Christian Hip Hop artist and songwriter Taelor Gray has just released his new single "Vogue," a song that is impacting radio and fans alike. He is following the single up with a brand new album in September. We are honored to catch up with him for this exclusive Hallels interview.
Hallels: Thanks Taelor for doing this interview with us. How would describe your style of music?
I'd call it conversational rhythm and poetry. I grew up listening to a lot of gospel and soul music, so my approach to creating has always been a bent toward wanting to feel something in a song. It's also pretty cerebral at times-I'm a thinker so I try to write to make people think.
Hallels: How did you first become interested in rap, particularly Christian rap?
Well it started with an old song by the Winans, "Its Time," that had a rap part on it. My brother and I used to sing in the children's choir, and the director used to choose 3 kids to rap that part when we sang the song at church. I wanted so bad to be one of the kids who did the rap part, but I never got chosen. Ever since then I became obsessed with rap music, and got into Hip Hop more in junior high school. As I was getting more into it, my parents found out I was listening to mainstream rap on the radio...which was a no-no in our strict, Christian household. My dad took me and my brother to a local Christian bookstore to find something they would allow us to listen to comparable to the secular stuff. We decided on Ambassador's Christology In Laymen's Terms and loved it. Shortly afterward, a friend of ours introduced us to LPG's 360 album and from then on we were sold on believers who could rap.
Hallels: I believe you are working on your new album "The Mockers and the Monarch." I love the title. How and why did you come up with this title?
So there's a slight edit-the title is "The Mocker and the Monarch." I like the other one though, could be a nice follow up for an extended copy J
The title sprung out of the notion that we are all trying to find ourselves in the image we see in the mirror. One image is an imitation we shape out of our own idealism without regard to what is true. The other image reveals that the mirror actually shows us who we are, and we are continuously shaped by this discovery. The inspiration comes from James 1:23-25.
Hallels: Who have you you been working on for this new album? And when will it be released?
To capture the overall sound I've been working mostly with producers Wit and Wes Pendleton. These guys are truly masters at what they do. It's been such an invigorating process, and what makes it even sweeter is that we've got a ton of chemistry together. I've also been blessed to have brilliant contributions from 42North, Daniel Steele, and Peace 586. The production is sounding/feeling fantastic. The artists you'll hear featured on the album absolutely kill it as well. I was able to get Tragic Hero, B.Reith, Beleaf, Jurny Big, Armond Wakeup and my brother Christon Gray to join me. They're all amazing and make me want to be better at what I do.
The album release is 9/4/2015.
Hallels: Tell us more about your new single "Vogue." What's the song about?
Vogue is a song about the face we want everyone to see. Playing off the "mocker" presentation of our ideal self, we contribute to the vain show of society and relationships by making everyone think the magazine cover is our identity. Our vanity becomes more of a pursuit than the actual reflection of what's true.
Hallels: I have read that you are also a High School Student Ministry leader in church. What are some of the most important issues High School students face these days?
Haha I'll have to make sure that I update my website before this interview is posted
I'm now serving as one of the pastors at Veritas Community Church in Columbus OH. The church is planted in a very diverse, urban environment and we are seeking to unify the diversity of experiences, cultural backgrounds, and socio-economic realities under the banner of the gospel. In that work, I help oversee the high school student ministry which serves students from the surrounding inner city communities. I'd say some important challenges for students plugged into church are Biblical applicability, sexual purity, and discipleship trajectory. For students not connected to churches, more broadly defined challenges would be depression, sexual identity, and racial/ethnic disparities.
Hallels: For our readers who would like to find out more about you and your music, where can they go?
My Instagram/Twitter handle: taelor_gray
I'm one of the Facebook patriarchs (had it since it was only for college students haha), so just my name.
You can find my music at the following spots: