Taylor Denn is the talent buyer and music coordinator for eTown, a nationally syndicated radio show that focuses on musicians and their music, as well as ground-breaking charitable causes. Raised outside of Austin, Texas, Taylor’s roots in the music industry run deep. After graduating high school, he headed onto the road with Arlo Guthrie and family as a nanny and assistant road manager. In his time with the Guthries, Taylor was able to learn even more about the music industry while absorbing both the energy and creativity of one of this country’s most famous musical families.
After a chance meeting with eTown founders Nick and Helen Forster in 2011, Taylor, then just 24 years old, became the youngest talent buyer and music coordinator in eTown’s history. Working at eTown has given Taylor an opportunity to harness all of his prior experience on behalf of a vision and world-view that speak to him: using music to bring people together while encouraging a global audience to take better care of each other and the planet. In his time at eTown, Taylor has helped curate a wide range of radio shows, comedy nights, electronic shows, and performances by musicians such as Atmosphere, Tegan and Sarah, The Civil Wars, The Lumineers, Robert Earl King, Leon Russell, Steve Earl, City and Color, Shovels and Rope, Ben Folds and many more.
He is also the founder and CEO of his own production company, Mantis Made, where he gets to further express his creative pairings involving Electronic Music and visual arts.
What environmental issue(s) do you consider to be the most critical at this time?
In my opinion, the most pressing environmental issue is our society’s severe nature deficit disorder. In 2005, Richard Louv coined the phrase “nature deficit disorder” in his book, Last Child In The Woods. Nature deficit disorder describes our disintegrating relationship with the natural environment, illuminating the current trend in which human beings, especially children, are spending less time outdoors, resulting in a wide range of behavioral problems. Many factors have added to this phenomenon, such as parental fears, restricted access to natural areas, and the lure of digital screens. One effect is that children have limited respect for their immediate natural surroundings. Louv says the effects of nature deficit disorder on our children will be an even bigger problem in the future. This disengagement between children and their direct experiences in nature affect not only the health of future generations, but the health of the Earth itself. We need the next generation to honor and protect the natural environment, connecting to it on a deeper level, or much could be lost.
What has inspired you to combine environmental activism with music?
There are very few things in the world that bring people together the way that music can. Despite varying doctrines, beliefs and lifestyles, music has united the masses for ages, and will continue to do so. Musicians have become modern day statement carriers, and because our politicians have become so ineffective and partisan, people look to artists to be well-informed and well-traveled thought leaders, capable of making a difference with their voices. Music is about connecting in many ways, from the sounds coming together to the people listening together. When music can not only connect people together, but inspire collective thinking, it can make a powerful difference in public opinion. Music has the power to inspire humanity to connect with one another and our natural environment, creating environmental stewards and activists. Music changes people. Music can change the world.
Where is your favorite place in nature to go to find solace or inspiration?
I go to Eden Valley, near Farson, Wyoming, to reconnect with and download to Mother Nature. There is a beautiful river that runs through the valley. You can dig up some of the most rare petrified wood in the world, Eden Valley Petrified Wood, that was formed from plants living about 50 million years ago. The rock exhibits feature fossil wood that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The petrification process for this area involved shallow algae growing lakes. The wood came to be under water, in its live condition, before it had a chance to dry out and look like old, dead wood. This wood became coated with algae that adhered to the surface, making a cast or mold around the wood. Later the wood dried and shrunk in the mold made of algae. Over time, these algae casts became part of a layered rock formation. Silica-rich water solutions seeping through the rock then petrified the wood, filling in the spaces left between the dried wood and the hardened cast with agate, calcite and quartz.