We were excited to have the opportunity to sit down and chat with the promising Nashville based talent Taylor Hughes about music, life and Tennessee living
Thanks for joining us Taylor, you’re from Lexington, Kentucky originally but now live just outside of Nashville. Can you tell us about your background in music prior to arriving in Tennessee?
Prior to moving to the Nashville area, I was pursuing my career in music for several years in Lexington and surrounding areas. Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I wanted to be a singer. I would always make sure to be in the front of the group when singing in school shows; there are some pretty funny videos of me pushing my way to the front in preschool! I was in the school and church choir growing up and enjoyed singing for friends. However, as I got older, volleyball consumed my time and I didn’t start to really pursue my dreams till I injured my knee my junior year of high school. This is when I decided to start taking guitar lessons. My teacher, Paulie Felice, was the first person to recognize my talent and is the reason I stepped on a stage in the first place. He told my parents he wanted to take me to Nashville, which my parents were baffled by; no way I could play guitar after 3 lessons. But he explained to them that it was because of my voice and that’s when I got involved with “Nashville Spotlight”; an old TV comcast that showcased young talent from all over the country. This was the first time I had taken the stage on my own…I was instantly hooked! I played shows in my hometown for years along with attending college. I decided to leave school my junior year to pursue music 100% of the time. I played 3 to 4 shows a week; 2-4 hour long sets. I started writing my own music and made plans to move to Nashville ASAP. After getting married in September of 2017, we made the move and I could not be happier with that decision. I LOVE living here!
Did anything in particular make you feel like it was the right time to make the move?
I had been playing the Lexington circuit, along with surrounding areas, for a while and knew that if I wanted to get better, make more connections in the business and to move forward in my career, I had to make the move. It’s one thing to come down to music city a few times a month to work but if you really want to get all it has to offer and to really become a more rounded artist, you have to live, eat and breathe it 24/7. There’s too much you can miss if you don’t!
You’re described as a country/blues artist, were there any artists as a child you remember your parents listening to that pushed you in that direction?
Growing up, country music, blues and southern rock were always played in my house. On the weekends, my dad would turn on music and have it blaring through the house… but I loved it! A mix of Tim McGraw, Little Feet, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Christina Aguilera (a favorite of my mom and I), Alan Jackson, Muddy Waters, B.B. King; just a big mix of great music. My music has a ton of influencers. These days it’s artists like Chris Stapleton, Miranda Lambert, The Steel Woods and Susan Tedeschi.
You’ve received multiple nominations/awards in the Lexington Music Awards. Is it extra meaningful in a way when you get that kind of recognition from your home town?
It absolutely is! I was born and raised in Lexington; it’s all I had known for 24 years. My hometown helped shaped me into the person and artist I am today. I spent so many nights playing shows, writing music and building a following there. The fact that all my fans, all those who have believed in me and supported me from day one, still have my back and want me to succeed makes me unbelievably happy. I love my job and my goal is to always make my hometown proud. I never want to let them down.
Do you have any rituals or things you like to tell yourself before you go on stage?
There are a few things I do before all of my shows. Obviously I start off with my vocal warm ups and some guitar drills. But something I do before I leave the house and sometimes on the car ride there, I pray. My faith is very important to me and I thank the lord for my gifts and the opportunities he’s given me. It helps me calm down and relax; sometimes I can get a little antsy before a performance.
You released your debut single ‘Good Taste’ back in April; do you feel any different as an artist now you have music out in the world?
I feel a little more “legit” if that makes sense haha. I’ve been working on my craft for a while now; playing hundreds of shows a year, writing like crazy, building a following. It was finally time to get some concrete music out there and damn, does it feel good! My fans have been asking for music for some time now so it feels great to finally have something I’m incredibly proud of out there and I can’t wait to release my next single…
Following on from that how are plans for the EP coming along?
It’s a slow process for sure; recording music if no cheap venture that’s for sure. Like I mentioned before, I’ve been writing a ton, especially during quarantine. I’ve got a lot of material I’m really excited about, believe in, and think showcases the artist I want to be. I am in the middle of planning my next release as we speak so y’all make sure to stay tuned!
Is there anything about yourself as an artist you’ve worked on to improve and are particularly proud of?
I feel like I am constantly growing as an artist. I always want to push myself whether it be in my vocal skills, guitar playing, writing, stage presence, and even in my outreach to fans (social media.) I’d have to say though, during all of this craziness, I’ve been able to work on things I didn’t have “time” for such as livestreams, getting in the habit of writing consistently and my guitar skills. I’ve proven to myself that I can do these things; I just had to get out of my comfort zone and keep my head on straight. My goal is to always deliver the best I can be to my fans and I think I’m doing that now.
Being a regular Nashville visitor myself I’d love to know your favourite Pizza place, coffee shop and spot to watch others play music in Nashville?
Where do I even begin?! Nashville its self is an amazing city. So much music, entertainment and culture to be offered but I always like to recommend places outside of music city; my favorite local spots. Some of the best pizza you’ll ever eat is right here in Spring Hill, TN at Frankie’s Pizza and Grill. Bourbon drinker? You have to check out OB Joyful in Franklin, TN! Being from Kentucky, I obviously know a good bourbon. They make the best cocktails; they make them the REAL and RIGHT way. They offer a vast selection and it has the coolest vibe. I recommend a whiskey sour, little red corvette, or a classic old fashion (try it with Red Eye!) One other staple that you MUST visit is Five Daughters Donuts. I have a huge sweet tooth and I’m a frequent customer… I’d be lying if I said I only go there once a month.
