Rachel Taylor believes that all of humankind are connected to one another, a philosophy impressed upon her by growing up in a small island community. With that ethos in mind, Taylor, then a high school student, came up with the name of the band she would one day form: He Is We. It wasn’t until taking a job in a music shop that she would meet the other half of the band that would send her hurtling into a future of non-stop touring and recording.
Taylor and Trevor Kelly were employees at Ted Brown Music, a music shop in Tacoma, Washington. The duo decided one day to pass free time by playing some tunes. It was in that shop, in the summer of 2008, that He Is We took shape. They began recording demos in a friend’s basement soon after, and with a MySpace account, developed a fan following through the Internet.
They left Ted Brown Music in early 2009 to begin touring, and have been touring non-stop this past year. They are currently traveling across the nation on the All About You tour with Ocean Grove and Andrew Allen, which will bring He Is We to Jammin’ Java on July 10 for a 7:30 p.m. show. The tour is the band’s first stint as a headlining act. They had previously toured supporting artists such as British singer-songwriter Bobby Long and Fairfax pop-punk outfit The Downtown Fiction.
“It felt too easy,” Taylor said, describing the process of going from a music store clerk to a touring musician, adding that the sudden stardom hadn’t fully sunk in until a summer 2009 trip to New York, a first for the young musician.
“Before we landed in New York, it sunk in,” Taylor said. “We just looked at each other and we were like “Are we prepared for this?'”
He Is We was named Unsigned Band of 2009 on PureVolume.com before signing with Universal/Motown Records in the summer of 2010. Later that year, they released their debut album, My Forever, which made it to No. 6 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums chart.
The indie pop album highlights the deeply personal songwriting that Taylor and Kelly undertake, with tracks like “Forever and Ever,” a tune Taylor penned about marrying her fiancé. With lyrics like “You’re my air, when I feel I can’t breathe/Catching me, when I’m tripping over my feet,” Taylor invites listeners to share in her life’s experience with heartfelt lyrics accompanied by sparse, infectious melodies by Kelly.
“Our music is for someone who wants words to express whatever it is that they are feeling, who wants to feel like someone understands the love and pain they feel,” Taylor said. “I have never written a song that I’m never fully a part of, myself.”
As for the future of He Is We, there are no signs they will slow down from the break-neck speed that took two teens from a music instrument showroom to the center stage in a couple of years. Taylor said the duo plans to continue touring, hopefully again as a headlining act, and writing tracks for their follow-up album.
• For more on He Is We, visit heiswemusic.com.