Interview: Maria Taylor on motherhood and musicianship

Maria Taylor has been a staple of the iconic Saddle Creek Records scene since it exploded out of Omaha in the late ’90s and early 2000s with the storied underground success of artists like Cursive, Bright Eyes, and The Faint. When Taylor wasn’t acting as half of the indie pop stalwarts Azure Ray, she was collaborating with Michael Stipe or Conor Oberst, and somewhere in between she even found the time to launch her solo career. Her latest album “Something About Knowing” is a beautiful, modest, and confident album of lovely singalongs, the kind of stuff you can expect and rely on from such a veteran of the industry; it’s sturdy. But with so much growth achieved in her career already, Maria had to look outside of her work to find new challenges and heights. We caught up with her to talk about her new life as a mother, and what that means for her fans.

  • “Something About Knowing” is the first album you’ve released since becoming a mother. How did motherhood inspire the feeling of the album, or affect your writing?  
    Motherhood is a huge source of inspiration for me. I am happier, softer, and at the same time more solid than i’ve ever been. I think you can hear that in these songs. Writing is harder when your’e a mother of a small child. There isn’t much time to do anything while they are awake. When they fall asleep, you’re so tired… you can’t help but do the same. It took me a while to learn how to write in spurts rather than lock myself up for weeks and write all night and day like I used to.

  • The album must be quite special to you considering the time in your life that it coincides with, overall has it performed critically and resonated with fans to your liking? Would you have done anything differently?
    Especially on this tour I have noticed people having a real connection to these new songs. I’ve gotten to talk to my fans and hear their stories. This is all I care about.  I write because it’s what I love and I am completely honest in my songs. I love to share my life experiences and my journey and to meet new people and learn about them. I wouldn’t have done anything differently.
  • You’ve seen the country many times over in various phases of your career as a performer and you’re about to embark on another US tour, the first in support of “SAK.” How do you keep your travels interesting?
    Wellll, this time I have my 20 month old and my mom with me. Interesting, it is! Traveling with people who haven’t seen the country makes it all new again. America is beautiful, there are so many breathtaking views when you drive across the country and I love seeing it from someone else’s eyes.
  • Will you be doing anything unique with your set or show that fans haven’t seen from your camp in the past?
    I am playing drums on some songs and keys on some songs, as well as the usual guitar, this keeps it more fun for me and hopefully for the people who have seen me play many times in the past.
  • Are you breaking into any new you circuits or countries on this record cycle that you haven’t seen before? I know you’re slated to do Europe again next month.
    Just the same places this time around. I’m going back to China in April, which I’m real excited about. I went last year and it was incredible!
  • How do you juggle international touring and being a parent? Is it difficult being away when your son is still so young?
    I’m bringing him to Europe with me! I could never ever leave him for 3 weeks! My heart would stop! It’s hard to juggle any career and being a mom, I would imagine. But for me, Miles comes first and I will do what’s best for him. He has had the time of his life on this tour so far… he also LOVES music. He sings and plays air drums all day. At home he bangs on his little drum set for hours. He’ll probably be my drummer in a few years.