Vienna-based music producer and vocalist Christopher Taylor had to go on a journey of self-discovery before he could become Sohn. His adopted moniker, the German word for ‘son’, became one of the most talked-about names in EDM this April with the release of his triumphant Tremors album on UK tastemaking label 4AD. Taylor was in Portland, Oregon when DAN WATT chatted with him about his evolution from a regular teenager playing in bands to an electronic music doyen about to grace our shores for the first time.
Active as both a touring musician and a music producer, Taylor says balancing the two roles can be difficult. “For this particular tour I have actually been really grateful that I haven’t had to write,” he says. “It has been a really nice one-and-a-half month period where I haven’t had to think about creating anything. In the last 18 months I have been so active in the production of the album, from the songwriting to the final touches on artwork. I have been really grateful for a little period to not have to think about that kind of stuff. I was able to recharge my batteries.”
What makes Tremors an interesting dance album is that, essentially, it isn’t a dance album. It manages to balance accessibility with depth and texture – and in order to understand Tremors’ complexity, one needs to understand Taylor’s journey as a musician.
“I was always a singer, that was my first thing, and then I was in various bands as a teenager and I was always the person that wrote everything,” he says. “I am 30 now. Basically throughout being a teenager I was the one pushing the other guys in the band and always wanting to record. So I just started playing around with recording. I had a four-track MiniDisc unit, then eventually a computer. From there it just got easier to make things on the computer than try and record when you didn’t know how to record well. I think that’s often where electronic artists run into trouble, because they think, ‘Oh, I’ll just record that drum kit,’ but don’t know where to stick the mic, so when they listen back, it sounds terrible but they don’t know why.”
Taylor’s debut release as Sohn, 2012’s The Wheel EP, reeks of genius but also the limitations of a bedroom production. On Tremors, the sound is all-consuming, particularly on the song Artifice, which has resonated with music fans globally.
Moving to Vienna to get a break from his former home of London, Taylor began the evolution from bedroom producer to the live EDM juggernaut that Sohn is today. And while he’s an individual talent to watch, he credits collaborator Albin Janoska with giving him the spark he needed to reach the next level. “My manager was talking about putting together a band to play a show,” Taylor says. “The first show was at a showcase event called Eurosonic, which is quite a big showcase where all the European booking agents and labels are there. I was already working with Albin, my keyboard player, who was helping mix some of the record, and through him I found Woody [Stefan Fulham], the bass player, and we just spent a few months defining what would be our live show.”