We here at Conquer had the awesome opportunity to interview Alternative Country artist (though one would consider her unrestricted by genre) Jess Taylor about her ongoing crowdfunding project. Hitting the ground running in Highschool, Jess’s songwriting and vocal skills quickly led to a large fan following within mainstream country. 5 years later, and Jess is back in a way you’ve never heard her before.
Conquer Artist Highlight: Jess Taylor
GetConquer Site: www.getconquer.com/jesstaylor
Bandtwango Project Page: bandtwango.com/projects/jess-taylor/
After a year in Nashville, Jess has taken in the city’s diverse music scene, its various songs and talented songwriters, and used it to form a new sound that is completely her own. Jess is looking to the fans to help her share this new sound and really make it the best that it can be! by donating to her Bandtwango campaign you’ll be supporting an incredibly talented artist as she takes a new path with a new sound we can all look forward to, AND receive some awesome incentives for doing so!
Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Jess Taylor and I’m originally from South Florida, and I’ve lived there up until I was 19 years old. My family and I decided to make the move to Nashville in April of last year, so I’ve been here a little over a year. I was raised on country music I’ve always loved country music, which is funny because I’ve always lived in the city by the beach. There’s Kenney Chesney and the Zach Brown Band, but I’ve always loved Country music. So that’s what I was raised listening to, and that’s what I wanted to do, I wanted to do Country Music.
So when I moved up here I was introduced to a lot of really cool different genres, different styles of music. It definitely influenced my music a little bit, which is really cool because I had always listened to mainstream country music, and just to be able to listen to different artists, especially amazing singer songwriters up here was just really cool. It definitely influenced my music. So I moved up here with my family last year to just further pursue my dream of singing and songwriting, and play out and just doing my music. That’s my passion; that’s what I want to do.
Once you start branching out a little bit and going to the songwriter round and going to the different events that Nashville has; they don’t play country music outside of Broadway, which is so funny. I thought Nashville was country music city USA, but it has turned into music city USA which is really awesome. Everybody can move up here if they’re a musician and get amazing opportunities.
What have been some of your biggest influences in music?
Well like I said, I grew up listening to country music so the women of country music have always been a big inspiration. Loretta Lynn is one of my favorites, still all-time favorite musician of all time. I grew up listening to Martina, and Faith, and all of them. Miranda Lambert is probably THE biggest inspiration just because she is such an amazing artist, but she also doesn’t take anything from anyone. She’s herself, she does it her way; It’s her way or the highway. She just has her own sound, she’s really awesome, she’s amazing, so she is definitely my biggest inspiration.
As of late I’ve been naming a couple different bands as inspiration for my new sound. One of those bands would be The Civil Wars, and they just have this really awesome dark kind of sound to them. Kinda sounds weird, but most of their lyrics aren’t dark. They just have this aura and this feel to them that is just so cool. And I really like the folkiness. I’m trying to go more Alt-Country, more folky, and they just have this awesome folksiness. Mumford and Sons is a big inspiration to me, The Abbott Brothers. Just a bunch of different bands that I’d never really heard of before I moved up here and now that I’ve moved up here and I’m listening to them I’m like this is what I want for my music, this is what I want it to sound like. I don’t want it to be mainstream I want it to be different.
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There is this really cool radio station up here called Lightning 100 who I’ve been listening non-stop since I got here, because they have different local artists that they play, but they also have – well I found Jason Isbell through them, and he is definitely a really big songwriting inspiration to me because his lyrics are just amazing.
Can you tell us more about your Bandtwango project?
So Bandtwango is a company based out of Nashville who does fan funding campaigns for artists, and I started working with them a couple of months ago. We had just started planning out my campaign and trying to figure out how I could raise money, because the last time I put out music I was 16 years old. It was who I was when I was 16. It was very sweet and simple, and very mainstream country is what I would call it. But like I said, I’ve changed a lot in the past five years.
So, with this new sound I definitely think that now is the perfect time to release new stuff after not having anything out since I was 16 years old. So I decided that I would reach out to Bandtwango, talk to them and see what their opinions were. We decided, as well as my parents (This was a group effort, there was lot of people involved in this decision); but I decided I’m going to release a single a bonus track, I’m going to a music video for my single, I’m going to redo my website, and I’m basically going to rebrand myself and my music and my image.
I started working with Bandtwango to help me build a campaign to help raise money for that, because it’s not cheap – being a musician. It is very expensive! So I just wanted to raise the money to put out new stuff, and I’m really excited about it because I have some really cool songs that I’ve been writing, and I’ve been writing with really awesome people up in Nashville. I started cowriting in Florida, but just the amount of talent in Nashville is crazy, and there is always people who want to co-write so I’ve gotten some really cool songs out of it.
So how would you personally describe your sound?
It’s funny because people as me that all the time. I don’t want to put myself into a specific genre or category because I feel like that is restricting to some extent. But if I had to put myself into a genre I would say alt-country because I’m a big listener of Spotify. Spotify is my go to for new music. When I was scrolling through some of the playlists they had an alt-country music playlist, and they had people like Lucie Silvas on there. I didn’t mention her but she is really big inspiration too. They just had some really cool artists on there, but I did see the alt-country Spotify playlist on there so I thought actually that’s a pretty good sub-genre to put myself in. So, if I had to say anything I’d say Alternative Country.
Could you tell us more about that new single you’re working on?
It’s called “Crooked Roots”. So I wrote this song with my friends Josh Matheny and Whitney Dahlstrom up here, and I actually really really like this song. Josh is a published writer so it’s kinda like, man I’m going to work with this person who has written all these amazing songs, so I wanted to go in with really cool, different idea. For some reason, I came up with the hook “Crooked Roots”. So I was thinking for the storyline, it could be this guy who pretends to be this perfect guy, but underneath he just has all this baggage and crooked roots. The funny thing is when I took it to Josh and Whitney they both wanted to go in a different direction. So how it ended up working out, we teamed up and kind of collaborated on this idea that he would just be this bad boy. Everybody knew he was a bad boy, this girl moves to town, everybody tells her to stay away, she doesn’t, she ends up falling for him; and it just talks about how she knows that he’s bad for her, but she doesn’t care. She gets tangled in his Crooked Roots
So what kind of incentives are available to supporters who donate?
I have some really cool incentives that I came up with the Bandtwango team. Anywhere from a digital download of “Crooked Roots”, while part of the funds are going to be going towards CD production. So I’m going to get some physical copies made, so some people will get signed copies.
I also came up with this idea. When I was first starting out as a songwriter I had a songwriting book. I would always write down my songs in there, and in Highschool one day I just came up with a song idea. It was actually – It’s funny, it was my first single that I ever released; It’s called “Do You Feel It Too”, and I came up with the idea in my Algebra II class. So I started writing it down on this paper, and for some reason I didn’t make any mistakes, it was just this awesome looking lyric sheet. From then on I was like, I need to save this because I think it would be so cool to give people lyrics sheets. So that is one of the incentives, a lyrics sheet of “Crooked Roots”
I also have a personalized YouTube shout out, and a cover video of their choice. So if they wanted to hear me sing Loretta Lynn I would do that. For sure!
When it comes to the more. . . generous donors, there is a Skype session you get to have with me, and it’s a 30 minute one on one. Just ask me anything you want to know about me and my music. Then it goes up to getting to go to the studio with me to record my new songs. All the way up to, for a 5000-dollar donation, I will go anywhere within 200 miles of Nashville to do a private house concert for you and a hundred friends.
Do you have any advice for fans trying to make it in music?
Yeah Absolutely! When I moved up here it was kind of an adjustment. It took me a while to get used being in a new state with new people, and a new job, and I kind of lost a little focus. My advice is to never give up. It took me a little bit to adjust, but there came a point where I felt empty without my music, and I was just like I can’t do this anymore, I feel empty, I need my music. So my advice would be to never ever give up, never lose focus. There is always going to be distractions, but you can’t let them get in the way. Another thing I would say is be yourself in your music. Don’t necessarily try and go for what’s being played on the radio right now. If that’s not your sound then don’t try and conform to that. It’s going to sound more genuine and more authentic if it comes from your heart and if it’s what you really want to do. So I would just say, completely be yourself when it comes to your music.
Anything else you’d like to say to the fans?
Yeah thank you so much for everyone who has donated to my campaign, it really means so much to me. It is such a blessing all the support that I have from my fans, the people that go to my shows, and comment on my Facebook Live videos, it really means a lot to me. So I just want to thank all my fans so much for just being there for me throughout every step of my journey.
Be sure to follow Jess Taylor on social media: @JessTaylorMusic
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