Movies will tell you that after a breakup, eating a tub of mint chocolate chip ice cream with a tablespoon, while watching The Notebook on repeat is the right way to recover from a nasty breakup. But for Grammy-nominated singer Tayla Parx, her way of getting through a post-relationship low point is to care for the plants in her garden. “Tending to it is the first thing that I do when I wake up in the morning before the calls start and everything,” says Parx over Zoom. “I'm watering my plants and giving them their nutrients.”
The 27 year-old singer, who’s credited as a co-writer on huge songs like Ariana Grande’s “Thank U Next” and Khalid and Normani’s “Love Lies,” is just about to drop Coping Mechanisms which focuses on coping with a broken heart. In contrast, her debut album, We Need to Talk from last year, started a conversation about becoming romantically inclined with a new partner and addressing gender and sexuality themes. Now, that conversation has continued with Coping Mechanisms as it explores how you can return to who you were before you got too attached.
While we all have different ways of coping, Parx suggests self-care. “I think that is the biggest thing for when you're going through anything,” she says. “That can involve whatever from time to time or day to day. Whether that's like what I do, by getting into the garden, or whether it's working out or just taking a moment to breathe. Those are all moments, things that are easy prescriptions to fill.”
Check out our conversation with Tayla Parx about Coping Mechanisms below.
BET.com: The name Coping Mechanisms implies that you're getting over something. Was it a breakup?
Yes, yes. I definitely was getting over a breakup from the last project I was talking about. Finally being vulnerable enough to fall in love and have that thing, which is why I named it We Need To Talk. Then in that story on “Easy,” which was just the pain of having to figure out, man okay, this is a situation that's ending, and it led nicely into the next storyline of how do you cope with that? How do you cope with discovering who you are after a breakup and what you need from a relationship, and everything in between?
BET.com: What was going through your mind as you made it? Because it sounds like it was therapeutic to make.
It was definitely therapeutic. When I'm working on my stuff, it's just about letting life happen and going from there, honestly. For instance, in the beginning, I went through my phase of partying. Then after that it was running away from the idea of potentially finding somebody else, which eventually evolved into falling in love again. So I think I just want it to be open and honest about that experience that you have while you're coping. And it shows in a lot of different ways.
BET.com: I recently read that you wrote seven songs in two days. How long did it take this album to come together?
It happened over six months to a year of just living life and allowing that to happen. I do write songs typically very fast. It's something that I am known for. When it's something personal, like my album, it's like, "Okay, I have to have something to talk about."
BET.com: We Need to Talk covered important topics like gender and sexuality. What are some of the more prominent themes that listeners will hear on Coping Mechanisms?
Many of the themes that we're touching on with Coping Mechanisms revolve around honesty with your partner. We're talking about mental health and how people are coping. A lot of my projects are very personal and are self reflective. So when it was We Need To Talk, it's we need to talk about gender, we need to talk about sexuality, we need to talk about genre. We need to talk about all of those different things, and this time we're talking about coping mechanisms and self-help in a lot of different ways, and love, of course.
BET.com: So, “Fixer Upper.” That song, to me, sounds like the hesitancy that comes with getting into a new relationship. Did that come from a personal experience?
Definitely, one of my coping mechanisms at the time was to place a little bit of distance between me and the idea of love. I wanted to ignore the fact that it existed altogether. And that was a mechanism that eventually worked against me because I ended up falling in love. Well, I guess it worked for me because it ended up turning into something that was much healthier.
BET.com: I saw that you tagged the people that you work with on Twitter for this song in particular. How did it ultimately come together?
We recorded the song over at my studio in GreyNoise in New York. And we had, for the first time, seen each creative in a different light. We were doing Tai Chi, and we were doing color therapy and all of those types of things. And we were able to create just great music from just sharing different experiences.
BET.com: You released the video for “Residue” on Halloween. How did that one come together?
It was a random song that started with some friends and a guitar. We were in West Hollywood, and we wanted to play with a few different weird sounds. We didn't know that we were going to be making a song for me in the beginning. It just sounded like the perfect song. And for that song, in particular, Max Martin happened to be downstairs and everybody was walking around talking about this song,and Max is like, "Okay, I'm just going to come here. I'm just going to hear it." One of the writers that were with me looks up to Max, of course, like everybody does in the songwriting world. And he says, "This is inspiring." And we were just losing our mind, the fact that Max Martin loved this song. But at the time, we didn't know it was to be for me. So here we are. I just fell in love with it, honestly.
BET.com: Earlier, you mentioned distance as a coping mechanism. What are some of your other real life ways of coping?
Any way that I can get creative and gardening. Tending to [my garden] is the first thing that I do when I wake up in the morning before the calls start and everything. I'm watering my plants and giving them their nutrients.
BET.com: So in terms of using music to cope, which of the songs on Coping Mechanisms do you think will be the most powerful for someone looking to manage a similar situation?
Which is one of the songs that I think will be the most powerful? Probably “You Don't Know.” It ends a story in a really empowering way. I imagine singing it to all of my fans after we've gone through the worst of the worst. It reminds you, even though you've been through all of the tough things, there's still so much on the other side.
BET.com: What would you prescribe for anyone going through the experiences as you sing about in Coping Mechanisms?
It is a little self-care; that is the biggest thing when you're going through anything. Put on Coping Mechanisms and it'll be the soundtrack to self-care.
Photo: Joseph Okpako/WireImage