FX Pedal meets Jacqui Taylor
Today, we chat with the mightily talented Jacqui Taylor.
Jacqui is a member of FX Pedal Planet and an amazingly talented guitarist. When Jacqui first joined FX Pedal Planet, I was curious to hear what this guitar slinger could do. I was blown away by Jacqui's brilliant guitar skills and technique. Shades of Steve Vai and Joe Satriani were coming through her music. Brilliant guitar instrumentals, fast licks, brilliant tone and creativity. In this interview, Jacqui talks about her appreciation of Jason Becker and Joe Satriani. Her classical influences and piano. We hear how Jacqui moved from the piano to guitar, why and her time at university. Jacqui talks about her first guitar effects, her love of wah and expression pedals. Jacqui kindly shows some of her first pedals and treats us with some of her guitar skills. We hear about Jacqui's experimentation with effects to create different sounds and the use of effects in the studio. In addition, we hear about the practicality of effects as a travelling/touring musician and her love of Ibanez and Jackson guitars. Jacqui truly is an awesome talent, multi-instrumentalist and recording star. The best bit is, she lives local to me. So, when lockdown is over, I am hoping we can jam some day 🥰👍 I just hope I can keep up with her chops, licks, technique and speed 😆😆 Well, actually, I will have no hope in hell of keep up with her. However, we should always aspire to improve 😁🥰
Please welcome to the stage, Jacqui Taylor
An interview with … Jacqui Taylor
You may have noticed that a member of Skyclad Fans is none other than Jacqui Taylor, guitarist of note in her own right but of particular interest to us by dint of being guitarist for both Martin Walkyier Goes Skyclad and The Clan Destined.
This seemed like too good opportunity to miss to get to know a bit more about Jacqui and her role in those projects, so I hope you enjoy this small interview with her (and thanks, Jacqui, for your patience and for the selection of photos that accompany this post!)
- Jacqui, welcome to Skyclad Fans! Can you give us a potted history of your career in music to date?
I started studying music from an early age, with piano and violin lessons, then moved on to the guitar. After art college, I went on to study at the University of Brighton, completed a BA Honours degree in music and art, and then went on to write music for various dance companies and lyricists in between teaching the guitar. I’ve written, recorded, and produced two of my own solo albums - “Free Spirit” and “Brain Candy” - and have just finished another album working with keyboardist/producer Steve Gresswell, called "The Last Temple."
I joined a few bands, also session playing for a few other bands, did a lot of gigging, then met Martin and worked on Skyclad songs which gave me the chance to play in different countries including Brazil and Russia.
Currently, I am the guitarist for The Netherlands band Asrai, and I am also working on another "Inner Road" album with Steve whilst still teaching the guitar.
- How did you and Martin Walkyier first meet?
We met via the internet; he messaged to say he liked my music and invited me to a Sabbat gig he was doing in London. I was only aware of The Clan Destined music at first when Martin first contacted me, and they were just starting their Sabbat Reunion tour when Martin invited me to meet up with him at rehearsals.
The rehearsals had a great vibe, everyone would meet at Andy Sneap's studio. There was Martin, Simon Negus, Gizz Butt, and Jack (Simon Jones, Jack is his nickname) They would chat for a while and joke around, then get down to rehearsing their songs. I would sit and watch, It was exciting, loud, and being a guitarist it was great to be up close and watch. I enjoyed every moment. They worked hard!
I got on really well with them all, I would also keep them refreshed with lots of tea, coffee, or beer. They were a good laugh! After rehearsals, we would sometimes go out for a meal, on a few occasions have a few drinks, and stay over. I also had the chance to track some guitars and get a few recording tips from Andy, which I appreciated.
- Were you familiar with the music of Skyclad ahead of working with him? If so, do you have any favourite tracks?
I wasn't familiar with Skyclad’s music when we first met; I knew of Sabbat of course. However, I was soon learning the Skyclad material to do a few shows with him [in Martin Walkyier Goes Skyclad]. ‘Spinning Jenny’, ‘Think Back and Lie of England’ and ‘Constance Eternal’ are a few of my favourite songs.
- With regard to The Clan Destined, how did you become involved with that project?
Well after I met him in London, we chatted a lot back and forth and he wanted a guitarist for the TCD project, so I said yes and we started working and writing together.
- I really enjoyed “In The Big Ending” – what are your thoughts on how it was recorded and turned out?
I thought the album turned out first class! A lot of people all pulled together with Martin to get it done and I know he is very proud of what he achieved. It has great production too by Andy Sneap, James Murphy, and Martin.
- Sadly, The Clan Destined seemed to fall apart very quickly, and much has been written from Martin’s and Iscariah’s perspectives. What are your thoughts on the issue?
[The latter day TCD from 2009] didn't so much fall apart as it was kind of put on hold as we were preparing for gigs and putting together the Viking funeral show.
- Are there any unreleased songs from TCD sessions as far as you know?
