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Music Review: Q&A with Taylor Janzen

Rising artist Taylor Janzen from Winnipeg, Canada, released her first EP, “Interpersonal,” on Aug. 10, and it is something special. Growing up using music as an outlet, she sings with passion and depth in her lyrics. Each song on this EP will leave you speechless. She already has had some serious recognition, from the New York Times featuring her in an article to Hailey Williams of Paramore tweeting with and about her.

Q. When did you realize you could use music as an outlet as opposed to talking through everything?

“I’ve always gravitated toward music in general, just as something I was in love with, and I’ve always had very strong emotions toward things. When I realized gradually that music could be not only the thing that I love but also the thing that could help me articulate myself, that was definitely a huge thing. It was more of a gradual thing, and it happened quite early on. I wouldn’t say there was a specific moment, but there was definitely a gradual realization.”

Q. Was there any artist or band growing up who you sought out, who inspired you and made you fall in love with music?

“I’ve always really been in love with music. My first real music experience was Avril Lavigne, and I thought she was so cool. My first favorite band was Paramore. They were one of the first bands I listened to that articulated their struggles and their angst. The first artist I listened to and thought, ‘This is what I want to make,’ was probably TORRES when I was about grade 10 or 11. I knew I wanted to do music, but I didn’t know what that would look like for me. I saw TORRES out there doing the singer/songwriter stuff but also being able to go all out with a band and being able to meld those two together and I was like, ‘That’s what I want to do eventually.’ I didn’t even like singer/songwriter music before I listened to TORRES, and once I started listening to her I was like, ‘All right sick, this is actually really cool,’ and now I’m a singer/songwriter.”

Q. You mentioned Paramore. How cool is it that Hailey Williams has reached out to you, and how has that inspired you knowing that she listens to your music?

“Yeah, that’s so crazy. I remember seeing Paramore and being like, ‘Wow, she’s exactly who she wants to be,’ and that is so inspiring to watch because it makes you feel that you can also do it. Just seeing a woman on stage that’s not afraid of her loudness was such a huge thing for me to see. Just the fact that she has listened to anything I would ever make is a lot.”

Q. On your upcoming EP, if you could pick one, what is your favorite song on there?

“I would say the one that is closest to me would probably be a song on there called ‘Colourblind.’ It is the one that I was most scared of when I first wrote it, because I wrote it and I was like, ‘Well, I can’t just not play this.’ I looked at it and was really proud of the way I was able to articulate this subject, because it wasn’t something I had previously been able to do. Also, at the same time I knew that it was really heavy and now that it was written I couldn’t just not play it. I would put it on my set list and then take it off last minute once I got to it. So, it was like the scariest song, and now it’s usually the song that gets the most reaction out of people now that I play it regularly. That’s how it ended up working, and now I’m excited for people to have it that maybe haven’t heard it live.”

Q. How does it feel knowing that people listen to your music and can relate to it, knowing that you’re writing about things you went through or are going through?

 “That’s probably honestly the coolest part, because I write music for me. That’s always been the purpose behind it. I write music for myself in order to figure out a way to articulate things, but I’m also aware that there are people who don’t know how to articulate their emotions. It’s really a tough thing to learn. I was put into therapy at a really young age and that ingrained a lot into my brain about how to articulate myself. So, I write them for myself, but I would say I put them out for other people, so that maybe it can be an aid to someone being able to articulate what they’re feeling.”

Q. The New York Times did a piece on “The Waiting Room.” What was that like, seeing such a huge publication feature one of your first releases in one of their articles?

 “Oh, it was crazy. It was technically my first song that I put out properly. I was not expecting any sort of reaction. It was so weird because I sat there, and I read it and was like, ‘I wrote this in my bedroom when I was like 17.’ When I wrote it, I didn’t think that this was going to be featured in the New York Times eventually. I just wrote it. It’s also weird because I remember when I wrote it. I was in the middle of writing a completely different song, and I just started messing around on the guitar, and I came up with a guitar line. In my head, I had this internal war with myself where I was like, ‘I’m in the middle of writing something else, this isn’t going to go anywhere.’ I remember feeling that I needed to follow that guitar line and write that song. Because sometimes you get an idea and you don’t follow it, and I almost didn’t write it because I was pre-occupied at that moment. But I’m glad I ended up writing it, because it became one of my favorite songs that I have. It’s just crazy to me that I almost didn’t write it at all.”

Q. The album was mastered by Greg Calbi, who is crazy big, working with bands like the National, Kings of Leon and Paul McCartney. What was that like working with him?

 “So, I recorded the EP with my friend Shane at home in Winnipeg. He [Shane] mixed it and everything. That was my first time working with another person, and that was so crazy. Then when we both found out that Greg was going to master it, we both were freaking out. Because he is so respected and so awesome and worked on so many of my favorite records, just to have him involved with anything that I’m doing was so mind-blowing. ‘The Waiting Room’ was actually recorded in my basement by myself. That wasn’t even recorded with Shane. I was a little bit embarrassed. I remember being like, ‘Shoot, Greg Calbi is going to listen to my basement recording.’ I just feel so honored to have someone like that involved in my project.”

Q. Is it ever hard writing music that’s so personal to you, knowing the whole world will hear it?

 “In some ways, yes. But I have this thing where I’m very rarely embarrassed of giving too much information about myself. It’s weird, but I think I’m more usually scared of music snobs and that somebody will say I’m not good at playing music, which I feel that sometimes I’m not, so it freaks me out a little bit. I think with this EP, I’ve been freaked out a lot because of the nature of what I’m writing about. The first time I released a demo on Bandcamp, it was all about myself and all very introspective, where this one is specifically focusing on interpersonal relationships, and once you start writing about other people, that’s when you have to start answering to other people. But, I’m getting more comfortable with it the more that I do it.”

Q. If you could choose one venue to perform at, what would it be?

 “Actually, I really want to play at the Burton Cummings Theater in Winnipeg. I love that venue so much. It’s something I grew up going to, and it would be the coolest thing to be able to play it myself. The acoustics are incredible in there. There’s just so many local venues that I grew up going to that I would love to play. It’s weird because of course it’s a dream to play all these different venues in other cities that are huge and gorgeous, and that’s definitely something I’m working toward. I think it’s just a personal thing to be able to play a venue I grew up going to.”

Those interested can keep up with Taylor Janzen on Twitter and Instagram.

Reese Gorman is a sophomore journalism major from Schertz, TX. He is passionate about music because he believes it has a unique way of bringing people together and it brings him joy. Reese’s favorite artist is The 1975 and his favorite genre of music is Indie/Alternative. In his free time, Reese enjoys golfing, climbing, camping and reading.

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