Damian Taylor is a six-time Grammy-nominated producer, mixer, writer and programmer best known for his collaborations with The Prodigy, Björk, Arcade Fire, The Killers, Temper Trap, UNKLE, Austra, Trust, Braids, and Adam Freeland.
Though predominantly focused on making records in the studio, Taylor also performed live electronics as the musical director of Björk’s 2007-2008 Volta world tour, and developed boundary pushing musical technologies used as writing and performance tools, then as underlying iPad app frameworks for Björk’s project Biophilia.
Born in Canada to British parents, Taylor’s formative years saw him travelling throughout North America, Europe, the South Pacific and Middle East. This afforded him a broad perspective that has been fundamental to his aesthetic approach in the studio. He chose London as his base at the age of 19.
After a year engineering in-house at a budget studio in Brixton, he met producer/writer Guy Sigsworth, who immediately partnered with Taylor on all his projects, including Frou Frou’s “Details”, Radio One playlisted remixes for Talvin Singh, and sessions for Björk’s “Vespertine”. The pair established a studio at Strongroom in East London, where Taylor met many producers, engineers, and mixers who would become important influences in his career, including Neil McLellan, Adrian Bushby, Jim Abiss, and Pascal Gabriel. Working freelance around London and the UK, Taylor also worked regularly with Tom Elmhirst, Cameron Craig, Steve Osbourne, and Mark “Spike” Stent.
Taylor became heavily in demand due to the completely unorthodox techniques he developed to manipulate audio, predominantly based on deeply detailed audio editing and automation. At the time this went against the grain of the predominantly MIDI based approach of programmers. Working under Guy Sigsworth, he also learned vocal production to an unprecedented level of detail, and eventually found himself in demand for his abilities to enhance and maximize performances, first with vocals, and later full bands and beyond.
Through the early 2000’s, in addition to his normal freelance work, Taylor acted as a behind the scenes “silent member” for UNKLE and Adam Freeland, both of whom had regular residencies at Fabric nightclub in London, a significant global epicentre of underground music. This meant Taylor would often spend the week in the studio before taking the new music directly to Fabric where it would be DJ’d by Freeland or UNKLE’s James Lavelle.
Sessions for those projects would be interwoven with work with many of the producers, mixers, and artists named above, in addition to notable sessions for Kasabian, A, Robyn, The B-52s, South, Depeche Mode, and many more. in 2003 Neil McLellan invited Taylor to join him and Liam Howlett in the studio for seven months to complete The Prodigy’s “Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned”. While Taylor acted predominantly as an editor and engineer on that project, Five years later, Howlett would again tap Taylor for “Invader Must Die”, with Taylor’s role expanding to additional production, helping Howlett tie up the album in a more concentrated three month span.
The contrast of these different worlds has come to characterize Damian’s work; innovative instrumentals informed by British beats and bass culture and many of the secrets of making a huge sound system rock a crowd, in combination with a sensitivity and attention to details with vocalists rarely matched by his peers.
Late in 2005 Taylor was asked to work full time with Björk as her personal engineer and programmer, a richly rewarding collaboration which would eventually span six years, two full albums, a world tour, and the world’s first iPad app album.
While touring with Björk, Taylor chose to move base back to Canada. At first he operated out of a cabin on the west coast of British Columbia, taking sea planes to the international airport to travel to concerts and sessions. After two years he wanted a more central location so chose Montreal, Quebec, as the venue to build his concept for a studio suited to his style of working. The key points were acoustic accuracy on par with any top studio in the world, a large spacious control room with room to record live musicians, natural light, and two smaller live rooms with dramatically different acoustic properties. Taylor hired acoustician John Brandt to execute the plans, and built Golden Ratio in the Mile End neighbourhood.
Having his own facility allowed Taylor the freedom to work with new artists he believed in, including Trust, Austra, Diamond Rings, Foxtrott, Mas Ysa, and Gems, in between larger projects for established artists such as Arcade Fire and The Killers. During this phase the demand for his services as a mixer began to surge, and he developed supportive ways to help the new generation of self produced artists maximize their own vision.
Recently he has been a producer and mixer on The Temper Trap’s third album “Thick As Thieves”, produced, co-wrote, and mixed Love Thy Brother feat Ariel Beesley “Love Me Better”, and in sessions with Arcade Fire, Trust, and new artists Dizzy and Petra Glynt. He will be relocating to the United States of America in September of 2016.
Taylor’s full discography is available here.