Tayler Buono Is No Longer Stuck [Q&A]

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Tayler Buono is an incredibly talented artist whose breakthrough single "Technically Single" landed her a deal with RCA Records. Her single shot up to Spotify's U.S. Viral 50 chart and continues to grow with nearly 27 million streams to date. Yet, not long after, Buono's record deal with RCA fell through; she was left with an unclear direction and multiple unreleased projects up in the air. 

Now, she is back and stronger than ever. Her latest single "Screen" is a perfect introduction to her newfound freedom as an artist.

If I had to pick one way to describe Buono's "Screen," it would be unapologetically honest. The track begins with the opening line, "Should probably delete my fake account and stop stalking my ex / but I just can't put it down." I cannot speak for everyone, but from personal experience, it is a wholly universal sentiment. Scrolling for hours without putting my phone down, without giving myself time to heal. 

Buono excels at putting these difficult to capture feelings into stirring song. With its emphasis healing, self-love and growth, it was my unique pleasure to speak with Buono about "Screen" and her journey thus far,  

Ones to Watch: Who is Tayler Buono?

Tayler Buono: I'm an artist/singer/songwriter from Orlando, FL. Currently based in LA.

Tell us about your journey so far in the music industry and how it led you to where you are now.

I started writing songs when I was 14 after I learned my first four chords on guitar and I became obsessed and determined to find a way to pursue music. When I was 18, I won the Florida Grammy Showcase and moved to Nashville shortly after to pursue my dreams in music. I took college classes online, drove for uber, and invested all my energy into writing with anybody and everybody I could. Eventually I wrote a song that changed my life. I released "Technically Single" independently in July of 2016. That song was real and raw for me to write as I was low key in a gray relationship with someone for two years who was very noncommittal with me while I was very committed to him. I was "technically single but emotionally unavailable." The relationship was so bad for me at the time but the song… went viral on Spotify and suddenly all the major labels were hitting me up. I had never gone through anything like that before so it was a complete whirlwind taking meetings and felt surreal.

In January of 2017, I signed with RCA and I moved from Nashville to LA. "Technically Single" boy stepped up and made me his girlfriend (technically). I had a lot of buzz in the industry and everything looked promising. It felt like all my dreams were really gonna come true… But after the radio push with "Technically Single" didn't work because the timing wasn't right, everything slowly started to stall. I didn't really have a champion at the label fighting for me. I started to doubt myself and overthink everything. Then my bf, the one I had been with for four years, dumped me a couple days before Christmas over a text message. (Ya let that sink in, took me awhile). Then, a few weeks later, top of 2018, my manager leaves me. Happy new year? I was having a HARD time… The enthusiasm in the label had died and after going back and forth for a long time we decided it was time to split. The process itself of legally getting out of the deal took about a year.. sooo much waiting. I was stuck.

But for as long as I can remember, anytime I didn't know what else to do in life I'd just put my head down and write another song. That experience pushed me a lot and caused me to grow the most I ever have in my life and I think it'll make me a stronger artist because of it. All the growth, pain, heartbreak ended up inspiring my upcoming project and I'm finally independent again and am excited to start fresh and put out all my music!

What has quarantine life looked like for you?

Quarantine life has been an interesting mix of emotions. I flew home to Florida to quarantine with my parents. I definitely struggled to get out of bed for a bit as my head was in a funk, as I've been struggling with the state of the world. I wasn't really motivated to do anything until I started putting my energy into my art. I ended up self-shooting a music video on my iPhone so that was really fun to make! However, while I was working on that my dad ended up getting sick with COVID-19, pneumonia in both lungs, and was in and out of the hospital. It was really scary but thankfully he's doing so much better and is COVID free now! Besides all of that, I've been enjoying time with my family, doing lots of yoga in the sunshine, reading, having lots of conversations about social justice, and just trying to be kind to myself and others as we're all living in this strange, yet necessary, time together.

What made you want to pursue music in the first place?

I've always gravitated towards the way music connects people. It's like a universal language. Ever since I wrote my first song I knew it was what I had to pursue in life. Writing songs has been the way I cope and process anything heavy in life. It's like therapy. I love the way it can turn something painful or messy into something beautiful. :)

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What's the best advice you've ever been given?

Keep writing. Enjoy the journey. Follow your gut. Write a song that is so honest it makes you uncomfortable.

What would you say has been the biggest influence on your music?

The healing process after getting my heart broken and learning to let go and love myself inspired my upcoming project. :)

Do you have a background in dance? From your previous music videos and on stage appearance it feels like you might?

No I don't! I wish. I LOVE to dance so much but in no way would I ever call myself a good dancer. Haha. I'm a WEIRD dancer. It definitely came out during my "Screen" video shoot. I'll just continue to embrace it though because dance parties are one of my favorite things in the world.

Walk us through your songwriting process.

My favorite way to write is starting with an experience I can visualize in my head and being in a room with people I can have honest conversation with. It's gotta be emotion led and feel real. I love to start with a track, beat, or sound from a producer that inspires me then freestyle on a mic. Sometimes melody will come first, sometimes lyrics, or sometimes both will naturally fall out together when I'm lucky. I love co-writing because I feed off of others' energy and it inspires me. It's way more fun to collaborate and work with people than work alone.

If you could go on tour with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

Coldplay, Rihanna, Adele, Florence + the Machine, Alanis Morissette, Queen, Madonna…

You filmed and produced your own music video for "Screen" during quarantine. What was that process like?

It was so fun!! I originally was going to shoot a professional music video but then the pandemic happened and of course had to rethink everything. I ended up shooting it on my iPhone. It was cool to challenge myself and try something new I had never done before. I put my phone on a tripod and filmed several takes on a green screen that I ordered online, in my bedroom, and in my living room. I pulled a lot of all nighters working on it.

Who are your Ones to Watch?

Lennon Stella, Tate McRae, Noah Cyrus, BENEE, and Elina lately are some of my favorite upcoming artists I've been listening to a lot lately. 


Listen to "Screen" below:

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