If I had to name one artist that has instilled a love for music in me, that inspired me to craft my own music, that has gotten me through my hardest moments, it would be Taylor Swift. At the risk of sounding like a copycat of Olivia Rodrigo or Conan Gray (whom I both look up to very much and I’ll touch on later), who are both massive Swifties, I think it’s safe to say that she has played and continues to play an integral part of my life. The way she can weave words that hold and support you no matter what you’re feeling is something that a small number of other artists have been able to achieve— for me, personally, at least. Without Taylor Swift, I certainly wouldn’t have begun to write my own songs. I wanted to be the next her. Luckily, I have a stronger sense of identity now, but her role in my development as an artist is so important. It took me a while to find other artists who touched me the way she did; I lived off of her and The Beatles for most of my life. (At this point it’s trite to say The Beatles are your musical inspiration— it’s essentially a given.)
When I first listened to Phoebe Bridgers I felt like I had found a piece of me that was missing. Her way of writing about hyper specific situations that somehow apply to every emotion I’ve ever had boggles my mind. I do not always manage to move in right next to cemeteries. But when I listen to her (and boygenius’s and Better Oblivion Community Center’s) music, yes I do! I think the more recent songs I’ve written are definitely reflective of her influence; I’ve been trying to use more evocative imagery. I never am not thinking about “but you’re holding me like water in your hands.” It’s so beautiful and it’s so concise and I will forever wish that I wrote it. When I got into Phoebe, I was able to branch off into new music even more, discovering Mitski and Samia, two other songwriters that seem like they’ve been inside of me. Mitski says so much with so little. Her discography may be less than three hours, but I will loop that three hours for days; when I first heard Samia’s The Baby I listened to nothing else for a month. I think that as I become more adventurous in listening to new artists, my musical ability only expands; I’m able to see things from new perspectives, to apply things that I had never heard applied before.
Old habits do die hard, though. I first discovered Jack Antonoff through his work with Taylor Swift on 1989, and now I’m an avid Bleachers fan and keep up with all of his projects. Everything he touches seems to turn to gold; his ability as a producer amazes me and his credit always appears on some of my favorite pieces— Melodrama, Daddy’s Home, Gaslighter, etc. Which brings me to my love of some of the current pop acts. As I’ve said before, I love Olivia Rodrigo and her blatant honesty in all of her songwriting. Her vocal talent is incredible and brings to life every lyric that she’s written. The same goes for Conan Gray— Sunset Season was a project I listened to in my formative years. I haven’t been as excited in a while as I was when Lorde announced “Solar Power.” I’ve been listening to her discography in preparation for the big day. Rina Sawayama’s SAWAYAMA is genuinely one of the best collections of music that I’ve ever heard.
I could go on and on about all of the artists I love, all of whom I could write endlessly about. Maggie Rogers, Radiohead, Clairo, Bowie, Hozier, Greer, WILLOW, Briston Maroney, The Cranberries, Lucy Dacus, Julien Baker, Japanese Breakfast, St. Vincent, FKA twigs, ABBA; they all play such an important role in my musical development and I would be so lost without them. I doubt I would even be pursuing this at all without the comforting effect their music has on me. I’m so thankful that I get to exist in the same timeline as all of these people— without them I would not be me.
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