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Starting the week and our Spotlight – Taylor-Rae. We chat with this talented artist about her rise in music and her new release of Are You Still Up. Check out just what she has to say right now!

Taylor-Rae, thank you for giving us your time. With two singles that have come out this year -“Hellbent” and “Are You Still Up”- it sounds like you have been busy! What have you been up to during the lockdown?

Thank you for having me on! Lockdown has been interesting, to say the least, but I have tried to make it as productive as possible! 

When the pandemic first started, I started an Instagram series called ‘QuaranTAYtion’ where I started out playing summer songs Monday to Friday. When I realized COVID wasn’t going anywhere, I started making theme weeks and taking requests. It developed a really cool community within my social media where we were all staying connected through a time when the human connection was few and far between.

After finishing the 50th episode of ‘QuaranTAYtion’, I had a minute to step back and figure out the next move, which for me was recording. I had the opportunity to meet with Dan Swinimer and Tavish Crowe and we got to work on evolving my sound with some killer songs pitched to me by Casadie Pederson. Releasing new music during a pandemic is definitely different, but I’m just so excited to have things on the go again! 

It was awesome to see “Are You Still Up” reached #3 on the iTunes Country Chart… How did it feel as an artist to see a reception like that?

The only word to describe it would be surreal. I set a goal of hitting the top 10 on the chart, so waking up to all of the texts from my family telling me it was #3, literally had me dancing around my apartment. As an artist, releasing music is such a mix of nerves and excitement, so to have that much support right off the bat definitely left me feeling grateful. 

You said that “Are You Still Up” was written after a break-up… what was it like writing a song about something so emotional, and having it be embraced by so many?

This song was written by Carly Pearce, Phil Barton, and Adam Argyle. Having the chance to record a song written by people I have looked up to in the industry was pretty wild! 

I find ‘Are You Still Up’ to be so relatable. I think a lot of us have had a person that we’re better off without but sometimes that loneliness sets in, typically late at night, where you feel like you just want to talk to them and I think that is why the song is resonating so well. 

After the success of Backseat Driver, how did that experience affect how you approached “Hellbent” and “Are You Still Up”?

Backseat Driver was my first dive into the business side of the industry and it really gave me an idea of what you can accomplish as an indie artist. I learned a lot about what I would and wouldn’t do again and that a supportive team is imperative. When it came to looking for a team for the current project I was really focused on finding people who were knowledgeable, supportive, and who really believed in the project. To have found that and to have continued to build and add to that team, is really exciting for me.  

How did being under quarantine affect your writing and recording process?

At the start of quarantine, I took a bit of a step back from writing. As I’m sure a lot of people can relate, I felt like my inspiration had kind of left me for a hot minute there! 

That’s when I really got into co-writing. I knew I couldn’t just stop and that I would be wasting some great emotion and experiences that needed to be written about, so getting some other brains in the room felt like the right move for me. Co-writing and bouncing ideas has really been one of my favorite things over the past 18 months. 

The recording process was great. Obviously not without a couple of hurdles with the wave of regulations, but Dan, Tavish, and I worked hard when we could so we didn’t fall behind to compensate for the months of lockdown! 

I found there was much stronger energy on your latest singles, what inspired this change?

Definitely. I think over the past couple of years I’ve grown so much as an artist and I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find my ‘lane’ in the industry. I think the stronger energy is really coming from a place of confidence and knowing where my strengths lie.

Earlier this year we got another great single from you, “Hellbent”, and watching the video it looks like you were having a blast making it. What was it like making that video, and flinging that school bus down some dirt roads?

It was an absolute HOOT! My sister and I had been chatting about coming up with a cool idea for the lyric video and I remember saying “Man, it’d be so funny if we got a yellow school bus somehow”. Not an hour later she called me saying a friend of a friend’s Mom has one and we just laughed and immediately started planning. 

