My history in music
I'm Paul Stirling Taylor, a composer, songwriter, and music producer. I'm married to Fiona, and I'm a proud dad of two boys, Zak and Ethan. We live in Glasgow, Scotland. I'm also the eldest of three brothers, one half-brother, a half-sister, and two stepsisters. I have parents, step-parents, cousins, aunties, and uncles, nieces, nephews, plus extended family, all of whom I love dearly. I mean I have to, right? There's just too many of them to fall out with. Seriously, there's a special place in my heart for each and every one.
My journey into music started as a child when I learned to play piano, and my music teacher at the school, Mrs. Mabbott, became my singing coach. I auditioned twice for The Scottish National Orchestra junior choir before being accepted. After a few months performing at events, including BBC Proms, I became a soprano soloist. All was going well until my pubescent voice broke on stage (age 12) when performing the part of Nancy in the school production of Oliver!
Everything changed. My parents had recently split. We moved house, and shortly after the first of my grandmothers passed away. A tragic car accident masked her cancer that we never knew she had until it was too late. Shew never recovered. This was the lowest point in my younger life. I was only 12 but I felt lost. I became very close to my grandpa and I moved in with him for a time, whilst my mum and stepdad looked after my younger brothers, along with nanny Sally.
Both my grandmothers were musical when they were young, with Dorris being a concert pianist, although this was frowned upon by her father. She was always very keen for me to learn to play properly, and when she left me the upright piano I started writing my own music and songs. By the time I was 16, my family had moved in with grandpa. I spent all the money I'd saved up from my bar mitzvah to buy my own bedroom recording setup. Along with help from my dad and stepdad, I bought my first synthesizers, a Roland Juno 106 and Yamaha DX7, a drum machine, a four-track recorder, and a guitar. I couldn't afford an amplifier or speakers, so I used an old hi-fi instead to monitor on.
Moving To London
One of the most extraordinary moments of my time living in London was having dinner with Freddie Mercury and Joan Collins at John Reid's house on the evening I signed my contract with Elton John's manager...
By the time I was 17, I had been in three bands, a school band with school friends, David McFadzean and Barry, "Let's Go Dutch" with Sean Haughton, Tony (Cess) Hastie, Rick Curran, Anday McCarron, and "Boulevard Of Broken Dreams" with Raymond Trainor and Anday. We recorded our first demos at Glasgow's CaVA and Berkeley Street recording studios. I loved my Fostex four-track recorder because it allowed me to catch the ideas as they came and I made my first solo demos on it.
When I was 18 I was introduced to the singing coach, Jack Carol (JC). Jack played my songs to Elton's manager, John Reid. John loved my music and Anday's voice and we were invited to an audition at his home, Lockwell House, near Rickmansworth. This was the first time I met John and visited his home, and with everyone else there too it was quite a scary, yet amazing prospect. We performed our songs in front of the entire A&R and managerial staff of John Reid Enterprises, Rocket Records, and Big Pig Music. John had an amazing Steinway concert grand piano, which I loved playing, and we performed just piano vocals. The audition was a huge success. I couldn't believe I was signing to one of the world's biggest stars manager.
Elton John took us under his wing too. I recorded demos in his studio in Windsor, and thereafter, John Reid arranged with tour promoter, Mel Bush, for my newly formed band, KIK, to support A-Ha and David Essex for two years UK-wide tours. It was an incredible time. We performed all over the UK's major venues, playing at Wembley, Birmingham NEC, Milton Keynes, Manchester, Liverpool, Northern and Southern Ireland, plus many other towns and cities. The most memorable gig of all for me was John arranging the only date we had in Scotland to play at The Edinburgh Playhouse on my 21st Birthday.
KIK band - Carmelo Luggeri (Guitar), Sean Haughton (Bass), John Reynolds (Drums), Anday McCarron (Vocals), Paul Taylor (Keyboards/Musical Director).