Yes! There are unreleased songs from TCD - I was writing songs with Martin, but we were both busy with gigs plus I ended up having the opportunity to play for the Netherlands-based band Asrai so I became busy with recording and gigging with them. There are a few songs that have a good chance of being released, One is called 'Dark Matter' and another is called 'Pagans with Rayguns'!
- Turning to Martin Walkyier Goes Skyclad, what are your recollections of some of those shows, such as Beermaggedon 2015?
We played the Viking Funeral event in Nottingham, which was the first Martin Walkyier Goes Skyclad show. It was a lot of work setting up the venue, including the lighting rig (many, many thanks to Richard Wolfgang: he has done a lot of lighting for some big bands, and Martin and I actually had the chance to help him build some lighting for Lacuna Coil, all very interesting). We ended up with an awesome light show that looked like a mini-Pink Floyd, lol!
We managed to get together a lot of cool bands who like us put all their hard work in for free. I remember someone going overboard with the smoke machine, which set off the alarms! We ended up earning nearly £800 for charity.
Then we took the show to Russia and Eindhoven in Holland with Elvenking. Russia was brilliant, we flew out there did rehearsals then got treated to dinner. The promoter was an awesome guy and looked after us really well. We only had the chance for a few rehearsals together and I thought we pulled it together really well. I remember the crowd in Moscow was just buzzing and we got an extra day out there for a tour around Moscow, we did a lot of walking that day we nearly had a chance to go into the Kremlin, and while waiting we got told off for sitting on the steps, no benches anywhere! Sadly the Kremlin tour didn't happen.
I remember lots of snow, late-night bars and meeting some awesome people, sauerkraut, and whisky for breakfast before setting up and sound check. The show was a really enjoyable one and as musicians, I thought we all gelled really well together.
At Beermaggedon we got together with the band Rannoch. The brilliant bass player Justin Price from Haerken, and the awesome violinist Jez King. I remember the crowd being energetic and awesome and Martin doing about 3 different costume changes in the very tiny backstage room, he made an alien suit with flashing lights on it, it looked really good [see posted photo!]
I also remember struggling with my back all day and was a bit worried about how I was going to manage, it was a long day and I could hardly move but with some painkillers and wine and plenty of adrenalin, I got through it. Gosh, I could hardly move for about 3 days after!! Lol, despite that I have great memories of the Festy.
- Can you give any insight as to why Martin Walkyier Goes Skyclad never really gained any momentum?
After the Beermaggedon gig, we actually got lots of offers to play abroad: North America, Greece, even a festival on the shores of the Black Sea, so we were really excited. Sadly after all our work and rehearsals it only took one person to change their mind and who was not interested in doing gigs abroad which put a spanner in the works and we kind of lost heart. However, all was not lost as Martin and I then went on to playing with Tuatha De Dennen in Brazil.
- Nice segue, as I was about ask about playing out in Brazil at the ‘Secret Metal Session’ gig in Sao Paulo in 2017: that must have been quite an adventure? Was there only the one show performed, or more?
Oh yeah, the Secret Metal Session! That was a gig we squeezed in unexpectedly after a promoter met us at another gig we were playing in Sao Paulo and invited us to play while we were there. In fact, it was my second time in Brazil playing at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Festival with Martin and Tuatha de Dannan. The first time I played at the Varginha Festival was back in 2013, then again in 2017 when we had the opportunity to do a mini tour, traveling around the country in a van. We also played in Belo Horizonte and Sao Paulo. An incredible experience with some lovely people.
- On your Brazil trip I believe you met with some fans who are also members of this group, Ana Cristina Cabral being one. How did those Brazilian fans react to Martin/the band at the gigs?
Great reaction, they love their music out there and are a great crowd to play for. Martin has a big following out in Brazil and so does Tuatha de Danann so there was always a buzz of excitement. I remember Ana at the Secret Metal Session gig in São Paulo, it was great to meet her. In fact, I remember everybody I met in Brazil being so friendly.
- Martin’s portrayed in the media as a somewhat mercurial, even volatile, character. How would you, as someone who knows him very well, describe him in no more than 10 words?!
Martin is just very passionate about his lyrics and music.
- I'm very curious about your hat 'gimmick' on stage! How did that start?!
Well, I came across the creations of Ramon Martin a historical and neo-Victorian hat-maker from Texas, and when I saw his hats, I thought it would be great stage/event wear. So I asked him if he would design a hat for me and he did, I now have two of them, slightly different in style. https://www.facebook.com/RamonMartinMaker
- Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me. You have of course your solo career and merch available to buy – tell us a bit about what’s available and what we might discover there?
Thank you, my pleasure. My website is www.jacquitaylor.eu it shows a lot of my own work and also the collaborations that I have been involved with.
My latest album with Steve Gresswell which is very prog rock and fun to write is available on Bandcamp. https://theinnerroad.bandcamp.com/album/the-last-temple
[Review here: https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/.../...]
Here is a link to my own instrumental albums and tunes, also available on Bandcamp: https://jacquitaylor.bandcamp.com/
and of course my band Asrai. You can check them out here: https://www.asrai.net/