Attia Taylor has five jobs. She’s the founder of music blog, Lady.Bang.Beat. She interns for Paper magazine, writes for Tom Tom magazine and works at a hotel. She also creates whimsical, pop-infused music to inspire and empower people.
She does it subtly, almost like a hypnotist. Her music creeps up on the listener curling around his or her ears in a blend of synthesized, almost-nostalgic sounds. It sounds like she could be singing over a timid orchestra, or from inside an arcade or in a sweeping pasture filled with wind chimes and harmonizing blue jays. Her clear voice slides through songs in an array of feelings: light and airy, sweet and sad, defiant and accusatory. It’s the kind of music that bobs your head without you realizing.
“Luxurious Corners,” Taylor’s latest album, is the first to be released with a label. The album title reflects the sounds of the six, very personal tracks. It is easy to wrap yourself in the luxury of soft layers of sound that seem to invite you into a fantasy land, but an eerie feeling lurks around the edges, hinting at the pain that Taylor has woven into her songs.
Taylor, who graduated from Temple last year, said the album was originally written to highlight some of the struggles in her life, especially concerning people she knew with mental illness, and how that has affected her. She said her favorite track is one that just made it onto the album, titled “Alone.”
“It’s a really somber, sort of spooky song, but it speaks a lot about me,” she said.
Taylor said making her music is the best way for her to deal with her past issues; she went to boarding school at a young age and felt like an outsider, a “weirdo.”
“I just want to show people that, yeah, it might have sucked and it might have been weird for you, and you were one of the outsiders, but that’s OK, and that’s something you can take advantage of, because you have an interesting story to tell,” Taylor said.
Taylor hopes that by sharing her share her story, others will want to share theirs as well, bringing people together into a community of shared experience.
A Philly native, Taylor launched her career into trance-inducing beats after a high school music teacher told her about Girls Rock Philly, a nonprofit that offers a camp to teach girls about music and about being a woman.
“You come out of it feeling empowered,” she said of the experience. After camp ended, Taylor continued to play with the band she had formed while in the program.
“We played some festivals – anywhere that would take us, really. We just wanted to play,” she said.
Taylor still volunteers with GRP and credits the idea for Lady.Bang.Beat to her experience there. While volunteering with the program in 2010, Taylor met fellow volunteer, Madeline Thomas, who got her thinking about the presence of women on popular blogs.
“She said, ‘We read these blogs, and you go seven pages in before you see your first woman musician,’” Taylor said, “So we thought it would be cool to start a blog that was only women. You could go to every single page and see a woman.”
Taylor started a women-centric Tumblr page about a week after her and Thomas’ first discussion. Since then, the page has evolved into a full website complete with album reviews, interviews and 232 Twitter followers.
“People started getting really excited about it, and it’s been growing ever since,” Taylor said.
Taylor’s passion for strong womanhood is evident, not only on the blog, but in her music and in how she organizes her musical life. When writing a song about a powerful character, she always makes it a woman. She also said she tries to present herself as someone who can take control and who really produces music in a serious way. She doesn’t just bang a tambourine on stage, she also does much more.
“I try to put that up front,” she said. “I’m in control, and I’m not going to take a back seat to anybody when I’m playing my music.”
Eventually, Taylor said she hopes to work on a global level to help women and girls tell their stories and improve their self-esteem, but she admits she can’t do it overnight. First, she said she hopes to find balance in her currently hectic life.
“I feel like I’m on a good path,” Taylor said. “Just by playing music, it’s showing people you don’t have to be on top of the charts to be good or be unique or be yourself. You can be playing in your garage or play a show in your neighborhood and still rock pretty hard.”
Rachel McDevitt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.