This week we interview Stewart Taylor, in his own words, ‘a GLAMboyant Pop and R&B singer-songwriter’.
Stewart Taylor is based in Boston, where he graduated from the Berklee College of Music. He has personally worked with American Idol judge/Grammy-nominated songwriter Kara DioGuardi, is followed by Lady Gaga, and has been featured in The Boston Globe and on Channel 7 News. Stewart is also an active voice in the LGBT community. His coming out story was published in The New York Times bestseller It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living.
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, Stewart.
You’ve said that some of your influences are Prince, Michael Jackson, Billy idol and Christina Aguilera. What is it about these singers and their music in particular that draws you to them?
I have been incredibly drawn to these particular artists not only because of their unique voices and incredible songwriting, but for their flamboyant fashion and larger than life stage personas as well. They were never afraid to push boundaries with their music and their androgynous style, and this inspired me to be different and to take risks. I wouldn’t be the artist that I am today without them.
How does it feel to open a music magazine and find out you’ve been spotlighted, as you were recently, with EQ Music? Or to have your songs played in clubs? You said you were thankful to be featured, which is a truly humble thing to say- does it give you a real buzz to see your music being showcased in this way?
The response I’ve gotten for my debut single “Liberation” and my self-titled debut EP has been unreal. I’ve been following EQ Music for years and it was a dream come true to be featured in it last month. A lot of other gay music blogs have picked up the single and featured it as well, and it feels amazing to start getting recognised by the gay community and the pop scene for what I do. Then when I was dancing in the club with my friends the other night, I was totally surprised when the DJ started playing my single. Everyone, myself included, went crazy! It was the first time I had ever heard my music on the dance floor and it was an incredible, magical moment.
What’s your favourite mode of outfit when you perform – you wear sequins, leather –but what’s your favourite and are you more interested in the look or how comfortable it is when you’re performing-or both?
I think sequins and leather in my wardrobe are equally essential, so picking a favourite is pretty tough. It doesn’t matter how uncomfortable it gets while I’m performing in it though, because if it looks killin’, I’m wearing it. I loved how fearlessly MJ and Prince rocked leather jackets, tight leather pants and heavily sequined outfits in the eighties. It gave them a badass, flamboyant edge and that’s what I try to channel with my outfits. My other essential stage-wear are bright, cut up tank tops with crazy necklaces, retro silver and gold wrist cuffs and leather fingerless gloves. If I’m not wearing a leather jacket over my outfit then my other obvious choice is a sequin jacket. When the stage lights or sunlight hits the sequins, you’re suddenly sparkling from every direction and it’s nearly impossible for people to take their eyes off of you. I want to keep people entranced and enthralled onstage and off, so the more sequins the better.
You appeared on TV for the first time back in March. Are you going to be doing anything else on TV in the future? Tell us a bit about your upcoming events and schedule so we know where to find you.
Yes! When Channel 7 news saw the music video for “Liberation” and decided to do a news segment on it I was floored. Seeing my video and interview flash in front of me on TV was another incredible first for me. I would love to do more TV spots in the future, but one in particular that I’m pushing for is Ellen DeGeneres. I just want to be her best friend and perform for her. She’s such a wonderful person and does do much good for the gay community so it would be an honour to be on her show. For the moment though, I’ve got a ton of club gigs booked up and down the East Coast all summer in support of my EP. I also just started work on my next EP and I’m moving to LA in August to finish the record. So you can definitely expect more high-energy West Coast gigs and crazy music videos from me in the near future.
You talk at events at schools about bullying and coming out and seem to enjoy being a motivational speaker to these youth. How does it feel to look out at that audience of young, expectant faces and try and get your message across that’s it okay to be different and bullying will never be acceptable?
Getting to speak at high schools about my own struggles with being bullied and coming to terms with being gay completely re-inspired me. Sometimes as an artist, you get so caught up in working your ass off, gigging, and recording non-stop that you lose perspective of the impact that your work can have on other people. Getting to speak to kids who are going through all of the things that I went through growing up and hearing how my music and story helped them reminded me why I HAVE to keep doing what I do. There are millions of kids struggling to come to terms with their sexuality and getting bullied in and outside of school for being different. Too many people, especially kids, resort to self-harm or suicide because they feel like they have no other choice. But when I speak to them I stand as living proof that they do have another choice. I show them that life CAN and WILL get better as long as you don’t give up. I show them that you can get through those harrowing times in your life; that you can be openly gay and still make your dreams come true once you learn to love and accept yourself for who you are. Bullying is never acceptable and these are issues that we absolutely must continue to talk about in our society. It literally can mean the difference between life and death.
This is a perhaps a controversial question. The anti-bullying video is a great message and one to send out to people everywhere who suffer from this. It’s obvious you believe, as do I, that no matter how you look, dress or act, everyone has the right not to be bullied regardless of that outside persona. How do you deal with the people who say, ‘If he/she didn’t dress that way and be so flamboyant, maybe they wouldn’t be bullied?”
I’d tell those people that that still isn’t an excuse to bully someone, just like there’s no excuse to bully someone for the color of their skin or for their orientation. The world has a lot of work to do in terms of becoming a more loving and accepting place, and if someone is brave enough to express themselves and own who they are through their fashion or their actions, that’s something to applaud, not berate someone for. I am always fully aware of what kind of response I will get from people when I leave my apartment in spandex, leather, sequins, leopard print, or whatever other flamboyant clothing I feel like wearing that day. I get a lot of mixed responses from people because I’m challenging their beliefs and their views about life and gender roles. I choose not to live my life according to gender roles, but whether I like it or not, not all of the responses I get for doing so are going to be positive. I’ve learned to use this to my advantage though. When I encounter closed-minded people who scoff at the way I dress or harass me on the street, it inspires me to push the boundaries even further to express myself though my flamboyant fashion and actions. Maybe by doing so, I’ll inspire people to become more open-minded about people who are different and who lead opposite lifestyles. Think about how much Madonna has helped change people’s views about sex and gender roles throughout her career by continuously throwing it in people’s faces and inspiring people to be more open-minded. I want to follow in the Queen’s footsteps and continue to do the same.
And now for some quick, fun answers to get to know a little bit more about the man behind the music-
How many pairs of shoes do you own?
I honestly have no idea. Not a lot. Once I wear out my signature Creative Recreations of Adidas, I throw them out and get a new pair.
If you were a super hero, what power would you want?
Easy. Flying of course.
Do you know the dance steps to an annoying cheesy pop song?
Which is cooler? Dinosaurs or Dragons?
Dragons obviously! Besides being gothic and awesome, they spit fire and get to fly.
Do you have any unusual fears or phobias?
I’m mildly OCD and I wash my hands a lot, so I guess you could say I’ve got germ phobias and hate disorganization. Oh, baby.
Who’s your favourite movie action hero?
Stewart, thanks so much for being with us today. We wish you all the best of luck with your new single ‘Liberation’ and have to say we really enjoyed the video. We hope the future brings you everything you want for yourself and your career.
Download the Stewart Taylor EP on iTunes here: http://apple.co/1ETcD0U
Stream the Stewart Taylor EP on Spotify: http://spoti.fi/1ETcJWk
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