Jeff Caylor: The singer songwriter relocating from USA to Hong Kong

Wednesday 3rd February 2010

Lins Honeyman spoke to Hong Kong-based US singer/songwriter JEFF CAYLOR following the release of his eagerly awaited second album

Jeff Caylor (photo: Magnus Creative)
Jeff Caylor (photo: Magnus Creative)

Having recently released 'What Birds Dream', the follow up to his acclaimed debut 'Okay', Indiana-born singer/songwriter Jeff Caylor has certainly achieved far more than most independent recording artists. His 'Okay' album produced a turntable hit on Cross Rhythms radio, the haunting "Pain Is A Megaphone'. He was named The Best Unsigned Act Of 2007 by independent music website The Album Project and given all kinds of plaudits across the world wide web.

In a move that will have surprised some, Jeff decided to up sticks and set up base in Hong Kong in July 2008 where he has since taken on the role of Director of Worship and Visual Arts at his local church, become a mainstay on the Hong Kong live circuit. I caught up with Jeff to ask him about the reasons behind his surprise relocation from the USA to Hong Kong.

Jeff: Moving to Hong Kong seemed like a crazy thing two years ago but that's when I started to think about relocating to Asia. In hindsight, it seems like it was the natural next step for me. I came here to take a position with an English-speaking fellowship called Island Evangelical Community Church, where I now lead the musical worship on Sundays. I also play my own music regularly in local clubs and music venues in town and have been fortunate to find a loyal group of friends and fans here.

Lins: It must be quite a bit different being part of the Hong Kong live circuit compared to playing back home in the US?

Jeff: I'm actually playing more out here in Hong Kong than I did back in the States. It was part of the reason I justified the move. I figured that most of my fan base was online anyway so it wouldn't really change much if I moved to China, providing I maintained that connection online. I guess I could have picked up and moved to somewhere like Los Angeles or New York and perhaps it would have been "safer" and better for my career but I feel like I'm experiencing something that is shaping me as a person and an artist. I'm really excited to see what's next.

Lins: And, of course, you've just released your latest album, 'What Birds Dream'.

Jeff: I really hope that, at the end of my life, the collection of music that I make tells a story of hope but doesn't shy away from questions, challenges and pain. I believe we can learn from the things other people go through but there's also a
really cool comfort that comes when we know we're not the only one dealing with something. Thematically, 'What Birds Dream' picks up where I left off with my previous album 'Okay'. The idea for the title came when I was thinking about my song "Almost Flew." I read once that flying is the most common thing people dream about so I started to wonder what kinds of things birds dream about. And even though I named the CD months ago, the title track only came together a few days before I sent the CD to be mixed.

Lins: You've also released a remixed version of the album - how did it come about?

Jeff: It seems like, whenever I ask someone what kind of music they listen to, they say, "Oh, a little of everything." I'm all for musical diversity and I love mixing it up. I think remixing a song can give it a new depth and impact. If there's a way to maximize its impact and reach, then bring it on! When I approached my producer Gavin Harrison about this, he was totally up for it. It was a lot of work to bring it about - we're both independent artists with day jobs - but I'm really happy with the result.

(photo: Joel Strayer)
(photo: Joel Strayer)

Lins: How did the long distance working relationship with Gavin Harrison work? I hear you've yet to meet him despite working on two releases with him!

Jeff: Gavin and I "met" on an online forum for musicians and he invited me to work with him back in 2005 on a song called "Perspective" and it ended up on my first album. Since he lives in the UK and I was in Colorado at the time, he emailed me a musical loop that I set up to repeat on my workstation and wrote the words and melody around it. He then took the vocal track and rebuilt it into a complete song. We've never officially met or even talked on the phone but hopefully I'll make it to England soon and we'll get to greet one another face to face!

Lins: 'What Birds Dream' is getting some exposure in Italy, China and Germany - what do you put this global appeal down to?

Jeff: Good question. I've actually developed relationships with people in places that have helped and I also upload my music to an online podcasting service called The Podsafe Music Network. I don't receive royalties for music played on podcasts through this service but it's actually a great way to get noticed in locales that would otherwise be obscure to someone unsigned like myself.

Lins: In your song "Prayer 743" you say "I can sometimes speak in riddles/metaphors with meanings people seem to miss" and you have a very poetic lyrical style. What inspires you as a lyricist?

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Reader Comments

Posted by Duncan Parsons in Sheffield @ 10:14 on Apr 12 2010

I've been a fan of Jeff's work for many years (tho for a long time I just knew him as 'plunge' on the KvR website).

When people ask me what his music is like, I tell them that if you squeezed together CSLewis's 'The Problem of Pain', and Philip Yancey's books 'Where is God When it Hurts' and 'What's so amazing about Grace' into one big volume, and then made 4-5minute songs out of the result you get Jeff's music. Full of tenderness, grace, mercy, fully acknowledging the knocks of life and love, the past, the present..

Whether independent or not, I would rate Jeff as one of the best Christian Artists around at the moment.

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