Music Interview: Taylor Janzen

Taylor Janzen is a 19 year old singer from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Though she is still early in her music career, her sound is already growing but remains experimental. Her forthcoming EP, Interpersonal comes out on August 10, 2018. But before her new music drops, I got to chat with her about her upcoming EP, her new song “Stations”, tattoos, and more.

TYF: First, let’s chat about your early days in the music industry. What would you say was the biggest challenge with breaking into the music industry?
Taylor Janzen: I am still technically in my early days in the music industry as I’ve been playing music outside my house for about a year now. But I will say I’ve been so lucky that my local scene here in Winnipeg has been so welcoming and wonderful that it wasn’t too much of a challenge to start playing around the city. My biggest challenge now is figuring out how to go beyond that and play outside my hometown.

TYF: Was your family always supportive of you pursuing a career in the arts?
Janzen: Yes, luckily my mom has always encouraged and supported me. She put up with a lot of loud, late-night practicing and still drives me to most of my shows.

TYF: So how and when did know you wanted to get into music?
Janzen: I’ve always known that I wanted to play music. It’s kinda just always been what I gravitate to and I could never see myself doing anything else.

TYF: How would you describe your sound? Because I hear a mix of airy, chill vibes from some of your songs while others have a very edgy, raspy rock tone.
Janzen: I strive to make my sound a mixture of the two. I love the quiet and vulnerable moments with just me and a guitar. But I also love playing with a band and allowing myself to just be as loud as possible. I think there’s room for both, and I love figuring out ways to mix them together.

TYF: Speaking of your music, can you elaborate on your writing process?
Janzen: It’s different every time. Usually, lyrics are first, but occasionally I’ll sit on a melody/guitar line for a while before the words get there. But regardless of how the song actually comes about, it’s almost always a very personal and emotional experience. Songwriting is my way of looking inside myself (my emotions, issues, darkness, whatever you want to call it) and trying to see something useful.

TYF: What can fans expect from your EP, Interpersonal?
Janzen: Honesty, which I guess makes it very intimidating but ultimately more rewarding.

TYF: You got to work alongside Greg Calbi who got to work with music peeps such as Arcade Fire. What was it like working with him?
Janzen: I actually recorded most of the EP at my friend Shane’s house back in the winter. That alone was quite different for me, as I had never let anyone else work on my songs before, but it was really fun and it definitely wouldn’t sound the way it does without him. So when we found out Greg Calbi was mastering it we both were super excited. It’s such an honor to have someone I respect so much involved in these songs.


TYF: Tell us a bit about your new song ‘Stations.’ What was the inspiration behind that song?
Janzen: ‘Stations’ is my attempt to break silence on emotional abuse. I felt like I really needed a way to talk about my experiences in a way that made sense to me, and songwriting has always been the most comfortable way to talk about scary things.

TYF: Did you always know you wanted that track to have a sort of acoustic, light mood to it?
Janzen: I always knew that I wanted it to be just me and a guitar. The lyrics and the guitar are the two focal points, so I figured there’s no reason to add more to distract from them. My intention was for the guitar to move with the song.

TYF: As a writer, I find myself editing again and again like there’s no tomorrow. So how or when did you know that ‘Stations’ was complete in terms of the lyrics and sound?
Janzen: Stations were such a weird song to write because it just spilled out of me one day. I was just messing around on my guitar one day (actually in the middle of writing a different song) and the guitar line for Stations came out, so I just wrote what was on my mind at the time. I think I knew I was finished with it when I knew there was no way I could be more honest.


TYF: Did you ever have writer’s block when writing that track? If so, how did you overcome it?
Janzen: Not for Stations, no. It just spilled out.

TYF: Did you ever revisit any of the past songs you wrote and do some minor tweaking?
Janzen: Yes, all the time. Especially now that I rarely play acoustic guitar anymore, and all my songs have been adjusted to my electric guitar when I play shows. I think it’s so interesting how songs evolve even after they’ve been recorded/released.

TYF: Will you be going on tour and getting your new music out there soon?
Janzen: Hopefully! I definitely would love to play some shows outside my hometown soon.

TYF: Also, not to get all sidetracked but I adore your tattoo. If you had to get a lyric from one of your songs tattooed, which lyric would it be and where would you place it?
Janzen: Oh god. This isn’t really a lyric, but I have this song called Dennis Quaid (the song itself is not about Dennis at all) and I love him, so maybe I’d just get Dennis Quaid’s name tattooed on my ankle.


TYF: Noticed you also love to travel. Have any of your travel adventures materialized into a song?
Janzen: Surprisingly, not really! I think all my songs are born out of introspection/solitude and I usually don’t do too much of that when I travel.

TYF: Lastly, since summer is in full swing, do you have any fun summer plans coming up?
Janzen: Yes! I’ll be playing Winnipeg Folk Fest and Real Love Fest which are both in Manitoba, and hopefully doing some more local shows around the city all summer!


You can check out Taylor Janzen’s music here! 


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