An Interview With Taylor Blackwell
“Art is For Everybody” – Keith Haring
AN INTERVIEW WITH TAYLOR BLACKWELL
BTCF: Whether it’s sketching, creating digital designs, journaling, writing music, playing instruments, or acting:
– Do you have a favorite art form?
TAYLOR: I don’t think so. At given times I might be focused on one more than another. They’re all so intertwined for me, and feed into each other – I hope to continue to make a career for myself where I blend all my creative mediums.
– Do you have a process you go through when creating?
TAYLOR: Yes and no – it really depends on the medium, and the needs of that project. I would say all of my creative projects involve a lot of reflection and journaling. Sometimes I have songs that come to me seemingly out of thin air that I have to write down. Other times the process looks more like me throwing darts at the wall to see what sticks. I try to get all my ideas out first, then edit/hone in on them more later.
– What are the differences and similarities between each of them?
TAYLOR: The through line with all my creative mediums is storytelling. Sometimes my stories are told in a three-minute song, others in a 95-page screenplay.
I find myself “acting” out the songs as I sing. There is an idea in acting that you do the prep work, and then you throw it all away to be “in the moment” when the camera starts to roll. I think music is similar to this as well – I write the songs, memorize the chords and lyrics, but when it comes time to perform, I have to trust that I know what I’m playing and focus on telling the story as it’s happening. For me, drawing is less pre-meditated, and more intuitive. I draw as a form of self-reflection.
BTCF: BTCF is an art-based foundation that uses all forms art to inspire healing and recovery for those affected by eating disorders, disordered eating, and negative body image relationships. How do you use your art forms as a healing process for yourself and to connect with others?
TAYLOR: Most of my art originates from a place of trying to better understand a situation, a feeling, or to come to peace with something. It almost always begins in an effort of self-healing. I think if I can be honest with my struggles, people will naturally connect to it because in life we all go through similar things. A lot of my album “In Memory of Haroldine” is about finding your voice and letting go of thoughts/places/ways of being that no longer serve you.
BTCF: You created an art print of what appears to be you holding a skateboard from your line, The Musical Mushroom that clearly states, “Learn To Fall”. Can you share what this is about and the meaning behind it?
TAYLOR: Ah, yes. My friend Leo Ramsey taught me how to make cut-outs, and I got hooked. My favorite artists come from the world of graffiti, (Keith Haring, Basquiat, Shepard Fairey, etc.), and I love making street art as well. Around the same time, I was teaching myself how to skateboard. I’d get really nervous and jump off the board a lot. Leo told me I needed to “learn to fall” – that falling was just a part of the process. There’s such depth and wisdom to that that goes beyond the world of skating. Leo has been a great teacher in my life.
BTCF: In first listening to your Solo Album “In Memory of Haroldine” released in September, the song “Never Could” has a reminiscent vibe of Jane Wiedlin, the lead guitar player of the 80’s group, The Go-Gos in her solo career. Have you ever heard her song, “Blue Kiss”? Ever seen her video? What do you think?
TAYLOR: Wow, thank you for sending this, I adored it! I hadn’t seen it before. And thank you, that’s a big compliment. A friend recently told me I resembled Jane now that I have short hair, which is also very very kind. I love The Go-Go’s – I just saw the musical “Head Over Heels” at the Pasadena Playhouse, which is all music by them. Super fun show, I highly recommend it.
BTCF: How many instruments do you play? How long have you played them?
TAYLOR: I play six instruments, (not all of them super well though!) I started with piano when I was a kid, then ukulele at the end of middle school. Ukulele made for a smooth transition into learning guitar, which I started playing when I was fifteen. A few years ago, I got an accordion, which is my favorite instrument and the one I find most challenging. I can also play a little bit of bass and auto-harp.
BTCF: Did you write all the songs on your solo album? What advice would you give to beginning song writers when creating lyrics?
TAYLOR: I did write all the songs, though a few tracks my bandmate from the tenth Eden Hain helped shape. The ending track, “First Time I Died”, was co-written by Fin Argus. My best advice would be to write as much as you can. You might end up writing a bunch of crap, but if you write a lot, the odds are you’ll have a few pieces of gold in there too. I have a page of notes on my phone with random song lyrics that sometimes end up weaving their way into my work.
