Tayla Parx: The Writer, The Artist, The Creative,
When you see her, you might think that she is a little quirky with her colourful clothing and her colourful hair, when you listen to her music you might think she is a brand new and fresh on the music scene with her varied musical style. However, when you get to know her, you will realise that she has been around for much longer than you know. Tayla Parx is the voice you never knew you loved and could relate too so much. From a songwriting career which has earned her 3 GRAMMY nominations, Tayla Parx is the dark horse that everybody has been sleeping on until now. On a Tuesday afternoon, I headed to the legendary Abbey Road Studios to meet with Tayla Parx who coincidentially was mid- recording session, we had a chat about all things music and more and I was introduced to the three multi-dimensions layers of Tayla Parx: The Writer, The Artist and the Creative.
Tayla The Writer
If the name Tayla Parx is unfamiliar to you then you might want to think again. As a songwriter, she has been working behind the scenes in the music ever since she landed her first placement with BO$$ by Fifth Harmony in 2014. Since then, she has written some of the biggest songs you have been singing along to on the radio. Working with artists such as Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, Janelle Monaé, Khalid, Alicia Keys, Ariana Grande, Chris Brown and more.
She has, unknowingly to anyone who turns on the radio and listens to music been shifting and influencing the music over the last 5 years. This may feel like something that happened unintentionally, but in actual fact, it is something that has always been in the back of her mind from when she was a young girl in Dallas Texas.
“My first experience with music I can remember came from when I was younger and I was listening to a lot of singer-songwriters. Brian McKnight, Babyface, Erykah Badu and I didn’t know at the time they were writing their stuff because I didn’t know there was even an option. At that time I was just singing, until it became a necessity for me to write because I realised I didn’t ever want to depend on anybody else to write my songs, and rely on somebody else to get a creative idea so I think it was a curiosity in the beginning”
It has always been said where curiosity leads the cat but in Tayla’s case it clearly led her down quite the path. She has since been able to dominate what most songwriters struggle to do, write across various genres of music. Simply just letting her interest for various forms of music be what decides she wants to write about “At first, when I came in and started writing, I was writing a lot of female anthems and that was the thing that came naturally to me obviously as a female songwriter. I was doing that from BO$$ for Fifth Harmony which was one of the first major cuts that I got in terms of placements, then I would go on to write for Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera. So then I was like okay now that I have kind of done that, how can I stretch myself again as a writer? And then I started to do Nick Jonas, Jason Derulo all of the guys. And again, I started to become curious about different types of music and I thought maybe I don’t just want to write pop music maybe I want to see what’s on the other side of that.”
That alone is something that has proven to be rather difficult. Like most forms of music which tend to be boxed in a specific genre, the nature of songwriters and the music they write tends to be the same. Currently, when you think of pop writers it is very easy to think of the likes of Julia Michaels, Justin Tranter, Max Martin, Dr Luke, Benny Blanco Ali Tamposi who have been heavily active in a lot of the pop music. As well the likes of Ne-Yo, Babyface, Ester Dean, The Dream, Diana Gordon, Tricky Stewart who have been some of the shakers is the sounds of modern R&B. However, when considering the likes of Norwegian duo Stargate, as well as the like of Rodney Jerkins, Pharrell, Missy Elliot, Babyface, Diane Warren these are some of the few who have been able to navigate across both these spaces and more.
For Tayla particularly by simply looking at her discography which has included some of the biggest songs and biggest moments of pop culture, when you take some of the work she has done for artists it is very clear that she has used her ability as a songwriter to help elevate and tell the stories of those around her regardless of the music they make. In a time where music consumption is at a all time high with the rise of streaming, some may think that this has comprised the quality and of the music we hear. And whilst that statement may or may not be true, in the case of Tayla that is not something that she feels in terms of the pressure as a songwriter to constantly be writing and creating music. Very much choosing to lend her voice and her skills as a songwriter to help elevate and tell the stories of those around her and make music that will actually last far beyond the clutter that surrounds us.
By simply taking a look at her discography and the artists she has worked within the last year alone in 2018 Tayla contributed to the R&B single Love Lies by American Teen Khalid and former Fifth Harmony member Normani, as well as co-writing 3 songs on Janelle Monaé’s concept album Dirty Computer including the feminist anthem Pynk. Not to mention Christina Aguilera’s comeback 8th studio album Liberation. As well as Anderson Paak’s Oxnard single Tints. And whilst all those really where Tayla lies in the current landscape of music in terms of being a writer it was Ariana Grande’s Thank U, Next which seems to have been the biggest commercial success for Parx who not only co-wrote that single as well as its follow up 7 Rings but also contributed a total of 7 songs on the album.
