Am I in it? is it now? Is it what comes after this life?
I’ve lived so many lives within this life.
I grew up singing and writing songs as early as I can remember. I was writing words before I knew words, making them up and singing them.
I started a band when I was 15 with my best friend, Orenda Fink. We named it Punchanella. Later we grew into a pop band and called ourselves Little Red Rocket. As we honed our craft, we also found our music to be cathartic and a way to cope with the death of someone close to us. Our music changed as it mirrored our lives and with the change we became Azure Ray. We came into ourselves as Azure Ray.
But as time equals growth and change, after many records and many, many years together I started my solo career. I loved the freedom I had to explore different genres within a single record. Every record I released since then has been a reflection of where life has taken me.
Fast forward to 2016.
A move back to California and a husband and two children later I’ve found myself looking at my favorite release of all of my work. I rummaged through my life, taking parts of my past lives and intertwining them with my current life. I’ve imagined my life beyond what is now. I’ve taken all that I’ve learned both musically and lyrically (with the help of my incredibly talented friends) and put it into this record. I kept asking myself, “If I die tomorrow, what would I want my last record to say?”
I teamed up with one of my favorite songwriters and producers, Nik Freitas, to co-produce this record. I love his music and what he brought to these songs. I called in help from many of my super-talented friends and family. I balanced my femininity with beautiful male backing vocals. “If Only” features Conor Oberst. “It Will Find Me” and “Pretty Scars” feature Joshua Radin. There are also appearances from Nik Freitas, Macey Taylor, Jake Bellows, Louis Schefano and the female exception, Morgan Nagler. One of my dearest friends and favorite poets, Brad Armstrong, was my lyric coach for this record. Writing a record and raising two kids has many challenges. I would find myself in ruts with the lyrics and Brad would help me with different approaches and steer my brain away from the obvious. I even co-wrote lyrics to “There’s Only Now” with one of my favorite lyricists and friends, Morgan Nagler. My connection to this record was also the impetus for self-releasing under the my own label, “Flower Moon Records.”
In The Next Life sums up my past, my present, and my future. I’m so fortunate to have this life to write about, these friends to write it with.
“As if you were on fire from within. The moon lives in the lining of your skin.” - Pablo Neruda
Bio by Maria Taylor
Maria Taylor is a singer-songwriter from Birmingham, AL, residing in Los Angeles, CA. In the Next Life, is her 6th solo effort, and her first release on her own label, Flower Moon Records out December 9th, 2016. She is also a member of the duo Azure Ray with Orenda Fink. Taylor has previously played or collaborated with Bright Eyes, Moby, Michael Stipe of R.E.M. and more.
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Out February 17th, 2017, Opposite Side of the World is singer-songwriter and producer/engineer Louis Schefano’s first full-length record as a solo artist and the second release on Maria Taylor’s newly launched label, Flower Moon Records.
Schefano, who currently splits his time between NYC and LA, is a Birmingham, AL native and was a seminal figure in the indie-rock scene there as a founding member of Remy Zero, Little Red Rocket (featuring Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink of Azure Ray) and Verbena (A.A. Bondy). Schefano has previously recorded under various monikers, most notably Regia which released the “great sixties-inspired pop” The Art of Navigation (mixed by Robert Schneider, producer of Neutral Milk Hotel’s In the Aeroplane Over the Sea). In addition to his steady catalog of EP’s and other projects, Schefano has also performed, produced or recorded with a variety of artists over the last two decades including Maria Taylor, Sarah McLachlan, Bright Eyes, The Ladybug Transistor, and more.
Arriving in Los Angeles this past summer to complete work on other projects including Cheshires debut album (featuring ex-Remy Zero) and Maria Taylor’s critically acclaimed In the Next Life, it was long-time friend Maria (who had just announced the launch of Flower Moon Records) and husband & label co-founder Ryan Dwyer, that served as the catalyst for Schefano’s solo debut. “These are some of my all-time favorite songs” said Maria, who has openly credited Schefano with “teaching me how to write music and find my voice.” Taylor also appears on the album (including the single “Come to Think”) and covered Schefano’s “Nature Song” on her own solo debut 11:11. During the fall of 2016, Taylor and Dwyer worked with Schefano in Los Angeles to curate a collection of their personal Schefano-best-of’s that ultimately became Opposite Side of the World.
On Opposite Side of the World, Schefano cohesively embodies equal parts the Zombies, the Smiths, Guided by Voices and Radiohead. Sonically colorful yet easily accessible, the album’s lush harmonies and instantly memorable melodies are arresting, inescapable, and timeless. The sounds-like-summer single “Come to Think” or wistful and breezy lullaby-esque “After All” beg for instant replay. Recorded and produced by Schefano, on Opposite Side of the World he emerges for the first time from behind a band name or mixing console, as a mature and poignant front-man.
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