
No sadly, with my schedule we’re usually doing 5-6 shows in a row in different countries each night, and our “day off” is generally a full travel day to a new country so there’s not enough time to get any filming in on tour.
What aspects of touring Europe are you looking forward to revisiting?
The audiences are so amazing and have such a great energy so I’m really looking forward to that!
What new experiences are you looking most forward to on the expanded tour?
I’ll be visiting a lot of new cities this time, and some new countries too, so that’s always exciting! A lot of the venues this time are larger, so there will be even more people at the shows too, which should be fun.
What are some of your favorite YouTube channels to follow?
At this point in time, what is your favorite: game, song, show, movie, anime, band?
Game: Final Fantasy VII
Song: “New Life” by Thomas Bergersen
Show: Game of Thrones
Movie: Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Anime: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Band: Collective Soul
Any final words?
Just a huge thank-you to all my fans who have supported me since I started my career in music about 6 and a half years ago! I wouldn’t be here without you and can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support!
Interview by Bear Wiseman