Whitney Tai is one of those rare artists with the ability of leaving you transfixed. Her music is stunning and unnerving all at once – it seeps into your body and stays there for weeks.
Late last year, Tai released her latest mini-EP Flowers By The Roadside/Silent Night, and with its release we were immediately immersed in her sounds. So we decided to catch up with Tai to chat about the new release, music’s emotional power, and what the future holds.
Fresh off the release of her new mini-EP Flowers By The Roadside/Silent Night, we caught up with California-based Whitney Tai for a chat.
HAPPY: Hey Whitney, how’s it going? What are you up to at the moment?
WHITNEY: Hey Happy, we’re also happy! I feel like so many things are going on at the moment, which is exciting and nerve-wracking all at once. I’ve been performing a lot, immersing myself in the vibrant music scene of the west coast while working on my 2nd album with my bandmates.
HAPPY: We’re really loving Flowers By The Roadside… could you tell us a bit about this track?
WHITNEY: Flowers literally grew into life out of the sheer need to express some intense emotions Michael and myself were having about the current global political and social climate. Our response struck one night in my rehearsal room where Michael dropped this intense 13-chord sequence progression in my lap that sent my songwriting receptors for a whirl. We felt an intense amount of pain manifest as we drew the blood and broke down this complex animal. But in the end, the result was exactly what we needed to make peace with those emotions.
HAPPY: You released the song alongside a cover of Silent Night. What was it about Silent Night that made you want to cover that track?
WHITNEY: We decided that there are many holiday songs that only wear the armour of one season, become heavily attached in feeling or style to a specific cultural reference that could be stripped down again to take on a new perspective. We feel that holiday songs are used to sell consumerism. On a personal level, we look around and see a lot of loneliness and sadness during the holiday which prompted us to put the focus back on the musics meaning, divorcing it from its commercial intent.
HAPPY: How are you feeling about the new Mini-EP now that it’s been out for a little while?
WHITNEY: We’re getting an amazing international response and quickly running out of downloads! We’re overwhelmed that the message of our work is resonating with so many people who share the same sentiment. Our December release was a significant way to begin a productive new year.
HAPPY: For the new single, you teamed with Michael Trainor… how did you two come to be involved with one another?
WHITNEY: We met on the good ole Twitter a few years ago. Michael saw one of my tweets promoting a new album. After an exchange of messages, we naturally fostered a friendship across coasts with common interests of alternative music, wine and relationship woes. We didn’t actually meet in person until early 2018 when I moved out to Los Angeles. The collaborative effort of our friendship happened by what seemed a cosmic alignment.
HAPPY: Your music always seems to hold true emotional weight. How has music helped you navigate emotionally tumultuous times in the past?
WHITNEY: I’ve come to the realisation as an artist that we don’t just create art, art constructs us. It is within us to make, to reproduce, to expand and be a chain reactor. In this process, we learn to listen to the earnest inner voice and see the link that connects us in this chain. As songwriters, we learn that in order to grow stronger, we must listen and understand with non-judgment to the lessons life can teach us.
HAPPY: We’re picking up a lot of different sounds in your music. Are there any particular artists that have influenced your music?
WHITNEY: For this particular release, it crosses somewhere between the darkness of Alice in Chains and the structure of classical composer Leo Brouwer. Certainly, some of what comes though maybe coincidental, Flowers comparisons to Simon & Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence for instance. This creation is the cleansing of emotional wounds. And so it goes, with each creation, comes a death, then rebirth and the continual evolution of self.
HAPPY: What’s next for Whitney Tai? Any other exciting plans in the works?
WHITNEY: To continue writing empowering music and tour internationally to share emotional connection with the hearts and minds of every city.
HAPPY: Cheers for the chat!
WHITNEY: Thanks for listening, cheers!
Flowers By The Roadside/Silent Night is available now. Listen here.