Hot, talented R&B crooner Willie Taylor is ready to show the world his perseverance, work ethic, and diligence to succeed in the music industry.
Taylor started off singing in Chicago-based group Quiet Storm, but his career rose to prominence as a member of the multi-platinum R&B group Day26. He is more than grateful for the group's success because it allowed him to have numerous fans throughout the world. Willie also wears many hats; he is an actor, songwriter, producer, author, and now a reality star.
Now, Willie is ready to challenge himself much more by adding solo success to his list of accomplishments. He already gave a sneak preview of his newest endeavors on VH1's reality show, "Love & Hip-Hop Hollywood". So as you can see, this is the only beginning for the R&B singer!
The Chi-town native took time out of his busy schedule to chat with Singersroom about the Willie Taylor brand, Day 26, his work as a solo artist, and more.
New single "I Thought I Knew Myself" – The concept for "I Thought I Knew Myself," was pretty self-explanatory. But it's like this: In relationships, you do things that you thought you would never do. But it's a learning experience, so with that record, I just wanted to put out there what we go through in relationships. We learn more about ourselves on a daily basis. That was pretty much the gist of the song. I just wanted a harmonic melody for this record and just do what I do on the record. You can apply the single to many aspects of your life.
Transition From a Group Member to a Solo Artist – It was actually easy. It's not that I'm not used to being a group member because I was in a group before Day 26. I was in a group called Quiet Storm but actually after that, I had a nice range of solo work for like a year or two before I joined Making the Band and Day 26. Either way it goes, I think my talent fits in those marks regardless if I'm in a group or going solo.
Challenges As a Former Group Member and Soloist – I think the biggest challenge was closing the window on Day 26. If you keep that window open, people expect to hear more from the group. So for the fans to accept Willie Taylor, the brand, I had to completely close the Day 26 window. And I can't even give that as an option. I think that's the hardest thing because every time someone sees me, the first thing they want to ask me about is Day 26, the guys, Diddy, and "Making the Band". But right now, I'm just trying to close all conversations on that and let people focus on Willie Taylor, the artist, the writer, and any other hats I wear.
Future of Day 26 – The window is closed, but it's not locked. We can always revisit it if the fans want Day26 to do a reunion; it's a phone call away. But right now, we're not entertaining it only because I can't tell you that Willie Taylor is a brand if I don't allow you to see the brand. If you're only looking at the Day26 brand, you'll never look at or see the Willie Taylor brand. I'm just trying to get that up and running so people can understand whichever way I go, I belong here.
Favorite Career Endeavor – For me, it's always about the music first because that was always my first love. After everything had started falling into place, I found out that there was more to Willie Taylor. But, I think I can never turn away from that first love, music.
Recognizing Gift As a Songwriter – It was pretty much word of mouth. Just getting in with people and just started writing and playing push and play for other artists. I was just playing the music for the artists and as they hear the record, the artists will enjoy it. Then they will set up something where I can write for them. The record I wrote for Tank, he liked it and just jumped on it. I mean, it usually happens just like that: just push and play in the studio. I've been truly blessed to be in this position and writing for other artists.
Artists You Would Like to Work With In the Future – I would like to work with Stevie Wonder, R. Kelly, Babyface because I wouldn't mind showing my writing skills in front of these great artists. I would like to have some one on one time with those guys, pick their brains, just really learn from them and to show them what I bring to the table.
Featured On "Love & Hip Hop Hollywood" – That was actually a spare-of-the-moment kind of situation. We moved from Chicago to LA, and for anybody who has ever had any interest in moving to LA, you'll check the pricing and you'll see how expensive it is to live out there. It is ridiculously expensive to live here, but I knew that me being in Chicago, too much of the industry was not there. I can be doing amazingly good music, but it was not going to be heard. I decided to move the family out to LA and just see what they got to offer on this side of town. I knew enough people out here, and I just believe in myself enough.
We came out here and took on a challenge. Mona and the people from "Love and Hip- Hop" were interested in the story and so when they called, they wanted to follow the journey to see what would that be, moving from Chicago to LA, coming from Day 26, going solo, and me being stuck in a label situation. It was just so much there, and they felt my story would be good for ratings. And for me, I thought it would be inspiring for other artists and other walks of life. They would see how you can go for your dream. It's crazy, and I tell people the easiest thing you can do is quit. Anybody can get somewhere and feel like these people don't see the way I want to see it. But you have to understand those are your dreams. If you're able to stick with it, ask yourself how much are willing to sacrifice for your dream? That's tough, and that was the biggest segment for me; I didn't join [the show] for any drama. I'm so much about my music; you're not going to see me talking to nobody's girl on that show. I was never about the drama.
However, I wanted to share my story with the world because it's different when you believe in yourself. I'll let you see me go through whatever because I already know where I'm going to end up in the end. I'm just preparing myself for the viewers and the public to be ready for a wild moment, and I'm hoping the story inspires everyone.
Family Life – My family is my foundation. At a young age, I used to do perform and sing because it was just my love for it, but now I feel like I've found so much success and making sure my family doesn't want for anything. That's the number one I go for. But, I want to inspire them as well and tell them to believe in themselves in whatever they want to do because I don't want no one telling them they can't do something. For me, it's not that type of ball game.
Hometown Hero (street named in his honor in Harvey, IL) – That's big, man! It actually started in 2008, around the time of Making the Band and having the number one album in the country on the Billboard. We just won the BET award for Best Male Group. And if you know anything about Harvey, IL, it's not big at all, it's real small. Right now, it has made a turn for the worst, and we're just trying to bring it back to being more positive for the community. A lot of people came out here and never really got out of the city at all. They've seen a lot of things for years and years and so with me wanting to inspire others, I feel like me going back out there and having conversations with the mayor and the people in the city is empowering. We're in the place where we're trying to improve people lives for the better. If you ever look up Harvey, IL it's a small town, right outside of Chicago. It's a lot of poverty in Harvey, and I just want to be one of the voices to help uplift the city.
Settling The Record Label Issue – I have to keep that under wraps, but I will say that I was able to get out of my situation. We're working on positive things right now.
Future Projects – The album is definitely in the works. I'm 90 percent done with it. The name of the album is called Music, and I want to drop it first quarter 2016. It's an amazing record and the single "I Thought I Knew Myself" is not my first single. It's actually a record we threw out for the "Love and Hip- Hop Hollywood" story line and letting people know I'm on my way. The record we're going to play in a couple of weeks is called "Freak of the Week," which is going to be my first radio single. The album is soul music, and it's from the heart.