His name is Troy Taylor. He is a successful producer who is standing twenty four years strong and counting in the music industry. He’s worked with a truckload of artists from Boy II Men to the one and only Whitney Houston. And get this: he discovered Trey Songz before he was even a singer. You’ll have to read to get the full scoop on that and so much more. I really enjoyed this interview. And despite what his humility won’t allow him to believe; he’s a LEGEND. It’s not easy sticking around in an ever evolving industry, but he has done it and I know this is not the last we’ll hear from Mr. Troy Taylor.
Parlé Magazine: Let’s start from the beginning of your career. Some people may not know that you actually started off as a singer but changed career paths to have a more promising career and creative control. Can you elaborate on that experience?
Troy Taylor: Yeah. Basically as an artist, it really comes down to personality. My personality is I’m very straight up, speak my mind, very honest, don’t hold things in, as well as I don’t hold grudges because I speak my mind and I get it out. So, I’m thinking that the way that I am if I go to a radio station, just the fact that I would have to fake the funk about a lot of things just to get spins or to get people to play my records…uh uh. Because the minute somebody was going to say something to me, I was going to go off so I knew that I wasn’t going to play the game according to the way you have to as an artist. So, I just ‘felt’ like I would rather go to any grocery store and do whatever I want and still be able to sing and play music, write and arrange without all the other stuff that comes with being an artist.
Parlé: Was it a challenge for you to decide to be behind the scenes?
Troy Taylor: No, because when Boys II Men came out and I saw how that took off it was like, “Wow! You mean to tell me I can still get this without doing all that other stuff?” I can still have the same fulfillment. Because really all it comes down to is getting your music out and if you see that you can get your music out through somebody else and you don’t have to pay the price to do it then that was it! There it was. There was not a second thought. I was like, “I don’t want to be an artist. Let them do it”.
Parlé: You met Carl Thomas at a Church convention when he was an aspiring singer. What was that first conversation like and what did you see in him that made you feel like he had the potential of being great?
Troy Taylor: I did not see the potential of him being great for a long time. He was fourteen, I was seventeen and basically we had the same personality and still to this day we have the same personality. A lot of people used to say, “You act like Carl.” I was like “Who is Carl?” People would say the same thing to him. We didn’t know each other. We were at a Church convention being held in Miami. They go to the hotels and then to the arenas or coliseum for the Church but at the hotel we were by the pool. I was by one side of the pool and he on the other, and so they called his name and so I looked over at him like, “Oh, you’re Carl?” and he was like “Yeah.” I told him that I was Troy and he said that everybody kept asking him if he knew me. From that point on that was it. We were inseparable. Everywhere I went, he went. Everywhere he went, I went. And then he would go back to Chicago, I would go back to Connecticut and then he would meet up the next year at the next convention, wherever that convention was. (And then there was another convention the following year) in Philly. A mutual friend of ours passed away and she lived in Jersey and so, by this time I lived in Brooklyn. Carl came up to go to the funeral. By this time he was about seventeen or eighteen and I was about twenty one, twenty-two-ish. So that’s when he came to my house in Brooklyn and once he came there it was like a wrap because he was recording and watching me record. One thing about Carl, he was a gospel singer. We were both in the Church but I was the Church boy that listened to the radio and R&B and he was the church boy that listened to all gospel and sang all gospel. He wanted to do R&B but he was too gospel-ly. He had to prove to me that he could do R&B. It took him a while before he could really sing without sounding churchy.
Parlé: Two years later (2002), you started Songbook Entertainment. What inspired you to do that?
Troy Taylor: It was time to move on for me so I had to take a chance and close my eyes, jump and just take a leap of faith and just go out on my own. After twelve years of being with my ex-partner, it was like we weren’t on the same path. We clashed a lot. I already knew I was supposed to leave but my loyalty is what kept me there longer than I should’ve been. It was time to start fresh.
Parlé: You say you’re “Raising the Bar”. “HELPING LEGENDS STAY LEGENDS & CREATING NEW LEGENDS”. With that being said, you discovered Trey Songz, who’s very talented by the way. How did you meet him? And what was it about him that made you invest time into developing him into what we see today?