One thing that is apparent in the string of singles that have been some of the more commercially successful songs of her career, goes to the notion that is happening across the artists she is writing for. Using the example of Ariana Grande and Janelle Monaé who are both two artists redefining the expectations and what it is to be a female in 2019. And so being able to provide her voice in this shift that is taking place is something that hasn’t been overlooked by Tayla who realises this in the songs that she is writing and the message that is spreading.
“Like I’ve said - I’ve done a lot of these female girl anthems and female empowerment songs throughout my career. I feel like being able to do this for someone like Janelle whose anthem was Pynk versus Arianna’s anthem which was Thank U, Next; they are completely different songs, but they are both very empowering to women.”
“With Janelle specifically it was like I get to say the idea of how powerful I think women are from their body to their mind to their soul in a song and those are the things that she wanted to focus on when describing what makes a woman powerful in her opinion. I also find that with the music I am writing there different ideas of what makes you a strong woman, and so to be able to do that for so many different women it has been a relief to show that there are all these different types of women and you can find yourself in any of them.”
And one of the women that Tayla wants people to be able to see themselves in is herself. Having taken this time to share her own story as an artist and sharing her truth and her own experience outside of lending her voice to other people and so introduces Tayla The Artist.
Tayla The Artist.
Given all that has been explored about Tayla and her career as a writer so far, it may be surprising to some that this may not be enough. However, thinking about it as someone who has written about female empowerment and has championed that. What Tayla is doing is another form of female empowerment as she is showing future generations of songwriters and other creatives who may not want to be marginalised as one thing that it is possible to do more. And she is not the only one with a crop of songwriters trying their hand and transitioning to become artists in their own right 2017 saw pop writer Julia Michaels release her debut single Issues followed by her first EP Nervous System and has recently released her second EP Inner Monologue Part 1 after having had a career as a songwriter for some of the biggest artists such as Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Gwen Stefani, Britney Spears and more. Additionally, songwriter Benny Blanco who also went out and released his first single as an artist Eastside with Khalid and Halsey followed by his debut EP FRIENDS KEEP SECRETS which came out at the end of 2018.
Clearly, Tayla is not in bad company and whilst this shift may feel unexpected from her it isn’t anything that shouldn’t bee too much of a surprise. The name Tayla Parx may be one that is unfamiliar but the voice of Tayla Parx has always been there having provided her vocals to some of her songs over the years including Chris Brown’s 2015 single Anywhere, as well as The Knocks 2016 song Your Eyes. Her first taste of showcasing her vocal talent with the worlds came with the release of her 2017 Tayla Made mixtape which showed Tayla sharing a different part of herself with her fans and people that may not be aware of who is as an artist.
“With my Tayla Made project, I felt that it was necessary for me to start the conversation with my fans and or them to start to get to know me for who I am. I wanted them to get to know Tayla Parx over my Tayla Made records which is when I say that something is Tayla made this is just a piece of me. I want to give all of me to all my fans I want them to know what kind of car I drive by the lyrics I write or what freeways I’m driving and who I’m hanging out with, am I falling-in-love am I getting my heart broken and the Tayla Made the mixtape was more about that initial introduction of them getting to know me outside of my all other records which have been lending myself to other people.”
The follow up to that introduction has come in the form an album WE NEED TO TALK set to be released in just a week on April 5th. Already spanning three songs from the album Me Vs You, Slow Dancing and the latest which is the first official single from the album I Want You. Tayla is taking her fans on a much deeper journey this time.
“This next album is very vulnerable compared to the first project. I was very anti love and this one picks up in that story of where we left off from the song Mama Aint Raise No Bitch on Tayla Made to I Want You. Until you get halfway through the record and then you realise wait a minute, like with the song Me Vs Us which is the turning point in the album where I say things like I swear I wasn’t alone when I lost my mind. I just need some reassurance because this is a new me. It’s really an album about self-discovery and I like that my fans can evolve with me from the time Tayla Made mixtape came out where I just a crazy kid and now where I’m like growing up a little bit which is scary.”
It is very apparent that Tayla is sharing her own story this time and is not necessarily doing what people would expect from her in the type of the music she writes. Tayla Parx the artist is very different from Tayla Parx the writer and her music show that as well. “My sound is left-to-center pop. Its pop, it’s R&B, it’s quirky it’s fun it’s colorful like everything you look at a picture of me and you can say I can imagine what her music might sound like.”
Some of this appears when you go back and hear her Tayla Made mixtape which initially shows of different sounds of Tayla Parx. However, also more apparent is the latest string of releases especially I Want You which encapsulates the colourful nature that you see when you look at Tayla as an artist. Speaking on her indecisiveness and having always been the type of person who has been wrapped up in her career the song very much addresses this in wanting to want both.
