Taylor Tote on Music, Vegan Love, and What's Next!
By Jose Carrazana
NJ shore native, Taylor Tote, has the Asbury Park music scene SHOOK! This promising up-and-coming artist has garnered incredible audiences, both locally and – more recently – nationally. Mixing sounds ranging from Amy Winehouse to Adele to Grace Porter and throwing in the occasional short burst of country, Tote keeps her listeners on their toes and captive at all times.
Tote’s music capabilities are clearly evident, with more than a handful of nominations and awards indicating a promising future. Tote has become a local fixture, opening for acts like Southside Johnny at the Stone Pony…yet there is much more to Tote than reviews and comments on social media.
On an early November morning, I received a call from Tote’s rep. I rushed out of bed, put on black joggers and a lapel coat (in an attempt to look professional), and walked them to my local everyday lounge. We sat and talked for a bit, discussing music inspirations, the vegan life, and upcoming shows:
When and how did you first become interested in music?
TT: Yeah! That’s a hard one because I always felt like I was supposed to do it – growing up it’s all I did, all I wanted to do, and I had this urge to…continue with it. I was an only child for a while, so the way I occupied myself was (by) listening to music, singing my own music, and putting on skits for my parents. Well, I was always serious (about music), but my parents started taking it seriously when I was 16. Ever since then, I've been moving around the local scene and, more recently, traveling the country just playing music. I've been singing professionally for five years now.
How were the skits you put on for your parents when you were young?
TT: I don't know! I remember dancing to Britney Spears and having those big fluffy scarves. I also remember singing and dancing whenever company came over.
How did Tote start her music career?
TT: I remember when I was 16 and I sat my parents down and I told them this is what I want to do – I want to be a singer. At that point I had (considered attending) Berklee College of Music in Boston, but (after) visiting the school and doing their summer program, I decided not to go because I just felt like I had so much going on here.
What are your musical influences?
TT: I feel like I have a lot; I love Amy Winehouse, Adele, and Grace Porter. People have also mentioned Stevie Nicks. I love when people tell me that, especially (coming from) people that grew up listening to her during her prime.
What is Taylor Tote doing when she is not singing? What are some of the things you do besides music?
TT: I enjoy trying new vegan restaurants with my boyfriend; I have a list on my phone of all the vegan places I want to try. I like baking and posting (the food) to our Instagram account, Veganlove928. I also like dancing. I was a competitive dancer for a few years, but I stopped when I was a senior in high school, because my schedule got so busy. I wish I could somehow incorporate that into my music – hopefully I’ll have a music video that involves it.
Do you go to school?
TT: I go to Brookdale Community College (for) my associate’s degree, but right now I’m focused on my music. Community college is the only school that fits my schedule with all the traveling that I do for my music.
So you recently released a new video “Fighter.” What were your inspirations to write the song? How did it go?
TT: So last year I met a woman named Andrea through a mutual friend. Her daughter was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic leukemia right before she turned 3. She quit her job and started this foundation, Infinite Love for Kids Fighting Cancer, and she’s been full force about raising money and awareness for pediatric cancer. Her daughter, Nathalie, is soon celebrating her second year cancer-free, which a lot of kids don't make it to. I feel like a have such a strong connection (to Andrea’s family). It feels like I've known them for a long time. When I met Andrea she needed entertainment to help her cause. One day, while babysitting, I asked the girls if they wanted to write a song and within the first three lines I immediately knew that they would be featured in the video. It was very interesting to song-write with young kids – the way they see life is very inspiring. Also, 100% of the proceeds raised by the video go to the Infinite Love for Kids Fighting Cancer.
Have you tried to get into the New Brunswick music scene?
Tote: Yes! I would love to.
So what's happening in general for Taylor Tote?
TT: In January, I performed at the Winter National Association of Music Merchants [NAMM] in California which was really exciting! We are also in the talks for new music and videos, but that’s all at the moment.
For all of Taylor Tote's upcoming shows go to taylortotemusic.com.
And check out TT's uplifting music video for "Fighter" below: