Photo credit: John Liwag & Willow Belle
One of the eternal and tragic truths that has existed since early humans started beating on skull-drums with bones is: Great art is born out of pain. Suffering has triggered terrible brilliance in so many cases over the years, it’s ultimately a testament to the human spirit.
Carolesdaughter, aka Thea Taylor, has already seen her fair share of pain in her eighteen years. Born into a strict Mormon family and the youngest of ten children, Taylor discovered a passion for musical theater and improv, which led to an aptitude for writing songs.
“I loved entertaining my parents’ friends and being the center of attention,” she says. “Later on, in high school. I started writing my own music — that was a little bit more creative. I was a little bit older and going through some stuff and I needed an outlet. But I’ve always written. I’ve always known that’s what I was going to do.”
The song “My Mother Wants Me Dead” seems to spell out her mindset during that time, as addiction seeped into her life. She sings, “These drugs are fucking with my head, I think my mailman is a fed, I know my mother wants me dead, because she hates the smell of cigarettes.” Those words highlight Taylor’s tendency to veer towards extremes, to find comfort in drama.
“Later on, in high school. I started writing my own music — that was a little bit more creative. I was a little bit older and going through some stuff and I needed an outlet. But I’ve always written. I’ve always known that’s what I was going to do.”
“Especially for me, the type of person I am, I’ve always been drawn more towards the extremes,” she says. “I’m not sure if that’s because I was in an oppressive religion or if that’s just how I am. But definitely, it’s an interesting dynamic. I don’t really believe in it at all and I never really did. But I’m lucky because my parents let me decide what I believe when I turned 13. So I haven’t been back to church in a long time. I’ll go if there’s a special event or I have a family member speaking, or something like that, but I don’t really go to church anymore.”
It’s not unusual for a teenager from a religious family to choose to go their own way as they discover their own mind. Substance issues are not rare either and that’s where Taylor found solace from her early teens to the age of seventeen.
“Addiction runs in my family, so I think that regardless of being Mormon or not, that was just in my blood,” she says. “It’s definitely harder because you feel more shame about it and it’s less talked about. They never talk about addicts in the church, or talk about problems that aren’t acceptable to have.”
Photo credit: John Liwag & Willow Belle
The good news is that Taylor is feeling a lot healthier now that she’s thrown herself fully into her music. Or at least she would be if she hadn’t recently tested positive for COVID.
“I went the entire pandemic without getting it because I’ve been really lucky so far,” she says. “I’ve been really careful. I’m doing fine. I wouldn’t have even known that I had it if I didn’t get tested which is why I know. I don’t have super bad symptoms.”
Well that’s good. Meanwhile, Taylor took the opportunity offered by the lockdown to really knuckle down and work on her art. If nothing else, it was therapeutic.
“I think in all aspects, not just talking about addiction but being able to open up and talk about any bad things I’ve experienced or anything like that is really hard for me,” she says. “So it’s just easier and my way of opening up to people, of talking about it, because if you just go out and say certain things people are going to look at you weird.”
That’s undoubtedly true and Taylor found the perfect vessel for her angst. She describes her music, particularly the acoustic work, as emo-folk. She’s also proud of the fact that she doesn’t write the same song twice. The thread that runs through it all, though, is raw, poetic, dark lyrics framed by the sweetest of melodies. Whether it’s stripped down and acoustic or there’s a pulsating beat sitting heavily on top, there’s a nursery rhyme-esque quality to the tunes that acts as a beautiful dichotomy to the often nihilistic themes.
“My internet stuff is all over the place as far as genres go,” she says. “There’s so much inspiration. It’s just influenced by the internet. It’s internet music.”
Photos: John Liwag & Willow Belle
The internet has been key to Taylor’s success (unsurprisingly in our locked down stream-heavy climate). She’s currently topping one million streams per day after dropping new single and video “Violent”. The question every new artist has is: How does one stand out in such a crowded pool?
“I would definitely say that you have to promote it on other platforms because Soundcloud is notoriously difficult to get streams and followers on,” Taylor says. “There’s not really a way to reach out to people on Soundcloud and connect, so you have to reach out to people on Instagram that are also Soundcloud musicians. Have them promote your stuff. Collab with new people. Stuff like that.”
The video for “Violent” is pretty graphic with Taylor in some scenes afflicted with bloody knife wounds. It’s something that you might think would make devout Mormons leap back but she says that her parents are super proud of her and love the video. It’s a great song too. And it’s one of the oldest in her arsenal.
“It’s one of the first songs that I made on a beat and released on Soundcloud,” she says. “I’m a big Lil Peep fan, so it’s really inspired by him. I don’t think I’ll make two ‘Violent’’s, that’s for sure. If you really look at any of my music, you’ll notice that I don’t make two of the same song ever. As far as an emo-pop song? I don’t know, maybe. But I’m really interested in my acoustic stuff right now and getting that out. I’ve been waiting for a really long time to record some of these songs that are super close to me. I just haven’t had the chance. I’m mainly focused on that right now.”
“My goal for the year is not even about music. Obviously, it is, but it’s about me — I want to eat better, start working out, and I have all this time. I know I’ll create the best art possible if I’m the best possible, if I feel the best possible. So I’ll focus on that.”
There’s an EP on the way, probably before the summer, but no release date has been confirmed. She’s in a rich creative vein, aided in part by being stuck in the house.
“When I write a song it has to be about a specific emotion,” she says. “Not being able to interact with people during the pandemic and being around my family and close friends, I don’t really have the drama and those emotions that I translate into music. Things are going pretty good right now.”
For now, we have to wait. We don’t know when vaccinations will allow 2021 to open up, so planning is futile. Taylor has hopes though.
“Getting on tour has always been my dream,” she says. “So I really hope it’s over this year. Other than that, I’m just trying to wrap my head around the industry. My goal for the year is not even about music. Obviously, it is, but it’s about me — I want to eat better, start working out, and I have all this time. I know I’ll create the best art possible if I’m the best possible, if I feel the best possible. So I’ll focus on that.”
“Violent” is out now.