Friday, April 8, 2011

So Talented: An Interview With Taryn Manning


Just a week ago I was able to catch celebrity triple-threat Taryn Manning - actress, singer-songwriter, and fashion designer - on the phone to chat about her latest musical endeavors as a dance-pop princess. Alongside an established acting career in which she has starred in notable films such as '8 Mile,' 'Crazy/Beautiful,' and 'Hustle & Flow,' as well as in countlessa television shows, Taryn has been hard at work carving out a neon-bathed career for herself in the music biz as one half of brother/sister electro duo Boomkat.

Now, as Taryn gears up for the release of her solo dance-oriented album this year, this Hollywood It Girl is finally stepping out into the spotlight as a pop star in her own right. Read what Taryn had to say about her latest throbbing electro-pop single "Turn It Up," how she finds time to balance three very different careers, as well as two music projects and DJing, and what to expect from her debut album due out this year. Check it out:

E: Hey, Taryn! This is Erica with Electrocutie Music Blog. Nice to finally meet you! How are you?

T: I’m good. How are you? Sorry if I seem a little bit tired, I actually hurt my back.

E: Oh, no worries! I hope you feel better soon. Let’s jump right into this then. I guess the first thing I really want to ask is can you give us a little crash course on your story for those who don’t know about you?

T: Well, I’ve been doing singing and dancing and that kind of stuff since I was a little girl, you know. I grew up in a family where my dad was a musician, and my mom was a dancer, and my grandma was a tap dancer, so it just sort of seemed like I was meant to do this kind of thing. My mom supported me since I was a little girl and I took dance classes and singing and karate and just everything! And that’s basically how I started - I just started at a really young age.

E: That’s amazing. So it’s really been something that’s been with you from the very start.

T: Yeah, I’ve definitely been doing this a really long time.

E: Now, you also juggle an established acting career along with being a musician and a designer, among other things. How do you balance all of this? Do you find that each aspect influences the other in certain ways?

T: Um, yeah! I mean, they do. It’s hard to balance everything sometimes, and other times it’s fun! And sometimes it comes at the perfect timing. It just balances out. Like, sometimes I’m off acting but I also have music to promote, and then when I have music to promote, I’m off acting.

E: Do you find that, as a person who is engaged and successful in more than one creative industry that there are any frustrations related to being both a singer and an actress?

T: Yeah, you know, I know there’s some people who probably won’t even listen to my music because they know who I am, and there’s some people that only know me because of my music. And I really have real fans, musically speaking, and sometimes they crossover - they’ll learn about my music through my acting and vice-versa, and then sometimes people just don’t like you. But most of the time people hit me up and tell me how much they love my music, and that it’s heard all over the world! But it could still be much bigger, I think, you know?


E: So then are you still waiting for that moment in your music career where you can say to yourself, “I’ve made it!”?

T: Absolutely! It takes a lot of hard work. But I try not to totally think too much about that outcome, because I try to enjoy the journey, as cliché as that sounds, and I try not to obsess on when I make it. I just sort of believe in my heart that my music is really great and that this record is amazing. I’ve put the last two years of my soul into it and I truly think that it’s up there with all the stuff that’s relevant right now.

E: I love that you said it’s more about the journey. I don’t think that’s cliché at all. And on that line, I know you started Boomkat with your brother in 2003, so how do you think you have you evolved as a musician over the past decade or so?

T: I think that my songwriting has changed, and the style, and maybe even the quality in my voice has matured. When I was really young, I was very wild, kind of punk rock or hip hop, and I would go up on stage put out a lot of energy. And as I’ve gotten older I’ve become more calm and confident and my vocals have become better on stage when I’m not being quite so physical. I used to run around the stage and not have any breath left to sing with! [Laughs.] And I’d learn my lesson when I was done and off the stage. I’d go, “Ugh! God, I couldn‘t even sing, I was so out of breath! Okay, next show I can’t go on like that.” But then next time I’d get up on stage and I’d see all the people and I would go wild, you know? So, just stuff like that has changed. But yeah, I think my music has gotten better, like with input when I work with my producers. The music gets better, and they respect me, so it’s like a collaboration now. And I play guitar, too - I’m not just a singer, I’m a songwriter as well. I’m involved with the entire process.