“I Want You is about somebody having to deal with my indecisiveness. As a person, I have always been wrapped up in my career that I’ve never really given enough attention to love. I love in a very selfish way in terms of relationships, I’ve always done that until now but even with I Want You, I wrote it in the time where I was still like I might be losing this person because of the fact that I’m not willing to commit to anybody right now other than my career and so it’s a song about me saying to that person it is that it is I hear you but I’m not willing to change.”
As the first track of the project and for some the first introduction Tayla Parx there might be some pressure with having it represent Tayla but for her its more representative of the story the album tells and the journey she wants to her fans on.“I wanted this song to be the first from the album because it is a journey. The whole album is a journey, you see me, in the beginning, being in a free space and very open minded where I’m like okay if I lose you, I lose you if not that’s wonderful that your still here. Then, you start to get to the middle when Me vs Us comes in where I’m like maybe I don’t want to see you with somebody else, and maybe if that means I have to give up any all these other options in order for that not to happen I can be down for that. And finally you get to end of the album where you’ll have a song like one of the songs on the project Easy which is the most heartbreaking songs I’ve written in my life and that’s after realizing that goes from I Want You and you and you, to maybe to I only want you to maybe you don’t only want me and for this time the roles are reversed for the first time in my life and its awesome and scary and all things at once.”
All this is showing another side to Tayla and adds another dimension to her as a person and as an artist and rounds her together as Tayla The Creative.
Tayla The Creative.
As somebody who has been successfully been able to navigate her way in music as a songwriter at the age of 25, as well as now stepping out into another aspect of her creativity. The evolution of Tayla Parx is one that we have been witnessing for some time and is about to take on a new birth, and with this evolution comes a whole new space to grow from who she is a person and take in everything her career has taught her so much about herself in terms of being that creative person.
“I feel like one thing I have learnt as a person and how my creativity has evolved from when I first started is that I have been more unafraid to be me. I am in a place in my life where I’m like done second guessing myself. Second guessing myself never got me anywhere in life so that is out the door and I’m not saying I’ll never think twice but I’m just saying I do it far less now then I’ve ever done in my life and I think that fearlessness has allowed me to do the things that other people might be too afraid to do and I don’t mind being the test dummy. I’d rather be the first one than the last one that’s the type of artist I want to be, I don’t want to be the type of artist who floats around and lets the cultural influence me I’d much rather be the one shifting the culture.”
With the shift and the future of the landscape of music one thing that may not be apparent to the consumer of fans of music is the role that creative people like Tayla have in terms of creating and shaping the next wave and the next phase of music and in turn shift the culture. Simply thinking about how the genre of R&B has evolved so much from a mere 10 years when there was a distinct sound describe as R&B there is a fusion between genres and sounds which have given a new definition to the genre. And so considering music in whole without thinking about it or realising it someone like Tayla Parx as a creative person has a role to play which is one that is recognised.
“I feel like 50/60 years from now I want for when there is another artist sitting where I am and getting interviewed by a journalist to be able to say that an artist like Tayla Parx has allowed for me to be just as fearless in my own right. I don’t want to somebody who just comes and goes I just want to be one that is influencing my culture and that’s as a songwriter, as an artist and as a creative being. Even though I think it’s very fun to be able to affect someone’s career other than my own with songwriter it’s more than just me, if I want to be the kind of person to water my industry and help it grow for the next songwriters coming up, I have to do all that I can to affect the mindsets and affect the work ethic and I can’t just do that if you only look at Tayla Parx as an artist. If I am part of helping better my worst enemy and also my best friend, then we are affecting culture and shifting it together and we are allowing it to grow bigger than just me.”
And with that comes the higher purpose and the reason for the existence of Tayla Parx as a creative. As a female, she is someone who encompasses and is a reflection of the next generation of women and the next generation of people who show that you do not just have to be one thing and you push yourself and your creative selves to various degrees. For Tayla music is just one extension and other creative outlets include film and television as well as fashion. It just so happens that the one that given her this platform and allowed her to share her story and herself has been music.
If she is an example of one thing is that even when you think are doing more, you can always challenge yourself and do things you may not know that you are capable of. Who would’ve ever thought that a young girl from Dallas who started off as a theatre actress before writing music 5 sounds would’ve been sitting in this position certainly not Tayla who upon reflecting on her career has referred to it as a happy accident.
“I feel like my entire career has been a happy accident. At this point, I feel like I can’t plan where my career is going to go next. I can’t plot it especially because I plan to do things that have never been done before, so let’s just continue to ride that wave because so far there hasn’t been a right or wrong way of doing anything. Now I’m realising that every accident has allowed me to land in a place that I never expected to get too and I’m excited to see what else life has to surprise me with.”
I Want You is out now. WE NEED TO TALK is out April 5th. Follow Tayla on social media platforms @Taylaparx
Words: Seneo Mwamba