Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Steve Taylor

  • Published Aug 31, 1998
Steve Taylor
by Bruce Adolph, courtesy of %%Christian Musician%%

When you think of describing the tall and often quirky {{Steve Taylor}} and his impact on Christian music, a few things come to mind. Revolutionary, quick wit, lyrically pushing the envelope and deeply committed as both a musician and Christian person. Steve Taylor's frenetic stage performances are appreciated worldwide, his thinking man's lyrics (often times satiric) are a breath of fresh air. Within the past couple of years, he has even formed his own production company, Squint Entertainment. %%Christian Musician%% thought it would be a good time to check in with Steve and really get the first hand story on his multi-faceted venture.

%%Christian Musician%%: Rewind with us a little bit and give us a bit of an overview on the musical career of Steve Taylor. Your first Christian album ==I Want To Be A Clone== was somewhat sheepishly introduced to the Christian marketplace as almost a novelty item. How did you go from there to the point of launching Squint Entertainment?

{{Steve Taylor}}: Squint Entertainment was almost an inevitability. I had never had the desire to start a record label. And yet it ended up coming about because of the process that I have lived through. Even going back to the first record. I was signed to Sparrow Records more because that was the only label that would give me the money to record. When I first went out to California I went to different pop labels (mainstream secular) and took the demo tape around. The response I got was, "Well, we like your music but your lyrics would offend our listeners." So next I went to Christian labels and their response was, "We don't like your music and your lyrics would offend our listeners." In some ways that illustrated as well as anything why Squint Entertainment has become a reality. My entire career has been an attempt to navigate between the expectations of the Christian labels (and of course there has been a lot of changes and evolution happening in Christian labels over the last 15 years) and my experience on pop labels, specifically when I was in {{Chegall Guevera}} and signed to MCA. It seems to me that {{Charlie Peacock}} put it best a few years ago when he spoke about the reality that there are "systems in place." You have to recognize the fact that when you go outside of those systems, whether it's the system at a Christian label or a mainstream label, that there is inevitably a price to pay. Usually it's in terms of how much you can achieve, particularly in record sales and success on that level. There are different ones of us that over the years have decided that record sales are nice but we've got other goals in mind, so it's worth working, if not entirely outside of those systems, at least on the fringe of those systems. Unfortunately there has not been much in the way of any alternatives.

One of the problems when Chegall Guevera was signed on a secular pop label was "Who's footsteps could you follow?" One of the things you look for (for lack of a better word) is a mentor or role model. As far as Christians in a band existing on a mainstream label, "How do we do this? How do we navigate these waters?" There weren't a lot of role models that we could look to and say "Well, they did it right, that's what we want to be about." Our goal at Squint Entertainment is to present a third way. We want to be working specifically with Christians. I'm not interested in "positive value" music. I want to be working with Christians who are trying to create the best art that they can create, and at the same time recognize that creating art is not the "be all and end all" of our lives. We have bigger goals as followers of Christ. Creating art hopefully fits in there but we are not special creatures just because we are artists. We don't automatically live by another set of rules, which is the way that most artists want to live, they don't want to be constrained by anything. So I want to work with Christians who live what they believe. That's been one of the disappointments so often with Christians getting onto a pop label. There are distractions anywhere you go but there's just a whole lot more of them on a secular label. It's very hard to keep your focus, your compass, in tact. Based on all those things Squint Entertainment was invented. The idea was we will create a third way, where yes, we know "where the buck stops," but we've also got the funding to take something and build it step by step from a grassroots level. Thus hopefully achieving success by starting on college radio and then going on into other formats like triple A or commercial alternative. Then eventually getting bigger success. But it all has to start with the artist; believing that they can create world class art and that they are committed Christians who live what they believe.

CM: The scope of Squint Entertainment is broader than records, it's movie production as well. How do you describe that aspect of Squint?

ST: I had been involved with film going back all the way to college, where I studied film. For Word/Gaylord (the company that is putting up the money to launch Squint Entertainment), the film side was a little bit more of a stretch. I really felt that everything needed to be under one roof. The proposal was that if you really want to be involved with the music side then you need to jump in and fund the film side as well. So they have agreed to finance our first film (which is a drama) with a budget right at one million dollars.

CM: Will the drama have some kind of Christian moral or ethic to it?

ST: Absolutely. I wouldn't really be interested in doing it otherwise, it's part of our overall mission. Let me just say that until the film is actually done and that people have seen it and hopefully it's good. Everybody should take everything I say with a grain of salt because it's a big project. Lord willing it will be good but I'm plenty nervous about it. I realize I'm biting off a lot here.

CM: There is such a need for the type of movie you want to make in the secular movie industry.

ST: Even for Word, their feeling was "how can we say we want to affect culture if we are not in involved in movies?" This is an area where Christians have been woefully under-represented. We need to be in the thick of that. When you realize the power of film, you get someone in a dark theater for two hours and you've got the power to really affect them. As a movie-maker you can affect how people think and view the world.