I have been getting to know…
Emma Taylor and what influenced her current track, My Dear. The New York-based songwriter discusses her plans for new music and why she labels her sounds as ‘sad girl music’; how she has developed in her career; what tour dates are coming up – whether she will come to the U.K.
Taylor talks about her influences and the music she grew up around; how she spends time away from music; what advice she would give to new songwriters – Taylor recommends a great new artist we should know more about.
Hi, Emma. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey! I’m great, thanks. My week has been pretty good - just been praying for some sunshine here in N.Y.C.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m Emma Taylor. I’m a twenty-year-old singer-songwriter from L.A., currently living in N.Y. I write sad songs that make people feel things - and I try to create a blend of melodic and lyrical unification to create a musical journey - while paying homage to the great singer-songwriters of the '70s and '80s. I hope you’ll take this journey with me!
My Dear is your new track. What is the story behind it?
I was in London this past year for a few months and was in a very transitional period in all aspects of my life, particularly in my relationship. It led me to become very vulnerable and put me in quite an emotional state, which is perfect for songwriting. The song’s written from the perspective of someone wanting, so badly, for the relationship to work out even though promises had been constantly broken before. It’s about hoping that, maybe, this time things would be different and that, maybe, this would be the time that things change for the better.
I think most people can relate to the topic that love can be greater than struggles if you can find a way to make it work. However, there’s always that worry that things might not ever change, which is discussed throughout the song. I like to call it a heartbreak, motivational song because it really does touch on both pushing through and pulling back. My Dear helped me push past the tough times to get to the great times in my relationship; so I think it has the power to show others that things can turn around.
You label your music ‘sad girl music’. What is the reason behind that?
For a long time, I never knew how to really describe what kind of music I make. I didn’t want to put a label on it - but I also knew I had to give people some sense of my musical identification. I had heard someone use the term ‘sad girl’ and it really stuck with me. I’m not a sad person during my day-to-day life, but writing and playing sad girl music is a deep form of self-expression and acknowledgement of emotions, good or bad.
Do you think there is ignorance and offence aimed at women regards emotion – that they are too emotional, perhaps?!
Totally. I think that, more often than not, women are scrutinized for being overly-emotional or dramatic about feelings, which is not okay. By flipping the coin and making 'sad girl' a positive, empowering thing, I think, is very beautiful and can show everyone that it’s okay to be expressive and honest - and can show the power of music that is universally relatable.
Your E.P., Hazy, and track, New Found Sound, gained huge streaming figures. How did that make you feel?
When I first found out, I hadn’t checked my streams for over a month because I started to go a little crazy constantly checking and wanting more reactions. I got a text congratulating me on the play count and I was so confused - until I checked my streams and saw the massive increase! It was unreal. It’s still so crazy to me waking up every morning and seeing that there’s still so much growth daily on the song.
Having the song do so well overnight was validation more than anything else; that, what I’m doing is attractive to people worldwide and that my music can resonate with a larger audience than what I had expected. It’s been so incredible, especially because I’m an Indie, completely independent artist - and it has given me even more confidence to continue to create the music that moves me the most.
You have an original sound, but I am curious whether there are particular songwriters you take inspiration from...
Thanks! My biggest musical inspiration is, first and foremost, Joni Mitchell.
Growing up; my parents had this singer-songwriter playlist that they played on-repeat, and so, many of her songs from Blue were on that rotation. She’s everything I aspire to be as a songwriter and as an artist: vulnerable, unique with her melodies; a brilliant poet and storyteller. Her talent is unlike anyone else’s I’ve ever heard. Her, along with fellow Laurel Canyon songwriters James Taylor and Carole King, have been inspirational to me because of their exceptional talent in both songwriting and vocals.
There’s a certain sound and writing ability that those '70s singer-songwriters had that made them stand out amongst the crowd. It’s one of my missions to bring that style back and pay homage to those who paved the way for the current singer-songwriter genre.
You are based in New York. How much do you take from the people and sights around you? Why did you relocate from L.A.?
My experiences and surroundings are a huge source of inspiration for me when I’m writing. I’m a pretty observant person, so I like to focus in on aspects of my environment and the people around me - to help me learn more about the area that I’m in. Because of this, moving to New York was a very crucial step in my artistic discovery, because I learned so much about how to handle myself and become more independent. What made me move to New York in the first place was because I began college at NYU. I knew that I was, eventually, going to end up in L.A. - but wanted to experience New York living before I settled into L.A. for good.
Do you have any gigs lined up? Where are you heading?
I do! I’m playing doing a short set for Vans at their Soho store in New York on April 17. I get back to L.A. in May and am working on setting up some shows there. Keep updated by following my socials and checking my website.
Do you think you’ll come to the U.K. and perform this year?
I just got back from the U.K. and it was amazing!
The music culture is incredible and I would love to come back and play. I don’t have any plans quite yet - but it’s something I will definitely work on.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
I plan on releasing new music, for sure. I’m working on a few singles and will probably just stagger some single releases throughout the year. I’m also exploring music video options and ideas to explore the visual aspect of my music which, I think, could be a very great outlet for further self-expression.
On top of that; I want to gig way more and hopefully tour! Just keep checking back for updates!
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
My favorite moment to date is definitely my E.P. release-party last year. I created the E.P. with my producer and did everything completely independent while entirely funding the whole project; so, spending over a year working on it was a wild experience. The release-show was just the culmination of all the time and effort that I and everyone else who worked on it had put in. It was at a really cool bar in L.A. the night of the actual release date and I filled the space with friends and family. There was, honestly, nothing but love and amazing energy in the room - and I felt completely overjoyed and at peace.
It was kind of like my inauguration into the public music scene, which was exhilarating. I played the entire E.P. live with a band and it was so incredible to have all those who I cared about most hear the songs for the first time. It’s a night for the books and it will always stick in my mind.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
My best advice would be to, just, be your best self and focus on you! It takes time to feel confident in your artistry and you’ll always be building who you are and will constantly be getting better; so, it’s important to follow your path and not let anyone or anything tear you down. It’s so easy to compare yourself or focus on the wrong things but, at the end of the day, if the music’s good and you believe in yourself, everything will fall into place.
IN THIS PHOTO: YEBBA
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
I’m obsessed with YEBBA - and I’ve listened to her for so long. She was just featured on the new Sam Smith record and I’m so happy to see her get the recognition she deserves. I saw her live and she is truly magical.
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I really try to find a good balance between music and time to unwind.
It’s so crucial to not let the music overpower my thoughts and life - so that I can still appreciate it and let it have a positive effect on me. I try to take at least one day a week to walk around the city or binge Netflix and just have normal ‘me’ time. I’ve also gotten into photography recently, which I find to be a very incredible form of self-expression.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Joni Mitchell - Both Sides Now (the original version, not the remake)
Follow Emma Taylor
Tia Elisabeth Glista