A little over a week ago, on November 18, an intimate creative collective in Washington DC – Little Salon was treated to the debut performance from neo-classical pianist-cum-electronic producer, Taylor Rose Jordan, otherwise known as The Greatest Hoax. If that name sounds familiar, well, it would appear in deciding on his moniker, Jordan has taken a subtle jab at one Oklahoma Senator, Jim Inhofe, author of the book The Greatest Hoax – a call to arms for climate skeptics everywhere.
Which leads us to what’s especially intriguing about Jordan as by day he’s far from a creative musician. He spends his days at Capitol Hill, Washington DC, a location renowned for determining the congressional demands of the United States, working as part of a team of climate scientists taking part in the controversial climate change debate. Jordan himself admits to the influence derived from the heated discussion (pun intended) surrounding him and his encounters with policy makers and the extent to which these have affected the creation of his musical alter ego.
“Most people would think, “Oh, you deal with all this climate change and data, apply that to certain algorithms and make music from it,” but I’m constantly surrounded by these unintended debates on climate change and going home after work and sitting at the piano is the exact opposite. It’s the one place I do get to relax and it’s the one place I get to take my mind off of it.”
The juxtaposition couldn’t be more real. How does a classically trained musician hailing from the prestigious Music College of the University of North Texas find his way to Capitol Hill?
Well, according to Jordan, jazz, rather than his love, classical, is the focus for many UNT graduates. So, when finding himself with little to do following graduation, he turned instead to an internship offer from a friend in DC.
“I did it and then after it they wanted to hire me and, so, I stayed here and kept getting promoted. I realised, I guess I’m going to do this. I guess I’m going to go back to school, so I went to John Hopkins University and I got a Masters degree in Climate Science.”
Jordan’s debut EP ENSO, released this month, is named for this daily connection to the longitudinal El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) process and lies as testament to both his comprehension of classical arrangements, fueled by analog synthesizers, as well as to his desire to create emotive pathways for listeners into the perplexing world of climate change.
“That’s pretty much why I chose the name, I thought it was pretty cool. ENSO is definitely one of the multidecadal processes that takes long periods of time, and these are not short term weather events.”
In tribute to his classical composition approach, Jordan has chosen to name every track throughout the album with the title Opus and a corresponding number. ‘Opus 30’, for example, or ‘Opus 21’.
“I kind of wanted something so innocuous that it allowed people to take their own view on my songs without having some pre-dispositional notion about what it should mean to that person.”
Claiming now to be done with the Opus nomenclature, he alludes to another project which is underway, built on yet another concept collection of his, Memoria.
With a cross-promotional single release, ‘Pythogens’, out as well, completed with EP producer, Jon Zott, demonstrating a livelier, housier song, Jordan is showing signs of becoming one prolific and successful artist.
In a discussion about the future, further collaboration is raised as a possibility, with Jordon citing his eagerness to one day work with his idols, including Olafur Arnulds and Kiasmos, as well as Nils Frahm. For now though, the ideal will be to hone his craft through live performances and, perhaps, get into film score composition.
“I’d love to work with anybody or everybody. But at the same time that’s how I grow up. I played with the strictly classical. I’d love to score for film but I don’t know anybody yet. I’m starting to get a little more press and become a little more known.”
“I would love to play more live sets. I would love to play in places that might be more, sort of, receptive to it. A little niche area, where this kind of music will be appreciated.”
Regardless of what the future holds, one thing is certain, The Greatest Hoax musically is not for skeptics of the Jim Inhofe variety, he’s the genuine article.
The Greatest Hoax debut EP, ENSO, is available via Bandcamp