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Taylor Deupree is an American electronic musician, photographer, graphic designer, and mastering engineer based in New York. He is most known for the founding of the 12k record label, along with his work as a member of Prototype 909, and his collaborations with Ryuichi Sakamoto, Marcus Fischer, Stephan Mathieu, Savvas Ysatis, Christopher Willits and others. In 2008, Taylor Deupree was the Président d'Honneur of the Qwartz Electronic Music Awards 5th in Paris (France).
Intensely committed to unique collaborations against all odds, Jessica acknowledges that the deepest beauty comes from the mysteries discovered through connection.

Taylor Deupree
is In Wild Air



Culture

Thursday Afternoon


Eno’s Thursday Afternoon came out in 1985 and I first heard it in ’86. I was in high school then and spending most of my time with my best friend in town who, like me, owned a synthesizer. We would spend countless days and weekend sleepovers making and recording music to cassette 4-track (I still have all of these tapes). One weekend night at his house, as we were going to sleep, he put on this CD by this guy I’d never heard of - Brian Eno. He said it was really quiet music and very cool if you put the CD player in repeat mode and let the disc play all through the night so it was still playing when you woke up. The album was Thursday Afternoon and I had never before heard anything like it. This became a ritual of ours, listening to it in this way, but I didn’t grasp then what effect it would have on me and my entire adult life and career.

Growing up in the '80s and being a huge fan of new wave, post-punk, and industrial music, Thursday Afternoon introduced me a completely different kind of sound: ambient. Songs could be really long! Thursday Afternoon is a single 61-minute piece. Songs could be really quiet, subtle, and barely-there and, songs could “go nowhere.” Maybe these don’t sound like the greatest qualities to your average pop music listener, but for me, especially the last one, somehow, they resonated deeply. I didn’t immediately start making ambient music at that point, in fact, it wasn’t until the early '90s that I did so. But Eno’s Thursday Afternoon was a blueprint and planted the seeds in 1986 for what would become a profession for me as I pursue the fragility of sound and music that just exists, like a pool, and goes nowhere, except inwards.

People

Hiroshi Sugimoto


Sugimoto is a Japanese photographer (b. 1948) who was introduced to me in the mid-90s by my good friend and filmmaker Iara Lee (now that I think of it, I should have written about her here - please look her up!). The work I first saw was a book called Seascapes and it forever changed the way I wrote music. It’s funny how these things work. I went to university and hold a degree in photography. Photography has been a part of my life since I was a child. But it’s the way that Seascapes affected my music that was so important to me.

Seascapes is a series of photographs, split right at the horizontal middle, of ocean and sky, taken all around the world. It is a study of repetition and stillness, as all of the images appear to be quite similar. Ocean, sky, ocean, sky, ocean, sky, etc. The beauty is in the subtleties and slight variations in light and texture. Visual looping. Since discovering Sugimoto, this process of repetition with subtle and gradual changes over long periods of time is a technique I still use today in my music.

Places

Sólheimajökull


In the summer of 2016 I visited Iceland with my family after having fallen in love with the landscape during my first visit in the deep winter of 2014 with fellow artists and friends Ryuichi Sakamoto and Marcus Fischer. Among all of the amazing places in Iceland, both touristy and hidden, the Sólheimajökull glacier had the strongest impact on me.

I stood on mountains of ash and ice, feeling completely small an vulnerable. So vulnerable in fact that my wife had to leave as she felt the dangerous power of the earth in a very instinctual and raw way.

I don’t think I’ve experienced a place so immensely beautiful, yet barren and aggressive at the same time. The beautiful ice, often reflecting blue light, was dirtied and smothered by jet black ash. The contrast was powerful.

From a photographer’s point of view, the opportunities were endless, from a musician’s point of view the stillness and beauty were impressive.