On the day of filming, everyone showed up late because not even google maps could find our location out in the country, and from there it was just one hilarious event to the next. From me trying to look ‘cool’ walking out of the bus and falling down the stairs, to everyone trying to hold in their nerves while I was driving this huge bus, it was hands down the most fun I’ve ever had on set. 

Are we going to get to see some more videos from you in the future? It was great to see that fun side of you in “Hellbent”!

We actually just filmed the video for ‘Are You Still Up’ so that is just around the corner! 

“Hellbent” is such a fun song and I have loved getting to put my spin on it! Growing up I’ve always been called “Hurricane Tay” and when I heard that first line in the chorus saying “I’m a hurricane” I knew I had to record that song. After so long of not releasing music, this felt like the perfect way to reintroduce myself to the industry! 

You recently spent some time in Nashville and got to write with Patricia Conroy and Dave Thomson. What was that experience like, and did that time influence you as a songwriter?

It definitely impacted me as a songwriter, getting to be in the room with such incredible writers. They say if you’re the smartest one in the room you’re not learning anything, so luckily for my 10 days in Nashville, I did a lot of learning haha! Everyone in Nashville is so welcoming, so having them take the time to write and get to know me was a really cool experience. I’m excited to get back! 

There’s a more modern country sound to “Hellbent” and “Are You Still Up”… was any of that change in sound the result of working with Dan Swinimer?

I think this evolved sound was a combination of a lot of things, but Dan definitely had a big hand in it. He’s so well versed in where country music is today so having his direction really helped shape this project.

What was it like to work with Dan, and how did his approach help you with this new sound and energy we’ve been hearing from you?

Working with Dan was an awesome experience. He’s such a champion of emerging artists, so to have him in my corner has been incredible. 

Working with him definitely influenced this new sound coming from my music. Going into the studio, I really wanted to find the balance of creating music that has a place in the current state of country music, but still felt like me.

Dan, Tavish, and I worked really hard to find that lane, and having mentorship from producers of that caliber definitely pushed this music to the next level. 

We’ve got an awesome single to listen to with “Are You Still Up”, but when will we get to hear some more new music from Taylor-Rae?

There is a lot of new music coming down the pipeline and I’m so excited about it. You can expect some more from me in the New Year! 

With streaming services seeming to replace record stores, are we going to see a focus on singles, or will there be an LP coming?

This is the question I think we all ask ourselves, but my answer is that there is an EP in the works. 

With the current state of streaming, I’ve been putting a large amount of focus on singles because as an indie I think that’s where you can build a lot of momentum. That being said, We have been working on some great music, with some really strong songs to create a body of work representative of where I am currently as an artist. I’m really excited to share it with everyone! 

You have been able to perform since the lockdown restrictions have eased up -including a wild turn of events in Osoyoos- what was it like to go through THAT craziness, and also, how has it been to play your new material in front of fans?

Haha! Osoyoos was a whirlwind. We basically had to build the show as we went with two of my bandmates being stuck in 6 hours of traffic. We started acoustically and ended as a full band when the two of them finally made it for the last half of the show. It was definitely stressful, but it turned out to be pretty epic how the show was built and the way the crowd stuck with us the whole time. 

Trying out the new music, at this gig, in particular, was a long time coming and it felt so good. I wrote a lot of fairly personal music throughout the pandemic and sometimes you don’t know how that’s going to go over in a live setting, but the crowd was incredible. There were tears, laughs, and a lot of common ground found between myself and the audience.  I can honestly say this was one of my favorite shows to date, where all of us on stage and the audience were on the same team the entire show. I think it goes to show that throughout the pandemic, we have missed that human connection and I think it really makes you appreciate those moments of comradery and being together.

Thank you for your time, Taylor! Before we go, what is on the horizon for you, and what should your fans be excited about?

More music and more shows (fingers crossed!). Going into the new year there will be some exciting announcements about all of that and I can’t wait! 

I can’t give too much away right now, but you can find everything coming up on my socials! 

Thank you so much for having me! 

Spotlight – Taylor-Rae

Spotlight – Taylor-Rae is now over. Big thanks for taking the time with us

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