PREMIERE: Slowriter – “TrailBlazer”


When Slowriter’s latest LP, TrailBlazer, surfaced online last year, my first takeaway was that it was exceedingly ambitious. Everything sounded bigger and bolder than before; the songs were caked in more elaborate textures and the grooves were more exploratory and difficult to decipher. You could still find ample snippets of the breezy, billowing pop and bouncy beats that had marked band mastermind Bryan Taylor’s earlier efforts, but it was if they had been unmoored from their traditional structural tethers. Still, what the record lacked in immediacy and pop propulsion, it made up in almost sheer density and a far more expansive vision. TrailBlazer, it turned out, carried some serious weight.

But then in January, a post on Slowriter’s Facebook page summarily announced that the album was “going away for a while.” Within days, TrailBlazer was no longer available for purchase on iTunes and streams were pulled from both Spotify and Bandcamp. As promised, you could no longer find TrailBlazer anywhere online. For a time, there was some confusion as to the status of the project; even members of Taylor’s backing band who had performed on the record didn’t know exactly what was going on, or at least pretended not to. But then last month, the news surfaced that Slowriter had signed a deal with fledgling local label Autumn + Colour Records (Austin Archer, Sleepy Turtles) and that the parties had reached an agreement to release a re-mastered version of the album on April 23rd. TrailBlazer, ladies and gents, is on its way back.

And in anticipation of next week’s release, here we have the exclusive premiere of the album’s acoustic-leaning title track. Much like the rest of the record, it’s a difficult one to pin down; just when you think you’ve got the melodic structure worked out in your head, the bottom falls out and you’re confronted with a hail of blustery synths. Everything resolves beautifully, but not before taking a few more left turns.

In addition, I also got the opportunity to speak with Taylor via email. I asked him about the making of the record, the thinking behind the title track and what we can expect from Slowriter in the near future (spoiler: it’s a new record!).

Tell me about your songwriting process. Do you conceive all the music yourself or is it more of a collaborative effort under your direction?

I write and record everything myself at home. I enjoy making music with other people sometimes, but with Slowriter, I’m most comfortable working alone. Occasionally I’ll use my friend Nick’s lyrics or just steal some from a Shel Silverstein poem, but for the most part it’s a solo project.

What were your goals with TrailBlazer? How did you want it to differ from your previous records?

I think the difference is that I didn’t have many goals with TrailBlazer. I wanted to be true to myself musically and lyrically, and make whatever I was feeling at the time. There wasn’t much concern about being able to interpret the songs with a full band or to have radio-friendly song structures on every song. I really just wanted new music to release, and TrailBlazer is what happened.

What’s some of the thinking behind the title track? How does it fit into the overall scheme of the album?

“TrailBlazer” is about trying not to lose hope, and feeling like you’ve worked so hard for something you’ll never achieve. The album is loosely based off this and the ups and downs of my emotions. I spend a lot of time alone making these songs, stuck in my own headspace, and I think that shows lyrically sometimes.

You released TrailBlazer yourself but quickly pulled the plug on the record. Why did you do that?

With TrailBlazer I really just wanted a new record to release. I wasn’t trying to make something to send to record labels or radio stations, I was just making the next installment for the Slowreaders. I put it out for free and without much promotion. I am pretty bad at promoting myself. When Autumn + Colour Records hit me up, we had to decide to move on to a new record or give TrailBlazer the proper release it deserved. I wasn’t ready to move on to something new, so I pulled the record off the Internet and got it mastered. I fully intend on releasing a totally new record this year.

Your record is coming out and you have a label to call home. What can we expect next from Slowriter?

I am so happy to be a part of Autumn + Colour. It feels good to have a team of people working on my side that believe in it as much as I do. The rest of this year will consists of two East Coast tours and a completely new release by the end of the year. We have a show minimum per year now, which is something we’ve always needed, so we have to play a lot of shows.

MP3: Slowriter - TrailBlazer

TrailBlazer is out April 23rd. Want to get in on the action a little early? Pre-orders are there for the taking.

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