Local hero Julian Taylor has reconnected with Warner Music Canada after two decades with the signing of a creative distribution deal that enables him to build on the earlier success he had with Staggered Crossing and smooth the path for more recent sides released through his own Howling Turtle imprint.
It was a year ago when the Toronto roots singer and popular Elmnt fm Toronto afternoon-drive host released his critically acclaimed Americana-style album The Ridge that spun an autobiographical story about his boyhood split between rural and urban landscapes and his ancestral Mohawk and Caribbean roots, earning him a win at the recent Canadian Folk Music Awards, a Juno nomination and strong notices and airplay in new career outports that included the US, UK and Australia.
With many people rooting for him in Canada’s music industry, the single dad has found major backing allowing him to push home his unconventional blend of Caribbean, American and Canadian influences to be elusive, and has quietly moved his career forward with a measured pace.
Of the new partnership, Taylor waxes philosophical: “Back in 1999 my first musical group, Staggered Crossing, signed with Warner Music Canada. It was a big deal for us orchestrated by Frank Davies of TMP.
“Most of us were just out of high school, and it was an extremely exciting time. We scored a top ten hit with Further Again and toured Canada with some of our favourite bands, but the timing wasn’t right. It was the beginning days of Napster and we just couldn’t compete, so eventually things fell apart. We were young then and didn’t really understand what had happened. Those were hard days for us because it felt like our music career might be over, but we pressed on, and I took it upon myself to learn more about the music business and how to run an indie label on my own.
“Fast forward 20 years later, and I am proud that I have endured, and I am very proud of all my accomplishments. I’ve learned a lot and feel fortunate to have experienced so much. Redemption is a gift not to be squandered. I am making my way into ACT III of my music career. It’s a marvel at how things work out (and) I’m thrilled to be working with Warner Music Canada again. It feels like things have come full circle. Time heals all wounds, but time takes time, and this feels like a beautiful reunion.”
Steve Kane, President of Warner Music Canada adds, “I have always had a deep respect for Julian’s artistic talent as a songwriter, performer and caring human. The acclaim he has received for his new album The Ridge is so well deserved, and we are proud to welcome him back to Warner Music Canada.”
In addition to the Howling Turtle releases, Warner Canada will also release a 20th anniversary edition of the now classic self-titled Staggered Crossing album. Of this release, Taylor goes on to say, “We’ve been chatting about how to celebrate this milestone. Originally, we’d thought about doing a concert, but then the pandemic got in the way, so we’ve been going over old demos and songs from the past. It’s been quite a trip down memory lane. I’m excited about what comes next for me as a solo artist as well as what I might do with the Julian Taylor Band and Staggered Crossing. I haven’t a clue as to what may come next. I’m working on a new solo album and I’m nervously excited about this.”
The Ridge has received seven award nominations, including Juno Awards nods for Best Contemporary Roots Album of the Year and Indigenous Artist or Group of the Year. Taylor is the first Black Indigenous person to ever be nominated in that category.