Having previously captured our attention as part of LA based the tenth (a band she co-founded with actor Harley Quinn Smith), singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Taylor Blackwell has now announced her debut solo album – In Memory of Haroldine –, set for release in September. Ahead of the album’s release, latest single ‘B.S. Poetry‘ juxtaposes an uptempo shimmering musicality with an angsty lyrical reflection on the broken promises of early romance. Oozing twinkling accordion refrains alongside Blackwell’s honeyed vocals, it’s a perfectly catchy, saccharine sweet sonic delight interwoven with the gritty, bitter angst of heartbreak.
We had a chat with Taylor to find out more about the new album, her inspirations, DIY punk spirit and more. Have a read!
Hi Taylor, welcome to Get In Her Ears! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Hi Get In Her Ears – thank you, I’m such a fan! I grew up in a town called Jupiter, which is in South Florida. I’m about to celebrate five years of living in Los Angeles! I moved here a few days after turning eighteen to pursue my creative passions. In addition to music, I act, write, and make visual art. I have three younger siblings – Owen, Charlie, and Drew – and two cat children, Fairey and Pixie.
What initially inspired you to start creating music?
I’ve had a love for music my whole life. I did a little musical theatre growing up, and would sing all the time. I took piano and guitar lessons as a kid, and have taught myself a few other instruments over the years. I always had it in the back of my mind that I’d some day work on making my own music. When I went to a punk show at The Smell with my friend Harley Quinn Smith, we were both taken by the experience, the energy in the room, and felt it was a no brainer to start our own band… It’s one of the things I love the most about punk – the DIY nature of it. Anyone can, and should, make music if they want to! Shortly after attending this show, Harley and I formed our band “the tenth.” Now I’m working on solo music, which has been a whole other amazing adventure.
You’ve recently released your shimmering new single ‘B.S Poetry’ – can you tell us a bit about this and what it’s about?
Yes! I wrote ‘B.S. Poetry’ about a guy who wrote some real shitty poems about me. The lyrics of the song are pretty true to my experience. I kept running into this person around Los Angeles. We played what I can best describe as cat and mouse games for about a year. The line “We run in the same circles, you run circles around me” sums up a lot of it! I was less annoyed, and more humoured by the situation, so I wrote a song about it. You think you could upset me with your poems? HA. The music video for the song is both a fuck you and a love letter to the poet boys of my life… And yes, there’s unfortunately been a few!
Your debut solo album, In Memory of Haroldine, is set for release next month – are you able to tell us a bit about this? Are there any particular themes running throughout the album?
I am incredibly excited to be releasing this album on 1st September, on my 23rd birthday!! I recorded in Long Beach, California with my producer Davey Warsop. I had worked with Davey once before – he was a sound engineer on a live session that the tenth did through Hurley. Working together on this album was a truly special experience, and I feel forever bonded with Davey because of it. There are two main themes in this album – saying goodbye, and enjoying the present moment. If you listen to the lyrics you’ll see that there is a running narrative in the album, but I also want people to have their own take away.
And how have you found recording and promoting an album during these strange times?
I recorded wearing a mask almost the entire time – only taking it off to record vocals in the booth by myself. It was bizarre, but having this creative project to put my energy towards during such uncertain times was a true blessing. We recorded a few days each month for several months, which was also a gift because it gave me something to look forward to each month. I could also work more on the album in between recording sessions. Promotion is odd. I’m not the most social media savvy person, but I am trying to embrace it to help get the word out about the album! I believe in this album so much, and feel confident that it will find the people it’s meant to find. Going back to punk for a second, I love DIY and Riot Grrrrl – specifically the element of making your own posters/zines – I’ve been doing that for my music in an effort to spread the word. The day ‘B.S. Poetry’ came out, I went on an hour long walk and passed out flyers I made for the song on the street. I’ll be doing the same for when the album is released!!
We love your twinkling folk-inspired sounds, but who would you say are your main musical influences?
The main influences for this particular album were Neutral Milk Hotel and Belle & Sebastian. My producer and I really looked to them for guidance when creating the sound and feel of the album. I love NMH’s In The Aeroplane Over The Sea, because it’s such a rollercoaster. I wanted the same for In Memory of Haroldine, to have a soft song, then a loud punk song, then go back to more singer-songwriter-y; I even have a song that’s pretty theatrical. Other influences include Cat Stevens, Paul Simon, Leonard Cohen (who I actually reference in the song ‘Never Could’), Conor Oberst, Elliott Smith, The Mountain Goats, The Shangri-Las, Sleater-Kinney, Girlpool, and a million others!
We’re also big fans of your other project, the band the tenth! How did you all come together to make music, and are there plans to record more together in future?
Harley and I started the band after going to a punk show together. We recorded the EP, Boys We Don’t Know and album Dunes on our own, then later added Eden Hain (guitar) to the band. I had met Harley and Eden when I was about 16/17 through our mutual friend Kiernan Shipka. I do hope we’ll make more music together! Right now we are on a hiatus, but we’ll see what the future holds. We’re all still very good friends, and Harley and Eden have been so supportive about my solo music. Eden works at Junior High LA (where I will be having my album release concert on 4th September), so they have been helping me plan the big day!
How do you feel the music industry is for new artists at the moment – would you say it’s difficult to get noticed?
Hmm… I’m not sure. TikTok adds an interesting new element – I know a lot of new musicians are finding their audience through that platform. Being able to play live shows is such an incredible way to build an audience, and to develop your sound. Right now there’s not a whole lot of live shows going on, which for sure adds a challenge.
How have you been connecting with your audience and other musicians during the pandemic?
To be honest, I really haven’t to a large degree! Most of the pandemic I spent focused on making the album. I occasionally shared sneak peaks from inside the studio on Instagram. Now that I’ve got this big release coming up, I hope to reconnect with my audience in a larger way. I will be playing my album release concert at Junior High on the 4th September, which will be vaccinated only/masks required. I’m hoping for a good turn out. With the Delta Variant, it could be my first and last show for a while!
And has there been anything/anyone specific that has been inspiring you, or helping to motivate you, throughout these difficult times?
I just read the book Super Attractor, and found that to be incredibly inspiring and motivating. I’m lucky to have amazing teachers in Claire McKeown, Jeffrey Dockweiler, and Nell Teare, who have helped me work towards my goals and have been wonderful confidantes. And I have some of the best of friends and collaborators – Noelle Cope, Chase Cope, Dempsey Bryk, Fin Argus, Sean Fortier, Davey Warsop, Brent Mata, my bandmates Shoshana Brustin, Andrew Capuano, and Ryo Nakamura, and many others… I am blessed!
As we’re a new music focused site, are there any other upcoming artists or bands that you’d recommend we check out?
I am a huge fan of Claud – anyone on Phoebe Bridgers’ label Saddest Factory Records is worth checking out. My teacher Claire’s band Honey Child Choir is about to release their new album Starving Hearts. And I’m a big fan of Rosie Tucker, who opened for the tenth a couple years ago.
Finally, in addition to the release of your album, what does the rest of 2021 have in store for you?
Being a creative, and with the pandemic on top of it, one can never be quite sure of what the future holds! I recently wrapped a movie called Dangerous Cult. I’m hoping to be more on sets – both as an actor and also directing more music videos. I have a few things in the works, but nothing I can really talk about yet. I’ll keep you posted!
Massive thanks to Taylor answering our questions!
In Memory Of Haroldine, the upcoming new album from Taylor Blackwell, is set for release on 1st September. Find out more here.