photo by Becca Hamel

The Musician Spotlight Series shines a light on up-and-coming bands and solo acts creating heartfelt and original work across genres, giving them an opportunity to talk about their music, their collaborators, and why they do what they do.

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Sean Aston MacTaggart

“A fair-weather love—someone who’s come and gone through the years. For Sean Aston MacTaggart, that person returned to his life four years ago, time began again, and a record was born. Love You Always is a collection of six acoustic tracks which MacTaggart cut to a tape machine in his parents’ empty suburban home. He spent his nights recording from midnight till dawn in the stillness, a process that’s translated intimately—MacTaggart’s voice is gentle, and disarming at times. At others, while detailing a ramshackle romp through Paris, it’s confident and full-breathed. The guitar work ranges from grand ’60s pop strumming to the nostalgic bedroom shuffle of MacTaggart’s teenage years. Some of these vignettes are new; some of them are up to four years old. Love You Always collects them together into a depiction of love both relational and personal. It is intense and vivid and rough and sweet; in a word, it is lifelike”.

When did you know you wanted to be a musician?
I made that choice at the end of high school. I played in a rock band, and was ready to sacrifice just about anything to “make it”. We took a year off to tour. Then we broke up. And so I went to music college. Ever since, I’ve been consumed by music. At some point, I found that there’s nothing else for me.

How did you develop your skills?
I went to Humber College for their Bachelor of Music (Vocal) program. I learned from brilliant teachers and peers of all different musical backgrounds. After being taught just about all the genres under the sun, it felt as though I could write anything. I decided to write simply. Just vocals, and guitar, and the song.

Who are some of your biggest musical influences?
When I was recording Love You Always, sometimes I’d listen to music to set the mood—Chet Baker, Sibylle Baier, Sufjan Stevens, Feist, and other singers I loved. I would read literature too. Romantic stories, like the Sun Also Rises, and Sesher Kabita. I love being surrounded in art. For me, it inspires expression.

How would you describe your sound?
Honest. I hope people remember Love You Always that way. It’s a thousand nights distilled into song inspired by love for a dear friend. What you hear are unedited live performances, captured by four mics, and a tape machine.

What’s your favourite tune in your repertoire and why?
It changes. Today, it’s “Only Been an Hour”. Since its release, I’ve been able to connect with complete strangers. They’ve confided in me stories of fleeting moments and romance. It’s magic that music can connect us in that way.

What can audiences expect from one of your live shows?
For the last while, I’ve been crafting a solo live set. Jeff Buckley singing Bob Dylan covers has been particularly inspiring to me. I’m experimenting with more virtuosic arrangements, effect pedals, and poetry. I want to see how far I can push solo live performances.

Where can we find your music?
You can find “Only Been an Hour” and “Everest” on all the streaming platforms. Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube etc. If you live near Toronto, you can often find me playing at the Painted Lady on Mondays, and B-Side Lounge on Wednesdays. Lastly, my record Love You Always is releasing later this year. I’ll let you know on Instagram @seanastonmactaggart.