Taylor Janzen Speaks for a Generation of Young Adults Facing Spiritual and Emotional Dissonance
>> The 19-year-old Canadian singer-songwriter Taylor Janzen has already carved her own niche in the music industry, receiving praise from The New York Times for her EP ‘Interpersonal’ and recording her latest track “New Mercies” with Mike Mogis, the producer for highly-regarded artists including Bright Eyes, Cursive, and Phoebe Bridgers. Writing melancholy folk songs with an unbeatable sense of hope, Janzen approaches complicated topics including emotional abuse, mental health disorders, and the trials of heartbreak within the lyrics of her songs, including her single “Waiting Room” which discusses the difficulties that Janzen faced when she first sought therapy: “My mouth sewn shut, for you I tear open the seams / Every time they ask what's wrong with me / If I knew, I'd tell you, but trust me I don't / And you can diagnose me, but that won't make me cope.” Raised in a religious family, Janzen explains that she turned to music as a creative outlet to express her feelings and to discover the answers that she couldn’t find within her spirituality. Finding herself inspired by artists who employ religion as a tactic to explore ideas and emotions within their music such as Julien Baker and Brandi Carlisle, Janzen shares that, “Songwriters that use music to figure out their thoughts on religion are really cool--like that's kind of what I do. I grew up super religious, so I’d say more religion influences the way that I write, but not necessarily [religious] music if that makes sense."
Looking towards spirituality and religious concepts to discover inner peace and explore a more profound sense of purpose, Janzen expresses that she turns towards religion “to be centered and to use that as a greater way to-- I guess to find better ways to love people. And that is a huge part of what I am still connected to in religion.” While Janzen finds inspiration from the morality of her religion, there are multiple aspects about the community that she wishes could be altered to accept and include those from diverse backgrounds. Opening up about the discomfort that some have felt in her religious community, Janzen voices that, “I think that especially the Christian community-- it’s really common for everyone to think that ‘oh if I don't feel the same way as this person then what I'm feeling and what I’m experiencing is wrong.’ But everyone has their own experience. Everyone's different, and I wish that was understood in religious communities.”
Coping with a number of mental health problems throughout her adolescent and teenage years, Janzen shares that she’s dealt with high levels of anxiety which create cycles of negative emotions and uncontrollable moments of panic. As Janzen sought treatment from psychiatrists and therapists, she found that her symptoms were only worsened by the unfortunate interactions that she had with disagreeable and unresponsive mental health professionals. Voicing the adverse experiences that she had throughout her initial therapy sessions in her song “Waiting Room,” Janzen illustrates that, “I think that when therapy is done right, it’s a long-term thing, but when it’s done poorly, like when I was trying to get help, it's a thing that kind of makes it worse. But don't let this discourage you from getting better! When I first was starting to get help, I saw a lot of bad therapists. It was just a weird system, I got passed around a lot, so that was kind of the space that I was in when I wrote [Waiting Room]. Now I have a great therapist. I remember when I released the song I sent it to her and was like, ‘this is not what your waiting room is like! Your waiting room is just fine, I promise.’” Using her music as a creative outlet for emotional expression, Janzen advises those who haven’t found a way to tangibly face their inner turmoils to begin searching-- and recommends therapy as a fantastic place to start.
As she looks towards her future as a songwriter, Janzen hopes that her lyricism can act as a guiding comfort to young adults who are currently dealing with mental health issues and the effects of emotional trauma. Reflecting on the infinite power that music has to affect a person’s psyche, Janzen shares that “I think the favorite thing about songwriting for me is-- it's really important to articulate yourself when you're going through something that's really difficult….So maybe if there are people that can't articulate themselves right now, if I can help do that with my music then it's kind of like paying it forward a little bit. But also helping myself by writing it. But it's sad-- the music is sad, but I’m able to articulate something that is hard to understand sometimes.” Planning to release an EP at the start of the New Year, Janzen has an exciting repertoire of events lined up for 2019, including performing at SXSW and making an appearance at the Shaky Knees Festival in May. In the upcoming year, Janzen can be expected to be seen taking on stages far from her hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba-- acting as a model of encouragement for those overcoming the setbacks posed by mental health disorders in cities around the globe. <<
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