“I think that everyone needs a space where they can express themselves properly, even if it’s not art, I think everyone needs that. And for some people that is art. For me, I write songs for myself, but I also recognize that sometimes I am able to articulate things that others can’t. And I remember when I couldn’t, and how difficult that was for me, and how certain songs and certain artists helped me learn how to do that. So that’s why I put music out. Because if someone else has all these feelings and they don’t know what to do with them then if I can help them articulate them then that’s good and that’s kind of what I am trying to do”
The past few years have given us some very talented young female singer-songwriters: Phoebe Bridgers, Julien Baker, Maggie Rogers, and TORRES just to name a few. All are very adept at weaving somber yet beautiful songs out of heartbreak and inner turmoil, and newcomer Taylor Janzen is setting herself up to join their ranks with her debut “Interpersonal”.
I first stumbled across Janzen’s music via the twitter page of one of my favorite podcasts, Rebel Hearts Girl. The host, Sam Mazza, and Janzen met over their shared love for Paramore. Who Janzen sites as a big inspiration to get into music, “The first time I really thought that I wanted to make music was when I first listened to Paramore.”
All she had at that point was her acoustic ep “Fear & Faith” on bandcamp, which she recorded in her basement and released last summer. But I was hooked immediately.
“It was very scary to put my own songs out, and it took a lot of coaxing,” said Janzen. “I grew up in a mindset of not discussing or acknowledging darkness and emotions so I would do that through songwriting, and for awhile I didn’t really want or need anyone else to hear it. But finally I showed it to my friends and they convinced me it was ok to put it out there so I did.”
Her bandcamp release got a lot more attention than she anticipated with Hayley Williams and Julien Baker being among listeners, “I just put it up cause the songs meant a lot to me and I wanted to put them out, and bandcamp is just pay what you want so if my friends wanted to pay $5 for it, then I would get $5. It definitely got more attention than I anticipated”
A little over a year after “Fear & Faith”, she released the first single “Stations”. With lines like “If I wanted I could let it go/ but it’s the only piece of you left to hold” and “I am sick of your invisible abuse/ where you bend your voice screaming away my youth” she perfectly encapsulates the emotions people feel trying to come to terms with the impermanence and emotional hardship that comes with a lot of relationships.
“I think there are two things people do: we either can’t commit to anything, or we commit too intensely. It’s like we can’t enjoy things because we are too worried about when it’s going to leave.”
Her second and most recent single, “Waiting Room” addresses mental health and the discrepancy between how people with these issues view themselves and how others view them.
In just her first two singles, Janzen has already shown that she does not shy away from addressing emotionally charged topics in her music, “I write songs for myself, but I also recognize that sometimes I am able to articulate things that others can’t. And I remember when I couldn’t, and how difficult that was for me, and how certain songs and certain artists helped me learn how to do that. So that’s why I put music out. Because if someone else has all these feelings and they don’t know what to do with them then if I can help them articulate them then that’s good and that’s kind of what I am trying to do.”
She cites TORRES, Julien Baker, and Tegan and Sara as some of her biggest musical inspirations, but did also add “I really really liked Avril Lavigne when I was younger”, which makes sense since they are both Canadian, and Avril is amazing.
However, she credits Hayley Williams as the person who made her feel comfortable exploring music, “Seeing Hayley Williams made me believe I could make whatever music I wanted just because she was so empowering to watch. I don’t make music that’s even similar to that, but seeing that she did whatever she wanted really made me feel like I could too.”
Janzen wants people to know she’s not just some depressed kid. She’s also a cat mom, and a poop joke connoisseur, making at least two in the short time we talked. When I asked her about her writing process she paused for a few moments, and then answered “Sometimes I can just feel like there’s something in there, and um… Would it be appropriate for me to say that it’s kind of like when you feel like you have to poop? It’s like an emotional tension and I feel like I have to write something.”
So if you’re up for some sad songs, and poop jokes, Taylor Janzen might be someone you should keep on your radar.