My Inspiration: Simon Taylor – Formentera Dream | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Photo By Jon Forster

Simon Taylor is a Newcastle upon Tyne-based singer-songwriter, whose musical styles encompass Latin, funk, rock and jazz as well as being influenced by the likes of Serge Gainsbourg and Leonard Cohen. His latest musical offering, Formentera Dream, is a flamenco-tinged pop song complete with an intimate and engaging vocal that was inspired by a trip to the Balearics, as Simon explains…

I wrote my new single Formentera Dream following a day-trip to this Balearic island in 2017.  Travelling solo with a disability, (I have the mental health condition schizo-affective disorder), can be very challenging, which I was to particularly discover the following year. I will, in fact, address this in another song I have recorded for release. I am a lot more cautious now about doing so but I guess I hadn’t fully accepted my diagnosis even then. 

This trip began with a ferry journey from Ibiza Town, where I was based for a week. It was a nice enough day for sailing but I was overwhelmed by the sensory experience of  travelling on the sea alone and I ended up closing my eyes for the majority of the journey 
while my fellow passengers posed for photographs casually on-board. I have condition called derealisation, which kicks in when I feel overwhelmed and it is quite scary. I find that listening to chilled-out music really helps me when travelling – so I did. 

Arriving at Formentera, immediately things began to change. The island radiates a “nothing to worry about here” tranquillity and I felt more calm on-land. This perhaps explains why it was a magnet for artists and musicians in the hippie era, with Pink Floyd and King Crimson staying there in the late ’60’s and unconfirmed reports that Bob Dylan lived in a windmill there. Certainly, while I was there I day-dreamed about hiding out there for six months, recording music, and leaving before the idyllic lifestyle drove me insane. 

Watching the recent documentary about Leonard Cohen and his “muse” Marianne Ihlen (Marianne & Leonard: Words Of Love), it was notable, (and disturbing), how so many people who lived with the two in the ’60’s on the Greek island of Hydra seemed to be mentally affected in a bad way by living amidst such natural beauty. It is called ‘Stendhal Syndrome’ apparently. I could understand that in retrospect. My song Formentera Dream perhaps describes the same experience. A line in the first verse declares: “tears are forming in my eyes at this sight’s beauty”. And it is true. I sat in a cafe on the beautiful Playa Illetes alone and tears welled up in my eyes because it was such an incredible sight for me. Not out of sadness, as such, just due to the power of the scene. 

The rest of the song describes how it feels to be in such an inspiring location while also having nobody to share this experience with. It was an incredible day in my life visiting this peaceful island and, when I got back to Newcastle, a melody came to me when I was walking back to my flat and I ended up writing Formentera Dream. The song is influenced musically by the Spanish singer-songwriter Javier Ruibal, whose music is a lovely blend of Mediterranean influences. Other influences on this song were Nuevo Flamenco artists of the early ’90’s such as Ketama and Pata Negra. It will be released on Wednesday 8th July and it is my little homage to this enchanting island and the challenging but memorable day I spent there. 

You can stream/download the new single, Formentera Dream, here.

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