INTERVIEW: Evan Taubenfield

America, get ready. Evan Taubenfeld is a name you're going to be hearing a lot of in the coming months. This singer-songwriter has a real knack for crafting catchy pop. Ask Avril Lavigne, with whom he co-wrote her big hit "Don't Tell Me". Taubenfield has been building his street cred in the pop realm, writing and producing for several artists, and is preparing the release of his debut solo record, Welcome to the Blacklist Club. Thanks to beE and the crew at Pop+Nation, I recently got the chance to ask Evan a few questions about his music, his friendship with Avril and his upcoming album. Read on, comrades! For more info on Evan, and to listen to his fun tunes, check out his MySpace or catch him on Twitter.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm just a kid who likes to make music, somewhere along the way they started paying me for it, and I'm waiting for them to figure me out. Until then I'm going to keep having a lot of fun.

2. You're an incredibly dynamic writer! What is your writing process like? Do you write lyrics first or come up with guitar licks?
Thanks for the wonderful compliment. My process is different for every song/genre/artist etc. I'd say that in general when I'm writing for myself or another straight pop type artist it usually starts with me on acoustic guitar, then I make some melodies, and finally lyrics. However, lately I've gotten really into writing around loops, tracks, or using poems and lyrics first and then crafting arrangements around that.

3. When did you first start playing guitar?
I started seriously playing around 12 or 13. Before then I'd just mess around on my dad’s guitar or grab my bandmates’ guitars (I was a drummer first). At 13 I really started playing and taught myself all my favorite songs, after that I've just been trying to get better every day.

4. How many guitars do you own? Do you favor a certain brand?
I don't own THAT many. Actually, I'm kind of a minimalist in terms of guitars but I have about six private stock Paul Reed Smith electric guitars. Most are a custom "Evan" model single-cutaway. I also have a baritone single-cut, a hollow body, and a ‘74 Fender Custom Shop Keith Richards model telecaster. On the acoustic side I use two Taylor 610ce’s on tour and two Taylor 814ce's in the studio. Lastly, a 5-string fender jazz bass completes my setup in the studio.

5. Do you play any other instruments beside the guitar?
If it makes noise I'll find a way to play it, that being said guitar, bass, singing and drums are my most comfortable instruments. I write on piano and keyboard a lot but wouldn't really want to perform on them.

6. You had a large part in the success of your friend Avril Lavigne, including co-writing her hit "Don't Tell Me." How did you end meeting her and getting involved in her project?
I can't take any credit for the incredible success of Avril. She really did it all on her own, and I was just lucky to be involved. I'd been a singer/songwriter trying to get signed in Baltimore when Josh Sarubin (her A&R guy) called and offered me an audition. I took a train up that evening and was hired that night, the rest is gonna have to wait for my book.

7. You clearly have a penchant for writing hooky choruses that are still lyrically innovative. When you craft a song, do you know as soon as you write it that this is something that will stick with people?
I don't really see a point in writing songs that aren't annoyingly memorable. I mean, nowadays we're so distracted, we're so overstimulated that if I can't make you remember my song on first listen then it’s probably not worth finishing.

8. In addition to Avril, you've also written and produced for a bunch of up and comers of a wide variety of genres. Is this something you hope to continue to do or do prefer working on your own projects? Are there anymore co-writes on the horizon?
I love writing with other artists and especially other genres but I know my limitations. Some people are born great producers, I'm not one of them and that’s totally okay with me. I'd like to write/produce a #1 song but I know I'm not the next Rick Rubin.

9. Your song "Boy Meets Girl" namechecks a lot of seemingly unrelated music references (Twisted Sister, Mister Mister, Motorhead, etc). Was this based on a specific past experience?
Of course, I mean I grew up listening to these bands, more importantly my co-writers Bleu McAulley & Adam Richman are also big fans of the references so we all collaborated on making it a really fun way to describe the sentiment I wanted to touch on.

10. What is the significance of your album's title, Welcome To The Blacklist Club?
The actual title is "Welcome To The Blacklist Club" and the significance is pretty simple. See, I don't believe in the concept of fans. To me: if you support me, you're a friend, or family. So I gave our collective army a name: The Blacklist Club, and the album is kinda like your orientation package.

11. Your debut album was produced by the incredible John Fields. How did you hook up with him and what was the experience like?
Fields and I had known each other loosely through mutual friends for the past few years. When it came time to make W2TBLC I started thinking of exactly what I wanted to say sonically and aesthetically and he seemed like the perfect fit. Additionally the way that he and I work really complements one another so it was a no brainer. It wasn't always smooth but the end product is awesome.

12. If you had to pick one song that's currently being played at contemporary radio to cover and put your own spin on, what would it be and why?
"Replay" by Iyaz, just cause its so f*cking catchy. I'm jealous of how good that hook is.

13. What do you feel is the most important issue plaguing the music industry right now?
I think we didn't do the best job keeping up a supply of amazing art. Then we really failed when we started focusing on "quick fixes" at a time when the people simultaneously realized that they didn't need to overpay for our lackluster creations. At present I think the really really great (and sometimes lucky) ones rise to the top, and the mediocre sh*t falls to the bottom. It's really kinda like a mini version of the world economy, either be huge, or be nothing, no more medium anymore. Lastly, it doesn't help that the music industry whether admittedly or not is pathetically under represented & seldom competently defended in Washington.

14. Does your album have a release date?
It wouldn't be my album if it did :-) [Mel's Note: So...no? Heh.]

15. Message for the fans?
As I said above, if you're reading this you're not a fan, you're a friend, or family, or whatever you want to be. Just know that you're part of this so: Welcome To The Blacklist Club...

2 comments

Mike said...

The pop realm has street cred? dannnng

Paul said...

great interview :) I've only just discovered he's doing solo stuff so I'm quite excited checking it all out! Hurrah!

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