I’ve always been blown away by how supportive the music community is in Nashville. Is that something you’ve felt as an artist and if so how important is that to you?
This is so true! That is one of my favorite things about living here. Majority of the friends I have made since moving here are in the music business. We understand each other’s struggles, are always supporting one another, and celebrating each other’s successes! I truly feel at home here; these people push me to be better and to believe in myself and I only hope I do that for them as well. Back in my hometown, only a few of my friends were musicians/artists so it was sometimes hard trying to relate or explain things I was feeling or going through to them. Though they were supportive, it’s still hard to understand if you don’t actually live the same life.
Any tips for UK readers on promising Nashville artists they may not know about yet?
I would encourage readers to keep supporting all their favorite indie artists and to continue to keep discovering more of them! Nashville is full of unbelievably talented people, sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper to find them. Stream their music, buy their merch, watch their live streams, and once things open back up, go see them play. I think I can speak for a majority of artists when I say we create music not only because we love it but to also connect with fans. Music truly does bring people together and it can be so healing, so inspiring or just there to make you feel good and have a good time.
Quarantine has obviously been a rough time for artists but do you feel the extra free time has allowed you to work on anything you wouldn’t usually have had the time for?
During quarantine I’ve been able to work on a lot of things I didn’t make time for in the past BUT most certainly should have been haha. I’ve been working on my guitar playing and knowledge. I have been writing and co-writing a ton and I love it. It’s allowed me to be more consistent with developing ideas and bringing my best to each write. I also dove right into live streams which is something I had never done before. I used to get so nervous with the idea of doing but now I love it. It’s allowed me to stay connected with my fans and has actually grown my audience. I’m now reaching people all over the world and have created lifelong fans over in Europe, Australia, and of course here in the US. I feel very blessed to be able to connect and share my passion for music with so many people.
Being the proud Kentucky girl and Bourbon connoisseur that you are I have to ask your usual Bourbons of choice?
This is a hard one to answer! My taste in bourbon has definitely developed over the years and now it’s pretty expensive haha but I do enjoy a good glass of Buffalo Trace. Elijah Craig 18 year is great too but we save that bottle for special occasions.
I see you’re quite passionate about your fitness. Can you tell us more about that and what you enjoy doing?
The fitness industry is another passion of mine. I always say, if for some crazy reason I couldn’t be in the music business, I would be a personal trainer. I love working out, learning how to body works, cooking, and helping others reach their fitness goals. I believe health and being an artist go hand in hand. It’s important to take care of your body, inside and out, in order to keep your vocal chords in tip top shape, to be able to play those 4 hour gigs, to be on the road consistently, having a healthy metal state too. A goal of mine is to one day have my own fitness line, like Carrie Underwood. Being able to tie my two passions together would be a dream!
As an avid fan of cooking shows am I correct in assuming you enjoy cooking yourself? What could we expect to be served if we were coming round your place for a Dinner party?
I love to cook! One of my favorite things to do is take classic recipes that are not healthy and figure out how to recreate them in a healthy manner but for them to still be delicious. One meal you could expect from me, a staple in my diet, is wild caught salmon with veggies. I pan fry my salmon with lots of spices (the hotter the better) with some kind of potatoe and steamed veggies like carrots and broccoli. I’m also a sucker for a cheeseburger or a big steak on the grill.
Have you done much travelling outside of the states and any bucket list destinations you’re hoping to hit at some point?
The only traveling I’ve done outside of the states is when I’ve gone on cruises…which are my favorite kind of vacations. Unlimited food and drinks? Count me in! I’ve been to several destinations in the Western and Eastern Caribbean. A bucket list destination for me though would be Italy, Greece and Australia…. But really anywhere in Europe would be amazing. With all the live streams I’ve been doing, I have gained so many fans across the pond and they keep asking when I’ll be touring over there. I am 100% ready to do that so let’s get this trip planned!
Finally, what type of show would you say people can expect when they come and see Taylor Hughes perform?
When someone comes to see a “Taylor Hughes Show” they can expect high energy, rockin’ country music with blues stained vocals and of course a southern rock party feel. My job is to entertain my fans and give them a show that allows them to let loose and have a great time. My fans have been working their butts off all week long and the fact that they want to spend not only their time but also their hard earned money on my music is an honour. They can expect to hear real country music that makes them feel something; happy, excited, sad, getting over an ex, just want to party? My music and shows will deliver that. My goal is to always bring my best and to leave it all on the stage. I want to connect with my fans as well. One of my favorite things about live shows is getting to meet fans afterwards. I want us to get to know one another, laugh together, talk about personal experiences that a particular song made them think about. I always try to stay in touch with those fans that stick around for the whole show and after it’s done. I make music not only because I truly love it but because I love people. Like I said earlier, music brings people together.
Interview conducted by Craig Brooks (twitter.com/swindonforever)