Whitney Tai Will Be Speaking Truth To Power With New Music
LOS ANGELES, CA- Whitney Tai is a woman whose creativity overflows. Originally from New York City, she’s currently based in the City of Angels, exploring the many facets of her musicality, and Blurred Culture was fortunate to have her take our stage at Madame Siam.
We were able to catch up with Whitney and we talked about her creative process and the various projects that she’s been working on and what’s on the horizon.
Hey Whitney. Thanks so much for spending time with us at Madame Siam! I loved the energy that you and your bandmates brought to the room. It was electric!
Thank you so much for having us! Madame Siam is a special venue that I was looking forward to playing! I immediately felt the magic of that unique space when I moved out to the west coast. It was actually one of the first venues I went out to one night for a friend’s birthday party and was very inspired by a 2 piece indie act that performed there one night.
I’ve noticed that you’ve been out and about performing a ton since your time with us, both as Whitney Tai, The 1905 and various other collaborations. Can you guide us through the various musical facets of your life?
This year has kept me busy with the sheer amount of creation and planning I’ve been wrapped up in. I’m currently prepping for my 2nd solo album only weeks away from being by mastered which features 10 new eclectic songs that are really retro with a new and fresh spin. These songs have evolved with me this year on stage and off and I’ve had time to know them and dress myself in their cloak as I grow into my new artist persona. We’ve been working hard with our sponsor Warm Audio who has literally been angels in seeing our vision as their own which has humbled me beyond words. We will have some more cool content coming out with them soon. Concurrently, my guitarist and I formed a new band (The 1905) this year that is very dark, moody and separate from my solo work which we will be debuting some singles soon and a full album slated for summer 2020. I love to express myself through the various art mediums whether it be songwriting, poetry and visual content… my brain hungers to make and give hope through honest expression. I’m just living that out as best as my heart knows how.
You mention that you’re growing into your “artist persona”. How does Whitney “the artist” differ from Whitney “the person”? Or are they one and the same?
I think growth is something internal that is happening constantly whether people can see it or whether you can express it in the right words. I just know that as an artist, I can feel that every day I am working my hardest to be a better person, a better friend, a more patient creator, a better listener and just a servant to the universe. The Whitney you met is the same Whitney, but the Whitney who you met is trying to remain very present… present enough to check in and see that everything is about flux because the second you remain static, you die.
Those are pretty deep sentiments. Are those themes present in the songs you wrote for the new album?
Speaking truth to power is a big theme of the album. Saying what is on your mind and not beating around the bush. I feel on my first album, I was in a strange state of comatose and pain where the emotions and sentiments I had were gobbled down by abuse, depression and proverbial quicksand.
That sounds pretty heavy.
What people will find on this new album is a person who has somehow climbed out of the quicksand on some steps she imagined there to get out of them with. Sometimes our willpower to change our situations are enough to manifest a new outcome. It’s an album of themes: about surrender, standing up for yourself and doing everything in the name of love and virtue. I guess I am just an artist responding to her inner longing to grow in wisdom and being aware of the pain of the world. Many will never have a platform to say these sentiments, so I hope my ideas and deep-seated beliefs can reach across many oceans to soften the deafened ears of a crooked system that continues to “think” they can keep us down. Music and poetry are powerful tools for change. It can move us from the dark cavern of bondage to bathing in brilliant prisms of healthy defiance.
Was it a creative block, or were battling your own demons?
Definitely not a creative block as I was still creating profusely, it was more battling personal demons of what was going on in my life at the time. Being a victim of abuse, losing loved ones and friends to disease or tragedy, battling depression and anxiety, escaping the negative people around me, trying to break free of the chains that were keeping me from being my truest self.
Which song do you think speaks directly on this theme of “being stuck”?
I wrote a song on my first album called “Fool For You” and to this day it’s still a fan favorite at most shows we play. Two particular lyrical lines in the song that have always resonated for me were “caged within, cold and rusted, chains, shackles knuckles busted and I, oh I‘m a fool for you,” “they say time heals, but all I feel is disaster, should have known I’d succumb to you, my master.” At the time these lyrics totally meant something different to me… that I was a slave to the conditions and hardships, I wasn’t able to surpass or overcome the pain being broken in spirit and in health. But now that lyric revitalizes me… whereas the master I have succumbed to isn’t my physical body which we so often are confined to or our self-sabotaging ego, but the master that is the great universe, all-encompassing and begging for our surrendering trust. As you grow, you realize gripping too tightly tires your spirit and wears at your gears. But leaning into the good and bad as they come, provides patience, wisdom and tough skin you’ll need for larger obstacles.
You talked earlier about other artistic mediums that you work with. Have any of those other mediums found their way into your music or the performance of your music?
I am an incredibly visual person. From my earliest years, I have drawn concepts of fashion, objects, stories, and written word. It has become part of my identity and sometimes I don’t even realize I am doing it. I went on to study design and architecture in college and branded many companies, intricate architectural detailing, and design for building interiors and exteriors with in-depth spacial planning.
Have you … or are you actively using those skills?
After college, I worked for many years designing spaces all over the world and was really able to use a multitude of creative skills for different applications. When I realized that I liked the work that I was doing but wasn’t happy personally, I needed to reassess my life and how to use my creativity and skills doing something that fuels me with true joy. Music has always been my number 1 and I wanted to be able to not only write music, tour and make records but be able to illustrate that experience and concept. I knew at this moment that I had found my true path. I use my art background for EVERYTHING. I use it to describe and tell experiences in my music, I use it to create my visuals and content with my team, I use it to communicate my ideas and help bring others closer to my vision. I have branded spaces and people’s dreams for so long and now it feels a bit surreal that I can take a closer look at my own and use those skills to bring others into this experience.
What can we look forward to in 2020 besides the new album? Are you planning on touring with the new album? releasing more music through your other projects? do tell.
In 2020, my band and I have a lot of exciting things coming up. We are definitely planning to tour with my second studio album and unveil the new sound we’ve been carefully crafting to reflect what I stand for musically and personally this past year. I’ve had much to say since my first record and I think it will resonate on a deeper echelon with those who need healing or need to hear it. We are headlining a show at NAMM in 2020, January 18th, in Anaheim, CA, the largest music trade show in the world. We hope to see you there to share in this amazing experience together. I am also working on some really cool collaborations with different producers.
Oh yeah? Like who?
Immediate Music/BMG, blockbuster trailer music production company, will be releasing a cover I did of In This Moment’s “The Fighter” which is such an incredible song that I feel fortunate to have performed for their CD. Something super cool that I am both excitingly nervous and anticipating is that my guitarist and I have founded a new project called “The 1905” which is a dark melodic rock band and completely different than my solo work. I feel people will be able to experience me in a new way, balancing on the edge of being Whitney Tai versus this newborn creature that has a lyrically haunting and melodically dark alter ego. A lot of the trauma and pain I have endured has surfaced in this new work and Andrew Kingsley, my co-writer / lead guitarist, has founded a sound with me that we are beyond thrilled to debut. Our first show as “The 1905” will be at the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood on January 5th. We will definitely be making this a pre-NAMM celebration night! Other things are in the works with our Sponsor, Warm Audio that I cannot detail at this moment in time but I can definitely say I’m humbled for 2020 and all that’s in the fire!