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Aphra Taylor

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Describe your music in 3 words

Lyrical, Lofi, Introspective.

What or who inspires your music?

As cliche as it is, I think my relationships with others are the primary inspiration behind my music. A lot of my songs are about hurt or distrust and the negative aspects of relationships, as those are the feelings that I want to rid myself of through catharsis. If something is going well and allowing me to feel a lot of joy, then I want to revel in that and really feel it rather than detract from it by trying to capture it in a song. I think that’s why my music is inspired by a lot of sad things, it’s not wallowing per se, it’s healing from things that have hurt me.

Other people’s art and music inspire me too. I have this feeling when I see a really good movie or listen to a song or go to see an art exhibition, that I want to get better at making things, improve my craft and connect to other people through things like art and music. I guess that I want to impact other people, which could sound a bit big headed but I think that anyone really can make something impactful and stir emotions in others by documenting their own individual
experiences. I feel like a lot of creativity is being very introspective and in a way, self absorbed, but in turn it can help other people in some way.

Things like my own art and writing also inspire my music as my art often explores similar themes, and it is helpful to explore things visually before going on to develop them musically. Writing and music obviously also go hand in hand because of lyrics.

Tell us about your trio of new releases!

I released ‘The Way You Live Your Life’ on the 10th of June which is a song that I recorded over lockdown in 2020. I had started collecting some recording equipment, so when covid hit, (aswell as trying out some gardening) I started learning how to produce music. It was such an amazing thing to have at that time, if anyone reading this is a musician then they will understand the total absorption of self recording and producing music. Time flies! And that is exactly what I

I really hated the idea of songs being released about covid and the lockdowns and I despised the thought of writing one myself. I wanted more than anything to escape the situation through art and music. I still think that despite this, I subconsciously captured the feelings of isolation and entrapment associated with the lockdowns in both ‘The Way You Live Your Life’ and ‘Insomnia’ so there are tiny parts of this period of time woven within them.

‘The Way You Live Your Life’ is about one sided relationships and the suffocating impact of someone being dependent on you. It’s about having to deal with another persons manipulative tendencies and quite literally the self pitying ‘way they live their life’.

‘Insomnia’ explores themes of sleeplessness, guilt, and forgiveness. Lyrics such as ‘the space is bigger than the picture’ reflect the feeling of getting rid of photographs of someone you loved and being struck by how their absence is a more bitter reminder of the person than the presence of the photos.

Lastly, ‘Unwritten Rules’ is about unhealthy coping mechanisms and the impact that they can have on loved ones.The lyrics depict the negative reactions that people can have to mental illness and how our gut reactions towards a loved one who is struggling can be upsetting to the individual going through it. It’s also however, about the healthier coping mechanisms of art and music and how they can heal.

BBC Introducing has selected you to play at Truck Festival next month, a festival you have attended each year since you were born! How are you feeling about that?!

It obviously felt incredible, I was just so excited and had to tell everyone straight away! It’s probably the biggest gig opportunity I have been given, like ever. On the other hand, it is also quite nerve wracking as festivals are very hit or miss and I have played to a few drunken festival audiences who have talked over my entire set which can be very disheartening (the audiences are also more varied though, so I it’s good experience for any musician to play festivals).
I’m just so proud that I get to be on stage at a festival that is like home to me (and quite literally in my home county). I remember I would always look up to the people on stage at gigs and festivals when I was younger and it just shows how far I have come in terms of confidence. I get to be one of the people on stage instead of just the audience! I would never have thought that was possible as a kid as I was just so shy and scared of being the centre of attention (which I
still am in some ways).

I know you write poetry, are your song lyrics written as poetry and then set to music? What is your songwriting process?

I think over the years I have learnt what it feels like to be in the right headspace to write music. A lot of my music is quite sad but I can tell when I am in an unproductive emotional state. Like I know when I am too emotionally drained by an experience to write about it. The songs usually come to me when I am healing from something and wallowing in that negative energy is a useful step towards healing and creative output. I mostly just sit with my guitar, think about a certain topic that I want to write about, and then mumble/sing along to random chords. Other times, I’ll just mess around with my guitar while watching a film or something and then write the lyrics after I have come up with a tune. I don’t think I ever set my poems to music completely but I will sometimes steal a line or two that I like.

