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Taylor Mallory: Sound. Music. Spirituality

He was bullied and considered a “lame” for having a foundation rooted in the church.

Baffled, Taylor Mallory recalls, “One time specifically, a dude was like, ‘You can’t come to my party because you’re a church boy.'”

Though he felt “just like any other guy,” the comments and exclusion from his peers drew him closer to music, which he already had an adoration for.

“When my mom bought me my first Casio keyboard and four-track mixer, I was able to channel my expressions into music,” he expresses as energy resurfaces. “It really became like this therapeutic, free-flowing way for me to express myself.”

Now, you can Google “Taylor Mallory” and discover that those channeled emotions led to a successful and prospering career in music and production.

As the inaugural winner of JET‘s Soundcheck Music Poll, we caught up with Taylor to learn about his artistic journey and introduce you to the man behind the music!

JET: Congratulations on being the Soundcheck winner! How does it feel?

Taylor Mallory: Man! It feels good and I really like the platform because it’s a Black magazine. I didn’t realize so many people were going to support me. I was like, well, damn, I’ve actually gotten to a place where people rock with me. So, I just feel honored and privileged.

JET: What’s your earliest memory that connected you to the art form?

Taylor Mallory: Music was very therapeutic for me. It started more so in the church. At that time, I was with a contemporary gospel group called The Boys and I was getting bullied a lot because I was a “church boy.” Lil’ Jon and krunk music was popping, so to be a church kid was seen as lame. I felt like I was normal. I’m from Decatur, IL a small town and coming to Chicago when I was 18 and being on an urban campus [Columbia College Chicago], where you have these big buildings and museums, I wasn’t used to that. So in college, I was trying to find myself too. I feel like going to Columbia and seeing creatives just like me, made me feel at home and like “OK, I’m not as weird as I thought.” I’ve always known this is what I wanted to do.

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JET: How did the balance between church and the secular world, along with the bullying you endured fuel your creativity?

Taylor Mallory: I lived in a household where my mom was an evangelist, but she wasn’t super strict. It wasn’t super traditional. I never really had that fight [with] secular. I just wanted to be accepted; that’s really all it was and where I felt I was different. Just let me be me. I can still come to your party and turn up, you know?! But my beliefs are in God and Jesus. I come from the church, but what does that mean? You can go see a Bears or Cubs game, but that doesn’t mean that’s who you are as a person, that’s just what you like.

JET: How did your experiences shape your music and performance?

Taylor Mallory: Being able to see different artists like Drunken Monkey and Endiskize perform in Chicago–because in Decatur there are no performers, I was able to see people being a little more creative. From there, I was able to craft my own performance style. Now when I perform, it’s not just me, a microphone and a track. I have a keyboard, my pad on my keyboard where I triple samples, and then I have this new device called Voice Live Touch 2 which is like a vocal looper, designer and processor — so I’m able to do live loops and beats on stage! That’s become my performance style.

JET: How would you describe the “Taylor” sound and message?

Taylor Mallory: [My project] TaylorMade was kind of new age R&B, straight ahead. The sound that I’ve progressed into is kind of like alternative R&B — like if you put The Wkend, Usher and Bruno Mars in a mix. It’s something about creatives, specifically, where you may feel people look at you weird, but there’s really nothing weird about you. It’s just authenticity and creativity. People don’t understand you because you’ve actually taken the time to get inside of you! What I’m trying to speak for in my music is that it doesn’t matter where you come from — a small city, hood, whatever, you can still come out of that and be the person you want to be.

JET: I dig that! You’re affiliated with Level Next Music, what was the connection that solidified your partnership with the company?

Taylor Mallory: We believe that you can have the power to influence people, but also give back to the community. My mentor Ivan Dupee has opened up his facility to many artists without asking for a dime. I’ve actually taught an after-school program. Me and my close friend, we go to schools and teach kids about music licensing. We believe “you can do good while you’re doing well.”

Get more of Taylor’s music here!

Be sure to cast your vote for our next Soundcheck Winner here.

*Photos Courtesy of Level Next Music.