(Paul (second top left) on tour with Anday from KIK, Morten, Mags, and Pal from A-Ha)
Shortly after KIK split, I met Samantha Fox. I got a call from Jon Durno, who I'd already worked with on a live TV show in Bulgaria. I was invited to program a 2-hour set of electronic music for the Samantha Fox worldwide tour, Pleasure Zone. I had about a month of preparation, then about two more months of rehearsals with the other members of the band, Lol Ford (Guitar), Roy, and Lauraine McIntosh (Backing Vocals), John Tonks (Drums), Jon Durno (Bass), myself (keyboards, programming, and backing vocals).
I recorded with Sam, co-writing, programming, and co-producing "Saving It Up" on her album "Just One Night". It was an amazing time working with so many great people, including having my own (legend/lifesaver) roadie, Spence. We traveled to the far outreaches of the world, and crowds absolutely loved Sam and the band. In Colombia, we were met at the airport by 5000 fans. The largest gig we did was open air at Madras, India, for 80,000+ people. I was now 22.
Film & Television
I worked with many other bands and artists in London thereafter, including Limahl from Kajagoogoo, but it was when a track I wrote with Dennis Rourke, Martyn Ford (Ginge), Jeff Rose, and Ian Anderson was added to a Chappell Music album which I recorded all the keyboards for, I considered changing my direction. At the time my band JEIP with Sean Haughton and KJ Jackson was nearly signed by a major, plus I was songwriting with Danusia Zaremba. Yet, this track that I'd almost forgotten about appeared in a cinema. And it was this track that helped give me the push I needed to start a film & television career. One evening I was sitting in a movie theater and the track was featured in one of the trailers. Wow, what a feeling, I thought, to have my music on the big screen (even though it wasn't part of the main feature!). After which, this track was used on TV shows, including becoming the Top Gear Motorsports theme tune.
I knew Carol Smillie, and I wrote the soundtrack for her video, Changing Shape. Carol put me in touch with STV producer, Agnes Wilkie, and after submitting a demo I was hired to compose the BAFTA Scotland Awards and The Grampian News, North Tonight. I had been living in Scotland again for a few years by now, met my wife Fiona, and we had our boys Zak and Ethan. I continued work, now as a full-time composer, for STV on many television series, such as Lighthouses Of Scotland, Mountains Of Scotland, Six Moments In History, plus short films such as Man In The Window, and the award-winning Divine.
I met up with Jim Doyle again, having known him before at Big Pig Music, Elton's publisher, and today with Rocket Music. His clients still include Elton and more recently Ed Sheeran. Jim and I worked together for about fifteen years. Jim got me involved with HIT Entertainment and Parthenon Entertainment, composing music to picture for more than a dozen Nat Geo documentaries, and I recorded my first album 2001 Pop Odyssey for Music House at EMI Music. During which time I've composed many documentary films, and production tracks for EMI Production Music on Music House, KPM Music, Juice Media, and FTV Media labels.
I was also the composer for the cop show Taggart for five seasons from 2004-2010. My father works as a volunteer on a children's panel, sometimes with BBC's Sara Harkins, and he introduced me to Sara, whose husband is Pat Harkins, a director of Taggart. A few months later I managed to get a meeting with Pat and producer Graeme Gordon. The meeting went very well and after submitting a demo I was hired to compose for them on one show. This led to me working for them for another five years. Taggart was a challenge I loved. I was working to picture with nearly a dozen different directors, who all had their own ideas about how my music should sound. Unlike many other TV series, each episode I scored had its own themes and non-recurring cues in other episodes. And with only two weeks work allocated for music per episode, it made for an industrious time composing all that music, as the first episodes I composed were an hour and a half long, followed latterly, by one-hour shows.
After Taggart, I worked for CBeebies children's television, writing songs and themes, plus incidental music for Same Smile and Sixteen South's Big City Park. Moving from gritty drama to playful childlike music was a bit surreal at first, but I managed the move without any problems. My two boys were a perfect age too, and along with other young family members and friends, we all sang on the demos. I even managed to get my wife singing on one or two. What fun times!
Paul's writing and recording studio, otherwise known by friends as his man cave.
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