Taylor Acorn airs out her dirty laundry on her latest project. The Nashville based singer-songwriter is taking a new direction with her emotional EP Certified Depressant, dropping September 22nd.
From releasing her first EP Put It In A Song as a country singer in 2017 to now, Acorn says Certified Depressant is like an autobiography of the past seven years of her life. The eight tracks cover Acorn’s struggles with mental health, falling in and out of love and ultimately discovering who she is.
Essentially, she says, “It’s a little bit of a rollercoaster.” Though she thinks fans could be overwhelmed by the end of it, Acorn hopes people can feel less alone when they listen. With previously-released tracks “Psycho,” “Coma” and “Certified Depressant,” she’s already seen how the vulnerable lyrics can bring people together.
Ahead of the release, Taylor Acorn is playing Riot Fest on Saturday, and she’s already sold out an upcoming show at Cobra Lounge in November.
To unpack Certified Depressant, we spoke to Acorn about the life stories that inspired her songs, how she came up with the term “certified depressant,” the tracks she can’t wait to play live and more.
To start off, what is your vision behind the Certified Depressant EP?
I have been an artist for quite some time. My last project I put out, though, was back in 2017. It was my first project I’d ever put out that was fully just songs that I had written. From putting out that project, and back then I was a country artist, to now where I’m doing something completely different, and I’ve lived seven years worth of life between the two, I figured it was time to put out a new project.
It’s touching on all of the emotions and all of the situations that I’ve been in, from releasing that very first project up until now, and my struggles with mental health and finding love and falling out of love and just kind of figuring out who I am and what I want to say and what my music stands for, and what it sounds like up until now. That’s where the inspiration from the EP comes from. It’s just very much real. The situations that have happened in my life and stories that I’ve, as they’ve gone on, I’ve just been really fortunate to be able to tell. It’s just a little autobiography, I guess.
To get into your songwriting process, maybe starting with the title track, can you talk about what inspired you and what it was like to write it?
“Certified depressant” is very much about who I am as a person. I’ve struggled with mental health for a very long time, so that’s something that I know very well. When I was in the studio, I had come up with this idea of certified depressant. It’s somebody who’s constantly a Debbie Downer, and that’s very much how I was living my life. For many years, I couldn’t get out of that headspace. I would be my biggest critic or my biggest enemy, and I would put myself down for no reason, so I came up with this idea of certified depressant.
It basically just touches on all of the things that I struggle with. I struggle with comparison, I struggle with my identity, I can struggle with my mental health and feeling high and feeling like I’m the one that you is the problem when it comes to my relationships and stuff like that. That’s really kind of where the whole premise of that comes from. It’s just airing out my dirty laundry, I guess, staying open and just be like, “Yeah, you know, what I am, this is what I do sometimes, and it’s okay.” For people who are maybe potentially feeling the same way, just letting them know that like, “Hey, it’s okay to feel these things and to go through that. It’s the beauty of being human.”
In that sense, do you feel like the songwriting process or releasing and seeing fan reaction is sort of a cathartic process?
Yeah. Up until this point, I was writing a lot for other people and wasn’t necessarily writing for myself. Being able to write something that is so personal and then putting it out and having people connect with it the way that they do, yeah, is a very cathartic feeling. I think it’s brought a lot of fans of mine together, just being able to relate to that in just one instance. It’s gotten me a lot closer with a lot of the fans also, so it’s just been a really fun, crazy experience, to be honest, but it’s wonderful.
Specifically with some of the songs you’ve already released, like “Psycho,” which has been out and gained a lot of popularity, how have you felt about the fan and public reaction to it?
I, again, always, always, always want to put the fans first, and I’m always very considerate of flow. I try to be very considerate of other peoples’ feelings, and that song in particular, I knew the day that we wrote it. I was like, “Oh my god, I love this song. I can relate to it.” I feel like I’ve been in so many relationships where they make you feel like you’re going nuts when really it’s not you at all, it’s them. Not to point any fingers or anything, but that tends to always be the common denominator. So, when we wrote that song, I was super excited about it, but at the same time, I knew that there were some things that could potentially be hurtful to other people or offensive.
Obviously, I wanted to go about it as graceful as I possibly could. I made a video where I was like, “This might offend somebody, but this is what it’s about,” It just tried to do it that way. But, the fan reaction, even still, I’ll get some negative comments, and mostly from men. Especially women, it’s been really amazing to see that they feel empowered by it, and it’s kind of giving them their power back, and it is so fun. It is really fun, honestly. Men also can relate, not just like, “This is offensive to me.” They’re more or less, “There are guys out there like this, and I’m not one of them.” It’s been a really fun, very, I guess sporadic, way of finding out how people enjoy it or what they feel about it. But, it’s been really cool.
As you’re writing the songs, do you think a lot about what fans are going to take away from it when you release it?
