Four-piece-turned-solo Beach Tiger has an established following, yet feels no pressure to perform frequently. Instead, Taylor McCleskey prefers to slow things down for now and focus on what brought him to music in the first place.
“I’m going to approach music differently, from a place of love,” he says.
Last month, Beach Tiger dropped EP Easy Livin’ Dreaming, a synth pop gem recorded with Coast Records during 2 a.m. marathon sessions. Between Spotify and SoundCloud, the EP reached over 3,000 streams in its first two weeks alone. “There is an audience there,” he says. “I’m grateful there’s people wanting to hear more and tuning in daily.”
What was once a bigger, collaborative team behind Beach Tiger — Zac Crocker, Blake Shorter, and Eric Mixon of the Artisanals — is now propelled by McCleskey alone. “I had an awesome time with my friends making the first Beach Tiger songs,” he says, [but] it’s all on me now … I can do this on my own I think, but it’s going to be different.”
McCleskey still collaborates with New York- and Los Angeles-based producer Kyle Patrick who he’s always credited as the fifth member of Beach Tiger. “He shaped our sound and is a huge reason these songs have an audience.
With that audience intact, the pressure is off to “make it,” McCleskey says. “Now that I’m 31, you have to appreciate every little small victory and not always be looking toward the next thing.” For him, the triumph is his flexible full-time job that allots him the time to stay up late and work on his material. “I’ve never had this much time to work on these creative pursuits. I think the future of Beach Tiger is a lot more material.”
As for the new collection, McCleskey didn’t linger long on one song. “I think if you place too much importance on one part, you lose the song and that passionate affect that it once had. Sometimes I’ll finish a song and never touch it again, like ‘Waiting on the Wire’ off the new EP. I wrote that song in two nights and put all the parts together,” he says of the album’s shining, hook-heavy lead single. The track includes contributions by local bassist Mick Matricciano.
The three-song EP is less than 10 minutes long, and it settles on you like a reverie. Even though he creates layered pop crescendos, if you look at one of his recent playlists, you’d see Sturgill Simpson, New Radicals, and Oasis. “Or I’m usually listening to country. I’ve got a lot of Southern roots. But I make synth pop. It’s a funny contrast — might make for some fun recordings in the future.”
Currently, McCleskey would rather get his material where he wants it before focusing on going on the road. “I have this digital audience, and I’m going to spend time getting more material on hand and out into the world.” Although he does have a vision for how the future could unfold. “The biggest cities tuning in are Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York,” McCleskey said. “What’s swimming in my brain right now is to build a band and try to hit at least one of those cities, and build a buzz around that rather than playing for four people in Tuscaloosa, Ala. But that might be a pipe dream.”