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Taylor Janzen    

Taylor Janzen

BY MEADOWLARK MONAGHAN

Art by Brandon Braun

HI TAYLOR! HOW ARE YOU DOING? WHERE ARE YOU QUARANTINING? 

I’m doing ok considering everything that’s going on. I’m quarantining at my house in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

 

TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR STORY. 

Well I grew up here in Winnipeg. I’ve been writing songs for as long as I can remember. To this day, songwriting is one of the only things that makes sense to me. I try to be as honest in my writing as possible. It’s probably the best representation of me that you can find.

 

SINCE YOUR MUSIC SHOWS SO MUCH VULNERABILITY AND CANDID MENTAL HEALTH EXPERIENCES, I WANT TO JUMP RIGHT INTO IT. YOU’VE MENTIONED HOW YOU WEREN’T ENCOURAGED TO SPEAK THROUGH YOUR FEELINGS GROWING UP, HENCE WHY SONGWRITING BECAME AN OUTLET. WHEN OR HOW DID YOU LEARN TO START DOING SO? HAS IT PURELY BEEN VIA MUSIC? 

I’ve always been so obsessed with music, and I can’t really remember when it started. My first songs were at around 8 or 9. They were very very bad lol. But I’ve always been a person who feels things in a very large way, so it was really important for me to have an outlet. I don’t think I knew that’s what I was doing at the time, but it has obviously stuck with me in a very real way.

 

DO YOU FIND YOURSELF SPEAKING TO THESE SUBJECTS A LOT MORE IN DAILY DIALOGUES NOW? DO YOU TALK ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH WITH YOUR FRIENDS? 

Definitely! I think that’s due to a few things. Firstly I think society has come a long way in talking about mental health, so it does feel a bit more comfortable. Secondly though, I think I’m more comfortable because my surroundings have changed so much in the last few years. I grew up in a really religious environment. And while there are parts of that I still value, I was often really uncomfortable with my mental health. I wasn’t directed to mental health professionals as much as I was directed to the bible, and that really set me back a lot in my healing process. There was a lot of guilt that I held onto that I’ve been able to really let go of now that I’ve distanced myself a bit.

YOUR SONG, I FEEL A DARKNESS, IS A BEAUTIFUL EXAMPLE OF EXPLORING YOUR MENTAL HEALTH, PARTICULARLY WHEN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW JUST WRITING IT FELT LIKE “EXHALING YOUR FEARS”. CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT WHERE YOU WERE AT WHEN YOU WROTE IT? HOW DID THAT SIMPLE ACT OF PUTTING YOUR FEELINGS ONTO PAPER HELP YOU TO EXHALE? 

At the time when I was writing “I Feel A Darkness”, it was during a really brutal Winnipeg winter. As much as I’ve been experiencing those my whole life, it somehow never gets easier. Anyways, I was feeling really trapped by my brain at the time. I didn’t want to go out; every party or event I went to felt like torture. I was driving home from some sort of gathering and I had a really hollow and sinking feeling inside my chest. I didn’t know what to do to stop it. All I could think of to describe it was “I feel a darkness”. I wrote the song on my drive home. It kinda just came out. I immediately felt better and like my chest was less tight. 

 

BEYOND SONGWRITING, WHAT ARE SOME GO-TO PRACTICES OR HABITS YOU DO TO SUPPORT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH? 

When I'm in a really bad state, I try to avoid things that will numb me/will really only make me feel worse (drinking, weed, shopping etc.) and I let myself feel it for a minute. Then, if it feels like I’m really spiraling, the main thing that actually helps me is doing something with my dog. It’s surprisingly helpful to spend time with someone you don’t have to explain anything to. You just exist together, and it’s fun to watch him run around and be a dumbass. It’s also an opportunity to let myself feel joyful.

 

HOW HAS GROWING AS AN ARTIST AFFECTED YOUR DAY TO DAY LIFE?

It’s weird because sometimes I look at my current work and I’m really grateful and proud of myself for my growth. It feels really special to be able to draw a line from where I started to where I am now and be able to see a distinct progression and yet still feel like myself. But then there are other times where I feel like the 17 year old version of myself playing The Waiting Room for the first time at an open mic. There’s endless amounts of growth to be done, and that can get really daunting and scary. So I’d say it changes every day.

 

I REALLY ENJOYED YOUR WHAT I DO MUSIC VIDEO’S EXPLORATION INTO HIGH SCHOOL CLIQUES AS A METAPHOR FOR BOXES ARTISTS CAN BE PUT INTO VIA LOOK, GENRE, ETC. DO YOU FIND YOURSELF BEING PUT INTO CERTAIN CATEGORIES OR BOXES AS YOU GROW AS AN ARTIST? HOW DO YOU THINK WE CAN BREAK FROM THE IDENTITIES PEOPLE PROJECT ONTO US? 

I think I put myself into boxes more than anybody else has. When I wrote What I Do, I was really uncomfortable because I loved the song but was scared I would be considered a pop artist. It was so different from any of my previous music, and I wanted the option to make songs that were both more pop leaning and maybe a bit more folky/alternative like my other work. Then I decided that I was going to make whatever music I want because why the fuck not. As long as it’s honest and true, it deserves to be made. 

 

HOW DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA IN A WAY THAT SUPPORTS YOUR MENTAL HEALTH INSTEAD OF HURTING IT? 

I have a really good connection with my explore page. It’s all pictures of Australian Shepherds and live videos of Taylor Swift. I also don’t follow anyone who makes my brain hurt. 

 

WHAT IS A MENTAL HEALTH LESSON YOU ARE STILL LEARNING?

I’m learning patience with myself. I think all of us deserve our own patience when healing from anything. Healing isn't linear, and it’s useless to be so hard on ourselves when we have bad days. Also I’m trying to learn yoga. It’s really hard. But at least it’s an attempt. 

 

HOW HAVE YOUR GOALS FOR THIS YEAR HAD TO PIVOT AS A RESULT OF COVID? THESE CAN EITHER BE PERSONAL OR PROFESSIONAL ! 

They have all pivoted. I guess I’m still figuring it out. We had a lot of really amazing things planned this year, so there was definitely a stage of mourning for all that. Now I’m trying to make new, COVID friendly plans. Which is easier said than done. I have a few projects in the works though!

 

AND LASTLY, WHAT ARE YOU FEELING OPTIMISTIC ABOUT?

I’m feeling optimistic about the kind of person I’ll be when this is all over. I hope I am a person who bakes for my friends more and goes to more local shows even when I’m tired and is comfortable with time alone. I hope I appreciate everything more.

SPEED ROUND

FAVORITE QUARANTINE ACTIVITY

Murder mystery books and movies

 

FAVORITE RECENT BOOK OR PODCAST

Untamed by Glennon Doyle. Made me cry approx. 8 times.

 

LAST MEAL YOU COOKED AT HOME

It was a garlic pasta dish and it was so inedible that we just gave up and ordered pizza. I don’t really cook. I do bake a lot!

 

ADMIT A GUILTY PLEASURE

The entire Bachelor franchise.

 

LAST THING YOU SAID YES TO

A live stream with Liza Anne where we talked about our emotions.

 

LAST THING YOU SAID NO TO 

Watching star wars with my boyfriend. There’s no need to make quarantine worse.