Though she may be releasing her debut single in a few days, Lexington, Kentucky native Taylor Hughes has already established herself as an award winning force to be reckoned with in the country music industry. With the release of “Good Taste,” Hughes is doubling down on the groundwork she has laid and is taking it to the next level.
Hughes packs a punch with “Good Taste,” which is evident from the intro drum and guitar lick and runs through the energetic song that talks about an all-too relatable happening for many; falling for the “bad boy” and the trouble that can ensue because of that.
Mixing an outlaw sound with her country and blues influences, “Good Taste” serves as the introduction for three more singles to be released this year. Hughes has honed in on her craft and what she wants to say, and she’s ready to say it!
Before releasing “Good Taste” on April 10, we caught up with Hughes to talk about pursuing a career in music, the emotions that come with releasing music for the first time, all about “Good Taste,” her big plans for 2020 and more!
Pro Country: Who are some of your biggest musical influences that have shaped your sound?
Taylor Hughes: There are so many amazing artists out there that I love but I’d have to say my biggest influence is Miranda Lambert. She is truly one of the greatest artists out there. Her songwriting is undeniable; honest, raw, and doesn’t shy from the truth. She isn’t afraid to express herself and be vulnerable. That’s so refreshing in this industry, because sometimes artists think they have to be a certain way just to get fans or be on radio, and that’s just not true. Her stage presence and her delivery of her songs is also something I admire greatly. I’ve never seen/heard her sing a song that I didn’t “believe” or have some kind of emotional response to. That’s a talent that most people don’t have. She puts on an incredible live show too! Always giving her fans everything she’s got. She is one of a kind, and it inspires me to work on my craft every day. My sound is also influenced by artists like Chris Stapleton and Susan Tedeschi. Both of them have so much soul, power and feeling when they sing. When people ask me how to describe my sound, I jokingly say (but honestly mean it) imagine if Chris and Susan had a baby and they let Miranda raise it; that’s me! I like to blend classic/modern country, blues and southern rock into my music.
PC: When did you realize that you wanted to pursue music as a career?
TH: I’ve wanted to be an artist since I was a little girl. I’ve always loved to sing and perform, but didn’t get the courage to really “pursue” it until the end of high school. I was involved with sports 100% of the time, and when I mentioned it to people, they didn’t really take me seriously. What really led me to start was when I blew my knee out my junior year of high school. I had planned on going to college to play volleyball, but God had other plans for me, and boy, am I glad he did! When I was 18, I told my dad I wanted to take guitar lessons, so he signed me up. After one lesson, my teacher (Paulie Felice) told my dad he wanted to take me to Nashville to perform. My parents were so confused; there was no way I knew how to play already! He explained to them that he wanted to take me there to perform on Nashville Spotlight because I could sing; they had no idea. I went down there, performed for the first time on my own and was instantly hooked. My parents thought I was lip syncing because they had never truly heard me! It was hilarious, but that’s basically how it all started. I also tried the whole college thing, but decided to leave after 2 years so I could put all of my focus on my music. Luckily, my parents supported me 100% and I will always remember what my dad said to me, “If you’re going to do this, you have to be all in. There is no plan B.” I live by that statement every day. Even when things get hard, when things don’t go as planned, when someone asks me “When are going to get a real job?” I know this is what I was born to do and there’s nothing that can stop me. My love for music is undeniable; I live and breathe it. But I don’t just do this for me. I work towards my dreams/goals for my family, friends and fans. For all those that have helped me and believed in me from the start.
PC: What emotions are you feeling as you prepare to release music for the first time with your single “Good Taste”?
TH: I am feeling all the emotions right now! I’m a little nervous obviously with this being the first single I’ve ever released. Sure, I’ve been playing original music out for years at my shows and writer’s rounds, but it’s so different when it’s actually something people can buy or stream. They can play it over and over again (if they like it, haha) and share it with other people. This is basically a first impression and as an artist, you can only hope to make the best one you can on your current and future fans. I’m also extremely excited and proud to be releasing “Good Taste.” I’ve been working really hard on this music I’ve been creating. I’ve been developing my sound, growing in my knowledge and artistry; really honing in on what it is I want to say, what I want my music to sound like, and how it connects with my audience. These songs I’ve been writing and playing are my “babies” and I truly believe in them. I only hope that everyone loves them as much as I do.
PC: Can you talk about the inspiration behind “Good Taste”?
TH: There are a few things that inspired “Good Taste!” First thing being my love for the great, classic country artists like Haggard, Waylon, Jones, Cash; the list goes on and on. These artists influenced so much of what country music is as a whole. Even though the “country sound” continually changes, you still hear everyone say that these artists are what made them want to pursue music or inspire their sound in some way or another. The artists I reference in the song are also considered “outlaw,” which is definitely what I consider my style of music to be. I wanted to pay tribute to them, and I think this song does that. It’s current, but still has that classic, badass, outlaw country sound. Second thing being, what girl hasn’t fallen for the “bad boy” or the guy they know was only going to be trouble, but they just couldn’t resist?! I know I’ve dated a few duds like that [laughs], but you live and you learn, right? I thought connecting these outlaw artists to the bad boy type would be a fun song to create. Music can be so influential when it comes to your emotions, especially love, and “Good Taste” is basically telling that story. The great music that the “character” in the song loves was written by “bad boys,” so it makes her want to be with someone like that; unfortunately it sometimes bites her in the a**.
