Ariana Grande’s favorite songwriter spreads her wings.
Prior to becoming a pop hit-maker, Tayla Parx made her silverscreen debut in 2007 musical Hairspray.
When the world shut down last year, Tayla Parx found her green thumb.
“I just went way down the rabbit hole of gardening,” says the acclaimed singer-songwriter. “I have my mango trees in the back. I planted an avocado tree.”
She pauses and giggles. “I have a cannabis plant. … His name is Sativi Wonder.”
Parx’s garden wasn’t the only area of her life to show growth during the pandemic. One year after earning a Grammy nod for penning six songs on Ariana Grande’s Thank U, Next album, including the chart-topping title track and “7 Rings,” the Dallas native released her own sophomore album, Coping Mechanisms, and reprised the creative partnership on Grande’s sixth album, Positions.
Grande and Parx recorded Positions during quarantine under strict socially distanced conditions. “For the most part, we weren’t in the same room,” she recalls. “It was a learning curve.” Of the five songs Parx contributed to the release, “POV” holds special significance.
“For Ariana to even sing and write that song, it had to mean growth from her last project,” she says. “Because she’s not someone who fakes singing about being in love and growth… we had to actually wait until she was there for it to resonate.”
While Parx started working on Coping Mechanisms prior to quarantine, the album evolved considerably over the course of its completion in her home studio.
“I was figuring out how to get over heartbreak,” she says. “Then you go into lockdown, and of course my perspective changed. It went from coping with that to coping with being in love and being around somebody more than I’ve ever been.”
While Parx admittedly longs to perform the songs before a live audience, she has fully embraced livestreaming to share the project with her fans in an innovative way.
“I’m not trying to reenact what we do on a stage when everybody is there but create something that is a new experience,” she explains. “I’m more so excited to take advantage of the technological advancements that we can use to our benefit and build out a world.”
Parx stresses the importance of empathy in her songwriting approach, which has brought her into collaboration with a wide range of artists, including K-pop superstars BTS (“Mic Drop”), pop rockers Panic! at the Disco (“High Hopes”) and R&B crooners Khalid and Normani (“Love Lies”). She also considers her bisexuality to be an asset in her creative process.
“I’m whatever I’m in the mood for,” Parx says. “Sometimes I like girls, sometimes I like guys. It allows me to write for both girls and guys in a different manner and to be diverse with my voice when working with different artists.”
She emulates this approach with her Trailer Parx merchandise line as well, expanding its offerings into home decor and drawing inspiration from her travels to Japan and Korea.
“I’m really inspired by treating it like an actual clothing line,” she says. “If you’re going into that world, I think you should approach it with everything you’ve got and reflect your style. It’s not just slapping my face on a T-shirt. I’ve always kept an open mind and been very fluid with it—the same way I am with my sexuality.”
Photography by: PHOTO BY JOEY JAMES