Rapid Fire Questions
Favourite band as a teen? Pantera
First concert? Queens of the Stone Age
Favourite guitar? My Suhr Classic Pro, in Olympic White
“Hard-hitting riffs, shred-guitar solos, hauntingly beautiful soundscapes, and heart-rending vocals that may be interpreted as dispiriting, yet sanguine,” – that is how is guitarist and composer Taylor William Wright describes Desolate Horizons, the debut album for his new hard-rock/metal band, Sin Sayer. Founded in 2022, Sin Sayer is rooted in an old-school style of riff writing and guitar playing, inspired by some of Taylor’s favourite bands growing up, such as Black Sabbath, Pantera, Alice in Chains, and Rush.
The multi-instrumentalist and RAC alum took the time to chat about his new project and his time at the institute.
Growing up with musical, rock-loving parents, Taylor was exposed to a variety of music early on. As a 90s kid, he was constantly exploring different genres, whether while watching MuchMusic on TV or getting lost in a new album while gaming. It’s no surprise that he soon found love not just for playing music, but writing and producing as well.
Today, despite writing mostly hard rock and metal-inspired riffs, the musician says he’s still open to “anything the Spotify algorithm shoots my way,” as well as improvising over other genres, like jazz and the blues, on his guitar. His diverse tastes and open-minded approach reflect his desire to remain true to himself as an artist, admitting that he doesn’t have anyone in particular to reference as an influence when it comes to songwriting. “I think life and your own unique experiences are the best influences, because that way, it’s all genuine and real,” he notes. “If you’re too heavily influenced by your favourite bands, and the way they write music, you’re not really being you.”
Taylor describes the guitar as his primary instrument, having played it for over 15 years, but he also plays bass, keys, and recently began doing vocals as well. When asked how he got into the production side of things, he reflects on his time at RAC. “I wanted to take my production skills to the next level and meet more industry professionals,” he explains. “It was also a good opportunity to network with people that would listen to me nerd out over guitar music, and make some lifelong friends.”
It wasn’t just production savvy that he walked away with. “It also gave me a framework to go off of,” he says. “Understanding how to conduct yourself in a professional manner, as well as the process of a session is an invaluable skill to have.” He credits much of what he learned to his subsequent jobs at Long & McQuade, Guitarworks, and a number of freelance gigs he’s done in Calgary, where he currently resides.
Another acquired lesson that he wishes to share with other creators is the importance of collaboration and not wearing too many hats when working on a project. “I think that if you mix something, it’s good to get a second set of ears on what you’ve done. You can really break things down if you have the right people around you. For instance, I did the engineering on Desolate Horizons, however, I had Jamie King of The Basement Recordings mix and master the album. Whereas on my first EP – Untitled under Taylor William Wright – I recorded, mixed, and mastered the entirety of it. Oftentimes, a collaborative effort can produce better results.”
The name for Taylor’s band, Sin Sayer, was born from the sounds and feelings that brewed in the musician’s bedroom during a few particularly inspiring songwriting sessions. It was only after writing a chunk of the album that he began forming the band, bringing in bass player Rob Latreille and drummer Sean Doran. “My friend Brad Scott helped write a couple of tracks, and Rob pitched in on a few tunes. Working together was pretty seamless – I think we have similar influences and understood the direction the songs were taking.”
When describing his songwriting process, the artist takes a low-pressure, laid-back approach: “I usually just sit in my room jamming riffs on my guitar, or playing along to drum tracks. When I come up with something cool, I track it, and it just sort of takes on a life of its own,” he explains. “I don’t overcomplicate things or become too analytical when I’m inspired – I just get the ideas out and roll with it. Analyzing is for the refinement stage of the writing process.”
Reflecting on the making of his first full-length album, Taylor emphasizes the importance of discipline and pushing through writer’s block or lack of inspiration. “Just write stuff even if it isn’t that great. It keeps your head in a writing space, and oftentimes leads to inspiration. Whereas, if you just wait for inspiration to strike, you’re never going to get anything done.” He’s also a big proponent of letting go of perfection, which he believes is often just a form of procrastination masquerading as quality control. “Paralysis by analysis prevents people from being productive. So I think it’s best to not overthink everything. If it sounds good, it is good.”
Another trick the musician uses to ease the creation process? Keeping his setup simple: “Limitations to your gear and the amount of sounds you have at your disposal can actually be quite liberating. For the album, I just used my amp – a Friedman JJ-Junior. – and a few guitars.”
Focused on writing solid songs rather than slapping a bunch of different riffs and guitar techniques together is how Taylor describes the growth from his instrumental EP Untitled to the new Sin Sayer album. “The EP had more progressive metal elements to it, rather than traditional song structures with verses, choruses, and bridges.” The result, in his words, is a less alienating experience for the listener. “And the new stuff has vocals for the first time,” he adds. One of his favourite tracks off the album is “Astray”, the first song Taylor had ever recorded vocals for. “That kicked the whole thing off – when my friend Brad gave me some validation and let me know that my voice wasn’t all that bad. And [the song] has a pretty killer guitar solo on it.”
You can check out Desolate Horizons by Sin Sayer on Spotify now.
Written by Andria Piperni
Illustrations by Yihong Guo