AGT: Lion tamers, magicians, weirdness … and a musical start

During an interview in Toronto, Taylor Mathews filled in Jennifer Lavergne on how America's Got Talent did – and didn't – help him get his career started.(Photo by Tim O'Shei)

During an interview in Toronto, Taylor Mathews filled in Jennifer Lavergne on how America’s Got Talent did – and didn’t – help him get his career started.
(Photo by Tim O’Shei)

If there’s one thing that 21-year-old Taylor Mathews would have never expected to be doing after high school, it would be landing a spot in the top five contestants on America’s Got Talent, and later, pursuing a solo career in music.

“I had no idea what I wanted to do,” Taylor told us during an interview in Toronto. “God just kind of opened this door for music for me. I was like ‘Honestly, I have no idea what I want to do in college. I just want to do music, why can’t I just do music?’ And then all of a sudden I landed on America’s Got Talent.”

Coming from a small town in Louisiana, the transition to Hollywood was definitely different from what he expected. When we asked him about his journey on the show, Taylor referred to the experience as “weird.”

“I was on the show with lion tamers and magicians, and weirdness,” he said. “It was just super weird. I was this down-home country boy that was like, 18 and singing songs. I had no idea what I was doing but I went up there and played to millions of people.”

It worked! After landing in the AGT top five, Taylor also went on a national tour with his castmates. But when that was over, he was on his own. Taylor’s experience on AGT gave him the opportunity to launch his career, but it was only a start.

So how has the transition been?

America’s Got Talent definitely opened the door,” he says, “but they haven’t given me the fan base yet.”

People may know Taylor, but AGT won’t necessarily make them loyal fans. That part he has to do on his own through touring, releasing YouTube covers, and keeping in contact with his fans through social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

(Although Taylor didn’t know how to use before, he says he is now addicted to it, even recalling a time he came home and his roommates had set up a “Twitter intervention” for him.)

Starting up a solo career on your own isn’t easy, or cheap, and Taylor understands that completely. When asked about the biggest misconception people have about his life, he said, “That I’m rich. A lot of people just think it’s a fancy lifestyle, but it’s not. At the end of the day, music is what’s paying you. If you fill up your heart and not your bank account, than that’s fine. If you can walk away with a fan, that’s a huge investment. People that support and care about what you have to say.”

There is a lot more to being a musician than just what the fans see. Behind it all is a team of publishers, producers, managers and a legal team that help him make his decisions and release his music. However, without fans, none of these people have a purpose.

“The hardest thing you can do is promote yourself,” Taylor said. “As much help as you can get, any doors you can walk through… Surround yourself with great people  — people that are constantly there for you but also offering constructive criticism not just kissing your feet. There is a balance, but having people there for you is very inspiring.”

It seems he has taken his own advice, as well, after completing his time as an opening act for his friends, teen pop band R5, and heading straight back into playing a show with the up-and-coming British band, Lawson.  Taylor says he would be nowhere without the hard work and support of the close team behind him consisting of his parents, (his dad is his manager!), and siblings, as well as publishers and producers.

“The weight is on a lot of people,” he said, “so it’s like we’re all in this together and it’s really comforting to know.”

Taylor says he thinks that the most important steps for someone looking to attain their goal of fame is to practice, practice, practice.

“Don’t hold back,” he said. “Let your heart lead you. Your heart is the most important thing you need to listen to.”

He goes on to explain that you need to be passionate about what you want to achieve, and not pursue your dream it for the wrong reasons.

“If you’re passionate about it, then be led by that,” he says. “If it’s like a fantasy lifestyle that you want to be a rock star, then don’t do it, because you’re not going to survive.”

As for goals for the future, when Taylor was asked by his management team in a meeting where he saw himself in five years – whether it was in front of 5,000 or 5 million people – he wasn’t sure.

“I just want my music to mean something!” he replied. “Honestly, if by the end of the day I’m playing to 1,000 people per night but every single one of those people are in there loving the music, then that beats a million to me.”

Jennifer Lavergne, LSY! teen reporter, Toronto

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