Since strapping on his guitar and walking off the X Factor stage last year, (as the show’s runner-up) it has been quite a whirlwind for Taylor Henderson.
Now, with a Sony Music record deal, two albums under his belt, an amalgamation of squealing fan-girls and the top spot on this week’s ARIA Album Chart, the country boy turned rock star is one to watch.
Speaking with him over the phone, one can almost feel the excitement oozing from the sweet-spoken 21-year-old, whose sophomore album, Burnt Letters, was released last week. A follow-up to the singer’s 2013 self-titled debut album, Burnt Letters, reveals a much more intimate side of Henderson, as he bares all and flexes his creative musical muscles.
“The album is an extension of me, because I mean, if I put out a song that is half-hearted, if I had to get up on stage and perform that song I’m not gonna be giving my everything anyway” says the singer-songwriter.
“I wanted to make sure that no matter what, whether I’m singing to one person or a thousand people … with this album, I’m gonna be extremely comfortable with it, because it’s from me and it’s exactly how I wanted it to sound.”
Admiring the “brutally honest” and genuine lyrical content of Ed Sheeran, Henderson follows suit, with many personal offerings on the release. The heartfelt ballad, ‘A Host Of Angels’, is a particularly intimate song for the young singer. Written at the age of fourteen, with lyrics such as, “But oh, I know you’ll make it through, There’s a host of angels watching over, over you, over you” Henderson dedicated the song to his younger sister.
“When I was younger my parent’s split up and it was pretty hard for me to go through, let alone my sister, who was six at the time. I mean, I was thirteen, so I’m still trying to figure out life, you know, as a thirteen-year-old, where as my little sister, she doesn’t know anything yet.”
“She’s had to grow up her whole life being torn between, going between, mum and dad, whereas I kind of had a little time – I had thirteen years of a good stable childhood, and I think as a kid that’s a hard thing to go through. I think she is very strong with what she’s been through and this song is basically saying, ‘It’ll be okay, you’ll make it through’.”
After last year’s debut self-titled release, which was comprised of covers from his time on X Factor, Henderson intended to wipe the “giant X” from his forehead and cement himself as an artist in his own right this time around.
“I think the best thing that I can do is bring out strong music because I can’t keep riding off the fact that I can sell t-shirts at a performance, or something… The music has to stay strong, and I think that this album is very much a testament to that and will show people that I am worth a bit more than doing covers on a reality TV show.”
Taking on board the advise of his father, who was the runner-up of the 2010 Australia’s Got Talent competition, Henderson aspires to break away from the homogenous heap of music on the airwaves and create his own unique style of music.
“Dad always taught me that you don’t ever want to be compared to someone. You want to bring something out, and [have people] be like, ‘Oh, that’s Taylor Henderson” he explains. “I want to make sure that my music comes across as me, as something fresh and not as something that, I guess, is comparable.”
Despite his prior reservations, Henderson worked with smorgasbord of co-writers and producers for his second studio album, including Louis Schoorl (Guy Sebastian, 360, Daniel Johns), John Hume from NZ band Evermore (Matt Corby), Alex Hope (Tina Arena), and Lindsay Rimes (The McClymonts). Jon Hume, in particular, helped the singer’s song writing flourish, lending his pen to Henderson’s half-written track, ‘A Host Of Angels’.
Henderson is currently traversing Australia, guitar at the ready, in support of the album’s release. He’s come a long way since busking on a park bench near his school, and urges fans to come along for an intimate live set.
“If you like the album, if you like listening to it in your car, then feel free to grab a ticket and get to a concert because we get to be face-to-face and we’ll enjoy that moment together” says the polite Aussie crooner. Unsure of what the future has to offer, Henderson assures fans that the “music will always be there.”
He also provided some advice for any young people with dreams of musical grandeur. “I think the best bit of advice is, just have a go. I remember what it was like for me; I’d do performances to about seven people, and it’s tough because you know you love it but if only seven people are watching then it can be a bit awkward. I just remember always sticking around and trying my absolute best, and here I am now, I’m performing to about eight people, no I’m totally joking” laughs Henderson. “So, I think I just kept at it and I did my best, and I think you’ve just gotta have the right attitude and you’ve got to just go for it, and give it a good crack.”