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CLOSE’s “Base Level” column features the hottest new artists we’re buzzing about. Before they make it to the summit of superstardom, we spot them at base level–the beginning of their hopeful journey to the top.

Russell Taylor has that X factor. When trying to describe his sound, the New York resident compared his musical style to a hearty pot of gumbo. One part Adele. One part 90s emo. One part Al Green and a pinch of hip-hop and with the staleness of today’s musical scene, Russell Tayloy’s undeniable sound is right on time. The singer-songwriter chopped it up with #TeamBeautiful about how he got his start, how he continues to stay motivated and the advice he received from a famous friend that helped solidify his musical future.

Listen, while most folks are trying to keep up with the Jones’ you might want to try and keep up with Mr. Taylor because he’s the one!

Name: Russell Taylor

Hometown: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Who are some of your musical inspirations? Growing up as a kid on Saturdays around the house my mother and father would listen to Donny Hathaway, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder were in heavy rotation. Nina Simone, Crosby, Stills & Nash. Foreigner, Journey and so many other different musicians. There was something about listening to these particular artists because the power that these artists had they would really would make you feel what they were singing about. You just get into the moment

What’s been your biggest break thus far? 

I’ve been knocked down and have gotten back up and I’ve had to ask myself ‘Am I suppose to be this broke?’ [LAUGHS] maybe God doesn’t want me to do this. But I have friends like Lala Hathaway who say ‘I love your voice. I love your work Stay! Keep doing it. Everyone has struggles.’ But I’ve had so many big breaks. I’ve toured Europe and one of my best shows was in Paris. But to give you a definite answer my big break came when I was crowned as one of VH-1’s “Artist You Ought To Know” Just the outpouring of support from fans, from the network from people has been amazing.

What’s your biggest fear as a new artist? 

My biggest fear is I don’t want to let my fans down. I want to make sure that they get me. Not everyone’s going to like what I put out, but I just want them to get me. I would be afraid of letting the fans down.

If you were the lovechild of two musicians–dead or alive–who would they be? Chaka Khan and Mick Jagger. Chaka Khan for the deep, gut, soul, on-the-stage chill. When she comes on stage and she opens her mouth, it’s a wrap! She doesn’t even have to even sing words, when she sings people are just in! Mick Jagger because of the legacy of the Rolling Stones and him as a rock star, the level of performance, the vibe the energy  Its a combination of the legacy of this soul visceral artist and the sensibility of the iconic Rolling Stone.

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