As one of the best up and coming representatives of one of the truly great genres in American Music, Blues, Miss Pam Taylor is catching fire crafting a modern take complete with roots, country, and reggae influences – a unique blues approach that showcases Taylor’s turbulent past, but maintains and presents the belief that things are gonna get better. Pam turned to the Blues as part of her own healing process – between addiction, injury, and depression, this fantastic guitarist and vocalist found her way through music, guided by Blues woman Debbie Davies, who toured with Albert Collins in the late 80’s. Pam, a South Carolina native, first hit the scene like a meteor in 2012 with her debut record, Hot Mess. She’s grown considerably since then, and today she’s released a brand new collection, this one titled Steal Your Heart.
We asked Taylor for the complete download on the new music – she told us, “Not only did I get the area’s most amazing musicians to help me bring these songs to life, I used Grammy-nominated Mark Williams to mix it…I also had the fabulous Jim Brock on drums and percussion, who’s played with a number of amazing artists. I knew this record was going to be important so I made sure to get the best. The collection of songs on this particular record were written over the past four years of my life, where there were major life experiences, like falling in love, healing from physical injuries, overcoming my own demons and learning to love myself which is the basis behind Steal Your Heart. It’s a true testament documenting this miraculous journey. If you want to know who Pam Taylor really is, you can find it in this record. I wrote and produced it myself, it’s all original and straight from my heart to yours.” Click to www.pamtaylormusic.com to get into Steal Your Heart…of course, right after a really good read of all the answers to the XXQs below.
XXQs: Pam Taylor
PensEyeView.com (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what makes you stand out from others in your genre?
Pam Taylor (PT): My sound is unique in that I am more interested in creating a musical atmosphere so the listener is taken on a journey. I write about my personal experiences navigating this sometimes baffling and confusing thing called life. I have a positive point of view that is always about overcoming, and learning life lessons. My mission is to heal myself one song at a time and tell the world all about it. I infuse all genres into my songwriting because I am inspired by it all but it’s deeply rooted in the blues because that’s where my initial healing began. I know that music is a common thread and to carry out my mission, I need to address all genres because I feel that being open to more than just one style of music will allow me to reach more people that way. Which, for me, is what it’s all about. My new record infuses roots, blues, rock, country, reggae, soul and most importantly, love. And that makes all the difference in the world.
PEV: Calling South Carolina home, what kind of music were you into growing up? Do you remember your first concert?
PT: Beach music, of course! My parents were shaggers and I definitely got my love of music from my Dad. He had me listening to a wide array of music ranging from Wilson Pickett, James Brown, Jr Walker & The Allstars to the good ol’ country music like KT Oslin, Alabama, and Vince Gill. I’ll never forget my Dad bringing home Michael Jackson’s Thriller album. That changed everything. Of course, Elvis was my first love but as a teen I had lots of angst and turned to bands like Pearl Jam, Korn, Tool, 3 Doors Down, Nirvana, STP and the likes. I was the girl in the mosh pits, letting it all out with the guys. I also loved the jam bands. I followed Phish for a while, but I think it was the good psychedelics I was more into. My first concert without my parents was in 1994 and it was the Steve Miller Band. Who knew that years later I would get to share the stage with one of their early members, organist, Jim Peterman.
PEV: What was it like trying to break into the music scene when you first started? What was your first show like?
PT: To be honest, it seemed very easy for me; almost like I was being pulled into a vortex. I was a part of several bands before my own original project and people were digging my vibe and stage presence before they even heard my songwriting. My first band, Stuck at 3’s first show was a Halloween party for a local motorcycle club, The Iron Eagles. They loved my sass, energy and of course my voice. I was on fire. The guy emceeing had done way too much cocaine and couldn’t even talk, so I took over as emcee, making announcements, doing the costume contest and just getting the crowd excited. I was hooked and I knew I was made for this; all of it…music, interacting with the audience and just being myself. It all came so easy.
PEV: What can fans expect from a live Pam Taylor show?
PT: My show is not scripted at all so I’m not even sure what to expect sometimes, but I guarantee an emotionally honest performance. I rarely do covers but you will hear a gut wrenching version of Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind”. I bring something new and exciting to the table while I take listeners on a musical journey through my life. I’ve been told that I have the energy of Janis Joplin on a case of Red Bull with the personality of Dolly Parton, and that pretty much sums it up. I want people to leave my show feeling better than they did when they came. I infuse my music with positive intentions that you can feel. It affects people. You will cry, laugh, dance and most importantly, be inspired. This is my promise, whether it’s a room of 5 people or 5,000. I don’t know any other way to do it.
PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage to perform?
PT: The first thing is gratitude for being able to do what I do. I feel like I’ve been given a gift and it’s my duty to give it all back to my audience. And then…try not to f*#k it up too bad.
PEV: What is the best part about being on stage in front of an audience?
PT: I love the energy exchange. Being able to reach people through music is a unique experience for me. It took a while for me to understand the magnitude of what my music was doing for people. But when I did, I began to make that my intention and that’s made all the difference. Moving people moves me.
PEV: What is the underlying inspiration for your music?
PT: I started writing songs so that I could heal from the tumultuous life I’ve lived. I sure earned my right to play the blues! I found that when I poured my heart onto a page, miracles started to happen in my own life and that became the inspiration for my music.
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?
PT: I’ve come a long way baby! I had no plans to make music my full time career when I started, it was just a way to channel my emotions. When I released my first record, Hot Mess in 2012, it made a huge splash in the blues world and that made me take it little more seriously. I’ve tried to just have fun with it and see where the path leads. With a positive attitude, you can do, be, or have anything in life you want. I’m proof of that.
PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about you?
PT: I’m a huge tomboy! The doctor told my parents I was going to be a boy so all my baby stuff is blue, but they got an unexpected surprise when I showed up! They still named me after my Dad. My middle name is Michael.
PEV: What happens when you hit a brick wall when writing? What are your methods to get over it?
PT: First off, I don’t approach songwriting like that. I allow creative flow on its own terms. Songs usually write me. If it’s time for a song, one will come. If it’s not, I’m busy doing something else like creating jewelry, writing blogs or nothing at all. Being in the flow is the most important thing. As long as I’m doing something creative, meditating or being out in nature, nurturing my soul, I never feel like I’ve hit a wall. It’s all mind over matter. As soon as you put pressure on yourself, it seems to pinch off the flow. Easy does it.
PEV: How do you think the industry has changed since you first started out?
PT: Honestly, I try not to concern myself with the politics of the music industry. Sure I try to stay informed about it, but one can get bogged down in all that mess and to me, none of it really matters. If you’re making great music and are bringing something new and exciting to the listeners, it’s almost like those standard formulas that major labels use to determine what’s hot and what’s not don’t apply. I see musicians breaking boundaries, reaching people without the use of label resources, and it’s so refreshing. It’s now, more than ever in the hands of the artist and listener. Anyone can make music these days and put it out there. It’s just figuring out the best way to stand out among all the other independent artists that can be challenging. There’s one thing we can guarantee in life and that’s change. In my experience, if you believe in yourself and don’t give up until the miracle happens, you can achieve some amazing things no matter what the ever changing “music industry” is up to.
PEV: What can fans expect from your brand new and third album, Steal Your Heart? What was the writing process like for this work?
PT: I was going through some major life changes when making this record so you will FEEL that when you listen to it. It’s got something for everyone; a mixture of sounds to showcase my wide array of inspirations, evolving songwriting and of course my guitar skills. It’s got hard hitting rock, gut wrenching blues, soulful ballads, honky tonk, and even a little country. I can’t wait for my frans (fan + friends= FRANS) to hear “Witch’s Ball”, which my 2-year-old nephew calls “the spooky song.” It’s my equivalent to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. It will make your hair stand on end!
Not only did I get the area’s most amazing musicians to help me bring these songs to life, I used Grammy-nominated Mark Williams to mix it. It’s the first record out of the new mixing room called The Vault at Charlotte’s premier studio, The Playroom. He’s worked with so many artists over the years, like Bob Margolin, Southern Culture on the Skids, Nappy Brown, and Hootie & The Blowfish just to name a few. I also had the fabulous Jim Brock on drums and percussion, who’s played with a number of amazing artists like Joan Baez, Joe Walsh, Kathy Matea, John Mellencamp, Joe Cocker and Jimmy Buffet. I knew this record was going to be important so I made sure to get the best.
The collection of songs on this particular record were written over the past four years of my life, where there were major life experiences, like falling in love, healing from physical injuries, overcoming my own demons and learning to love myself which is the basis behind Steal Your Heart. It’s a true testament documenting this miraculous journey. If you want to know who Pam Taylor really is, you can find it in this record. I wrote and produced it myself, it’s all original and straight from my heart to yours.
