Filmed at Los Angeles’ iconic Sound City Studio where rock greats such as Steve Lukather, Fleetwood Mac, Neil Young and Tom Petty have recorded some of their most legendary hits, singer-songwriter Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes opens up about his journey with music in the latest episode of Unearthed — a series highlighting the exploration of today’s most inspiring songwriters. In this episode, Goldsmith discusses his first introduction to music, his connection with poetry and songwriting, and intimating plays some of the band’s most popular sounds. Watch the entire Unearthed with Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes film below.
Dawes originally started as a venture alongside Goldsmith’s high school friend, songwriter and producer Blake Mills. Upon Mills’ departure in 2007, Goldsmith and his younger brother, Griffin, decided to resurrect the band — this time gearing away from their post-punk sounds into a more folkier realm. Later that year, Wylie Gelber joined the duo on bass as well as Lee Pardini on keyboard. Although the band had one small drawback: they didn’t have a guitar player.
Goldsmith hadn’t thought about picking up the instrument until the band struggled to find a lead guitarist. Desperate to make things work the second time around, Goldsmith stepped out of his comfort zone and leapt into the new challenge of guitar playing. Now almost a decade later, Goldsmith has a divine affection for the connection between his guitar playing and songwriting.
Songwriting is the connection.
My relationship to our lyrics is what has kept me a musician.
Goldsmith considers himself a songwriter above anything else, and details his utter fascination for the connection between words and sound. Drawing inspiration from Mark Twain, Charlie Chaplin and Bob Dylan, Goldsmith explains how various types of mediums require different criteria for writing. The dialect in novels may be too complex for songwriting, but songwriting might not make sense in a novel. Goldsmith looks to find a middle ground — where the two worlds can meet in perfect harmony.
It’s really important to me to not approach songwriting the same. If you’re not open enough to it, what you’re really doing is just confining yourself to a more limited space of how to be creative.
While humans are creatures of habit, Goldsmith looks to avoid developing any serious rituals when it comes to writing music. By remaining open minded about the songwriting process, he is constantly in a state of surprising himself. The ability to allow inspiration to come in any form, through any facet, is what keeps his lyrics raw and genuine.
The drive to create something meaningful.
Romanticizing about the work of David Byrne, Tom York and Mark Knopfler, Goldsmith strives for his music to leave a legacy. His main goal is for his sound to elicit a certain type of emotion that will leave listeners scratching their heads, digging for meaning beyond the surface level.
The idea of our music representing ourselves and our time here, to me there’s nothing more romantic.
Changing strings isn’t always a priority for some musicians, as people find comfort in their veteran strings and fear of losing their familiar tone. Goldsmith reflects on how playing Ernie Balls removes one stress from the songwriting process, as he finds comfort in knowing that his tone and authentic sound will always remain consistent, while also handling the wear and tear of being on the road.
You hear these stories of certain guys who get new strings and are like, ‘Oh, I don’t want to play it now.’ With Ernie Ball strings I don’t have to worry about it. It allows me to think about the song, think about the solo, because as important as strings are, you really don’t want to be thinking about that when you’re in that kind of moment of truth with the performance.
Taylor Goldsmith relies on Ernie Ball Earthwood Phosphor Bronze, Paradigm Phosphor Bronze, Everlast Phosphor Bronze acoustic strings for his acoustic guitar playing and Paradigm Regular Slinky electric strings and Power Slinkys for his electric guitar.