Whitney Tai and Michael Trainor answer listener questions inpired by Flowers By The Roadside

It’s been about a month now since Whitney Tai and Michael Trainor unveiled their stunning new mini-EP Flowers By The Roadside, and for that entire time, we haven’t stopped listening. A couple of weeks ago, we asked our own set of questions to the duo, but it seems there are plenty more people with questions of their own.

So, Tai and Trainor have answered a series of listener questions inspired by their new single.

A month removed from the release of their new mini-EP, Whitney Tai and Michael Trainor answer a series of listener questions inspired by Flowers By The Roadside.

Can you be specific about the collaborative birth of Flowers? Did you all jam with melody and composition, or was there a specific song idea in mind first? —Tim Nelson, Writer (Baltimore, MD)

MICHAEL: Hi, Tim. One night I stopped over to see Whitney and Tim (our Producer), actually, I honestly only went to see Queen Zena, their dog. Anyway, I picked up Whitney’s guitar and started playing a chord progression I was working on. Whitney was working on a design project with a deadline, but like all artists, she found a way to procrastinate by focusing on what I was playing. She had me repeat the first four chords and immediately came up with lyrics and melody. She’s quite brilliant that way. That’s how Flowers was born.

What inspires you to write music in this overwhelming time we live? Specific artists, songs, albums, books, art? —Tim Nelson, Writer (Baltimore, MD)

MICHAEL: I believe it should all start with a reflection of our individual and collective lives, all the pain and pleasure we experience daily. Keeping in mind, that it’s challenging to process pain without perpetuating it. That’s where creativity comes in. Ideally, it’s someplace constructive to put that energy. Obviously, sometimes pain is too much and we behave destructively. Some people fight, some fuck. Not necessarily in that order. Working out and gardening helps me. Petting cats and dogs helps. But music is where I mainly focus this energy. And guitar is my tool. On occasion, when writing if I feel unfocused or distracted I’ll put on a speech in the background, it could be Noam Chomsky, or Harold Pinter’s Nobel Prize, or Martin Luther King Jr.’s Beyond Vietnam, these speeches always help refocus. Other things that inspire me; intelligent women, beautiful wine, and chaotic cities.

What was it like writing together for the first time? —Genevieve La Court, Mystic, Singer-Songwriter (Phoenix, AZ)

MICHAEL: Writing with someone is intimate, there is vulnerability involved. But with this relationship, there is trust, comfort, and security. It’s safe, organic, and emotionally rewarding. And yet we yell at each other, a lot. I’m from Baltimore, she’s from Yonkers, it’s a recipe for a fight.

The lyrics in FBTR are beautiful and create a lot of imagery. They don’t seem to refer to a particular person until perhaps the end, yet from the gate, I get this feeling that they’re being sung to someone specific. Did you write FBTR for a specific person? If so, how did they inspire the song? —Diana Studenberg, singer-songwriter at TROPE (Los Angeles, CA)

WHITNEY: Hey Diana, I guess you could say the lyrics are written for someone. A collective someone. They are for you, your neighbour, a stranger. They’re a message I needed to etch in time for a nation of hurting hearts to let them know, “you aren’t alone, I am listening.” I’ve always been an empath… someone who feels, absorbs and wants to mend the heaviness around me. As you may know, being an artist yourself, our response to the world around us often bleeds very deeply into our lyrics. People, places, the volcano of their emotions and unique stories attached inspire me to paint wildly too often to hush.

When I first heard the song name, I thought it referred to roadside memorials that commemorate someone who passed away. Is there a reference to that concept in this song, and if not, what does FBTR mean to you in this context? —Diana Studenberg, Singer-Songwriter at TROPE (Los Angeles, CA)

WHITNEY: It’s interesting you ask this because it was only recently when I realized my subconscious had gone and did it again without my conscious brain being aware. When I was 8 or 9 years old, shortly before my mother had died, we were driving in her car to the store when a song by Dan Fogelberg called Same Old Lang Syne came on the radio and she absolutely adored it. It took me 20 years to find this song again and I found it ironically after I began writing Flowers. I felt it was a sign. What I loved about this song was that Dan told a visual tale about finding strength through acceptance and healing. When I had put my pen to the paper, I remembered the news flowing in on my TV and my radio, seeing the terrible images of pain and suffering across the globe. I began to tell a story of flowers at the roadside (us) who may have lost their roots or strength to get up and replant their feet. Flowers that deserve a second chance at growing. People that deserve a brighter chance at living.

Flowers By The Roadside is available now. Listen here. Whitney Tai has also released a new playlist titled La Vie En Rose.

(Folk Lullabies For Your Gypsy Soul) Curated by Whitney Tai – This playlist is updated weekly and features new dreamy folk/singer-songwriter music as well as classics and undiscovered artists who are exemplifying exciting talent, breaking rules and pioneering creativity. This playlist was inspired by when I was an 8-year-old kid who used to search for music internationally for hours while I would study and write creative HTML codes. I would curate long lists of new music and share these lists with my friends to expose them to new music they may have never heard as a means to spread inspiring art.