PEV: With all your traveling, is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?
PT: I really haven’t seen that much of the world yet. I’ve only toured regionally because I’ve always had a 9-5 job to get back to but that’s not the case anymore. I’ll be planning some major US tours in support of this record. I want to see it all and I know that my music will take me to all the places I’ve ever dreamed of going. In fact, this past August, it took me to Europe in part for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. Who knows where it’ll take me next!
PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career?
PT: My family and friends are so proud of me for following my dreams, never giving up and against all odds, ending up where I am now. It’s a big deal to them because they know where I came from. A small town drug addict turned inspiring musician…who doesn’t love a happy ending?
PEV: What are you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?
PT: I love being outdoors. I am an avid hiker and I love to travel but on the flip side, I’m a hardcore homebody too. I love my home so much, I call it the House of Love. I spend time here developing my spirituality through dance, meditation, yoga, and creating. When a ruptured disc in my neck was healed by acupuncture several years ago, I got into energy healing and working with crystals. I am now Reiki 1 certified and have been learning more about metaphysics. It’s so very exciting to realize one’s potential and what we’re truly capable of. In fact, last year I accidentally started a jewelry line called Stolen Hearts Creations by Pam- A Song You Can Wear, where I use polymer clay and crystals to create one of a kind healing jewelry, just so I could figure out how to keep them close. So all that keeps me pretty busy when I’m not creating music. You never know what you’re capable of unless you try. I’m looking forward to seeing what else comes.
PEV: Name one present and past artist or group that would be your dream collaboration. Why?
PT: That’s a tough one. I’ve already been blessed with getting to share the stage with some amazing artists. Most of my heroes are blues artists because it’s the most REAL music out there, to me. I’m not that good at following rules and I can’t really name just one so past artists would have to be Etta James, BB King, Koko Taylor and of course, ELVIS!! I did get to see all of them live except Elvis, but I have been to his house a couple of times. I guess a present artist would have to be Bonnie Raitt. It would be a dream come true to collaborate or jam with her. Hell, I’d be happy just to share stories with her. I think we’d have a lot in common. When I lost my full time job, I was mentored on guitar by blues woman, Debbie Davies, who toured with Albert Collins in the late 80’s and we haven’t gotten to jam since so I’d love to collaborate with her as well. I should just make a list and start marking it off.
PEV: Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?
PT: I don’t know many new artists because I rarely get to attend concerts but one singer/songwriter that has grabbed my attention is local artist, Jordan Middleton. He’s from Waxhaw, NC and is a dear friend of mine. His music moves me. He’s finishing up his first record and I plan to do what I can to help him. Besides that, if you want to hear amazing new talent you should get out and support your local music scene. National touring acts used to be local bands at one time. They need support. There’s a new generation out there writing songs that matter. Occupy a venue!
PEV: If playing music wasn’t your life (or life’s goal), what would you do for a career?
PT: Music is not my only focus in this lifetime so I’m open to whatever comes just as long as it’s creative and making the world (or me) a better place. I love to inspire people but I also love being inspired. I could see myself helping other artists with their music careers somehow. My volunteer work brings me much joy as well. I am currently working with a couple of non-profits, Girls Rock Charlotte and the National Women in Blues. It’s my way of giving back. I love helping others…I feel like everything I’ve been through, I’m supposed to use for the greater good. When I share my story with people they often say, “You should write a book.” Well…I plan on it! How I Went From a Hot Mess to Stealing My Own Heart will document my journey, being totally honest about all the nasty little things that most people use to destroy themselves with, and tell how I used it all to become the person I am today and how even after all the s*#t I’ve done and been through, that I can still love myself. When life gives you lemons…write a song (or a book)!
PEV: So, what is next for Pam Taylor?
PT: Who knows!? I’m so excited about the possibilities. Right now, I just want to spread my message with as many people as possible, making them smile, laugh, dance, and feel like they too, can do, be or have anything they want. I feel that music is the common thread, no matter where you’re from, everyone can relate to it. It’s all vibration and we are a part of it down to the quarks. My mission is to remind people of this self-healing that is possible with the letting go and allowing through the power of music. It’s healing me so it’s something I know a lot about and I can’t keep it to myself. To keep what I have, I must give it away. Stay tuned to find out where it leads me next! Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my message with your readers. I loved all these questions.
~Be the light, give the love, share the music
For more information, click to www.pamtaylormusic.com.