Q&A's

Q&A with Taylor Borton

 

Youngstown, OH native - who now calls Nashville home - Taylor Borton has been paving her way amongst a crowded Nashville music scene for the past few years, playing some of the bigger music festivals in the area while honing her songwriting craft at as many writer rounds that her busy schedule allows. We recently had the awesome opportunity to check in with Taylor and chat with her about songwriting, her songs “When the Shine’s All Gone,” “My Opry,” and “Native,” how attending Blackbird Academy has helped her the most, and much much more!

(Interview by: Jeffrey Kurtis

TCM SHOW REVIEW: Taylor Borton (May 2022) 

https://www.taylorbortonmusic.com/ 

1) You list your influences as John Prine, Lori McKenna, and Loretta Lynn (amongst others). All of these listed are incredible songwriters. What specifically about them drew you to their music and ultimately, made you want to play music yourself?

I definitely had other influences throughout my growth in music. John Prine is an amazing songwriter, he's mostly inspired me in that aspect. Lori McKenna had written songs for John, so seeing a female specifically take this role inspired me a lot. It's like, oh, I can do that too. I've always loved traditional music, country is what I grew up listening to. Loretta has been and still is an icon, that's a pretty big accomplishment for a woman in country music, and that's all I've ever wanted. 

2) With having such great songwriters on your resume as influences, let’s talk about your own songwriting approach. Melody first? Lyric first? Do you co-write, and if so, what do you like most about co-writing?

When I'm writing, I have to be in the mood 100%. I was never good at co-writing for that reason. I can't plan a day and time to be inspired, it just happens. My songs are raw and real, so they're mainly inspired by life experiences. It's harder for me to use my imagination and write. I usually come up with a title, which is what the song/story is about, then words and melody flow automatically from that point. 

3) Tell us about “When the Shine’s All Gone” and  why you think it has resonated so much since you released it?

"When the Shine's All Gone" is just a fun song! I was picking the guitar and came up with the melody and liked it. I actually came up with the title after the guitar part, which is opposite for me. The title was also random, not specifically inspired by anyone or anything. Then from that point, I combined my reality with it and it was born!  

4) You played an incredible song when we saw you at one of the writer rounds - I believe it’s called “My Opry.” We are huge fans of the Grand Ole Opry and its rich history and are very intrigued. Where did that song come from for you?

"My Opry".. almost every song of mine is written in my one-bedroom apartment on my living room couch. Obviously, like most, I dream of my own house and a record deal. I've been going through a lot of "adulting" being in Nashville alone at 22, working a full-time job, and focusing on a music career in a town overwhelmed with talent. I took a deep breath and realized I am where I wanted to be when I was 16. In a few more years, I'll be even further along. This song is about taking a step back and appreciating where you are. I have good friends and good songs, that's "My Opry."

5) Most songwriters we talk to will tell us that their favorite song is whichever one they are working on next. So, we’ve got to ask! What’s your personal favorite song in your catalog and why that song in particular? What does it mean to you?

My favorite is "Native." I wrote this upon moving to town with Daniel Neihoff. This was my first co- write, and I came to him with the idea. The name came from the "Native" magazine that was sitting on the living room table. Since I moved to town not knowing anyone, I wanted to fit in. This song was also the first to introduce my harmonica. "Born to be creative, live to be a Native." This song has a way of silencing a room to hear a pin drop. I don't take the credit for that, it just has the power. 

6) We’ve seen you play at a writer round, but also noticed how many shows your schedule has on it (past and upcoming). With you career outlook, are you looking at taking more of the artist route or seeking a publisher on the songwriting road? Or both?

Since I was about 10, I wanted to be an artist. I always wrote poems when I was younger, then realized I can turn them into songs. That's about when I got hooked on songwriting, whether they sounded good or made any sense or not. Now that I've absorbed the Nashville scene, I want to focus on a publishing deal over anything. Though I've been performing for nearly 10 years, my strength is in words. I'm telling myself a record deal will naturally come after that. 

7) You’ve played some of the bigger festivals: American Roots Festival, Water Lantern Festival, and Motorcycle Revival at Loretta Lynn's Ranch. What approach do you take when it comes to playing an outdoor festival like these versus a more intimate songwriter round?

Playing live shows as compared to writer's rounds are honestly so different. I mix in covers and originals during my longer sets, but you have to remember people have small attention spans nowadays. Play cover songs they know, and they can sing along to. You never know what kind of crowd you'll be performing for, so knowing a few songs by a lot of different artists is the way to go.. at least I think. It's all about your attitude. A lot of times, I might not feel up to playing, but I have to. Find a way to have fun, or they'll see right through it! 

8) Talk to us a little bit about attending (and graduating) Blackbird Academy.

Blackbird!! I moved to Nashville in 2019, a week before starting school. I hated high school but convinced myself I'd go to a trade school. I was one of two girls in the whole class, which was slightly intimidating. My mentor Mark Rubel was an absolute genius and amazing at what he does. We spent two weeks in the classroom and two weeks hands-on in the studio, throughout the 6 month course. We had many guest speakers who were legends in the audio industry. My favorite memory was volunteering to record my original song "Dammit Boy'.. never released..in front of the class with producer Jonell Polasky. Jonell then introduced me to my first writers round at The Commodore Grille, where I now play regularly. I use my knowledge in ProTools and track my own guitar and vocals, as I did for a few of my releases. 

9) You’ve mentioned in your bio that it was your desire to live in Music City that initially brought you here to town from Youngstown, OH. Define that desire you felt back then and how it became the catalyst for you now calling Nashville home.

My family and I would always choose somewhere to visit for summer vacation. Every year I would choose Nashville. Obviously, it got shot down from time to time, which was fair. I made my first trip at 14 and saw Vince Gill at the Grand Ole Opry. Honestly, I never imagined I would make the move officially, that was never the intention. During my trips back and forth, I met and eventually dated a guy who was from Nashville. He was the one who introduced me to Blackbird, where I went to school. The relationship sucked, which is a whole different story, but it all happened for a reason I'd say! 

10) What is the best piece of advice that you can offer an aspiring songwriter/artist just trying to break into the music business?

My advice would be if you want it bad enough, then do it! Be yourself, even if you feel rejected. Being unique is where I strive, so why be like everyone else! This is a man's town, so if you're looking to start a career as a female, be prepared to stand your ground. I like to say be respectfully mean. Don't be afraid to fail, because you will alot. As long as you get back up, you'll get where you want to be! Enjoy the crazy ride!

 

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