MUSIC INTERVIEW: Taylor Acorn
“Yesterday I started losing my voice a little but I got through it,” Taylor Acorn beams through a massive smile and pearly white teeth. Her joy at making not only her Download Festival debut, but her first ever appearance in the UK, is undeniable. She’s buzzing, electric and still full of adrenaline as she sits down with Bring The Noise UK behind the Kerrang! Avalanche Stage at Download.
The sun is still beating down and slowly roasting us while we chat and seek refuge in the portacabin she is using as her dressing room. And even for Acorn, a Nashville native, the heat is a bit of a struggle today.
“God yeah it’s so hot,” she admits as she mops her brow with her hand. “I’m from Nashville so you’d think I’d be used to this but I’m not. I’m so happy to be here though. My voice was going a little because I think we went really hard the first two festivals, as I was so excited and I’d never been to the UK or even Europe before. So being here for Download, it’s some pretty cool circumstances to be coming here for my first ever time here too.”
Acorn’s musical roots began, like so many in her home State, on the foundation stones of country music. But her love of 90’s rock and a daily staple of the rock bands of the time seeped into her own music writing and playing, leading her from the country path and onto the road she is now bossing as a pop-punk rock hybrid, with a style as if Avril Lavinge and Blink-182 had an all night drinking session with Hayley Williams.
“Well, I grew up listening to a lot of 90s rock like Stain’d and Matchbox-20 and Third Eye Blind,” she reflects in between hurried gulps of water. “That’s what shaped the genres of music I make now I guess. I was a country artist early on, but I was influenced by a lot of rock bands. Evanescence were a huge influence and I learned to sing by listening to their records. I used to try to mimic Amy Lee when I was younger and those were my vocal lessons to myself and I’d just sing them a lot.”
Acorn missed seeing her idol at the very festival she is playing at right now by just 48-hours, a fact not lost on the 28-year-old who admits it is encouraging to see so many hard rocking women and female-led bands on the bill at Download Festival this year.
“I’m so sad I missed Evanescence this week and I saw Lzzy Hale and Within Temptation too on the bill,” she goes on. “It’s so cool to see more women on the bill and women being noticed in the scene, as I’m such a girly girl as I love seeing them succeed and it’s cool to be one of them in the midst of them.”
Despite it being one of the early afternoon slots for Acorn the tent was packed when she took to the stage. And any fears that those inside the dark and gloriously shaded canvas were there purely as a respite from the unrelenting sun were quickly dismissed, as they greeted her arrival with a roar. Every chorus prompts pumped fists in the air and pockets of singalongs. But when Acorn breaks into Psycho, that’s when shit really connects. The song is obviously a big crowd favourite and it gets the biggest group choral effort of the entire day – on any stage we find ourselves at.
And why would it?
“Where I throw a little brick through your pretty little face/you’re easy on the eyes but you’re easier to hate/an angel’s gonna fall if you come around/if my name’s still on your tongue, then I’ll rip it out.”
The lyrics are hard-hitting, half tongue-in-cheek but also based in reality and real, raw emotions and as Acorn explains, it is based on something many of us can relate to. “Psycho is a funny one,” she grins. “I’m a Virgo and I’m the kind of person who tends to date people I can try to fix. A project kind of relationship. I was with someone for a long time, but they were one of those people who had a tendency to gaslight me and make me feel like I was going crazy – and all the time he was playing on the side with someone else. So I know that kind of person and situation so well.
“The song came around after I got in a room with my friend Spencer Jordan and a producer. They had the idea of Psycho and they had the first verse written. When I heard it I said I could relate to this so much and then we wrote the chorus together.
“In the current climate I know you have to be careful what you say and I’m very sensitive about my fans and what they like and want. Psycho is a hardcore song with the idea of rocking someone a little bit, but it’s also a fun song and I’m so happy I put it out and people seem to really like it. It’s one of my live favourites too.”
The nature of the festival beast means so many of the bands and acts we love often jet in for a set and are back on the road again, before their spot on the stage they left is even cold and the next band have set up.
But for once, Acorn grins excitedly, she has some time and is planning on checking out some of the other acts at Donington Park on this most sunny of Sunday’s, especially a band she shared a transatlantic flight with en-route to Download.
“Oh man, today is the first day we get to hang out for a little while after to watch some other bands,” she beams. “We have been bouncing from festival to festival, but there is some time today so I definitely want to go out and see I Prevail and Palaye Royale.
“Funny story, on our way here we actually ran into I Prevail in New York. We were next to them and we had heard them talking technical musical terms and we didn’t recognise anyone off the bat, as off stage it can be harder to figure out who is who. So we spoke to them and asked them if they were going to Europe and they told us they were I Prevail. I felt so bad as they were in front of us on the plane and I felt like I was kicking the guitarists seat the whole time. I’m gonna see them, explore and enjoy the experience at least.”
Now Acorn can check the box on a UK visit and playing on the hallowed turf of Download Festival, hitting two more of the stops on her musical bucket list. But will she come back to the UK for a headline run of shows of her own and bring Pyscho to the masses?
“We have been on tour for three and a half months so I’m going to go home for a month and take a break, but we have a new project and new music coming out in August,” smiles Taylor, who is as engaging and sweet as she is talented.
“The plan after that is to play some headlining shows and I hope to come back to the UK. Definitely on our horizon, but we will hit the US first then see what we can do. The price of touring has definitely been an experience too, as I am an independent artist so we have to take care of everything ourselves, but at the end of the day I feel you get out of it what you put into it, so I’m happy to do that and maybe you’ll see us soon!”
Interview by: Eric Mackinnon