E: Are the creative processes between your solo music and your music with Boomkat very different?

T: Um, I would say that Boomkat is a little more experimental, a little more lo-fi. I mean, it’s pop at times, but it was really hard to figure out the sound of Boomkat. Our very first record, I still believe, stands the test of time, and I still have fans that still listen to that record all the time and I think it could have even been ahead of its time way back in 2003.

E: Yeah, I would say that.

T: It was dance music, but it wasn’t quite pop format and it wasn’t quite rock format, and our label didn’t know which avenue to take with it. It’s always been like a crazy sound that we came up with and now my sound is definitely pop but I put my own flair into it, and I think it sounds different than others. That’s the name of the game, you know - trying to create something that hasn’t been done.

E: I remember when I bought my first Boomkat CD at the Virgin Megastore. What drew me to it was the cover, but I’m glad it did, ‘cause I still listen to it all the time. And I’m so happy you’re still doing music and still going strong!

T: Aw, sweet! Me too. I’m so happy that I have music coming out. Nothing makes me more happy than when I’m doing my music. I love acting - don’t get me wrong, I’ve really enjoyed some of the roles I’ve played. Sometimes there’s not a whole lot of cool roles for actresses, so I’m glad I have my music to show my heart!

E: And I guess you probably get to be a little more personal with the music.

T: Yeah, it’s super personal. What’s cool about it is it’s all me, you know? You can define yourself through your music and your sound.

E: Speaking of new music, you just released “Turn It Up” - which is amazing, by the way.

T: Oh, thank you!

E: You must be so excited that it’s out finally! Can you tell us a little bit about the new track?

T: Ah, it’s really just a fun, upbeat, happy party song! I mean, it really exists for the sole purpose to get everyone to have a good time. It’s not that deep, it’s not that emotional. It has kind of a sexy vibe - the vocals are a little distorted, it has a little bit of an electro, indie kind of beat. It was really hard to choose the first single, but I just thought that I wanted to start off with this one.

E: So then you’re working on your debut album right now, is that right?

T: Yeah, it’s pretty much done! I’m not just going to release the whole thing though, because it’s taken a long time and it’s a big body of work that I’ve put a lot of effort into, so I want to roll it out really slowly. I want people to really hear this album, you know? And not just put it all out there, because it’s really hard to get peoples’ attention with too many songs at once these days.

E: You have to reel them in.

T: Yeah, I just wanna hook ‘em in and make them believers! It takes time, you know?

E: And a lot of hard work.

T: Definitely.


E: So do you think the album will drop this year?

T: Oh yeah, actually, this year for sure! Definitely. I just don’t have a date - I’m just going to keep releasing singles throughout the summer and kinda keep it going that way. But I have a whole album, so definitely this year, one-hundred percent!

E: And will tracks like “So Talented,” “Spotlight,” and “Turn It Up” all be on the album?

T: Um, I think so, yeah! I mean, I’ve written some new songs since then. I’m always writing. I’m always in the studio - it’s my favorite place to be - so I’m always writing, and I did those a while ago, but I know people love those songs, so I might include them in the album.

E: That’s good. Are you thinking about touring when the album releases? Do you think you’ll go on a national tour or anything?

T: I’d love to, yeah. I really would. I really believe that that’s going to happen for sure. I mean, we’re putting this album together now. My management team and I, we’re just going to see what the demand is for it. I’m all about letting people find me. I don’t wanna shove it down their throat. It’s so good, this music, that I just want to let it organically spread.

E: I think doing it that way makes for more long-term, dedicated listeners, instead of just throwing it out at people.

T: Exactly! Like, dedicated fans. I feel the same way. And I’m really excited about that, you know?

E: You also DJ, right?

T: Yeah, I do.

E: So, creatively, how does that fit in with your career as a singer and musician?

T: Yeah, I mean, I’m not an amazing DJ, but I DJ sometimes because I like to throw my own music into the set. And it’s sort of like a DJ set mixed with a little performance. It’s not like I’m dancing or anything - well, I am dancing around - but I’ll play my stuff and if there’s a mike I’ll sing along and put on a mini show, and so it goes hand in hand with my own projects.

E: Now that you’re full steam ahead with Taryn Manning music, do you think there will be a third Boomkat record in store for the future?