I do, and I’ve always been like that. When I listen to artists that I love, obviously, I feel very connected to them in one way, shape or form. A lot of it is because of the things that they say and the things that they experienced, and I always try to think of it that way. I know that there probably are a lot of people that are going through the same things that I am. If they can take away at least a little glimpse of hope that maybe, because somebody’s singing about it, it makes them feel like they can go about their day and continue on and be strong and get through the situations that I am singing about. That it’ll be okay. I try to be graceful with my words and try to put it in a way that everybody can understand, and it’s not going over their head. I’m just trying to get down to their level and just be like, “Hey, this is what I’m going through. And if you’re going through it to too, you’re not alone.”
I want to ask you about “Coma,” the original version you dropped as well the version with Cassadee Pope. Can you talk me through those?
“Coma” is a song that I love dearly. It’s probably one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written, and I was very excited to be able to write it with Cassadee, and she has been an inspiration to me for years. I remember listening to her when I was in high school, and she was back in Hey Monday. Just being able to be in that room with her and experience that with her was really amazing. She’s a phenomenal writer, too. So I was like, “This is pretty crazy.” That song, she was actually the one who came in with the title “Coma,” which I could relate to very much because I had been in a relationship for several years where I felt like my opinion didn’t matter. I felt like my dreams and who I wanted to be was just, it just didn’t matter to somebody and to that person.
It kind of hit me in another level too because my mom was in a very abusive relationship for like six years. Being able to sing about something like that, and the power of being able to see that the relationship that you were in is not good for you, and being able to get out of that to reinvent yourself into the person that you’ve always wanted to be and not the person that you were back then, is such a cool concept. It’s something that a lot of us feel. I remember looking back at the photos of myself when I was in that relationship and not recognizing that person at all and remembering any of that time that I spent in that moment.
I think of who I am now, and I’m just like, “Wow, that’s not who I was, and she also had felt the same thing. Just being able to relate on that level and be able to write something like that and then have the reaction that it’s had, even from when I had first released it up until this new version that we put out (which the new version I love so much). It’s just so cool to be able to share. Her vocal on it, also, I think just brings a new life to it. It’s been one of my favorite songs to play live and one of my favorite songs to put out, and I’m just really happy that it’s starting to get the love that I’ve always hoped for it to.
With your tour coming up, what are some of the other songs you’re looking forward to playing live?
Oh, gosh. So there’s this song on my EP called “Good Enough,” and I just can hear that song in an arena setting or a stadium setting. I don’t know why, maybe it’s just me trying to manifest that. That song, I have a feeling that it’s just really going to hit people. Hopefully, the way that, whenever I hear it, it hits me. It’s going to be a really amazing experience for everybody. And there’s little bits and pieces where it just feels so big and so open and sort of static to where I’m just really excited for that one. They’re all so fun, so I think any of them really. But, that one in particular is one that I’m really excited to play live.
For your Riot Fest set on Saturday, how are you feeling about it?
I’m so excited. I’ve always wanted to play Riot Fest, and when I got the call if I wanted to play, I was like, two seconds, “Yes.” I was like, “I’m gonna make sure my bandmates can, but I’m saying yes before they can even say yes, and we’re gonna make it work, and we’re gonna do it.” It’s been a few months now since we got back home from the road, and I’ve just been itching to get back out and having that be the first show that we play in a few months is gonna be really amazing. I’m very thankful.
Playing on the same day as Queens of the Stone Age, Death Cab for Cutie and a lot of others, are there certain artists that you’re excited to see live?
Definitely Death Cab for Cutie. I went through a phase when I was in college where they were all that I would listen to, The Postal Service. And 070 Shake! I’m really excited to see them too. I think that’ll be really fun just because they’ve had a lot of songs recently go viral on TikTok and stuff. It’d be fun to see that live. Super excited for them. And Bowling For Soup, actually, very excited to see Bowling For Soup. I forgot that they’re playing the same day. I need to see “Girl All The Bad Guys Want” very much live because it’s one of my favorites from when I was kid.
Of course, this EP is a big milestone, but musically, what do you think the future looks like for you.
Hopefully, I’m able to have a long career and just keep continuing to play shows and festivals and getting to connect with fans and put out music. I think just being able to put out music in itself is just such a gift. It’s the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do, and it’s what I love the most. Just being able to do that and being able to connect with fans, that’s really my only hope. Just to be able to keep doing that. Obviously, one day, I’d love to play stadiums and things like that, but I’m just kind of happy where I am right now trying to live in the moment and especially being able to play at a festival like Riot Fest. I can’t complain. Just taking it one day at a time.
Is there anything else, with your EP, your tour, anything, that you want to talk about?
The only thing that I would say is check out my EP September 22nd. I’m super excited. Hopefully, the fans like it and they can relate to the songs. It is very, very emotional. It’s a little bit of a roller coaster. You’re probably going to be a little overwhelmed at the end of it, but I really love it, and I think it’s the perfect time for it to come out. For this November, if you guys are coming, and you’re reading this or listening to this, I can’t wait to see you.
Riot Fest 2023 Tickets + Lineup
See Taylor Acorn live at Riot Fest 2023 on Saturday, September 16th. That same day, see The Postal Service, Death Cab For Cutie, Queens of the Stone Age and many more.
Haven’t bought your ticket yet?
No worries, here are some buttons to do just that.