Catch up with LA-based pop artist Melanie Taylor, watch the video for her latest single "Tryna" off her self-titled EP, out now, and look for even more new music to come soon.
What got you interested in music and in songwriting?
Melanie Taylor: I have always, for as long as I can remember, been singing. My mom actually even has told me that I used to point to the stereo and be like 'la, la!' [laughs] so I don't know, it's always sort of been in me. I grew up doing a lot of musical theater and, for a while, I actually thought I would base myself in LA because I wanted to do more acting stuff. Then I was actually in a musical - that was the first thing I got when I was out here - and I just had this epiphany that I needed to be more music than acting and that was really where my drive was and so, just through that realization that I had and then some really good contacts, I got involved in more of the artistry as a recording artist in the industry with different producers that I had met and we made my first album and it just led to more and more opportunities. And then, that first producer that I had that did my first album, his name is Christian Davis, and he was a Grammy nominated songwriter, so I learned a lot about songwriting from him and applied that to other writing and it just grew.
Do you remember the first song you wrote that you were happy with?
Yeah! So, that's actually a funny story, because the very first song that I ever wrote was with this [laughs] with the same group of people that did that song "Friday" by Rebecca Black [laughs]. That was my first introduction into the songwriting world. So they didn't write that song for me, that was one of the first artist opportunities that I ever had and they were bringing people in to do singles and music videos and they were like, 'well we have a bunch of tracks if you want to try your hand at writing,' and I was like, 'yeah, that sounds great! I'll just try it'. And so actually, my first song that I ever did was this kind of an Avril Lavigne/Kelly Clarkson-type song called "Freak Out" [laughs]. And I was actually pretty happy with it! And that song is what led to other songwriting opportunities, but it was definitely a certain genre and time in my life [laughs] that I would never go back to.
Which musicians would you say that you were influenced by?
For this last album - and the newer stuff that I will start to go into, as well - a big influence is actually Alanis Morissette, her style of taking these urban beats and then pairing them with a lot of rock and raw feel is what I want to do - and had started to do in this album. Then, I grew up like a '90s kid listening to Lauryn Hill and TLC and all of those kind of groovy, soulful artists. I would say those are probably some of my biggest influencers, for sure.
Is there anyone that you're hooked on right now?
There are a lot actually, just because I'm always listening to Spotify and discovering new artists. One artist I just discovered, her name is Bishop Briggs and she is a UK artist that I'm really into. I love Tove Lo. And then, definitely, actually one of the producers on this album just did Solange's album and I have been really into that as well. It seriously always changes because older artists are putting out newer stuff now too and there's just a lot of new music, it's exciting!
How would you describe your sound, as it is now, to someone who had never heard your music?
I would describe it now as feel-good, soulful pop with a rock/urban influence [laughs], if that makes at all sense. It definitely has some Alanis, but also even funky, soulful roots in it. It's always really hard for me to try to describe my music to other people, I'm always just like, 'you just have to hear it' [laughs]. Overall, I feel like the feel-good part comes from that '90s kid in me, it has that groove that a lot of '90s songs had, and I just love that and have really loved incorporating that into my music. I would just say that a lot of my songs are very guitar based and that's where the rock part comes from. Also, I feel like the music that I'll be doing next - because I've already started thinking and writing about that thing - will probably be even more soulful and have almost, more so in my approach and how I'm singing, a bluesy feel to it.
What were your inspirations behind your single and the video for "Tryna"?
That song was really just born out of a really inspiring day of writing a bunch of new stuff. When my producer and I created that song, we were also doing a bunch of different stuff all over the map that day and our intention was really just, as long as it feels good and we love what we're hearing, we're just going to go with it. So, it wasn't even necessarily something specific that we were trying to sound like, he was just messing around on the keys and I was like, 'what is that?!' and then he looped it and I just immediately heard what I wanted for the hook. The lyrics are based on my own personal experience in relationships with not wanting to let your guard down. Like, I was totally good being single and didn't want to really let anyone in and it's just that place where someone comes in and you're just like, 'ugh crap, I can't turn this down, this is too good to pass up' [laughs]. So that's what the feel of the song was about.
The video is really more so supposed to be about a girl getting - for this last version, the original version of "Tryna" before we put out the remix version of it - I'm just painting and getting it all out and just daydreaming and so the whole rest of the scenes are supposed to be a dream-like sequence and I just saw it being very colorful.
Could you tell us more about your self-titled EP that's out now and how it compares to your last album?
Yeah! Well, I definitely was really on a learning curve with my first album; I feel like I was very rushed in my artist development stage at that point and I didn't really know what I wanted to do, so I tried a lot of different stuff; I just knew that I loved pop, so that was definitely a much more straightforward pop album. This last EP that I just put out I think reflects some of the life experience that I've had now and it's just a little bit closer to the feel and vibe that I personally, as an artist, express. I would say that it's a lot more authentic to me and it's reflective also of some of the influences that I had growing up, like a '90s feel and a little bit of the Alanis/Michael Jackson stuff that I love listening to.
Is there a track off that record you'd call your favorite or even a newer one you're excited to share with fans?
It's funny, because I pretty much almost went through stages with every single song where I was like, 'I really love this song, I feel like this should be the single' for whatever reason. I will say that I was really excited about "Taste" because that just has a really good feel-good and relevant sound to it that a lot of people like and it just feels good to sing. But "Tryna" was definitely a favorite, "Money ($$$$$)" was definitely a favorite, "Dizzy" [laughs]. I just really loved working on a lot of these songs. For the new project that I'm about to work on more and do, there's a song called "Just Ain't Right" that I actually was thinking about putting on this EP and we kind of reserved it, because it just was the consensus that it encapsulates the sound that I'm going to be moving forward with. It's not too different from this, but it's a little bit more refined, in my sound, so that song I'm definitely really excited about and I can't wait to share with people.
How would you sum up your Melanie Taylor EP in one sentence?
It was meant to just be a feel-good, soulfully pop album that is a Summery SoCal vibe, which is just who I am, growing up in Southern California [laughs]; it was meant to make people feel good and I think that it definitely accomplishes that.
What do you hope listeners are able to take away from your music?
Gosh, that is a hard question [laughs]. For me, as an artist, I always try to come from a deeper, more inspirational way of looking at things. It's basically, at the end of the day, why even do music if for not people? It let's people relate and it takes them out of whatever they might be going through and whether some of those songs put them in a place where they just are expressing it or are just getting out of their heads and dancing, that's my goal with music. This album is meant to uplift you and, again, just a really feel-good album. And then, moving forward, I think it'll be even more honest and expressive and still be meant to make people dance [laughs] when they're at my shows.
Is there anything you want to add?
Just that my website is melanietaylorofficial.com and I have some cool announcements that I'll be making soon with some new songs and I perform a lot in LA; I have a show coming up November 10th at the Silverlake Lounge but anyone can see any of my shows coming up on my website.