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An Interview with “The Bare Minimum“ Rising Star, Taylor Contarino

Taylor Contarino, Photo by Nya Federoff

Hello Everyone! Today I sat down with the lovely Taylor Contarino for an emailed interview celebrating her new EP, The Bare Minimum which is currently out now. As you read, you’ll see we talk about various aspects of music, life, and hometowns. But, before we get into this exciting interview, I want to introduce you to Taylor first.

Taylor Contarino is a 22-year-old rising star in the R&B genre motivated by artists such as Summer Walker and Jhené Aiko. She is not only a Singer-Songwriter but also a DJ and Producer! Still in college this impressive and talented young woman is an inspiration. 

1. What is it about music that makes you feel passionate to keep moving forward in your career? 

Music saved me from a really dark part of my life. At the end of the day, I will always cite music as the thing that saved my life. My freshman year I was depressed, and the saving factor for me was starting my music blog and finding purpose in that. I started having something to look forward to again, and a lot of that is thanks to music and finally finding something to exert passion, love, and energy into.

2. Other than pursuing your educational aspirations, what else compelled you to relocate to Los Angeles, California? Were there any challenges in moving from the East to West Coast? 

I am such an East Coast girl through and through and will always love my hometown. I miss the East Coast all of the time, but I also must say that moving to the West Coast has opened up my life in more ways than I can even have ever imagined. I absolutely love where I am from, but I could not have been pursuing my music industry aspirations without having moved to the West Coast, which has opened up my life and career aspirations in unimaginable ways. 

3. I saw you lead songwriting workshops and events at GRL SND studios, which sounds so fun! Can you tell us a bit about how you got started with this and what inspired it?

Absolutely! I have been passionate about writing since my youth, and it feels exciting and natural for me to share my love for writing with others, even though I am also simultaneously learning just as much as my students and peers at these workshops. I have always felt naturally compelled to writing and also to teaching and passing knowledge on, and I even have aspirations of working in higher education one day. Because of this, I feel very compelled towards teaching and in leadership in general, and I love helping facilitate environments of learning and education.

 4. What made you start your fitness journey? Is there anyone specifically that inspires you in the fitness world?

The reason that I started my fitness journey is because after years of overworking myself, I eventually grew sick my junior Fall of college, and had to return home to go to the hospital and be checked out because doctors in CA couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. Upon healing after a couple months, I decided to completely rearrange my life to prioritize my mental and physical health, and ever since then, fitness has become a huge part of my life, and I’ve set and accomplished goals for myself including running a half marathon, full marathon, and competing in a powerlifting competition. My fitness journey has been so inspiring and empowering for me, and I’ve made it a priority for myself to go to the gym every single day, even if it’s just an hour of walking or some other type of movement for my body and mental health.

 5. The Bare Minimum seems to be a deeply personal journey where you’ve become vulnerable yet empowered. You’ve even created a hotline where listeners can share their own stories. Can you tell us a bit more about writing these songs and the creation of the hotline? How do you feel these songs will empower other listeners who’ve dealt with similar situations?

Thank you so much for this. Absolutely. Creating this EP has been one of the most beautiful, inspiring, and empowering journeys of my life. This EP is literally my baby, and honestly, the fact that it’s out in the world now is such a bittersweet and beautiful feeling because I am so happy it’s out into the world, but I also feel so sensitive, passionate, and even protective about the creative process, and I will honestly miss being in the midst of the creative process.

Creating this project and even the process of facilitating the marketing rollout was so incredibly exciting and beautiful. Making something that you believe in is such a beautiful feat on its own, and getting to roll it out into the world is such a sensitive but beautiful process.

 6. What is your favorite genre? Is there anything from that genre that influences your own music? 

R&B is the musical genre that has gotten me through so much in my life, and I owe so much of my passion and zest for music to the genre because it got me through many heartbreaks, hurts, and situations throughout my youth, teenage years, and now, my early adult years. R&B influences my music in many ways, and I’m extremely inspired to encapsulate the origins and elements of R&B into my music. 

7. What is your favorite song on the EP and why?

Every single track on this EP means the world to me, but "Bare Minimum, Pt. 2" is so special to me because it was not supposed to happen. I walked into the studio ready to leave the Bare Minimum Era behind after the single, and felt immediately compelled to the beat and felt inspired immediately upon hearing the beat for the first time. This song was so incredibly fun to create and was so different for me because a lot of my tracks tend to be sadder and more solemn than this one. This one was so fun, exciting, and empowering for me to create, and even helped me to get through the healing process of my previous relationship.

 8. In November 2023, you released “Time Machine” that was recorded with Cameron Davidson in the historic Abbey Road Studios in London. Can you tell us more about this experience? What did it feel like to record in such an iconic location?

Getting to record at Abbey Road was such an inspiring, unique, and unforgettable experience that I will truly remember for the rest of my life. Being in this studio was so empowering for me and made me truly feel like I am in the exact place where I am supposed to be. I couldn’t have asked for a better time in London last year during a USC x ICMP of London collaborative tour, where I started off as an artist manager and ended up writing and producing on some tracks including “Time Machine.” 

 9. Now that the EP has officially been released, are there any other exciting projects fans can expect to see? 

I am so excited to say that although I adore this EP with my entire heart and soul, the reality is that this is only the beginning, and you can expect so much more from me coming up. I have huge intentions for my musical future, and I really want to get more ingrained and invested into my passion for R&B. There is definitely an album on the way and so much more.

 10. In addition to creating music, you’ve also written a book titled “Poetic Gymnastics.” Can you tell us a bit more about what inspired this collection? Are there any similarities between your poems and songs? 

Absolutely! Writing this book was another BEAUTIFUL journey, and I had the pleasure and honor of working with my lovely publisher, Kyra, who made the book publishing process such a breeze. I see such a strong correlation between my poems and my songs, and honestly, sometimes a song I write will turn into a poem or vice versa. Overall, all of the art that I create goes hand in hand with one another, and I try to align all of my artistic projects with one another because all of my art is always authentic, honest, raw, and representative of my feelings, thoughts, and emotions.

11. On April 25th, you had an EP release block party, which sounds so cool! What was that experience like with getting to share your work with friends?

Thank you so much! I am so grateful for the community that I have and for the friends and family that I have in my life. Being able to share my music with my friends, especially my Track teammates, USC/college friends, and my journalism school friends is so fun because sometimes the people that I meet do not realize I make music because they know me as an athlete or a journalist or a student, so getting to show everybody a new side of me and my artistry, of which I am so proud, is always such a fun and exciting thing to do.

Taylor Contarino, Photo by Nya Federoff

If you are a lover of R&B, please go check out Taylor! Her music and work ethic is so inspiring for anyone to follow and admire. I look forward to seeing her work and what’s to come!

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