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Taylor Momsen Talks Inspiration Behind The Pretty Reckless’ Latest Album
"Rock encompasses everything…"
Isis BrionesNOV 18, 2016 2:29PM EST
Taylor Momsen literally marches to the beat of her own drum — or should we say, to her rock band The Pretty Reckless? It’s been six years since the group released their debut album Light Me Up, but it’s safe to say that light isn’t going out any time soon.
Now the four-piece crew is back with a brand-new album, Who You Selling For, which includes the single "Take Me Down" and presents the singer formerly known as Jenny Humphrey with a raspier blues-y tone that fans have already fallen in love with. Taylor recently opened up to Teen Vogue about why she made the switch from acting to music, and what the Pretty Reckless's new work will push them to do in the future. But though you won't be able to count her in for a Gossip Girl reboot, you know you're still going to love what the rock outfit has in store.
Teen Vogue: You got your start in acting, but then made the shift to music. What is being in a band like?
Taylor Momsen: F*cking awesome! I get to play rock every night. To call it a job is unfair, but if I had to say it's a job… it's the best job in the world. Touring, on the other hand, now that's a job. Switching time zones, trying to sleep, and traveling is a lot of work, but playing the show itself is an absolute privilege.
TV: What about rock music are you so drawn to?
TM: For me, it represents freedom. Rock encompasses everything and allows you to go everywhere — it has no boundaries. I also grew up on it because my dad is a really huge rock 'n roll fan. There's just something very powerful to knowing there are no limits. The genre isn't just aggressive...nowadays, it covers it all. It's blues, jazz, pop, funk, and so much more. I think having that ability as a writer and musicians to be able to do it all that is empowering.
TV: How did the new album come about? What do you hope fans will get out of it?
TM: Everything: Life, just being, living it. [It’s about] going through ups and downs, from touring to emotionally and physically viewing the world from an outside and inside perspective. The inspiration is very hard to define, I guess. It kind of covers a lot of spectrums, you just have to listen to it. It's very much a track-listed record, where the order of the songs is important. If you listen to it front to back, hopefully it'll take you on some sort of journey. In terms of a message, I don't know if we have one. I think it's more like, I use music as a tool to express myself and keep myself sane. If something that I wrote in my bedroom can help someone, then that's an amazing feeling to me as a writer because music has saved my life over and over and over again. If a fan can connect with something that I needed to create and express, that's all anyone can really ask for.
TV: Where did you find inspiration for these new songs?
TM: Well, there’s no process. The only consistent thing at least for me is that it requires isolation and solitude to write because I need some time alone with my thoughts. I need time to have perspective, think, and go down whatever rabbit hole my mind wants to take me on that day. The other thing is the concept of keeping your mind as open as possible when writing a new record because you never know where inspiration is going to come from. My joke is if I knew where inspiration came from, I’d move there. Unfortunately, I don’t, so it becomes very torturous because you don’t know if anything is going to hit you. It might take ten years or five minutes to write a song, and then — utter bliss. There's no better feeling than playing it all the way through, having it be good, and knowing it's good. The fact that there's no road map is what makes it so challenging and rewarding at the same time.
TV: What do you have planned for 2017 and on?
TM: We're really just getting started. This year, we've only played a few underground shows in Paris, Berlin, and London. Those were a lot of fun and it's always awesome to go overseas. Now we're doing the North American run and we're slowly, but surely adding more new material. Every time I get to play a new song and see how the crowd responds, it's so surreal. The sing-alongs are the best — any time you hear a crowd singing something you wrote is mind-blowing. You really feed off the crowd and the energy breathes life into you just like the music breathes life into them. We'll also be touring until 2018. We're going around the world and then around the world again. We also haven't been to New Zealand, so I'm looking forward to that.
TV: Is there any part of you that would ever go back to acting? Perhaps that Gossip Girl reunion everyone is hoping for?
TM: I was a child on Gossip Girl, so no, I wouldn't go back. [But music] is something I’ve always done. It’s who I am. I think I consider myself a writer first and musician second, but they go hand in hand. Being an artist is the thing I've done my entire life, it's my identity. I don't who I'd be if I wasn't writing or making music. Even if I wasn't playing in public, I'd still be doing it for myself. When it comes to acting, it's literally like talking about my childhood.