Ann Taylor once stayed at a hostel room that Paul McCartney was in, and she just couldn’t sleep like a log
Ann Taylor travels the world with a guitar for company. Last weekend, she made a stopover at Covelong Beach in Chennai, as part of a month-long Indian adventure that covered everything from interviewing sex workers in Rajasthan to midnight bonding sessions with elephants in the wild. Between her first surf lesson and a singing session, the 21-year-old singer-songwriter gives us a glimpse into her travel diary, and her songs written on the road. Incidentally, she once stayed in the same hostel room as Beatles singer Paul McCartney.
Planes, trains and auto tunes
I started playing the guitar when I was 14, and because my family moved around the country a lot when I was growing up, my guitar became a constant companion right away. In 2013, I graduated high school and went off to Europe alone for a while, backpacking and playing music anywhere I could. I ran out of money right away, but being too stubborn to go home, I started busking on the streets of the cities I was exploring, and walking into bars with my guitar to get gigs whenever I could. Travelling with my guitar has always felt like a normal thing to do, throwing it on planes, trains and the backs of people’s cars that I hitchhiked in, felt like a necessity — it’s an extension of my self.
A girl scout desi
I was warned by many people before coming to India of all the things I SHOULDN’T do, and I think I have almost done all of them. (Laughs.) I have snuggled almost all the street animals I’ve encountered, been tattooed by a friend of someone I met, have eaten so much street food (which then resulted in a trip to a government hospital), midnight tuk tuk rides, couch surfed with strangers, performed and mentored at a poetry slam retreat in Jaipur, drank toddy in Kerala, tried to sneakily take photos of wild elephants in the middle of the night, getting six stitches in my foot, because I stepped on a broken bottle while teaching a kayaking workshop in Thoothukudi and interviewed prostitutes in a small village in Rajasthan.
It felt incredibly surreal to be nominated for Calgary’s first YYC Music Awards, especially because I am so new to the scene there. As for my music style, I have a huge love for singer-songwriter music and the blues, so I’m currently writing an album through my love of the genre. During my time here, I discovered that I also really love the melodies from Karnataka, and can’t wait to play around with some new ideas I have, of incorporating them into my sound.
No sleep and Paul McCartney
During my travels, I once ended up staying in the exact same hostel room that Paul McCartney had stayed at. Obviously, I couldn’t sleep at all in that hostel. I just walked around touching things, being like, “oh my gosh, one of my favourite musicians may have also touched this”, and playing every Beatles song I knew on my guitar in the common room. I think the staff regretted taking me in for the night.
— Sonali Shenoy