Singer Emma Taylor Talks Balancing A Music Career While Attending NYU & Her Single 'My Dear' (Exclusive Q&A)

If you're a fan of beautiful and authentic music, Emma Taylor is definitely someone you should consider following on Spotify. She released her debut EP, Hazy, in 2017 and hasn't looked back since. As a student at New York University, she manages to balance her studies and passion for creating music like a seasoned professional. Earlier this year, she also released a new single, "My Dear," which you'll be guaranteed to play on repeat for the next several weeks.

Taylor spoke with Her Campus about her self-titled "sad girl music," the importance of musical instruments and her absolute love for Joni Mitchell.

Her Campus: Your first single, “My Dear,” was just released, and you have more original music on the way later this year. Can you give a hint about what we can expect?

Emma Taylor: Yes! I’ve been experimenting with new guitar tunings and different approaches to how I am writing my lyrics, which I’m super excited about! I think each song I’ve written just grows and matures as I do, so I can’t wait for everyone to hear it! It’ll still be true to my style, but it may have a bit more creative exploration.

HC: In addition to your beautiful use of guitar in your music, you also play ukulele and piano.  Do you think it’s important for a singer to learn to play an instrument? How has learning multiple instruments affected your songwriting experience?

ET: I think it really depends on the artist. Some people really thrive without playing instruments and have other means in writing (with computers and music software) etc. If an artist wants to have as much independent creative ability, I think it’s definitely necessary to know some type of instrument. I personally use my instrument as a huge part of my performing style and writing style, so it’s crucial that I knew early on to play an instrument. Playing instruments really heightens my options for when I’m songwriting because it allows more room for growth. When I write songs, I usually come up with a melody first on my guitar and then the lyrics, so it’s a must for my songwriting experience.

HC: Much of your music has been called “sad girl music,” and your lyrics express raw emotion, including love and confusion. Why do you think it’s important for women to express what they’re feeling through their art, especially when they’re often criticized for being too emotional?

ET: I think it’s so important for women to be self-expressive because we are living in an area where women finally have a platform to speak up! It’s time to remove the stigma of being overly emotional and turn it into a beautiful, empowering thing. Feelings are worth discussing and being able to use the words ‘sad girl’ and put a positive emphasis on the term is a very beautiful thing. It’s time to give women confidence to feel and be who we want.

HC: How often do you incorporate real-life experience into your songs? Which of your songs would you say is the most personal?

ET: I’d say that most of my songs are completely about real life experiences. My number one influence for my songs is things that are going on either in my life or around my life. I’m an observer, so I often like to write about other people’s experiences if I don’t want to write about my own. Because songwriting is my outlet and it’s very therapeutic for me, I lay my heart into all of my songs. Therefore, each song is very special and meaningful to me in some specific way. As for the most personal, “My Dear” (my new single I released last month) was written during a time of complete vulnerability and honesty, and I share a personal parts of my life and relationship in it.

 

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HC: What kind of music did you grow up listening to? How has it influenced your current sound?

ET: Growing up, my parents constantly blasted singer-songwriter’s from the '60s and '70s on the speakers. Joni Mitchell, Carole King, James Taylor and Bob Dylan were just some of the artists they played and I think it 100 percent made an impact on the kind of music I make. One of my major goals is to pay homage to those artists and I don’t think I would have been exposed to them if it weren’t for my parents.

HC: If you could collaborate with anyone in the music industry, dead or alive, who would it be? Why?

ET: Joni Mitchell, hands down. As [I] mentioned, Joni has been playing throughout my childhood and her music has completely helped shape who I am today as an artist. Her songwriting is so unique and she is one of the few artists who has this genius in her—her lyrics, melody, and voice all fit so perfectly together to create complete bliss. Her music is so honest and personal to her, yet still resonates with listeners on a universal level. She’s my complete idol, so if I were able to collaborate with her that would be my lifelong achievement. I love her.

 

more to come //

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HC: You’re currently a student at NYU, what do you study? How do you balance your schoolwork with your growing music career?

ET: I study music! I’m at the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music. So luckily for me, I’ve been able to have a great balance of schoolwork and music because a lot of my school work involves incorporating my own music. Of course going to NYU I still have some non music classes which can often get in the way of my music, but it’s been a huge goal of mine to really prioritize and make time for my art. I just try not to procrastinate, which can be hard, but because music is my love and my career, I know how important it is to stay on top of it.

HC: What advice would you give a young woman who can’t find the time to practice her art as a full-time student?

ET: I would say that if it’s something that you love, you can find a way to practice! Like I said for myself personally, there’s always time for my passion. It’s just about balance and prioritizing. If you have a lot of work, do it early so that you can spend the rest of the night practicing your art. It’s so easy to get lost in school or make excuses, but if you really set your mind to it you will have time to make your art!