Music and Art In Your Backyard

Interview: A Woman, An Artist, A person

Talia Taylor is everything you think she is and much more. She is a good friend who I encountered during undergrad in England and over time I have been able to see the evolution of her music. Her lyrics and beats are intergalatic requiring your attention and your emotion. When she spit rhymes she is dangerous. She has taken this gift to stages in East Bay and beyond, winning rap competitions. She is incredibly active in her community and is the co-host of The Parked Car, a multi-genred East Bay radio show. When the sun comes up and the morning coffee brews, Ms. Taylor becomes a teacher . I wait with bated breathe for her self-produced EP, which is under construction. Talia took some time out to speak to me about where music converges with the real world.

 Talia Taylor  Styled by Talia Taylor  Photography by Marcus Steele

Talia Taylor

Styled by Talia Taylor

Photography by Marcus Steele

How long have you been writing/making music?

I have been making music for 14 years. 

How did you get started?

My raps started as poems in the seventh grade when I took a technology class, in which we learned Microsoft Word. My teacher at the time, published our work, bound it and gave it to us. It felt really good to see my work printed. It made it real. From that point forward, I made it a habit to write and on occasion freestyle with my best friend Teela Watts aka Dr. Watta. 

In high school, my mom heard my music, was shocked and surprised. She immediately became my biggest fan and encouraged me to pursue music wholeheartedly.  

Do you have moments when you think you should be doing something else other than chasing this dream?

Yes. They occur, but the more disciplined I become with music; the more of it I share with others; the more feedback I get; the less I doubt whether chasing this dream is worth it.  

What do you experience when you are in the music making process?

It depends on the day. It depends on my mood. When the finished product does not translate the story I am trying to tell according to my standards, I get frustrated. Depending on the day, this feeling will linger, or it will drive me further into inspiration. Sometimes making music heals me and reminds me that it is what I need to be doing in that very moment. 

I want my music to create new environments for people’s imaginations to live in
— Talia Taylor

Who/What inspires you? Where do you draw your creativity from?

Friends, family, and people who are productive and getting work done. People who don't take life too seriously. People who know how to have fun and more importantly, create their own fun. Fun, spontaneous spirits that don't rely on me or someone else to lead them are the beings who inspire me. 

Who are your favorite lyricists/rappers/hip-hop artist (male and female)?

I always find myself going back to Flying Lotus. I don't think he would classify himself as a hip-hop artist, so I am not sure if this answers your question. But I do not consider myself solely a hip hop artist either...and as such I am inspired by artists from a variety of genres. 

AZ, Nas, Missy Elliot, Danny Brown and Mos Def are a few of my favorites in hip hop at the moment. My answers to this question will always change.  

Where do you want to take your music? What impact do you want it to have on the world?

I want my music to create new environments for people's imaginations to live in. I am experimenting with the idea of doing this with film and tv; something visual to help accentuate the sound and vice versa. 

I want my music to have a positive impact on people. I am pretty sure this is the standard answer every musician tells the person who asks. I fall in line with this one. 

What are your thoughts on Female MCs?

They're cool. I'm one. We're cool. 

Some of tracks I'm in-love with such as "Healer", "Galactic", "Shut the box" and most recently "214". What were the inspiration for those?

Lyrically, a lot of these songs were written years ago. I decided to stop hiding my verses and release them. "Healer", a song I wrote and produced was inspired by the chord changes in Erykah Badu's "Healer". The first track I laid down in "Healer" was of me humming the melody of Badu's version. Everything else, the additional vocals, bass, synths all came after and created a sound of its own.   

How would you define your style of lyricism and your style as a musician?

I am still trying to define my style on my own terms. Others have said my lyrics are either dense or too abstract. I am not mad at that. It's how they come and until I can find a way to simplify, I'll just keep doing what I do. Musically, I am growing. That is my style..."grow" and "vulnerability". It takes a lot of risk for me to even allow myself to create because I am tasked with interpreting my thoughts and emotions into a sound no one has ever heard and whatever I create is always up for speculation and judgment. It is  scary, but when I record and release it, i grow from it. 

How do you balance your day job with chasing your dream and what's a typical day/week like for you?

I prioritize music. It's pretty high on the list. When I return from work I do music; and during the weekend I do music before I do anything else. My friends are pretty understanding because other times they are doing their own creating. Family has been difficult because I am sacrificing that too. I am getting better at balancing that.

Well as of right now...I am a woman, an artist and a person who other people think sounds relatively nice on a microphone.
— Talia Taylor

How would you define your message to the world? Who are you in this world?

My message to the world: Just be yourself, no matter how isolated you feel. We all feel the same way because we are all insane creatures. Just do you and whoever can get with you is deserving of your love and vice versa. Whoever can't, don't spend too much time convincing them otherwise. It is a waste of your time.

Who are you in this world: Well as of right now...I am a woman, an artist and a person who other people think sounds relatively nice on a microphone. 


Find her work here: Talia Taylor

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