Bree Taylor is a Canadian singer-songwriter of pop-inspired country tunes full of authentic feeling and deep affirmations of life and love. The just-released video for her song “Drive” is a delightful road trip full of fun, natural beauty, and the joy of female camaraderie. Taylor recently took the time to answer Wanda Waterman’s questions about her music, her life, and her life’s mission.
What kind of childhood did you have, and what role did music play in it?
I actually had a rocky childhood. I dealt with a lot of bullying all throughout my school years and a lot of depression and anxiety that at the time I was unaware of. However, all throughout my childhood music was my saving grace.
I turned to music when I was being bullied at school and dreamed of a day when I could show them all that I was good enough, that I was worthy and that I could prove everyone wrong. Music was my friend when I didn’t have any and songwriting was my emotional outlet for everything I was feeling.
I involved myself in piano lessons and vocal classes and joined school choirs to surround myself with music as much as possible, to help me grow and get one step closer to this dream of mine to be a globally touring recording artist. I feel that I have come so far in my life and in my music career, and I am so grateful that I had music in my life as a child. I was extremely blessed to have amazing and supportive parents who kept me surrounded with music growing up and who help me chase after this dream even now.
Who—or what—in your life was the best influence on you as an artist? As a human being?
As an artist I am influenced by so many things and by all the people in my life in one way or another. This is why I try to surround myself with positive, happy people and to remove negative ones from my life. I don’t need any negativity influencing or surrounding me.
In terms of someone influencing me as a human being I would have to say that my good friend and manager Maria Luisa Sivitilli is someone who has majorly and positively impacted me and influenced my life for the better. I feel truly blessed to have met her and to have had her come into my life, and her friendship means the world to me.
She is like a big sister to me and has become such a role model, for not just me; I see her act as a role model and positive force for everyone she meets and the talent she works with in her company, A-List International. Maria Luisa not only helps guide my career but she guides me spiritually and inspires me to strive to be a better version of myself — always. She acts as a sounding board for my problems, gives me tough love, and puts the truth in front of me, allowing me to see the reality of a situation or emotion I’m feeling.
She’s truly changed my life for the better, and I believe God put her in my life when I needed her the most to help redirect me down a more positive path. I truly believe in timing and everything happening for a reason, and meeting her was a pivotal moment in my life and in my career. She’s definitely been a major influence on me as a human and as an artist, and I’m truly blessed and grateful to have her by my side.
Why did you choose the country music genre?
I always had a love for country music growing up because I’ve always been a storyteller in my lyrics. My Mom has always been a huge country music fan, and she surrounded me with country music (my Dad was more my rock and pop influence) which inspired me.
I started songwriting country tunes in high school and university but got off more in a pop music direction a few years ago when it came to original music. However, despite the success I was having as a pop artist I felt that my songs translated better into a country-pop sound. It feels right for me as an artist right now in my career. I love so many genres of music and grew up with such a diverse musical interest that I find it truly makes my voice and music unique.
You come across as a beautiful, strong, free woman. Where does all that self-confidence come from?
It honestly comes from learning to love myself. I’ve done a lot of self-reflection and self-work and realized that change begins within ourselves, and in order to help create any change in the world I needed to focus on healing and loving myself first.
Once I started on this path, it got easier to have more of the self-respect and authenticity that I feel I’ve started to exude through being unapologetically me. I gained strength from rising through all the challenges that life’s thrown my way. I find that admirable in others, so I try to exemplify that myself. We’re all constantly changing and hopefully self-improving, so it’s something that I take pride in working on constantly.
Did anything funny or weird happen while you were taping the video for “Drive?”
Yes! We were filming the last scene of the music video (popping champagne) and we were losing the light for the sunset, driving as fast as we could to catch the light. On our way to our filming location the road was blocked off, so we had to turn around and find an alternative spot to film the ending. Then (while still trying to catch the sunset) we had two champagne bottles in a cooler in the secondary car that we used, but as we took them out to shoot the bottles popped themselves!
It was so hot in the desert that even in a cooler in the trunk of a car they got so hot they popped on their own when we took them out, and I didn’t get to pop my first bottle. In the shots we used we faked it to make it look genuine and realistic! It was actually pretty hilarious.
How do you regenerate after giving yourself heavily to the music?
I’m very much a workaholic and I love what I do, but when I’m finished recording or doing a show I love to relax and curl up with my dog and watch a good show on Netflix. I like to detach and get lost in a good movie, TV show, or book (I love to read).
What conditions do you need in your life in order to maintain your creative output?
For me to be and feel creative I have two extremes: I need to feel centered and in a good place in my life or I need to let myself feel deep emotions to be inspired to write. Since music is such a therapeutic process for me I thrive on strong emotions; they allow me to channel creativity and feeling into my lyrics. However, we can’t always be in those moods when we have to be creative, so I’ve had to learn how to get to that place without the emotional extremes, which is where the other side of my answer comes in.
For me to feel centered and in a good place in my life I turn to meditation and yoga, I read, and I journal and create vision boards. This not only helps me with my writing but with the business side of my music career, which I’m extremely involved in. I’m building a brand and have a huge vision that expands beyond my music, so I need to be in that kind of place to stay on a higher vibration in order to accomplish the things I need to do to make it all happen.
I also love to travel to get inspired. That’s actually how my single “Drive” came to be written. I went on a road trip to Boston with two of my friends after the CMAO Awards last June, and it was during the songwriting process for “Drive.” That totally inspired me and helped create the song.
I also make sure to surround myself with positive people who inspire me, people who allow me to be myself and to feel good about who I am and what I’m doing. I’ve had to remove people from my life that bring negativity because I can’t have any of that with what I am doing. For someone who’s dealt with depression and anxiety that’s an important part of my self-care.
