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Ambient blues man Sean Taylor is touring again in the run-up to a new album, scheduled for release in early 2017, and playing Whitby Musicport festival, 22 Oct. He tells Big Issue North why it’s not just his hat that makes him unique.

Tell us a bit about your sound and your influences.
My musical heroes are John Martyn, Tom Waits and Leonard Cohen. My sound is best described as ambient blues – a cocktail of minor chords, smoky bars and late night poetry. I have always been drawn to songwriters who tell stories about the world around us. The artists that excite me are not confined to one genre. Instead they are free to take influence from everything. Every song I write starts as an open canvas and through live performance the songs develop a life of their own.

How have you evolved as a musician over the years?
I started playing live in 2001 and in that time have played over 1,500 gigs. I have recorded eight albums and toured all over the world. The last four albums have been recorded in Austin, Texas with producer Mark Hallman (Carole King, Ani Di Franco). With each gig and every record the music develops. In the last few years I have toured with a band which has opened things up. The musicians I have worked with onstage include double bass legend Danny Thompson (Pentangle, John Marytn). Collaborations are so important to me as they push you to get better and develop new ideas.

Were there any alternative band names before you arrived at this one?
I have always just been Sean Taylor (the name I was born with). There is another Sean Taylor who was a very famous American football player. Many years ago he tragically died and I was sent loads of messages from upset American football fans. I had to tell them I was a different Sean Taylor. A very surreal experience.

What are you up to at the moment artistically?
I’m currently on my UK and European tour with a load of gigs. I’m also finishing off my new album, which will be out early next year. So busy and exciting times.

How do you stand out from the crowd in a saturated industry?
Apart from always wearing a blues man hat, more importantly I have my own sound. I don’t sound like anyone else. That is really important to me. All of my heroes have that unique sound and that is always what matters to me.

What’s on your rider?

Tell us about your worst live show.
Ha ha … I tend to forget about gigs even when they go well. This is quite deliberate as I’m always thinking about the next one. You can’t dwell on them – just keep trying to improve and trying to move forward.

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