Molly Taylor aka Aphra Taylor has that raw talent that draws you in immediately and leaves you wondering where she came from, and how you haven’t heard of her already. She takes influence from some of the biggest names in indie, folk and pop, yet remains distinctive and true to her own sound. To describe it she’s got that crunchy, yet immersive sound the early Soccer Mommy tapes and the vocal stylings of Brooke Bentham. Taylor is at the dawn of her career, releasing her debut EP The Night Dances back in March but has already made a significant name for herself in the Oxford music scene, headlining at Truck Record Store for her EP release and playing alongside the areas biggest names. We spoke to Molly to get to know a bit more about the person behind the music.
What drew you to music and how did you get into it?
My family always played music around the house and when I was about 4 I would sing and dance a lot to whatever was playing. My parents bought me a microphone around that time so that me and my little brother could sing along to tracks and I still occasionally use the same microphone now to rehearse for gigs because it’s a pretty decent quality one. When I was 11, i started teaching myself to play guitar through youtube until my parents saw that I was serious about learning and they bought me my own guitar and lessons. Then I just had to work up the same courage that I had when I was little and sing in front of other people again!
How would you describe your sound?
Probably folky pop. I’m very lyrically focussed as I guess I feel I have to get stuff out through songwriting. I also have a heavier sound sometimes, a grungy indie type of feel.
What’s the creative process behind a song?
I write on guitar. I think about things that are troubling me and that I need to get out of my system. I then usually find a chord progression I like and mumble sing lots of weird things over the top of it until I find a line that I like. I most definitely look strange doing this from an outside perspective but it usually works quite well.
Sometimes I write lyrics before I write the music and I have to try and put them to music which is a lot harder.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
I like so much music so this is probably gonna be a long list… Elena Tonra (Daughter, Ex:Re) is one of my all time faves because I really love the rawness of her lyrics and vocals.
Courtney Barnett I’ve loved for a while as I saw her play Glastonbury in 2015 and she really inspired me to start playing shows and showing people what I had been writing.
Anohni (and the Johnsons) really inspires me lyrically as I feel like she just has this enhanced ability to pick apart the human condition and the subconscious. Also, Patti Smith in terms of lyrics and just the fact that she’s a strong female musician.
Folky stuff such as First Aid Kit, Natalie merchant, Aldous Harding. They’re all melodically strong and again, raw and experimental lyrically.
The The because they’re a really artsy 80s band and ‘Soul Mining’ is one of my fave albums.
I also like lots of alternative pop such as Lorde, Lana del rey, Billie Eilish etc. not that my music sounds like theirs at all but I guess it influences how I write as I listen to that sort of music a lot.
If you could be a support act for any artists who would it be and why?
I’ve been listening to georgia’s recent album a lot and I watched some of her interviews and she seems super fun/interesting so I feel like that would be cool.
Meeting Patti Smith, let alone playing a show with her is my dream. Joan Jett is also an icon.
Daughter I’ve never seen live and I would love to meet Elena Tonra as she has inspired me so much as an artist.
Favourite concert you’ve been to?
I’ve been to too many to choose from but I’ll tell ya my 2019 faves.
I went to Glastonbury last year and some of my highlights were Kate Tempest and Billie Eilish. I saw Kate Tempest again at the O2 in Oxford but I think that Glastonbury was definitely the best time I’ve seen her. Cassels were probably my favourite Oxford gig of last year, just the lyricism and dynamic between both of them made the show so personal. Aannnd seeing Lizzo at Brixton academy was definitely a self love turning point for me.
Favourite show you’ve played?
Oooh I played one at Christmas last year for Freak scene/snuggle dice (two Oxford promoters) that was super fun. I thought it went really well and I had a rare burst of confidence.
Another one is when I supported Richard Walters at New college chapel which was AMAZING because of the beautiful venue, acoustics, and it was also really busy.
What will it be like playing that first show once shows are allowed again?
I find gigs nerve wracking most of the time but before lockdown I had started to get into the swing of things and felt more comfortable playing in front of others. I think lockdown has made even socialising a bit of an odd, unnatural experience but I hope gigs are still enjoyable to play when things get back to normal. I really miss that whole atmosphere of soundchecking and meeting new people as well as the rush you get when finishing the set.
Any future musical plans?
I want to release new music sometime of course. I got lots of new equipment for my birthday so I’ve been slowly working on recording demos of the new songs I have written. I have a lot to learn but I guess I’ve improved writing/recording-wise. Depends on how many songs I get done but I’m definitely working towards getting new stuff out there.
Where would you like to be in a year’s time?
Musically, moving up line-ups and playing bigger shows. I hope to have released new music too and have a bigger following on social media/streaming platforms.
In life I want to be moving out and possibly going to university. I also want to be improving my writing and art.
If people want to find out more about you, where should they go?
In terms of my music Bandcamp, Spotify, Apple music etc. Just type in ‘Aphra Taylor’.
I’m mostly active on instagram (@aphrataylormusic) I also have an art/personal instagram (@mollyaphra).
My website is aphrataylor.com (which I really need to update haha) and my twitter is @aphra_taylor !!
The Night Dances is available to buy here on CD with a limited zine and available to stream everywhere.