“My life tends to take these crazy twists and turns and I just follow wherever it goes,” is the rosy disposition that singer/songwriter Tayla Parx takes with her into any project, whether she’s assisting Ariana Grande with her next Billboard topping bop or putting that same energy into her first solo album, We Need to Talk.
If you think you’re not familiar with the 25-year-old wonder, you’re surely mistaken because in 2018 alone, she was credited as a co-writer on four Billboard Hot 100 top 10 singles: "Love Lies" by Khalid and Normani, "Thank U, Next" and "7 Rings" by Ariana Grande and "High Hopes" by Panic! at the Disco. She also played the role of Little Inez in 2007’s, Hairspray, and anyone knowledgeable in their TV trivia will recognize Tayla from spots on cult-faves like Everybody Hates Chris and the Nickelodeon sitcom True Jackson, VP, starring Keke Palmer.
One could honestly namedrop all day — Mariah Carey, Chris Brown, Jennifer Lopez, The Internet, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah — around Tayla Parx because her resume is hefty for her relatively short millennial life, but that’s not Tayla’s style (and style is something she’s particularly keen on). See, she has her own formula for crafting music, or anything really, for others which she cheekily calls TaylaMade, but her own music is wholeheartedly herself.
“TaylaMade music is just a very small piece of me putting my special touch onto something. If something is TaylaMade, it’s just my own opinion of what makes this person better in their own right, because it’s still about them,” she tells BET exclusively.
“But Tayla Parx music? There’s no boundaries that I’m placing on myself like I do when I write other people's stories, which is necessary for that. When you get Tayla Parx music, you getting TaylaMade unfiltered. You’re getting me unapologetically being me, which is awesome to have that freedom.”
We Need to Talk dropped on April 5 and is already available for your listening pleasure on all major platforms. Where tracks like “Homisexual” and “I Want You” bring on the fun, a song like “Easy” will easily have you in your feelings. She even has artists Joey Bada$$, DUCKWRTH and Khalid assisting her with features, but make no mistake, every part of this project is every bit Tayla Parx. The best way to get this across is to take a look at the visuals that accompany many of the tracks. Her aesthetic, a gender-bending mix of everything that's feminine and frilly that meets structured, more masculine silhouettes, is refreshing and unlike any of the artists she works with.
"How Can I Make Sure My Music Represents Me As Much As My Fashion Does?"
“It’s definitely genre fluid. I’m mixing a lot of different influences, whether its pop, R&B, [or] indie… It’s kind of like my own gender and genre-fluid, new kind of category.” Her fashion conveys this message perfectly, and she knows it. Her clothes, her makeup, her hair, her whole drip — it’s all strategic yet still very much genuine.
“I think my sense of style, once I discovered that and started to play around with that more, pushed me to want to find that same creative freedom within music. How can I make sure my music represents me as much as my fashion does?
“[Fashion] is such a huge part of me, so it was a bit of a relief when I started to approach music the same way I approach fashion. Sometimes I mix a high-end piece with something from the thrift store. There are so many different ways to make it your own, and that definitely has a big role when it came to tinkering with my sound the same exact way.”
“This Is Probably The Wildest [Hair] I’ve Done, But It’s Also The Most Me I’ve Ever Felt In My Life.”
Here's a prime example of Tayla on her creative genius when it comes to her career: “Throughout the TaylaMade mixtape and probably through the past five years, I had very long hair, like lion hair. Like a mane. And it’s something that people identified me with, and it became a thing. Then, everybody had long hair. So I thought, ‘OK, people thought of me with long hair, so let’s switch it up.’
I was thinking about the show Daria and was like, ‘I want my hair to be shaped like a 2D thing where you know me even from the shadow.’ So I just drew what I wanted my hair to look like and met with numerous stylists to figure it out. Like, what is it? Is it a bob or a pageboy? We just went through it and the colors started to come in naturally. I’ve been blonde for the past five years, or brown. This is probably the wildest [hair] I’ve done, but it’s also the most me I’ve ever felt in my life.”
She adds, “You see that same silhouette come through in my merchandise. You see it in my emoji characters. You see it in my gifs. I literally have one of just my hair. My face isn’t even on it. It’s creating that strong identity that people know when they see me.”
It’s no wonder why big name brands are already backing her up. You can spot Tayla in Reebok’s Alter the Icons campaign, or if you were lucky enough to attend her pop-up experience at House of Yes, the dance-party performance space in Bushwick, Brooklyn, you might have been blessed with a pair of fresh, new kicks from the collection upon fishing a rubber duckie out of a kiddie pool — yes, that happened. Along with go-go dancers, leotard-clad acrobats, digital caricature illustrators and photo booth all while smartly named cocktails like "DAM, We Need to Talk" were passed out courtesy of New Amsterdam Vodka, another Tayla supporter. The night concluded with Tayla performing a couple songs, but not the whole album because, as she announced to the crowd, she wanted the chance to connect with her Tayla Tots, an endearing nickname she uses for her supporters. And that’s just what she did.
Tayla’s finishing up her tour at the end of the month and then she’ll be back in Los Angeles working with other artists to finish their albums before she’s back on tour with Lizzo in May. She also says Tayla Parx merch will have some new additions if you want to get your hands on a little piece of her.
We’ll be watching as she continues blending, bending, blurring and building her own blueprint of what her artistry is, whatever that looks like.
(Photo: Madeleine Dalla Courtesy of Atlantic Records)
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