ayo river

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June 27, 2017


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ayo river, the moniker used by songwriter Weston Taylor, is a project that intersects deeply personal lyrics with the inescapable connectedness of the modern world. Weston’s art has taken on a series of forms over the years, some more embarrassing than others, but one element has always stayed intact: telling stories.

As a teenager in the heart of Atlanta, he was latched to his acoustic guitar, singing songs about butterflies in his stomach to the poor souls attending local open mics. In his first year of college in Athens, Ga, he decided he’d become a rapper, ripping instrumentals off Youtube and recording his own rhymes back over them. When Lil Wayne was serving time in prison at Rikers Island, Weston mailed him “probably like 50 pages” of lyrics, hoping and failing to get a reply. After his friends came clean and told him the rap thing maybe wasn’t his best look, Weston put music behind him and took to creative writing. He penned novels and short stories for years, sending them off one by one to be rejected by publications.

When he landed a job teaching at an Atlanta music school, his students helped him come to a realization. “These kids weren’t interested in learning “Smoke on the Water” or “Seven Nation Army”, they wanted to learn Taylor Swift and Drake songs, and I did too.” His job brought him into a deep and daily study of pop music. He found it to be the perfect medium for telling his own stories. Over the next two years, Weston hauled his new songs from Atlanta to Athens to record with producer Matt Martin. He assembled a live band back at home for shows, and started bringing them up to Athens for recording sessions. The result is ayo river’s debut LP Failed State.

The songs ayo river creates are Weston’s internal tales of loss and miscommunication in the wildly connected age of the Internet, brought to life with sweeping pop influenced writing and production. The sound is often cheerful, but the lyrics are soaked in nostalgia. They tell of specific, poignant, stories from Weston’s life, like a car crash that awoke him from an existential coma, or a sudden breakup that lead to vomiting in the street. They borrow heavily from modern culture, contrasting the vapidity of Tinder dates with the picture perfect romance of Cory and Topanga from Boy Meets World. Weston’s moniker, ayo river, comes from a Portlandia sketch. He explains, “despite the overall seriousness and sadness of the themes I’m addressing, there is an underlying humor to me that all I’m really doing is shouting nonsense back at my past, trying to make sense of what has happened to me as I continue to drift along.” Weston sees ayo river as a project that can enter any territory moving forward, untethered to any specific genre. It is an extension of himself—a medium he can use to express his art however it comes to him.

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