If you want to be a part of something meaningful, most often times, it requires a degree of hard work that leads to acceptance – otherwise known as, paying your dues. And if there was ever an artist who has paid their dues and then some; an artist who truly deserves every once of their current success, it would be our latest feature, Ms. Tara Williamson. Taking her songs from her home in California to Portland, Oregon, and finally resting in her current setting of music capital, Austin, Texas, Williamson has jumped and shaped genres, shared the stage with numerous bands, and even played a key role with nationally recognized Austin outfit, The Nightowls. But finally, Tara is ready to drop the opening volley of her first major full-length effort, an EP titled Evolution One.
The EP, which blends together elements of country, rock, Americana, jazz, and pop is just the first of three EPs that will eventually make up William’s first record, an ambitious project titled Evolutions. We asked specifically about One however – Tara had this to say: “I think fans can expect to see a side of time they haven’t seen, especially if they have come from watching The Nightowls. It’s a totally different thing! The writing process was less perfection oriented than I anticipated. I let everything just be what it was, let the musicians do what they do best, let the songs come to life in the studio. It was really an enjoyable process.” Click to https://www.tarawilliamson.
XXQs: Tara Williamson
PensEyeView.com (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what makes you stand out from others in your genre?
Tara Williamson (TW): There are varying influences on my singing and songwriting style that cross many genres, and I would say that my vocal stylings are surprising and unpredictable given the instrumentation and depending on the song. There are different sounds and techniques per every song.
PEV: What kind of music were you into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?
TW: I’m pretty sure my first concert was the Christian rock band The Newsboys in Chico, CA. Wow. Hadn’t thought about that in a while. I grew up in church and listened to a lot of Christian pop, but I really loved jazz and gospel vocals. I remember the soundtracks to Sister Act 2 (You know, Back in the Habit) and Leo’s Romeo & Juliet were life changing for me. There was a lot of ‘90s country in there…Martina McBride, Dwight Yoakam, Faith Hill. N’Sync’s Christmas Album, of course. My dad always had The Eagles and Dan Fogelberg playing and I’m heavily influenced by their writing.
PEV: What was it like trying to break into the music scene when you first started? What was your first show like?
TW: I have been singing in front of audiences since I was five, so it’s hard to really remember what it was like starting out. There was a notable difference, though, when I moved away from home and no longer had the built-in audience of a church as a weekly outlet. I chose jazz as a point of re-entry while living in Portland, OR, and that was a tough thing, not having studied formally nor having connections. I remember the variety show I would put together at Tony Starlight’s in Portland being my first “show” and that was a blast – it really reignited my passion for different styles of music and gave me a venue for originals as well. It’s been a lot of hard work, but good work, since then.
PEV: What can fans expect from a live Tara Williamson show?
TW: I would say to expect to be surprised by the variety. Right now we’re really focusing on performing all originals from the new album which ranges from country rock and Americana to pop to jazz and gospel inspired vocals to moving ballads…there’s a lot in there. The musicians move with me through feels and styles with every song. It’s a vibrant and varied sound.
PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage to perform?
TW: I’m usually thinking, “Did I forget anything? Did I pay everyone?” (laughing)! It’s really a mind game under the bandleader hat, but once I start singing it’s generally all about connecting with the audience and communicating musically.
PEV: What is the best part about being on stage in front of an audience?
TW: Seeing the reaction when you hit something real within myself and them.
PEV: What is the underlying inspiration for your music?
TW: Really, I had been in a dry spell with writing for years. A lot of self-doubt and fear about the industry and rejection and what not…plus a lot of consistent transition and just life stuff…and when I moved to Austin it just started coming out through a songwriting group I joined. I guess being around great songwriters and people who were consistently making their art inspired me to get back to making my own. I had a lot to process.
PEV: Thinking back to when you first started out, do you ever look back on your career and think about your earlier days and how you’ve arrived where you are today?
TW: Oh, sure. This album is definitely a milestone. I’ve learned a lot since my first musical experiences, recordings, and performances as a kid and I hope to say the same thing years from now: that I’ve learned a lot more. This is just another step, albeit important, in the journey.
PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about you?
TW: I was the 1999 California High School Rodeo champion pole bender! Top 5 in the state in barrel racing, too!
TW: I recently attended a workshop out at Blue Rock with Eliza Gilkyson, Mary Gauthier, and Gretchen Peters; monsters in the songwriting game. They shared with me the idea of something called “The Pile”. It’s the practice of writing every little thing down that could be something, even if that’s years from now, and putting it in “The Pile”. You add to it and go through it and keep moving on multiple songs you have in the works and if you get stuck on one, move on to another, until you’re unstuck. The key is working the pile.
PEV: How do you think the industry has changed since you first started out?
TW: I’ve always been DIY, and there’s more of that out there now, but what I really think has changed is my attitude about the industry. I’ll do what I do, regardless of what it’s doing.
PEV: What can fans expect from your debut EP, Evolution One, featuring the single, “Messenger”? It’s the first of three separate EPs, all building up to your full-length album, Evolutions. What was the writing process like for this work?
TW: I think fans can expect to see a side of time they haven’t seen, especially if they have come from watching The Nightowls. It’s a totally different thing! The writing process was less perfection oriented than I anticipated. I let everything just be what it was, let the musicians do what they do best, let the songs come to life in the studio. It was really an enjoyable process.
PEV: With all your traveling, is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?
TW: I’m excited to go back to the West coast via New Mexico with the new music this summer, but I would really love to take this original stuff to Europe!
PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career?
TW: Everyone is really excited to see me coming into my own more with this album. I’ve always had great support from friends and family, and I think they’re ready to see me do something bigger.
PEV: What would we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?
TW: I spend a lot of time with my little dog, Doobin. She’s my muse, really. I’ve even created Doobin Dog records with her image. Most days you can see me and Ben Petree walking to Summermoon Coffee. Can’t wait for GOT7!
PEV: Name one present and past artist or group that would be your dream collaboration. Why?
TW: Locally, it would be Walker Lukens because I love “Thunder Road” and feel like our styles would complement each other. On the way famous level? Bonnie Raitt, Willie, Susan Tedeschi, Ed Sheeran, Foy Vance…there’s no way I could pick one…If you’re talking about people who’ve passed, and we’ve had quite a list in the last year, I would have loved to have collaborated with Glen Frey because I grew up on The Eagles Hell Freezes Over album. Naturally, Don Henley would be a top choice for me today. He tells the truth and doesn’t apologize for letting the song be what it is. To me he puts city and country styles together in a way that I love.
PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?
TW: Beth//James Band is really putting out some amazing stuff. Jordan Burchill and Kaela Khan are incredibly talented writers and musicians. Their harmonies are heaven. Their EP All in Life just came out – look them up!
PEV: If playing music wasn’t your life (or life’s goal), what would you do for a career?
TW: Music is a must, but if I didn’t have that, I would love to be involved with horses again. Could have been a rodeo girl, I suppose, so I would go back to that.
PEV: So, what is next for Tara Williamson?
TW: Looking forward to a house concert tour this summer!
For more information, click to https://www.tarawilliamson.com/.