An Interview with Taylor Tote and a Review of her Debut CD

Back in February, we introduced to our followers an up-and-coming New Jersey artist by the name of Taylor Tote. The Monmouth County resident was just about to release her first music video and first CD. She introduced herself and her music to us this way:

“Music is something I believe I was born to do. I’ve been doing this before I can even remember. It’s so weird and hard to explain but I just know that this was a gift and I’m suppose to do it. I just came into the world doing this, knowing how to do it, and wanting to do it.”

The former lead singer and songwriter of Ardvark Smiles hails from Tinton Falls, Taylor Tote is 19 now and has a new band consisting of lead guitarist Tom Briant, Anthony Flora on drums, Nick Piescor on guitar, and bassist Julian Michalski. Her first EP, launched at during a concert at the Two River Theater in Red Bank, contains 4 songs, headlined by “Superman” (watch the video below):

“Superman” is a ballad which showcases Taylor’s musical style, her voice with strong Nashville country vibes, supported by blues-y instrumentals. The Superman of this song is Taylor’s hero, so I asked her who really is her Superman:

Taylor Tote Interview Monmouth Musician“Well, I wrote this song when I was sixteen after going through my first real breakup. “Superman” could really have been anybody. Superman, in the meaning of the song, is someone who can take me away from all the pain and someone who can bring me eternal happiness. That could be a friend, a new lover, my parents, my family, a pet, or even God in some cases. When we filmed the video, I didn’t really want to put a “story” to it for the reason being that Superman could be anyone to different people and I really wanted people to connect to it in their own way. I still implied Superman throughout the video, roaming a huge city (NYC) wondering where Superman could be and also looking up at some points because you know, Superman flies and that’s cool. But personally, I have multiple Supermans… Well, Supermen I guess you would say. As I listed above, all my friends, family, and especially my boyfriend. All of my fans and supporters. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been and that truly is the meaning of the song.”

Of course, I went into comic-book mode and asked her what other super-hero would be her favorite:

“Ahh I’m not sure if I know! I’m kind of thinking Captain America or Black Widow. They’re both pretty cool too!”

About Taylor Tote Review Superman Music

Moving on, I don’t know if you can talk about a “sophomore slump” in a 4-track EP, but the 2nd song, “Jane” feels like a letdown, maybe because it comes after “Superman”. I’m talking just about the song itself, because Taylor’s voice is beautiful in this one, and the jazz trumpets are entertaining.

The next song, “All You Left Behind” first sounds like it’s sung by a different artist. Taylor goes higher into a completely new vocal range, proving again her remarkable versatility. It’s a soft ballad that sounds more pop than the previous two songs. Even if it’s a heartbroken piece, I find it addictive and I can’t stop listening to it.

Finally, “Crazy” is definitely my favorite tune of her debut CD. Here, Taylor Tote goes through the entire range of her abilities, from country to rock, with upbeat instrumentals.

Last time we spoke, I asked Taylor if she could sing a duet with any artist in the world, who would that be? She responded:

“People would probably be really surprised to know that I’m a huge Hall and Oates fan. If you turn on any of their songs, you will be sure to get me in an extremely good mood. So if I would have to do a duet with anyone, I’d choose Darryl Hall. He has one of the greatest voices I’ve ever heard and it would be a real honor to sing with him”

Taylor Tote CD Music Reviews NJSo I reminded her that Hall&Oates are playing in Red Bank this June and joked that she should jump on stage for a duet. Taylor seemed to like the idea:

“I seriously want to go so bad!!!! It would probably take a lot for me to hold back from jumping up and singing Rich Girl with them. Or any of their songs for that matter. They are just so amazing. Like I said previously, their music just makes me so happy when I listen to it!!”

After encouraging her to rush the stage at the concert, I had more mischievous ideas for Taylor, like going away from New Jersey to a music town, be it Nashville, LA, Austin or NYC. Apparently it’s something she is considering for her future as a musician:

Taylor Tote Music Review Superman“This is I find myself thinking about very often. I’m kind of stuck between Nashville and LA. I’m an hour from NYC and I absolutely love it there but I’m just not sure that’s where I fall and where my music falls. But I’m not opposed to doing something there if something does come up. Nashville is something I kind of question too only because I know they have specific formulas they follow, and definitely certain styles. I know I’d love to gig there and I’d love to check it out sometime this year. We’ll see how that works out. As for LA, I’ve always dreamed of going there and I just feel like so much happens there! I could be totally wrong but the way it comes off to me is just… I don’t know… Exciting! A lot of celebrities are there whether it’s actors, musicians, or even TV show hosts, etc. I feel like everyone ends up there during some point in their performing career and I need to get there. Even if I perform at a local bar around there and Adam Levine just happens to be walking by, that could probably open up doors! So I don’t know, I think LA is definitely my goal but I’d love to check out other places as well!”

Taylor Tote has been a big part of the Jersey Shore music scene for the last several years. Her previous band, Ardvark Smile, received Asbury Music Award nominations and won the Rock to the Top competition in 2013. She grew up in Tinton Falls, NJ and is a 2013 Monmouth Regional High School Alumni. You can download her CD here.

Photo credits for this story: Right Stuff Studios.

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