INTERVIEW: Taylor Grey talks latest single “Idiot” & how she defines success

Taylor Grey

Taylor Grey has racked up more than a million streams on Spotify alone and, as a recent graduate of Stanford University, has the kind of ambition and work ethic that you can't help but be motivated by.

Her new single "Idiot" is about leaving a relationship and taking back your power. Taylor spoke to XS Noize about how the track came together, the two artists who most inspire her music and her upcoming album.

What sets Taylor Grey apart from all the other bands and artists today?

I think it would have to be my experience. I released my first EP in 2013, almost a decade ago. So, while I'm not a mainstream artist in any sense of the word, I've been fortunate to have a lot of early experiences that showed me all the different parts of the music industry. I've done shows where not a single person was paying attention to me - a mechanical bull was rightfully drawing everyone's attention - and I've done shows in front of thousands of people. I've made mistakes, I've put out amateur songs, and I've been a teenager, but I've also been allowed to grow and evolve creatively in my own time. Today, I feel confident that I can bring those experiences to the table and create music that reflects me and my journey.

Which two acts would you say have most inspired and continue to inspire you in terms of the music you make? 

Taylor Swift & Stevie Nicks.

Tell me about the creative process behind your new single "Idiot." Where did the idea for it come from? 

I was running late while driving to my producer Mark Siegel's studio, for a session. Every time I approached a red light, it would turn green. This happened like 3-4 times in a row. So I just started singing to myself, "guess I'm lucky that I'm hitting all the green lights." And I ran with it - writing a really disjointed verse and chorus in the car with no instruments, trying to actually have to stop at a red light so I could voice memo the idea. When I got to the studio, I hurriedly sang this idea to Mark and immediately, we just wrote the song from there.

How did you come up with the concept for the video? 

I wanted the video to convey the emotional energy behind the song so that people could witness this journey of frustration and hurt transforming into anger and then ultimately into acceptance and confidence. I spoke a lot with the director, John Peterson, about the vision because we both wanted the emotional landscape of the song to be at the forefront. Overall, we wanted the video's aesthetic to draw inspiration from 2000s music videos, especially because early 2000s pop-inspired the record.

Is the single part of a bigger release plan over the coming months? Is there a new EP or album in the works, and if so, what can you tease about it?

Yes! I am planning to release a full-length body of work for this fall. Just so excited to share my album "Twilight Hour" with you all soon; it's been a journey to get to the finish line on this, and I'm so proud of the music I am sharing. I might be biased, but I recommend keeping an eye out for updates once it's launched on all the streaming platforms because I think there will be at least one song on it that you can relate to. I used to have a really hard time writing about difficult experiences I'd had, so I relied on love songs even though I had never been in love. But with this record, I was able to dig deep and tell my story.

You'll hear songs about mental health, friendship breakups, self-discovery, and of course, a love song or two for good measure - but I'm counting "Idiot'," so that is debatable. They are my stories, but I think there is room for individual interpretation. If you're looking to hear it through the lens of a romantic relationship, you'll find it. If you're looking to hear it through the lens of a difficult familial relationship, you'll hear that too.

In the past, you've shared stages with, among others, Fall Out Boy and Flo Rida. What's been your favourite tour or performance show so far, and why?

It's really hard to pick a favourite. Especially as an opener, anytime I get the opportunity to be on stage and have people interact with me, I am so happy. But if I had to pick, I would say my most recent tour - and by most recent, I mean pre-pandemic - Why Don't We. I feel like the most recent is always my favourite because hopefully, the show I put on keeps getting better over time, and because I was able to do so many shows with Why Don't We, I was able to learn and grow as a performer much faster.

Who would you pick if you could choose three acts, living or dead, to support you on a headline tour?

Okay, I'm going to go wild here, but Blondie, Phoebe Bridgers, and The 1975.

Which venue anywhere in the world do you most want and hope to play one day?

I'd love to play at a festival one day. Outside Lands would be really fun since it's my hometown festival.

You have an impressive following on several social media platforms, but how do you feel about it personally? Is it something you enjoy using, or do you think sometimes society, and the music industry, are too reliant on it? 

Social media within music gets a bad rep, and while it's not wholly undeserved, I think it is important in making the music industry more accessible. I sometimes struggle with my relationship with social media, not knowing which parts of myself are the "right" parts of myself to share. But it is something I'm working on because I genuinely adore talking with people who listen to my music or have seen me on tour. It brings me so much joy to see people tagging me in videos of them singing my songs or commenting that they have been listening to my music.

Finally, your career has taken off considerably over the last few years, with more and more people discovering you and your music, but what does success look and feel like to and for you? At what point would you be able to say to yourself: 'I've achieved all I've wanted to and more'?

I've learned that success has to be about the music. If I am making music that I love and making a living doing it, then that has to be enough. I will always dream big and set a lot of goals for myself, but I've learned that if you base success on milestones, there will always be another milestone. I know I'll be able to say, "I've achieved all I've wanted and more" when I feel like I have said all I have wanted to say with my music and hopefully created a lasting career while doing so.

 

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