With her new single “Back to Bite,” pop artist Taylor Grey has created a track that she hopes will empower people to take back their voices. That motivational anthem, which is out now, is off of her forthcoming EP, a record she says is working hard to be the best representation of who she is as an artist today.
We recently sat down with Grey to discuss her dedicated fans, why a Z-list level of fame is appealing, and the reason she has a weekly mental breakdown when the summer comes to an end.
TrunkSpace: As an artist, you’re always creating in the present. Does that make “Back to Bite” the best representation of who you are as an artist today?
Grey: It is definitely part of the best representation of me! I think it’s hard for one song to encompass an entire person, but my new EP, which has “Back to Bite” on it, is for sure trying its hardest.
TrunkSpace: That being said, can you listen to the single and say, “This is the sound that I want to be creating for the rest of my career?”
Grey: I mean, I love the song but I’d be lying to myself if I said that I’m constantly changing and I would never want to put an artistic barrier on myself. What I can say is, “This is the way I want to feel when I listen to my music for the rest of my career.”
TrunkSpace: Do you feel like an artist is in a difficult position to mature and build off an established sound? It seems you’re damned if you do (people want you to grow as an artist), but damned if you don’t (they don’t want you to venture too far away from what they love about you).
Grey: I completely understand the dilemma. For me, I feel really lucky because I never had a huge fan base with my old music, but the fans that I did have are so dedicated and lovely – I think they mainly just want to hear me be more authentic. They are the absolute best to stick by me. I’m not sure what I did to deserve them.
TrunkSpace: You described your current sound as less filtered and more vulnerable. As an artist, that emotional honesty is certainly the way to connect to an audience, but as a human being, is it difficult to be more open and exposed in such a public world, especially with everyone having an opinion on social media?
Grey: Yeah, it’s really difficult for me. Part of me still gets scared when I talk about topics like feminism or sexual assault with men because, although those are integral themes in my song “Back to Bite,” I still feel like someone might get mad at me. And then I think, “Oh yeah, THIS is why songs like this need to exist – to make these themes more seen and more comfortable, just to have an open conversation about them.”
TrunkSpace: What are you most proud of with “Back to Bite?”
Grey: When the song released, a really good friend of mine messaged me and told me how much the song meant to her, she said it made her want to fight back against her assaulters. So yeah, I’m most proud of how the song connects to people. I wrote it with the intention for it run the gamut on meaning – it could be someone who is hurting from being cheated on to someone who is hurting from having their control over their body taken away. It’s just an empowerment song to take back your voice.
TrunkSpace: Where are you hardest on yourself as an artist?
Grey: Oh, a lot of places. (Laughter) Sometimes I think I’m a good songwriter and sometimes I think I’m absolute trash. I’m definitely hardest on myself about my body though. I’ve never felt good enough. Not once. So I wrote a song about that and put it on my EP.
TrunkSpace: Many people say that music is a form of therapy. Is it that way for you?
Grey: It absolutely is. But I wouldn’t suggest it be a replacement for anyone struggling; I don’t know where I’d be without real therapy.
TrunkSpace: How important is branding and creating a look and vibe that helps to emphasize your public persona? Is it something you enjoy, creating that extra layer beyond the music, or is it a necessary evil?
Grey: This is a really tricky question.
Well, I hate taking pictures, because I never like how I look, but I do think it’s necessary to create a look that conveys who you are. So with this new music, I’m more interested in creating a look where it isn’t about my body, but it’s about the art and the music first.
TrunkSpace: What do you think the biggest hurdle is for an artist to overcome in 2018? Where do you have to work the hardest to be seen and heard?
Grey: I think it’s really small at the top, and the music industry likes to stay where it’s comfortable – a lot of artists that are already very well known. But I don’t really want that kind of pressure. I’d be very comfortable as a Z-list celebrity with a group of really amazing supporters just doing what I love and jamming out together. That’s the dream.
TrunkSpace: You’re also currently attending Stanford. Internally, how do you juggle your studies and your creative interests? Do they coexist or are they completely separate?
Grey: It’s hard. I like summer… I’m going to miss summer. During school, I drink a lot of coffee, rarely go out, and have a weekly mental breakdown. But that being said, I want the education/degree and I want the music. I love both and wouldn’t change it, so it’s my choice. And my low-key parents because I don’t think they’d be happy if I told them I was dropping out.
TrunkSpace: Finally, we’re on the back nine of 2018 now, but what’s on tap for the rest of the year and what should fans be on the lookout for heading into 2019?
Grey: Definitely be on the lookout for my new EP coming out this year. I’m beyond excited for it!