We did an interview with Taylor Henderson and talked about X-Factor stigma, MKTO and his album

HI TAYLOR! So I hate to begin an interview by bringing up X-Factor, but for you to not actually win the thing and still end up with one of the biggest songs – if not THE biggest – the show has ever seen is pretty amazing right?
It’s one of the best songs that’s come out of X Factor in Australia so to have that under my belt is pretty “WOAH”. I remember going on the show and thinking “well I’ll give it a crack,” and here I am now with a second single coming out and it’s pretty awesome. It’s weird, but I’m trying to get used to it. It’s a pinch yourself moment.

Borrow My Heart was written by Alex Hope, right?
So there was Alex Hope, Louis Schoorl and Hayley Warner – get them in a room together and they’re so much fun. We got in the studio together and I was so nervous but it couldn’t have been any better, we had so much fun. Borrow My Heart‘s the only song I didn’t write because I was doing X-Factor and the schedule is off the chart so they had to write a song and I was like “oh damn,” but they sat down and they wanted to write it especially for me. They figured out they knew my style and it fitted me really well. I’m happy.

The second single When You Were Mine‘s out now and that’s also Alex, Louis and Hayley, yeah?
Yep, except this time I went in there with them. We started out and the song was nothing, so I went in and thought we did well with the last one – and what was hard is that I was trying to write songs with other people and they’d look at Borrow My Heart going “okay, that’s your vibe,” but I didn’t want to bring out Borrow My Heart 2. So it was good to go back with the same people who knew exactly how the last one went and understood we didn’t want to do the same song again. We had an approach to it where it was Matt Corby meets Ed Sheeran kind of thing? I don’t want to talk it up that big though.

It’s not Ed Sheeran cross Matt Corby though, it’s Taylor Henderson.
Exactly! I don’t want to compare myself, I wrote the song and I remember I came up with the chord progressions and lyrics and took them to the session and we wrote it in like a day or two. It worked pretty well.

I’m presuming you had a pretty good relationship working with Alex, because she’s only about nineteen or twenty and you’re not much older?
Absolutely, she’s so talented. The way she comes up with lyrics and stuff is amazing. She sees things in the little things that happen to you when you don’t… you know John Mayer, right? He wrote a song called My Stupid Mouth. It’s just about this awkward moment where he plays a game of chess with a salt and pepper shaker. You know when things are a little bit awkward and you will twirl around with a pen or flip your phone – little subconscious things. Like I’m on the phone to you now and I’m drawing.

And I’m playing with my headphone cord.
Ahhhhh! I’m doing the same man to be honest.

It’s like a nervous habit.
I am nervous.

You should be. I’m pretty famous.
I know man, I know! But yeah, she was great to write with and this song When You Were Mine is a great balance from the last single and there’s so much more to come with an album.

Tell me about this album – how far in are you, when are you going to put it out?
Well… what do you want from me?

Well, I’d like some more good songs if that’s okay.
I’ve got some more songs like Borrow My Heart, foot-stompers like that, so there’s some upbeat stuff but because I’m a guitarist at heart there’s some chilled out, stripped back songs just with the guitar, then there’s a massive ballad on there with just me and a piano. That’s one of the big songs for this album. I feel like it’s going to be a point of connection, it’s got something where it’s got a very personal thing that happened to me but not too personal for people to tell me to man up.

If you’ve got that ability to be honest on your record I think that connects with people instantly.
Yeah, well I mean that’s Aussies in general. Aussies like it straight down the barrel and I feel like if I bring that to my music and be honest – you know – a catchy song is great but I want every song to have some sort of definite meaning and not just be a “YEAH TONIGHT” sort of thing. They’re great songs man, but I feel like I’d be selling myself short if I went down that line.

And I feel like you can have a balance – you can have personal songs and then those that are just for fun.
Yeah, and I’ve got that as well. You’ve got songs that are up-tempo, for an example Swedish House Mafia‘s Don’t You Worry Child *he sings the hook like an angel to explain the song for me* – it has that thing where it’s more than just a party song.

It crosses over really, it’s a party song and it’s meaningful at the same time.
Yeah! And there’s songs like that one from the guys I’m touring with, MKTO, their song Classic *again, sung like an angel* is so catchy but also really good lyrically.

Have you heard the whole album?
I’ve just got it. They love that vibe don’t they – it’s really catchy but they will spend time with the lyrics and stuff too and not just get a big production done and waste the lyrics.

Yeah! So back to you, how far through is your album?
Basically I’m just touching up the last bits of the album, really, but who knows. It doesn’t mean I’m not writing, I’ve spent the last two days in studio just writing because I feel like if I stop, I feel like I’ve still got songs that could make this album. Before X-Factor I was always writing and I had a whole bunch of songs in the pocket, and now I’ve had the opportunity to collaborate with people and expand those songs and now I have a bunch of material I’m trying to connect with. When I signed to Sony, I played them a few songs that I had written and they thought “oh man, let’s get that one cracking,” so they’re really enjoying that I’m bringing my own work to the table and it’s cool that they’ve got a bit of faith with me. With Sony, they’ve got a lot of polished pop acts and I think they’ve been looking for something a bit more acoustic and raw sounding.

It probably excites Sony a lot that they have people like yourself actually bringing them some gear instead of spoon-feeding it to everyone that they sign.
I guess the only thing now is *TAYLOR SNEEZES VIOLENTLY* I know I’ve got a massive invisible X on my head that stands for X-Factor and I guess the goal is trying to shake that. I know it’s hard, I have so much to prove but that’s what I’m here for – no one can just walk into this industry so I’m continuing to stand on that X and prove that I’m here for the long run.

That’s a great mindset to have – and to be honest, X-Factor stigma goes like *that*. Look at Guy Sebastian, you don’t think of him as ‘the guy from Australian Idol’ now. You think of him as a polished pop product. That’s what will happen to you very soon if you continue on this trajectory of being true to yourself (pardon the cliche) and making music like you are now.
I hope so.

There shouldn’t be this much shame attached to The X Factor though – it’s a great way to get noticed and look at where it got you without even winning.
Totally! Even what you said – hating to bring up the X Factor thing at the start – I wouldn’t even be sitting here having this conversation with you if it wasn’t for it. I obviously have a lot to owe, but it’s how you approach it afterwards that determines what it can do for you. Don’t act like a celebrity, act like an artist and keep your cool. I’m just being myself and trying to write some cool tunes, you know, that’s all I’m trying to do and at the same time be creative in how I approach that and I’ve got great people around me to help me maintain that.

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