PC: “Good Taste” features traces of both southern rock and country sounds. Is it at all important for you to showcase that level of artistic versatility in your music, especially on your debut release?
TH: Absolutely! I’ve grown so much in just the past 2 years of living here in Nashville. When you first start out as an artist, you’re trying to figure out what your sound is. Where do you fit in? Where are your musical influences coming from and who inspires you? It can all be very confusing, and sometimes you’ll change your mind once or twice; hell, maybe even 100 times, but that’s part of the process. Honestly, it’s kind of exciting! I’ve always said “I am a country artist, no doubt about it,”’ and I still stand by that, but I would be lying if I said my sound and what I want to say as an artist hasn’t changed. I’ve learned so much since moving here: writing more, learning to play better, challenging myself vocally and experimenting with my voice and pushing myself to be more outgoing. All of these things have had some kind of influence on my sound, and I think I’ve truly found what that is. I LOVE country music, but God also gave me a very unique, bluesy/southern rock voice, and mixing these sounds is where I feel like myself; where I think I truly create the best kind of music for my audience and for me. I want to show fans right out of the gate that I’m not a one trick pony; this girl has got something unique about her and she isn’t afraid to show it and own it.
PC: You have opened shows for major artists including Chase Rice, Riley Green, Sam Riggs and Angaleena Presley, among others. What can you take away from those experiences that can help you in your own career?
TH: I have been blessed with many opportunities and I don’t take a single one for granted. Each artist I have opened for has brought something different to the table for me to learn from. For example, Angaleena’s songwriting style and delivery of her music. She isn’t afraid to be honest in her lyrics, and when she sings her songs, she is telling a story. It’s very compelling, and I think that’s a great thing to learn how to do. I mean, if you don’t believe what you’re saying, how do you expect anyone else to? Another example would be Chase Rice’s stage presence and energy. Part of going to see an artist live is to experience a fantastic show! The audience wants to be ENTERTAINED and to have a good time, so as an artist, it’s our job to give that to them; they did just spend their hard earned dollars on your show. There is so much that goes into being an artist, and not everyone realizes that. It’s not just about singing, not just about the song, but it’s those things plus the other 100 behind the scenes aspects. I want to make sure that I am continually learning about my craft in order to be the best version of me.
PC: Over the past 5 years, you’ve been nominated for several Lexington Music Awards, including best female vocalist, best singer/songwriter and song of the year. What kind of validation does that recognition give you at this point in your career?
TH: These nominations and awards that I have received have been very reassuring for me and my career. This business is tough to be in; there’s so many ups and downs. Sometimes it feels like a big competition and you can get lost in it. I think all artists, at least once in their career, have self-doubt and question whether they’ve chosen the right career path. We wonder if we have what it takes, if we’re good enough, and do people appreciate the art we are working tirelessly at? But I believe that I was born to be a country artist and that God has blessed me with a love for music. These nominations and awards help me to believe in myself and know that all this hard work will be worth it. But honestly, what REALLY gives me validation is when I play a show and I see a crowd or even just one person in the audience having a good time or just connecting with me and what I’m singing. I love getting to meet and talk to fans afterwards about our mutual love for music or a specific song. Music truly brings people together and allows us to connecting on a whole other level.
PC: Along with promoting “Good Taste,” what are your plans for 2020?
TH: I have so many goals for this new year, I don’t even know where to begin. One thing I am so excited to do in 2020 is release not one, not two, but three singles! I’ve been writing like crazy and have written some songs that I am VERY EXCITED about. I think they’re a great representation of the kind of artist I am, and fans have had a great response to them. Along with that, I plan to be traveling and playing shows outside of the Nashville area more frequently. I’m ready to expand my fan outreach, discover new places and just do what I love everyday and not have to worry about part time jobs. There are obviously lot of little/personal goals for me too; becoming a better guitarist, going out of my comfort zone even more. You know, just growing in all aspects of my life and career.
PC: Is there anything you’d like to add?
TH: The release of “Good Taste” has been something I’ve been dreaming of and working towards for a while now. The support that I have received from fans, family and friends has been unbelievable, and I can’t thank them enough for it. Every show, every song, every note is for those who have believed in me from the start, and of course those who I’ve met along the way. I only hope that I can continue to make them proud and that people love my first single because there is ABOSULTY NOTHING I’d rather do than make music for the rest of my life. So now, I introduce my debut single, “Good Taste.”
*All images courtesy of Taylor Hughes*