Your last single explores a full band sound, whilst new single Insomnia is more intimate and stripped back. Was this a conscious decision to show both sides of your music and are you planning to expand the live show into a full band?

I think it just happened naturally, I had loads of free time to explore different sounds so I wrote different types of songs. My voice and lyrics give me a certain sound that is always going to be present on my songs though, they always sound like me.

In ‘The Way You Live Your Life’ I wrote the grungy chugging guitar part quite early on so that was what made me decide that I wanted Gaz (Gareth Farmer) to drum on that particular track. After that I just kept layering and layering. I played everything other than the drums and there are quite a lot of different synth and vocal tracks on that particular single. In terms of ‘Insomnia’, from the get go it was a very fragile and vulnerable song so I knew I wanted it to be stripped back.
I think that the heavier parts of TWYLYL reflect the anger in the lyrics better, especially the really loud parts near the end. On the other hand, Insomnia is more sad and less bitter and angry so that style fits that song better.

I would absolutely love to have a band behind me one day! I just think it’s difficult for solo artists, as a lot of musicians want to be paid or have some part in the writing process or don’t have enough free time to play lots of gigs, so it’s always going to be tricky to find people interested in being a part of my music. One day though!

Music is clearly a huge passion in your life. What has been your most memorable musical moment?

This is a really hard question to answer. I think just any time someone comes up to me afterwards and says they enjoyed my set is amazing. I love it when people connect to my lyrics or when I can make eye contact with people in the audience and see that they get it, that they are connecting to my words or they are genuinely enjoying my music. I can’t pinpoint a moment in particular, but those little moments where I feel a connection to other people through creativity
are my favourites.

To be more specific, a gig that was really fun this year was at the Avalon Cafe in Bermondsey which was my first gig in London (which is also close to where I am currently living). It wasn’t a particularly amazing performance on my part but all of my uni mates turned up and I think it was probably the most support I have had at a show. Lots of them knew the words to my songs and actively listen to my music, so the atmosphere was so supportive and I didn’t feel as nervous as I usually do. It was also a Divine Schism gig (big up Aiden Cannaday!) so it was always going to be such a lovely atmosphere.

Being a pessimist, I think I also hold on to the bad or embarrassing moments quite a lot. Like when I completely forgot a song because I was so frozen with fear and went and cried in the toilet afterwards (which is funny in hindsight because nowadays I would've probably laughed and just started a new song).

Who would you love to collaborate with?
I feel like lots of the people I most want to collaborate with are out of my reach because they are too famous. If I had my way I’d collab with Phoebe Bridgers and Courtney Barnett as I reckon we could write some really good sad girl music together haha.
Realistically, I don’t know. Now that I am at art school I just would really love to start a band with some of the music students or people in the various music scenes that I am a part of (so hit me up if you wanna collab!).
I did have someone that I played a gig with once recently pop up to me on social media saying that they wanted to collaborate on a project, but I am not allowed to say who just in case we do record some top secret tunes. I was very flattered though and I think it would be super cool if it ended up happening.

Apart from Truck Fest where else can we catch you live?

I am playing the annual Divine Schism all dayer ‘Oh Community’ on the 10th of July at The Tap Social in Oxford. It’s in aid of Oxford Young Women's Music Project which has been a massive support to me over the years and I have been with them since I was 13, so the money paid for tickets is going to a great cause! I have played slots with a lot of the other musicians playing (Charmpit, Athabaska, Spank Hair, Pet Sematary etc.) who are all great!
That’s about it other than Truck Festival which is sad as I would love to be playing more shows now that I am able to. Both of these gigs are massive opportunities though so it is a very very exciting time.

I would love to play some more London gigs soon now that I live there for University so hopefully I get some more opportunities there next academic year!

New singles 'The Way You Live Your Life' & 'Insomnia' are out now and 'Unwritten Rules' is out 8.7.22 

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