Taking Advantage Of The Moment; An Interview with Teenage Priest

Taylor Van Ginkel – who goes by the moniker Teenage Priest – creates music that feels vintage Los Angeles.  The ’80s new wave-influenced sound that also has a little grime to it.  To dive in a little more, imagine walking along on the sidewalk on a warm, summer evening. Priest’s music encapsulates the soundtrack to those nights.

Back in the middle of May, Teenage Priest dropped the second single of the year “Innocent.”  Ginkel said that the song’s meaning was “about a euphoric and undeserved innocent feeling you get when you’re with a mutual/partner. An agreement, almost. Whatever you’ve done wrong doesn’t matter.” The first single “Cool To You” has racked up over two million streams on Spotify and even landed a spot on the Ultimate Indie playlist. 

We caught up with Ginkel recently to learn more about the singer/songwriter.

Growing up, was getting into music the primary goal of yours?

Not always. I thought I wanted to do a lot of different things. I still do. I have always come back to music, though. It feels the most natural for me, as simple and corny as that is.

In what ways has residing in Los Angeles influenced you with your music?

I actually live in Orange County, but I’m not far away. I enjoy being away from the noise a bit, though.

I think growing up just outside LA; it was always something to reach for. To “make it” in LA and be a part of whatever was going on there. That used to be an inspiration. I don’t feel that way anymore, though. Not that I have made it in any sense, but I like to think you can create what you want from where you are. Maybe that’s naïve. I don’t know.

When getting into music, who were some of the artists that spoke to you?

Most of the music I listened to were artists my parents played. My dad always had on James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Dire Straits. My mom got me into Elvis. I was obsessed with Elvis for a good bit. More recently, I’m into The Blue Nile, The Style Council.

With the pandemic, have you found yourself doing more writing than you have previously?

About the same. At first, it felt ridiculous to write in a time like this. But I’ve come out of that. I started taking old out of copy-write films off the internet and putting instrumentals to them. It’s been really fun.

How did you get the opportunity to be a touring member of Bishop Briggs?

Umm, I was working in a coffee warehouse at the time. And a friend of mine just told me she was holding auditions for a touring guitar player. So I just tried out and it happened to work. But yeah, it’s been the best. I’ve learned so much from her, and she’s been such a big champion of my work from the start. If you ever get the chance to see her live, you should. She’s insane.

Do you find touring with the bands that you go out on tour influences your writing?

Absolutely. You see these bands show every night, that’s great. I get more inspiration from hearing what everyone’s reading, listening to, watching, thinking about, etc. The last tour, Yoke Lore got me into Tom Robbins’ books in a big way.

You have dropped a couple of singles since the beginning of the year. Should we expect an EP or LP coming in the distant future?

I’m not sure yet. The original plan was to release an EP. I have a good bunch of songs I’m excited about, though. Might turn it into an LP.

Where have you recorded the singles?

Everything is recorded in my house and produced by me. It is all done in this room that is attached to the garage, and it is horribly insulated. I swear its like 120 in there in the summer and I hate myself all summer.

In the single “Innocent,” you had your girlfriend do some backing vocals. Do you plan on showcasing her more in your future work?

Yes, for sure. She’s always been a part of my work. Even if she isn’t singing on it, she has a great musical perspective. I feel lucky to have her. & her voice is perfect. whenever her vocal makes sense to be on a song, she is on it.