Track x Track: Taylah Carroll - The After Party
Naarm/Melbourne singer-songwriter takes us through her gorgeous new EP, track by track
Image credit: Bridgette Winton
Following a string of awesome singles that we’ve been big fans of here at Pilerats, including premiering the striking live version of Sleep on My Side, Taylah Carroll has readied her sophomore EP, The After Party.
Wasting no time since the release of debut EP Have A Party On Me last November, its companion release The After Party sees Carroll expand on her unique brand of chamber-pop meets alt-folk and indie-rock, wrapped up in an ethereal & elegant aural package.
To celebrate the release of The After Party, Taylah was kind enough to take us through the influences and creative processes of the EP, track by track - have a listen and get to know!
A baby note for my baby reprise. You might recognise this as the outro from last year's 'Intentions', off of my debut EP 'Have A Party On Me'. It's a fun and cheeky sonic signpost. It was important to me that this second half of the double EP sat in continuum with my 2022 debut, and this felt like a beautiful way to tie the two together.
Sometimes Good People Do Bad Things
One of the first songs I ever wrote on guitar. This song feels like a secret saviour, a quiet achiever... It's never really had its moment in the sun - but it's absolutely one of my favourite songs I've written in life so far. Growing up is an inescapably traumatic experience. The world is at least 50% less-than-ideal, and it slowly unveils itself as such as we develop and grow.
You learn that people you admire are fallible, that structures we create only serve a select few in our communities, and you learn things about yourself that surprise you. 'Sometimes Good People Do Bad Things' is written about forgiving my parents, and forgiving myself. Acknowledging that life ain't black and white - and how beautiful is the nuance?!
A song that was born out of infidelity.
*Note to reader: I was cautious when releasing this song, that it might look like I was making the same kind of moral statement about the variety of relationship practices that exist. I absolutely am not. To each their respectful and merry own. This is just a song about my personal experience - in a situation where certain agreed upon parameters were breached.
I wrote 'Monogamy' after a very long and lived-in relationship ended. It examines social and romantic structures - that at times, keep us contained. My favourite lines in this song are: “Selflessness is not self-sacrifice”. It sounds obvious, but I find the two difficult to distinguish sometimes.
“Got some credit for the distance, but no goddamn cash flow” - is a metaphor speaking to the unaffordability of maintaining a false relationship. Eventually, you will run out of emotional cash flow.
It's a one take live performance, with only Synth and lead guitar parts added later. When I listen back, I can hear how croaky and 'lived-in' my voice is, after singing for a full week in the studio. But it's really human and raw - which is important to the sentiment of the track. I wrote the song in full, on the back of an envelope after a morning shower. I do my best thinking either driving, or while in the shower (I'm forced to sit/stand still).
'Shower Song' touches on a lot of factors that evoke cognitive dissonance in me. From certain childhood experiences, a tendency to stay in unhealthy friendships and relationships for fear of rejection, to Global warming and the ways that I live hypocritically in the face of it... We all have these tendencies, frustrations and inner conflicts, sometimes it takes a super hot shower to reflect on them.
I almost left this track off the EP, for fear the lyrics were a little too 'gothic' or confronting... but then, that would be succumbing to that fear of rejection, or fear of being 'too much' that has always plagued me (especially in High School). So in a way - releasing this song is really a way of healing the part of me that wrote it, and breaking painful patterns. All in all, it envelops the journey we are all constantly on together, always growing, and trying to be 'better than' before. <3
Sleep On My Side
I wrote this song in the height of Melbourne's Pandemic lock-downs. I was living in a share-house with two of my beautiful best friends, Mikaila and Morgannah. That home was the Big Bang of my life, in the best of ways. I was really with 'my people'. I had an upright piano that lived in our hallway, just at the front door. I'd have to stand up and move the chair aside for anyone to exit or enter... a kinda transitory place to try and sit and write music. The piano is my primary instrument - and after really leaning into guitar - this song brought me back home to the keys.
The song is about dating for the first time in adulthood. Learning how to use hinge, how to be coy, and how to know when feelings were real again.The dating waters can be murky, and it really is its very own social artform. A peculiar one that no one seems to have mastered. It makes you re-look at yourself in certain ways. Who am I as a stranger? Who am I as a lover? Do I like myself as this persona? Do they like me? Do I care? I learnt a great deal about myself in that time. I recorded this track with Maria Moles on Drums, Sean Gage on bass, and myself on a vintage Wurlitzer - at Northcote's Sound Park studios. It's my dreamy, 60's CruiseShip Pop Ballad.
I would probably class this as the saddest song I've ever penned. I wrote the lyrics in the 'notes' of my iPhone - as I went on a 'night-walk' during lock-downs. I was so antsy during those times. I was processing the breakdown of an 8 year relationship, built up child-hood trauma - and I had no distractions. There wasn't even anywhere I could legally go... I couldn't seek novelty from any place or thing - it was all just perpetual SAMENESS. It would hit nightfall and I couldn't sit still - I would just walk for as long as I could through the darkness - stepping away from each thought as it arose, physically and mentally shifting, sifting, shuffling through the baggage. I was walking so much that my feet literally formed blisters.
"Hey there, novelty seeker - walking down to the cemetery, to congratulate the roses, while the skin peels from under your feet, You must learn to sit to think… 'cause it's not safe on these streets".
I was walking past Coburg's Pine Ridge Cemetery, past the Seven Eleven, up the hill and back down again as I manically typed, not entirely in control of my fingers - which were partly numbed by brisk winter air. When I got home, I had all the lyrics written out like a poem. I like to imagine the rhythm was determined by my walking pace. All I needed were the chords, and a vocal melody. Those came to me on my bedroom floor the next morning. I recorded 'Novelty Seeker' with my producer Tim Harvey (Aldous Harding, Jade Imagine, Gena Rose Bruce) at his home studio. My partner Sandy lay the lead guitar down later, at our home - a share house in Brunswick East. It's a special one, and the perfect final song to sing out this chapter.
- Taylah Carroll