Ben Taylor launches a new album and sounds off about sustainable agriculture.
Listening is Ben Taylor’s first album in four years, and it’s a tribute to the actual art of shutting up and taking in rather than constantly talking to and singing at. Out onSun Pedal Recordings/ILG in August,Taylor, son of James Taylor and Carly Simon, has carved out his own niche as an eclectic musician but also as a supporter of farm to table and local education.
“Listening is all about taking the time to listen so that you have something bigger to promote. It’s something to get better at as a performer…I want to be able to listen better,” Taylor tells EcoSalon.
He seems pretty good at opening his ears when it comes to the place he calls home.
A huge proponent of sustainable agriculture, Taylor uses his celebrity status to raise awareness of this supporting local agriculture. “Getting local communities to become autonomous is so important. I would rather eat at a locally run business than a place like your typical big supermarket chain if given the choice,” says Taylor who walks the talk supporting the Island Grown Initiative on Martha’s Vineyard where he lives.
Taylor says he feels strongly about the benefit of locally produced foods and wants to educate people about not importing foods from far away. That said, he spends his time outside of the music world raising funds for the Island Grown Initiative, a non-profit organization on the island that works to grow community through sustainable agriculture, local food advocacy and education.
The group strives “to increase both the supply and demand of locally grown food for the health of the environment and community” through five core programs: Island Grown Schools, farm-to-school program; Island Grown Meat; Island Grown Poultry; Island Grown Bees; and Island Grown Gleaning.
“I need to make a difference locally because that’s where it all starts and I have knowledge to share and important opinions when it comes to music and food,” says Taylor, who adds that most of our change starts with youth.
“We just need to start with kids and educating them on how to eat better and what good food tastes like. I feel like they’re just the last shot we’ve got to making anything better,” he says.
With a profession that forces him to spend a good deal of his own eating time on the road, Taylor says that he feels he actually has a leg up.
“The nice thing about being a tour veteran, is that you start to know the places you return to so when you’ve got a total of 30 hours to spend in a city you’re not shit out of luck when it comes to finding what you want,” he says about finding good food in transit.
“There are always special cases though and I’d be a liar if I didn’t say I have spent 30 hours just eating jelly candy.”
But back to that new album, Listening, the one that took four years to make and serves as “little windows” into the past few years of Taylor’s life. After all, Taylor is a musician first and foremost despite his penchant for a greener life.
An admitted harsh critic on his own work, Ben is quite happy with the end result of Listening.
“I hope people like it. I am immensely self-critical, and almost always want to start from scratch when I finish an album. The hardest thing about being a member of my family is the expectations I put on myself. The best thing about it has been my ability to overcome that in order to be the best performer and musician I can be. My wish would be that any one who spends time with Listening just digs the songs.”
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