BTCF: As we know, music is such a universal language and has a way of connecting to people in the most amazing ways and so many times just when they need it the most. Each of your songs are like rich, character pieces full of expressionism and have such beautiful tone colors, poetic rhythms, and unique phrasing. Can you share 5 intentions you have as you go through your creative process?
TAYLOR: Thank you. Five intentions – to be as honest/true to myself as possible, to remember the story I’m trying to tell and to be conscious/mindful of what best serves that story, to be specific when I can, (specificity somehow equals universality), to be open to approaching things with a sense of humor, and not to force anything/let the song be what it wants to be.
BTCF: Let’s talk about Oracle Deck – your twenty-two-card divination tool for young people and the young at heart! What inspired you to create this? Can you share with us what this is all about?
TAYLOR: I love tarot and oracle cards and wanted to introduce my little sister Drew to the magical world of divination. Traditional tarot has 78 cards; this felt a little daunting to give my young sibling at the time. I decided to create an eight-card oracle deck for her eighth birthday as a way to wean her into it. The deck was a hit among Drew and her friends, which inspired me to create The Infinite Possibilities Oracle Deck. It’s 22 cards, (my lucky number), and you can find it on my Etsy. I’m excited to announce that it’s now being sold through House of Intuition as well. The deck aims to help people connect more with themselves, their capabilities, and/or to a higher power. It’s a non-denominational deck.
BTCF: What inspired you to create your band, The Tenth and were there any 80’s punk groups that influenced you and your band mates?
TAYLOR: My friend Harley Quinn Smith and I attended a punk show at L.A.’s The Smell – we were both greatly inspired by the energy in the room and made the decision on the spot to give music a go ourselves. I love 80s music, and that definitely feeds into my songwriting. I’d say the band’s biggest influences are The Smiths, Richard Hell, Sleater-Kinney, Hole, Bikini Kill, and countless others.
BTCF: BTCF first met you in 2016 where you had your own podcast and were one of our amazing interviewers for our very first event. What would you share with young people today when it comes to social media and body image relationships?
TAYLOR: Yes, that was great fun! Know that you are enough, just the way you are. Feel it, say it out loud, and don’t interact with anything that makes you feel less than. You can even hide pages on social media that make you question your worth.
BTCF: Self-care is so important! What do you do for self-care?
TAYLOR: Yes, it is incredibly important, and is something I am learning to prioritize for myself. Sometimes I even block off time in my schedule for self-care, which sounds ridiculous but has been quite helpful. I take days away from my phone/social media, I try to walk/be outside a little every day. I take baths, light candles, and read. I also love the Artist Way’s concept of the “artist’s date” – go somewhere by yourself once a week. A walk, out to dinner, a movie, bowling, whatever.
BTCF: When it comes to self-acceptance and self-compassion – what would share with young individuals your age in honoring themselves for who they are?
TAYLOR: It is so easy to compare yourselves to others, especially in an age of hugely successful young people. I think it’s important to remember each one of us is on our own individual path. It is never too late to make a change or pursue what you really want to do. As amazing as accomplishments are, the most important thing is to love each step of the journey. Please know that you have a unique perspective of the world, completely individual to you based off of your life experiences, thoughts, and feelings. Don’t feel a need to conform, the world needs unique voices like yours. Celebrate the victories big and small and know each day what you bring to the table. Don’t let anyone question your worth, and walk away if they do, even if it’s hard.
BTCF: With so many wonderful projects under your hat, what’s next for you?
TAYLOR: Thank you! I’m not entirely sure, which is exciting. I have a couple tricks up my sleeve – a screenplay I co-wrote with my best friend/writing partner Noelle Cope is going into production early 2022. I’ll be acting in it as well. That’s all I can really say about it at the moment. I recently acted in a movie called “Dangerous Cult”, and also worked on a series in Vancouver. Those projects will be out next year. I feel a really calling to screenwriting currently and hoping to make more and more films/shows/music videos of my own. I am lucky that there are many possibilities.