There's something endearing about speaking with Maria Taylor on the phone. After she's told you in her slight Southern drawl about how she was doing laundry and cleaning her room before heading to Alabama to practice for her next tour, you feel like maybe you've met her in a coffee shop or something. Well, that, and the fact that after listening to her sing on Azure Ray albums and on her two "folky pop" (that's how she describes her music) solo records, you feel like you know a thing or two about her. But then she reveals a few things you don't know, like how her parents gave her Carole King's Tapestry when she was thirteen and how she fell in love with it and knows every single word to every song. But it was Leonard Cohen that really changed the way she listened to music.
Westword: You've been touring a lot lately. What do you do when you're not touring?
Maria Taylor: I just went on two trips, and one was one of the most amazing trips I've ever been on. I went river rafting and camping down the lower Salmon River in Idaho. It was so beautiful. I'd never camped or slept under the stars or been on a river; it was all new to me. It was just really amazing and beautiful, and different than anything I'd ever done. And I went to the beach in Florida before that. I guess I'm about to get into serious writing mode and trying to work on my new record, but I also try to get inspiration, so that's when I try to get out of town and take trips.
Maria TaylorWith Midlake, 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, October 2, Bluebird Theater, 3317 East Colfax Avenue, $12, 303-377-1666.
So what it's like when you get into writing mode?
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Pretty much I just have to focus. So I have to really spend a lot of time by myself in my room and just play my guitar a lot. I'll plug in my ProTools and start recording ideas, too, and that can sometimes help write a song. Basically, I just try to limit my distractions when I'm trying to get serious about writing.
Is there any particular routine you use when you write?
If I try to change my sleep schedule, it usually seems like I can get a lot done in the night, like in the wee hours of the morning. I think that's also because everyone's asleep. There are no distractions, and you kind of get the sense that the whole world is asleep. It just makes it easier for my brain to — I don't know, sometimes I feel like I have terrible cases of attention deficit. I don't have any real routines. But I usually go get a special pen and a special new notebook. I try to pretend they have magic and they're going to help me out. I usually write with my first acoustic guitar, which actually sounds really terrible and smells funny, but I like to use it when I'm writing songs.