“I’m terrified,” whispers Emma Taylor. Her muted, somber admission opens her brand new song, “Made Your Bed,” a piano-based track, premiering today on Audiofemme. Its softness is deceiving, as the Los Angeles singer-songwriter wrestles with her demons and a past that just won’t let her go.
“I definitely feel like the creation of the song was very much soft and emotional, yet powerful,” she says. Written in just 30 minutes, the song, produced by long-standing collaborator Adrian Cota, emerges as her first straight-up piano ballad, a showcase of lyrics and story “with the production painting colors rather than taking over,” she observes.
“Adrian is so brilliant in being able to capture moods and drama through his insane attention to detail. It feels so minimalist when you are listening, but everything in this song is thought out ─ from how I sing each phrase to the little background elements that build the song into what it is.”
Taylor, whose angelic vocals offer a ray of hope, soon plants her feet and reclaims her self-worth. “I’m allowed to feel,” she sings, still in hushed tones. That line in particular underscores her ongoing journey in rediscovering who she’s always meant to be, as well as retrieving her emotions. “I think I still have to remind myself every now and then that I’m allowed to feel. It’s not easy to self-reflect and realize self-worth,” she explains. “There have been so many moments where I’ve felt that I need to hide my emotions, or where I’ve been ashamed of them, so to be able to write a song that tells people that their feelings are valid is a very special and important thing for me.”
She puts up a valiant fight, and as the strings build into a gentle stream around her, she rises triumphant and cleansed. “I’m at a very crucial and important time in my life where I am continuously growing and maturing emotionally and creatively, which is super exciting,” she declares. “I know that my core values and style are with me always, but I’m gaining so much inspiration from new music and my surroundings that allow me to take a step back and try new things with my art and with myself, in general.”
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Taylor had a pretty idyllic upbringing, surrounded by a loving, gracious, and supportive family. “I’m the only artist in my family so it was definitely a shock that I came out with such an intense passion for music” she says.
It’s not dramatic to say such legendary singer-songwriters like Joni Mitchell and Carole King became transcendent for her. These pop music pillars were top-tier among their peers, but they were also strong, vulnerable, and sharp-toothed women who proved anything was possible. “I think the authenticity of those artists is very few and far between. Looking at an artist like Joni, she is so unique and so unapologetically herself which is such a beautiful trait to have,” reflects Taylor, whose own work is very much submerged in plaintive lyrics over ethereal melodies.
“I love how effortlessly conversational artists during that era wrote their songs because it made the stories flow and allowed listeners to truly digest and relate to them,” she adds. “I think that those singer-songwriters wrote purely for their own souls and pleasures so because of that vulnerability and realness, the world felt that and was moved by it.”
Thanks to her father, Taylor was surrounded by Mitchell, James Taylor, and Simon & Garfunkel, whose records were all on constant loop in the house. So naturally, those lush, identifiable melodies became embedded in her mind. “I started getting deeply into songwriting for myself during my early teenage years, and I was looking at the artists my dad played as my main source of inspiration and teachings. I loved the uniqueness of the melodies and how they worked hand and hand with the lyrical journey, so it’s something I’ve always wanted to emulate with my own work.”
Later, at the age of 12, Taylor attended a writing intensive during the summer, and despite having previously dabbled in songwriting, her hunger for it hit a new level. Now, 11 years later, she considers what she’s learned most. “I would have to say that I’ve learned how important it is to not worry about a scheme or a format. There’s no rules when it comes to songwriting,” she stresses, “and you are the only person who has the ability to create your own unique song. To have the power to [write songs] is so special, and it’s so important to me that I use that power to the best of my ability.”
But it hasn’t been easy to arrive here.
In defining her own singular perspective, stories only she could craft, it has been most difficult “trying not to get stuck in a bubble or write things that sound the same,” she offers. “That’s my biggest fear and still is my biggest challenge because when you’re comfortable with something or you’ve been doing it for so long, it’s easy not to want to change.”
“I sometimes get in my own head and think about what others might want to hear, and that’s when I have difficulty getting good lyrics out because my style and music relies so heavily on my truth and my vulnerability. I’ve been learning to find a balance between universality in my lyrics but still writing in a conversational way with ideas that are solely my own.”
Taylor first made an impression with 2017’s Hazy EP, containing such gems as “New Found Sound” and “Living’s Lonely.” Since then, she’s pivoted to issuing a string of singles, including this year’s “Why Can’t I Stop Loving You?” as a way to showcase her growth without a full commitment to a body of work (for now).
“I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find who I am as an artist and what I want to say, but I think that will be an ongoing discovery for me because life is ever changing and so many things happen that inspire me,” she says. “I’m at the point where each new song I’m writing is my favorite one yet and different from the last, which shows that I’m definitely in my prime creative phase of my art.”
Looking ahead, she promises “a lot of new music,” even if a follow-up EP or album has not quite marinated yet. “These songs show how far I’ve come in the past few years, and I can’t wait for the world to get to hear them and hopefully like them as much as I do. I’m writing constantly and am focusing on putting out as much music as possible.”
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