T: Sure! My brother and I have amazing new material. It’s just a matter of me promoting this, and putting all my heart and soul into this right now because I’ve been working on this for years. And when I’m done with this, I’m definitely going to get back into the Boomkat stuff and keep making music until the day I die. I love it!


E: Are there any dream collaborations or particular people you would love to work with someday?

T: Yeah, there is, for sure. Certain producers, like… I wish I could work with Deadmau5, Dr. Luke, or Max Martin, and all those people who have these huge hits on the radio. It’d be fun! And I have worked with some amazing people, but those are just the ones I’d like to work with right now.

E: You seem to keep very close with your fan base through various social networking sites online, allowing an open channel of personal communication. Are your fans very important to you?

T: Well, thee ones that are kind and the ones that are so complimentary to me and take the time to reach out and say something to me like that, it really means a lot. It’s really sweet and I sometimes reply through Twitter or Facebook if I’m there and I have a moment. I try to thank everyone who compliments me. I try but I can’t do it all day long . I definitely think our careers are shaped by our fans. I know some people who don’t like all that stuff though. Look, it’s not always fun when sometimes runs up and makes a spectacle of you and one person yells, “Hey! It’s so-and-so!” and a bunch of other people start in. There’s certain times where it’s not fun but I think when it comes to music you really have to be there for your fans. They’ll, like, die for you. Well, not really. [Laughs.] They’ll go above and beyond!

E: Now, you’re also an accomplished designer, and I actually have one of your Born Uniqorn dresses…

T: You do!? Thank you! I love that. Which one do you have?

E: It’s rainbow-striped, with a frilly skirt…

T: Oh, yeah! I love that! [Laughs.] That’s like one of the first things we ever designed… So cute!

E: [Laughs.] Well, you have such an interesting and refreshing, fun take on fashion, and you’re definitely a style icon in your own right. What inspires your style and how would you describe it?

T: My style is so all over the place. What is it? [Laughs.] Well, you’ve seen Born Uniqorn, and that rainbow dress. I used to dress like that in my 20’s. Everything was very bright, rainbows... I wasn’t self-conscious of my body at all, so I wore a lot of midriff-cut tops, and it was very 80’s rocker style. Then as I’ve matured I’ve gotten a lot into vintage and into pretty, more girly clothes, but I always have that tomboy twist. I just do. And then there’s always that little hint of the musician in me. It’s really hard for me to hide that. My style is very based around my music. But also I keep it tame because of the actress in me. I’m not gimmicky. I’m not into costumes. I love dressing up, but I don’t really like costumes and having to be expected to be that over the top all the time. I’ll hit the stage in my jeans and a flannel and be like, “This is my mood tonight.” I don’t want to put on my cupcake or my big candy cane. I just can’t. [Laughs.] My style just changes from day to day.

E: As a musician, what is your ultimate goal? Where would you like to see yourself or your career down the road? What is the big plan for you?

T: I just want to keep writing songs and hope that they get out there and heard. You know, the big plan is just to keep doing what I do and just let the stars align - keep doing movies, incorporating my music into film, musicals, who knows? I want to do it all with my life. I just put one foot in front of the other every day. I do have a plan in my head, I just can’t really articulate it. It’s a vision. And it looks really nice!

E: Gotcha. So finally, is there anything you’d like to say to your fans before we wrap this up?

T: Yeah, just keep looking out for my songs as they come out and spread the word if they love them. And if they don’t, that’s fine. I’m just really excited to have new music out, and I have a film coming out soon called ‘The Perfect Age of Rock N’ Roll’ for everybody to look out for. It’s really good, and it is a music related film, so that’s really cool!

E: Looking forward to that for sure. Well, thank you so much Taryn! I’ve been a big fan for years now and you have been such a sweetheart. I’m so happy for your success. Thank you so much and good luck to you.

T: I’m so glad we were able to chat! Thank you so much.

E: Bye bye!

Thank you so much to Taryn, her management, and the lovely Taylor for arranging the interview! All photo credit goes to C. Roberts Photography. Stay tuned for more information regarding Taryn Manning music, as well as the upcoming music video for "Turn It Up," coming soon! Please visit Taryn Manning on the web here.

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