Things

Physical Things


I am, admittedly, quite a materialistic person. Whether it’s because I’m a musician tempted by decades of studio tools and gadgets or a lover of great physical design, I just like things. However, this materialistic love comes at odds with my penchant for minimalism and my fierce disdain for clutter. In my life and home it’s a balancing act between object and space. It’s also deeply important to note that it’s not object-for-the-sake-of-object. I’m not a hoarder or much of a collector. The objects I surround myself with aren’t chosen at random, or chosen lightly. I appreciate good, functional design and physical objects with a story.

I think in today’s digitally focused culture, objects are more important than ever. Maybe it’s because I’m in the music industry and we’re fighting a (losing) battle against the desire to stream your music collection. To me a record collection defines who you are, your book library, the objects on your shelves at home say something about you. Someone could walk into my house and in 2 minutes know a lot about who I am by looking around. Someone can thumb through my record collection or look at the books on all of the book shelves and learn something about me. I’m proud of these things and use them to form an identity. In my recording studio I'm surround by hardware and real instruments. I can touch them and physically interact with my music. I do have a small amount of software that I use in my productions but without fail, as the years go on, those investments get forgotten, lost on some old hard drive, or rendered obsolete by the computer industry’s obsessive need to update. In other words, in the long run,
they’re a waste.

I find digital “things” largely, if not totally, without soul. I don’t want my music to be disposable, I don’t want my musical tools to be disposable. I want beautifully designed instruments that wear and age as I do and will outlast even my own music to be handed down to someone else to create more beautiful music. Digital is convenient for many things, but it can’t replace a physical object you can hold in your hand, pass to the person next to you, and tell a story about.

Thoughts

Passion


I’m a firm believer in approaching everything you pursue in life with total and complete passion. Whatever career you choose, choose it because you love it, whatever hobbies you enrich your life with, for however long they last, do them with devotion.

The big passion in my life is music and I’ve devoted pretty much every waking minute since I was 15 trying to improve and expand on my musical explorations. It's an obsession, really, but not an unhealthy one. When I discover a interest I go all in. Simply enjoying a great beer isn’t enough for me, I need to learn how to brew it. Eating interesting food transformed into a passion for cooking (thanks, mom!). An interest in the mastering engineer field of music production has turned into a career. Love pasta? Learn to make it yourself. Here at home it’s summertime, tomato season, and fresh mozzarella and tomato salad is a favourite. We’re already growing the tomatoes and this weekend are going to learn how to make our own mozzarella. You get the idea. Life is short.

Wildism

Tree Tapping


Two years ago I started tapping sugar maple trees on our property to make maple syrup. A small bit of research and a lot of learning-by-doing and we’ve made, quite literally, the best syrup I’ve ever tasted.

As the seemingly endless winter in the northeast of the United States begins to wind down, tree tapping becomes a way to energize our tired souls. Around here it’s early March when we can begin. You need freezing temperatures overnight and above freezing (4o °F is great) during the day. From what I understand this basically creates a compress/expand type of system in a tree and gets the sap moving. I’ve begun to learn the rhythm of the trees and experience them not as these tall, static giants, but as breathing plants. As the forest awakens, different insects and critters are drawn to the sweet sap, an indication of spring’s imminent arrival. With careful observation I can start to read the seasonal changes according to the types of bugs that start to appear.

With only four trees tapped (a fair number for us to do by hand) we can get 10-15 gallons of sap on a good morning. A lot of the sap ends up getting briefly boiled (to sterilize it) and refrigerated and consumed as maple water. But the real work, and payoff, is when I sit over a wood fire outside on those late winter days (this year quite a bit in the rain) and boil down the sap into a deep, dark, sweet syrup. As troublesome as it can be, tending the fire for 9 hours keeps me outside and a subtle smoke flavor permeates the syrup.

We get a few good-sized jars, enough to last us the year usually until we get through another winter and look forward to this cold, warm, wet, smokey, and sweet joy. Perhaps even more rewarding is learning about the lifecycles in the forest and keeping that ever-important connection to nature strong.