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Rising Stars: Meet Taylor Gray

Today we’d like to introduce you to Taylor Gray.

Hi Taylor, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I moved to LA in July, during the pandemic. I had previously spent five years in Chicago, enduring law school, failing the bar exam, and working hard to establish myself as a reputable R&B artist. Throughout those five years, I struggled in terms of finding my footing. I always tried to establish myself by affiliating with others and using their platforms. I would attend local shows, network with the artists, and extend my services as a singer and songwriter. Everyone was friendly. But nobody was truly interested in creating space for me. I wanted to fit in like a puzzle piece. However, I found that I would always find myself lonely, with no real connections to help take me to the next level. I landed some incredible opportunities, notably Sofar Sounds, but the shows end….and if you don’t have the means to capitalize on the spotlight, you go right back to square one. I reached a point where I realized I was approaching my music career in the wrong capacity. Nobody was going to magically make space for me in the way I desired. I had to make space for myself in order for people to REALLY see and hear me. I had to unashamedly be selfish in my creative endeavors.

So I got on a plane (fear of flying and all). Moving to LA was the first real step towards prioritizing myself. I knew very few people. I had no equipment for ANYTHING. I knew no sound engineers, had no recording studio to call home, and I certainly did not have anyone on my team to help me. I spent a few months feeling lost, struggling with a mild identity crisis. One night I confided in my friend, Londen, and something about the conversation pulled me right out of bed, and somehow I came into my own. I’ve spent the last six months working on music. Writing, visualizing, planning, executing. I launched my YouTube channel and post twice a week. I comment on things affecting the black community and centering around R&B and entertainment. I also have a playlist called Flavor Waves on Apple Music and Spotify, which I curate weekly. It focuses on R&B artists, both established and underground. I do it for free, meaning I don’t charge for submissions. This is a far cry from my experiences with other playlists, who charge money for placements.

I’ve taken myself to the purest level, where my sheer love for R&B navigates my path. It has been a transformational experience. I’ve cried. I’ve gotten angry. I’ve danced until I collapsed. I’ve gone for walks only to find myself sprinting until I felt like my heart was going to explode. Interestingly enough, my life has leveled up in all aspects by being self-focused. I no longer procrastinate. I work out and eat clean. I’ve discovered my personal sense of style. And above all else, I’ve created the spaces that allow me to proudly promote my art while still supporting other artists who have been in my position. I have A LOT coming up in 2021. I have exciting collaborations planned. I have a single set for release in March, followed by an EP (the title has yet to be unveiled). In January, Flavor Waves partnered with The Renaissance Project, a medium that highlights black & queer talents. I’m no longer alone. And I’m no longer lost.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I don’t believe that a true artist travels on a smooth road. My struggles were always primarily magnified in my personal life. Feeling a loss of my sense of self. Not feeling loved or supported as an artist reflected in my self-esteem, which then affected my relationships. Since an incredibly painful breakup that I internalized as being my fault, I haven’t dated in over two years because there’s no capacity for me to undo my habit of projecting my insecurities as an artist while also fostering a loving relationship. I only have time for one, and I choose me. I’ve financially suffered as well. Creating art is EXPENSIVE. And early on, I valued spending more money, thinking it would equal more quality and thus, more return on my investments. That’s certainly not the case. I overspent on MANY things (notably music videos and photoshoots) and my art ended up suffering because the authenticity I put into it got lost in the process. I was focused on “quality” when it turns out I’ve been able to sustain myself and grow with LESS expensive and more true to self visuals. My career is certainly up in the air as well. I was expected to be a big shot lawyer. But everything in my spirit has told me no. So, I have a level of instability in my day-t0-day. But that is a struggle I happily welcome, as I have more time to focus on the dream.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am an R&B artist. I am a singer/songwriter, but I also have experience as a hip hop dancer. I also consider myself a content creator, as I curate playlists and film YouTube videos as a means of self-expression. I am known for being an unapologetically gay artist. I sing about love with other men. I have a 90’s/early 00’s sound in my music, no matter what sound I strive for, and that is something that people know me for. I have a smooth and rich voice, but I think my lyrics are what truly sets me apart from others. I write about relatable situations that are often overlooked as topics for music. I write about growing pains in relationships, about losing yourself in your career, about enduring the pain of intrusive thoughts and wanting to feel valid as a human. That is where I shine. My lyrics.

What matters most to you? Why?
What matters most to me is happiness. I understand that life has its ebbs and flows, but everything I do is with the intention of living the happiest life I can, as well as giving my family and friends the happiest memories. This matters most to me because I’ve always witnessed in history the survivalist mentality. Working until you’re too old to enjoy the fruits of your labor. I reject that concept. I want to enjoy life NOW. I’m 27. I never know when it will all end, and until then, every day is another day that you can make a great one.

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

Londen Shannon

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