Signed only seven months ago to Keep Your Soul Records, Tay Watts is the up and coming singer/songwriter you need to be aware of! Currently writing and recording his new EP, Tay took time out of his busy schedule to chat with Talk Nerdy With Us.
Read our interview below!
Follow Tay on Twitter.
Tell me a bit about Keep Your Soul and you got involved with the record label.
“I have been friends with Corey Gray for about four years. We used to play music together at this local bar and that’s how I met him. We’ve been jamming together for a while and he had already been involved with Keep Your Soul through Jake Coco and had been signed. I got involved through Corey one day, and Jake followed up with me, and they saw the videos and staff that I’d done and came and saw me perform live, actually, and kind of got a feel for me. We came in and did that first video for “Rude” and they liked it from then and then, you know, magic.”
It was just a magical moment.
“It was just a magical connection and we all knew.”
You actually just performed with Chris Brochu! How did you get involved with his show?
“Chris is a good friend of mine. When I moved out to LA and connected with a couple of managers and agents, the manager that I signed with is Chris Brochu’s mom. I’ve known Chris’s family for years. Him and his music is finally happening now and it’s really cool, so he asked me to a part of that show and to open up, and start the night out. It was a really, really incredible night. It was a lot of fun.”
It was for his EP release, but what songs did you perform?
“I opened up with a brand new song that we just finished two nights ago. I wanted to get a feel for it. I wanted to see how people would take it. I think it’s my favorite song that I ever written. Corey helped me on it and it’s really incredible. We wrote it together and I love it. I opened up with that. I played all original music. I did one cover with Chris’s sister and that was it. Other than that, it was five original songs. Most of them that will be on the album coming out.”
When is your album coming out?
That’s a good question. We are about 50% done, actually, recording it, so it could be, hopefully, within a six-week period. Maybe two months.
Wow! That’s awesome. What is the process like for writing your own material when you’re so used to doing covers?
“Well, covers are just fun and easy things to do. It doesn’t really take much thought process. The songs are already there. It’s mapped out. You know how it sounds and try and make it your own. That’s it. It doesn’t really take a lot from us.
I think, when it comes to good writing and creating your own stuff, the process is super, super simple, for me, at least. It comes down to just playing ukulele or playing a piano or playing a guitar and like, “Oh, this song’s pretty. I wonder what could go there. I wonder what could fit in this melody. Let’s try that.” It literally is so random and sporadic. To call it a process is really, it’s like almost cheating. [Laughs].”
Have you always wanted to pursue music or is that something that as you got older it became a passion?
“It’s always been a passion. My dad plays guitar and it’s always been a hobby of his and a love of his. I played drums for 13 years. I grew up doing that and I love it. I didn’t start playing guitar and singing, really, until I was like, maybe, 19-20 years old.
I had been writing before. I was in a band and playing drums for them, so I was still part of the writing process. I had that, but there wasn’t really anything to put it too. There’s no melody, there’s no chords, I didn’t have all that yet. Once I learned how to play guitar really was when I was like, “You know what? This is a lot of fun and I really enjoy it”.”
You just released a Sublime cover, and obviously they’re a huge musical influence. Besides them, who else is your biggest musical influence?
“That’s a good question. I’m from Houston. I grew up on country music and hip-hop. I would say influences, nowadays, Mac Miller is my favorite artist, of all time. He’s a rap artist, independent and it’s just really incredible what he’s done.
At the same time, I love Sam Hunt and his style of writing and the flow of the words. It’s kind of the same take on my words and my style.
My influences are really kind of random. My dad listens to Jazz music, so there are influences there when I started playing drums. That’s the style that I heard all the time.
I’d say those two, Sam Hunt and Mac Miller, if I could put my finger on it, those are the two. If they could become one person, I would like to meet them.”
That would be the ideal person.
“The ideal handshake. If I could have one.”
What’s your least favorite genre of music?
“Least favorite? Let’s see, I’m into a lot of things and everything. My absolute least favorite would probably have to be … No, I don’t know. I don’t really like 80s love ballads. If that’s a genre. [Laughs].
I’m trying to think! If I got into someone’s car and an 80s ballad was on, that would probably be the one where I’m like, “Hey, let’s change it.” It’s pretty hard. I pretty much listen to it all.”
You have a show coming up at Molly Malone’s with Corey.
“Yes, on the 22nd, we’re playing there. Last time I played a Saturday night it was really exciting. We had a good crowd and then the following weekend Corey also played a Saturday night. It was just as good. It was the same huge crowd.
Corey asked if he could get a full night, so I’m going open and then Corey and then one of our other friends is playing after him. It’s really exciting. Molly Malone’s on August 22nd! I think I go on at nine.”
