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Interview with Youth Encounter

Feb 3, 2007

Micah Taylor has long been a behind-the-scenes force in the Twin Cities music world, creating websites, producing albums, and taking the stage to back up his favorite artists. Now releasing his first full-length solo album, Build to Suit, Micah talks about his love of serving God by serving musicians

YE: What’s your history with Youth Encounter?

MT: I was on the first Captive Free team to the South East in 1998-99. I think I had seen a team when I was young and living in Atlanta, but I didn’t really pay much attention to who Youth Encounter was at that time. When I was in college, a pastor friend told me that I should check out this ministry. I called on a Monday, and by that Friday, I was on my way to camp to be trained! After team, I served on training staff for a few years, and I was a featured musician at some of the Events. I moved to Minneapolis in 2000, and that summer I got to tour a bunch of camps and outdoor festivals and give concerts as I talked up Youth Encounter and did some recruiting, which was a pretty great experience.

YE: Is this your first solo CD?

MT: I released a three-song EP called Water back in the day, which I toured off of for just a ridiculous amount of time. But this is my first full-length album, which has been years in the making. I told people I was going to do it, and then I ended up spending a lot of time on other projects, playing with Trace, Rachel Kurtz, and Nate Houge and the Honest Folk. And people kept asking me, “When is your solo album going to be done?” So this summer, I said that I’m not going to take on any more projects, I’m just going to finish this album.

The thing is, I still don’t feel like it’s done. It’s a work in progress that I had to commit to being finished. Part of me wishes that I could just crank out albums like some of my peers, but I also really love working on other people’s stuff. I’ve had the chance to work with some amazing musicians, Grammy-nominated and nationally-known artists, and I wouldn’t trade those experiences for anything.

YE: What’s it about?

MT: Well, it’s called Build to Suit, which is a phrase I saw on a lot of signs around construction sites. You know, you can take this lot and build it to suit your needs. And in our world, we do that a lot; we try to build stuff for ourselves, but we mess it up pretty good and don’t rely on the foundation of God. This album spans almost a decade of my songs, and as I look back on some of them, I realize that the main reason why I wrote them is because I didn’t want to pay for therapy. A lot of the songs have a common theme of, I’ve got this house, and I’ve ruined it, and I need to turn the keys over to God. But he rolls up his sleeves and says, “I can do something with that.” But not every song is about that. I’m really interested in having an integrated faith, an understanding of living life with God involved in everything. So I can sing about my wife and still be pointing to God at the same time. Plus, there’s a pun in there somewhere with my name…Build to Suit, suits, tailors, Micah Taylor. I haven’t quite refined it yet.

YE: What other musical groups and artists have you been involved with?

MT: I played with Trace for a while, which is no more since 2 members of the band moved to North Carolina. I currently play with Nate Houge and the Honest Folk, and also with Nate in Welaware, which is a “power trio” of me on drums, Nate on guitar, and Justin Rimbo from Fuller Still on bass because we need to get some rock ‘n’ roll out of our systems once in a while. I’ve filled in with Echelon and Jonathan Rundman a couple of times, too. But most of my work with other artists is behind the scenes, recording and producing rather than performing. I recorded Rachel Kurtz’s latest album. I’ve also done websites for Nate and Rachel, among others. When I stopped touring in 2002, I had to get a day job. Trace was doing great locally, but there is litle money if you stay at home, so I wanted to do something that I enjoy. I like web design a lot; I like the creativity of it, and I like serving people in that way, especially my friends and fellow musicians.

I like performing, too, but I just don’t feel that I have the stage presence of somebody like Jonathan Rundman or Nate or Michael Bridges from Lost And Found. I don’t have the gift of gab, but I love music and I feel compelled to help make it happen. So I tend to stay behind the scenes.

YE: If you could work with any performer, living or dead, who would it be?

MT: Well, if I had to name a performer, I’d say the Indigo Girls. They were a big influence on my music from the start, so I would really enjoy sharing a stage with them. I saw them perform live once, and this guy in the audience requested “Free Bird,” so they brought him up on stage and put the guitar in his hands and said, “You want to hear it? You play it.” And I kind of wished that had been me. But what I’d rather do is sit in the corner while Ethan Johns, Jon Brion, George Martin, or Brian Wilson produced and recorded, and just watch them work. I’m more of a studio dork than a music dork.

But honestly, I’ve already worked with some amazing people. I hope nobody thinks I’m namedropping to try and be impressive or anything. I’m just so blessed to be able to work with such talented people so often.

YE: When’s your CD release concert?

MT: The CD release show is Friday, December 15 at 7 p.m. at Concordia University in St. Paul in the Westlund Theatre Lab, located adjacent to the E. M. Pearson Theatre (number 2 on the campus map). There will be a bunch of great musicians there with me, and it will be a really fun time. Please come, bring your kids, everyone’s welcome, even if you can’t pay the cover or pay for the CD. I’d much rather people show up and have a good time and celebrate this accomplishment with me.

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