Negativity and negative people are unnecessary distractions and block my creativity and flow. At this stage in my life and career I can’t have that. I have to focus on the positives and on solutions to problems that may arise. It doesn’t help to dwell on the negative, and this is a life lesson I’ve learned in the last several years of my life.
Are there any books or films that have influenced your work?
No. I’m influenced by my personal life experiences. My songwriting is very personal, so my music tends to be very autobiographical. If I’m not pulling from my own life experiences I’m pulling from something that made me feel deeply in some way that allows me to really connect lyrically. I’m all about the lyrics in a song!
What was the most mesmerizing musical experience in your life?
I’ve had a few mesmerizing musical experiences in my lifetime thus far, one of them being my first ever music recital as a kid. Due to all the bullying I endured during my school years and kids telling me I was a bad singer and would never be good enough, I had terrible stage fright. I loved to sing and write, but because of all my insecurities, my performance side was a challenge.
My first solo performance in front of strangers was at my vocal recital when I was about 11 years old. I got so scared that I refused to go up when it was my turn. I cried and was so nervous that I completely psyched myself out. I sat there watching every other kid perform and towards the end I just thought to myself, “If I don’t do this now I’ll regret it, and I know I’m good and I can do this.”
So I forced myself to go up and just do it. They put me up as the last performer, and I blew everyone away. That moment completely felt like magic. They kept me as the grand finale every year for our music recitals. That was the moment I started fighting the voice in the back of my head saying “I can’t” or “I’m not good enough,” which has been a tough battle over the years, let me tell you. This was truly a pivotal time in my life and gave me the faith and strength to know that I can do this, and it’s led me to where I am.
In your opinion, has music in general changed since 2000?
Music is always changing. I love that we’re now in a time when we can blend genres and collaborate with other artists of different genres. We have traditional country music, but we also have country influenced by pop, rap, and hip-hop, and we have artists and bands collaborating with each other and crossing over.
The reason I truly love being in country music is that I can blend my love for country and pop, challenge myself as an artist, and have the crossover appeal for music fans. This is something that has majorly changed over the last decade, which is so fantastic for the music industry. I think it’s so inspiring that we get to exist and be artists in this growing and ever-changing business, that we can can be creative, challenge stereotypes, and explore our creativity without limits.
What does music mean to you?
Music to me is everything. I don’t know what my life would be without music, to be honest. It has been such a huge part of me and such a part of my identity now that without it I feel like I wouldn’t be completely me. Music fuels me and keeps me going. It helps me channel my emotions and is an outlet for me to create something beautiful out of experiences I have and things that I am feeling.
Music has also allowed me to meet so many amazing people and to create the life-long friendships I cherish. Music has allowed me to travel and to challenge myself in so many ways, and it motivates me to keep going. Music is such a part of me that it truly is my life and I love every part of it. It doesn’t feel like work to me. I love doing these kinds of interviews, especially in person interviews. I love performing, writing, and recording, and I love filming music videos and showing a different side of me and a song in a visual format. I love the business side of this industry too — it’s how I know that it is I’m meant to do.
Do you follow a spiritual discipline that helps you on your creative path?
I do. I’m an extremely spiritual person and I believe in God and have trust that he’s put me on this path for a reason. I have faith that he’s taking care of me and guiding me along this journey and that he gave me this dream for a reason. I believe that everything in life happens for a reason and trust that even when bad things are happening it’s to guide me in a different direction, and usually the reason why will appear and will then make sense.
I believe in the law of attraction. We’re all energy and surrounded by energy, and what we put out into the universe comes back to us. I practice being a good, authentic and honest person who’s kind and loving to all people, and I try to remove any negativity from my. I try to never feel jealousy toward anyone in life because I know that it has nothing to do with me and the journey I’m on.
Instead I try to refocus my energy on the blessings that I do have and appreciate them. I also try to not compare myself to others, which can be extremely hard to do, especially as an independent artist when myself and my peers are all trying to go after a similar goal. I remind myself that there’s only one me in this world and that no one else can be me or offer what I can. I truly try to practice what I preach because my ultimate goal in life is to help change people’s lives through music but also through living by example.
If you had an artistic mission statement, what would it be?
My artistic mission statement would be: “My music is my escape to find my truth and to be able to connect with others and hopefully create a positive change in people’s lives the way music did for me growing up.”
You support some important charities. Why do you make this a part of your career?
I feel that my creativity goes beyond just making music. I feel that all the things I went through growing up were for a bigger purpose. I don’t believe that negative events happen just to cause pain; I believe they teach us lessons and and we’re meant to grow from them. I’ve chosen to take this mindset, follow this path, and use the negative things to fuel me and my mission in life instead of being a victim.
I want to bring more awareness to causes that are important to my heart and I include a philanthropic path with my music career because I feel it’s my way to not only give back to the world but also to allow those negative things to fulfill their purpose in my life. I want to be able to help others going through similar and let them know they have the power to change their own lives and that it gets better.
I managed to turn things around and change my own life, especially when it came to depression and anxiety. I want to help others who may not have the ability to do so on their own or who may not have people around them who can help them make those changes. I truly believe that everything we go through in life, good and bad, is for a reason, and I want to make a difference.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on finishing up my new EP, which is due out in early 2020. I have a new single that will be released at the end of January 2020, called “Cry,” that I’m extremely proud of and absolutely love. It’s an emotional ballad that I feel so many people will be able to relate to, and so far the couple of times I’ve performed it at a show people have just loved it. I can’t wait to release this single and for more people to hear it and get a chance to connect to it.
I’m also booking shows and festivals for 2020 and can’t wait to bring my show and music to more stages across Canada and hopefully into America. I’ve been getting so many requests to perform in the US, and America is a second home to me so I’d love the opportunity to perform there.