Tell me your top five most played songs on your iPod.
“First up is “Highway to Hell” by AC/DC. “Actin Crazy” by Action Bronson. This is a weird one, Cam, “Half Broke Heart”. She’s a country singer. A cute little girl. What else? Trap Queen. Trap Queen is there. And a lot of this Jack U album.”
Nothing really embarrassing!
“That is really surprising actually. [Laughs]. I was expecting something a lot scarier than that.”
What’s the process like for choosing what to cover?
“That’s kind of the most stressful part! We like to choose songs that are cool and fun and popular. You want to play something that’s going to searched. You want to pick something that people will listen to or that people already like. That’s kind of the deal. Also, we don’t want to do just any cover. It wouldn’t be any fun to cover every song on the charts right now. I couldn’t do Selena Gomez. I couldn’t. [Laughs]. There’s just stuff that’s in the top ten and you go, “Okay, I’m not going to touch that because I can’t.”
The process is about finding that mix. Choosing a song that people like and a song that I will like doing. Then you see if it’s something that works. I actually did a cover of Trap Queen and I never thought it would work, but it really came out well.
That will be out coming out soon. It’s one of those like, “Okay, I don’t know how this works acoustically, but I love it.”
Is there a song that you covered, but you actually hated the original? Somebody else wanted to cover it, so you said, “Yes.”
“I did “I don’t mind,” by Usher. I hate the song. I just hate it, but someone asked me to sing it at a show for them and I was like, “Yeah. I’ll learn it, whatever.” After I learned it, I took it to Jake. I was like, “This actually is kind of fun.”
We had just been bashing the song all week. [Laughs]. It came out and it sounds good. I’m not ever listening to that song ever again, but it was fun for an acoustic cover.”
Besides Corey, who else do you write with?
“I’ve only been signed for seven months! Before that I was writing by myself and I have a good friend, Jordan, he usually plays cajon with me whenever I play live. Whenever we’re jamming together, sometimes you’re just jamming and words start coming. He is there for that sometimes, so he can pitch in a lot, also, and help. That was kind of it.
Now that I’m signed it’s been Corey on a couple and Jake, we’ve tried to sit and write, too. Hopefully, it’ll be more soon.”
Can you tell a huge difference from being unsigned and signed?
What’s the biggest difference?
“Music, in general, it’s an art. You’re always learning it. You’ll never be the best or the smoothest or the fastest. I think the past seven months versus the past 25 years of my life, I’ve learned a lot from being around Jake and Corey, and also being in the studio. It’s a job. This art form, “I can sing in my room and have fun and record my own stuff whenever I want,” but I have to have five videos done by next Monday.
It’s time to turn on, go to the studio for 12 hours. Get it done. It’s a skill-set as well. I think last night when I played a show, my confidence is so much higher because I know that, “Hey, I went to the studio two nights ago. I turned on and I hit this note in thirteen tries, which I needed to. Now I’ve done that, let me do it.”
I think that’s the biggest thing is just the learning curve of music, in general. Being ready for everything. It’s really, really cool.”
And knowing that you have what it takes now?
“Yes. Just that confidence of, “I’ve done this now over and over and over.” Where as opposed to before, it was me doing it when I had free time or when I was just jamming or when I was hanging. Now it’s like, “You had to do this repeatedly. Go for it!” Now I have fun with it and I’m confident in it. Like I said, last nights show was incredible. I really realized this last night. So insane!”
Did you take music lessons growing up or did you just strictly teach yourself?
“I’ve been self-taught on every instrument.”
Have you ever swam with a shark?
“No, I haven’t. That’s on my list though.”
Lyric? Favorite lyric of my own. “I’m going to spend every night trying to find a high like you”. Favorite one of someone else’s … probably some Sam Hunt lyric.
TV show? Modern Family.
Favorite place to perform at? Molly Malone’s here in Los Angeles. It’s a pretty awesome spot.
T-shirt that you own? Favorite t-shirt that I own? I’m going to take a look. I have an awesome shark shirt, actually. I really like sharks. It’s pretty angry shark tank top. I also have a sweet shirt with Abraham Lincoln in a red Solo cup. I like that one a lot, too.
Album that’s currently out? K.I.D.S, by Mac Miller.
Super hero? Definitely Batman.
Candle scent? Probably like a sea breeze, I think I recall smelling one day.
Type of food? I love pizza.
Tell me two truths and one lie about yourself!
“I play violin. I’m terrified of spiders. I have never seen any Harry Potter movie.”
Fans now it’s your turn to vote for which answer you think is the lie! Follow @TalkNerdyWithUs to find out the correct answer!