Troy Taylor: My ex- partner went to high school with Trey’s step-dad at that time and so my ex-partner asked if I could take a look at Kenny’s son. So, I (agreed) too. Trey came over and he sang for me. He sang Donnell Jones’ “Where I Wanna Be.” It sounded okay but one thing I noticed is that he didn’t go out of key. He was a rapper but he wanted to sing. People said he should sing and he wanted to know if he should do it. He needed a professional opinion. So, knowing that he didn’t lose his key, his tone was cool and that was impressive to me. After that he sang a song that he wrote. I decided to put a track to what he had written. I noticed that he followed directions very well for someone who’s never done it before. That was enough for me to say that, “I can teach you.” That was in August so he had to go back to school in Virginia. His mom called me up excited and she wanted to know what he needed to keep him moving forward so I told her to get a pager back then so he and I can keep in touch. The next summer, he came to stay with his step-dad in Jersey for the summer. So, everywhere I went, he went; studio-just hanging around listening to music. We didn’t start working right away. It wasn’t until he graduated. His mother made him a deal. She gave him one year to apply to music and if nothing happens then he had to get a job or go to school or both. Ironically, he ended up signing his record deal a week pass that due date.
Parlé: How does it feel for you to see him go from the beginning before we even knew of him to now being featured in movies? He’s in Baggage Claim.
Troy Taylor: It’s crazy because I still see him as the kid that came to the house. It’s a really fulfilling feeling because if you really think about it, as a producer you can have hits for people but one thing that is very hard to do is start an artist, groom them, prepare them, get them a deal, see it all the way through to actual success. That is not something that just anybody can do. That is your brand. Everything I know went into Trey. I can’t describe the feeling of seeing an artist that you’ve actually created.
Parlé: Congratulations on your BMI Producer of the Year Award. You won last year, 2012 as well. How does it feel to be recognized? Do you get used to it after a while or is each time like the first time?
Troy Taylor: I don’t think I’ll ever get used to it. I’m just me. When you get into the music business when you do it for the right reason, you remain humble. But if you don’t; you can lose yourself. It’s going on 24 years in February (in the industry) and it’s a whole new generation–they see me as a legend. But I don’t feel that way.
Parlé: Something you said really made sense to me. I read a post where you said, “The music industry is not for every talented person. To be musically talented is not the same as industry talented. One without the other is ineffective.” That is so true. Have you ever had to tell someone to focus on another passion?
Troy Taylor: No. I don’t tell them to focus on something else. I tell them what they need to do to get there.
Parlé: How does it feel to still be in the music industry 24 years later and not just be around but actually do well?Troy Taylor: It’s really awesome. I understand that sometimes you have to go through things to get things but in this case I went through my divorce while doing Trey’s third album and that was the hardest thing to do because mentally I was totally destroyed. To be responsible for (Trey’s) career; I couldn’t dwell on myself. I had to make it work. That was the hardest thing to do so now in November it’ll be five years and to be successful, to see Trey successful, to have worked with so many people; God has taken me somewhere I couldn’t even imagine. God definitely took care of me and restored me. Everything that I lost during the divorce, I gained back and then some so that is the most exciting thing about it. Not only am I successful but I got more than I started off with. And to be a blessing to bless others is the biggest thing about it, to help these kids realize their talent, bring out their talent and bring out their manhood. I run into a lot of kids who don’t have fathers who want to do music. You can’t be successful at your craft if you can’t be successful as a man. You have to learn how to be a man first. The father in me takes over because I have a son and I say, “I know you want me to help you with this but, we need to work on this first.”
Parlé: For the people who feel it’s impossible to do what you’re doing or just don’t know where to begin, what would you say to them?
Troy Taylor: I normally tell them, “The talent you have is a gift and a gift means it was given to you.” The reason why it was given to you is because each of us has a purpose and all of our purposes are different. The divine purpose however, is to draw people to Christ but the process of it is different for each person so I tell people, “You have to go back and ask God, what is the gift for.” And allow Him to tell you because many go off of their talent and what they feel and they keep running into a wall, they keep bumping into the wrong people all because they’re not figuring out why they have the gift in the first place. They’re only doing what they feel. And in the process of that really perfect your craft.
Parlé: I’m sure you’ve had dreams of doing what you’re doing from the beginning but is it anything that you imagined?
Troy Taylor: No, because I didn’t think I would be a mentor. I just thought about producing music. I didn’t know that I would end up actually starting up dreams and talent. I didn’t see that.
Parlé: Is there anything else you would for people to know?
Troy Taylor: Look out for Kevin Ross. He’s on Motown. He’s definitely a bar raiser. He’s incredible. Lookout for Veto; he’s amazing. He’s a cross between Neyo and Bruno Mars. Kevin is like Stevie Wonder. I know that’s big, but that will be proven.