Beyond The Lens – Hip Hop artist, songwriter, and dancer Taija New may be new to our front page but if you take some time to check out of her work you’ll feel that it was long overdue. The talented native of Massachusetts has come a long way to develop her brand and she continues to fuel that engine with her awesome team that could be seen destroying stages with creative dance routines during their live performances.
I had the great pleasure in interviewing Taija New after getting in contact with her over messenger to discuss her life coming up as a female musician, what influenced her to do it, and more. I hope you enjoy reading the interview!
~*~*Beyond The Lens /w Taija New*~*~
Internet Hollywood: Welcome to the Internet Hollywood universe Taija! It’s good that we both were finally able to make time to do our very first interview together. I recently checked out your work and I have to say it’s a bit overwhelming. You create amazing content on your own and when you remix other people songs. Where did your passion for music start and who were some of your main influences?
Taija: Thank you for interviewing me and thank you for noticing all of this because there is so much work that goes into making 2-5 minute songs. I would have to say that my passion for music began when I was really young listening to R&B singers from the 90s and prior. Aaliyah was and always will be my all time favorite because she was just everything to me. I was influenced by Mya, Destiny’s Child, 702, Tamia, Amerie, Monica, Total, TLC, Beyoncé ; I could literally sit here all day naming artists because I listened and learned from them all during that time. My parents and grandparents were always playing music from their time when I was growing up. I absolutely love and learned so much from; artists like the Commodores, Earth, Wind and Fire, Temptations, Hall and Oats, Al Green, Debarge, Switch etc. My mother used to tape music videos from BET to entertain my sister and I. We were always mimicking choreography from them. Just everything about R&B music amazed me. Notice there were a lot of groups that I mentioned for influences. We had a group named Cantaijous pairing our names, Canei and Taija, together. My sister sang lead and I did background vocals. This is how I mastered the creation of harmonies. I would study the background of every song we ever listened to. I wanted to be a singer so badly but recorded myself one day and realized it wasn’t going to work out! Hip-Hop was infused into R&B at that time. Lil Kim, of course, was someone I listened to with verses integrated into songs like “I Can Love You” by Mary J. Blige. Foxy Brown, Da Brat, Missy Elliot, and Left Eye are some of the rappers I grew up listening to as well. That “Ladies Night” video was everything! Pop was huge in the late 90s so I listened to Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez, Christina Aguilera, *NSYNC , gosh even Otown! Then, later on, I started listening to a lot of alternative music and just became enamored with the diversity of it all. At this point I was listening to 30 Seconds From Mars, Paramore, Dashboard Confessional, Alexz Johnson, Nickelback was huge at the time, and Avril Lavigne just to name a few. During all of this, I was also learning Spanish which later became my major in college. Prince Royce, Ivy Queen, Aventura, and especially Selena were some of the artists I was learning the language and listening to. If you think about it, I’m really the result of a collage of music. All of this influenced how I write and how I structure a song. I love it all!
Internet Hollywood: Was it a bit hard to be accepted as a female rapper to guy rappers that share the same dream as you?
Taija: I am always asked that question and I honestly have to say, no. From day one they already knew what time of day it was. I believe because I was and still am so hungry. They respect my grind and appreciate me as my own artist. Never once have they questioned if I do this for real. I mean if they did I would just reiterate that I do! But men in the game have always been respectful and supportive about my artistry and I feel so blessed to say that.
Internet Hollywood: Your live performances for songs like ‘working’ are very well thought out and amazingly executed. Not many artists understand the importance of putting on an actual show when they do live performances. When did you start becoming creative with your live performances and was it hard gathering a team and making up the right dance for the song?
Taija: I always say that live performance is the best aspect to my craft. I LOVE performing and connecting with my current and potential fans, the Newbians. There is no feeling like that of being on stage. I was creative right from the beginning. I come from a Hip-Hop dance background because of those music videos our mom had us watch. Before rapping I was doing talent shows in school and lip-sync contest, all from dance. This ended up naturally coming out in my performances. At open mics I would try so many things like having my creative director Myles Jeh, amongst other roles, make mixes for me with dance breaks so I could really put on a show. I was down at open mic cutting up! D. Moss was hosting these at the time and he will tell you I was down there EVERY week with a new costume, choreography, and remix. I was down there when nobody showed up just for practice! The more time went on, the more intricate my shows became and I study many artists, past and present, who are already in the limelight. I get a lot of inspiration from them because I can see myself up there on those same stages. Myles Jeh choreographed worKING I can’t take credit for that one. One thing I love about his work is that it’s so diverse. It’s hard to put him in a box and say “This is what Myles Jeh does” because his style is versatile. I remember learning the piece for worKING and feeling like they are going to love this. My team kind of fell into place without too much effort. Myles Jeh is first and foremost my best friend since middle school. He is a such a talent when it comes to creativity and dance so his contribution is immense. He has his own music career that has been picking up too. Make sure you all check out Myles Jeh! I am such a calculated person that I need to know where I am on stage at all times. Everything is choreographed right down to my regular steps. He knows this and he makes this happen. It’s a collaboration between him and I but majority comes from him. We searched for my other background dancer, Tylor T, who is now one of my choreographers as well. We did an audition in the Western Massachusetts area and came out with 4 dancers, Tylor is the only one left from that group. He stood out during that audition and I remember saying “I got to have him”. I am so happy he came that day because he is so quick and sharp at what he does it’s crazy. He just fit so well with us it was effortless. My DJ, DJ Juice, fell out of the sky! I met him once and the next time I saw him he suggested that we work together. I thought he wanted to do a show or something. He made it clear that he wanted to be part of the team and has been with us ever since. Tyree Brant began coming to shows with Tylor and somehow slowly but surely began taping them. I’m so grateful for him documenting what we do. I’m only one person and I cannot do it all! Everyone has their role in this production and we rehearse hard. Without these guys it wouldn’t be as good; it just wouldn’t. I don’t trust easy so my team grows when I see dedication and just overall understanding of the sacrifice this business takes. But hey growth is growth. I don’t have to try with these guys which makes it all worth it.
Internet Hollywood: Female rappers from all over the world are quickly building a name for themselves now that the Internet has become pretty much a gold rush for independent talent. It clearly provides the tools all artists need to do everything themselves without any mainstream influence. What would you say is the best tools the Internet gave you to make it easier for you as an artist?
Taija: Social media is the best tool by far. The ability to reach people you do not know is insane. Each platform has its own function as well its own own resources to help promote your craft. I was able to truly make a difference in my career when I started exploring, researching and learning how it all works.
Internet Hollywood: Are you currently working on any projects now?
Taija: I am always working on something. I took a break from writing music because I was going through a lot of personal and professional transitions. Now I feel refreshed and brand new so I will be working on my next project very soon. Plus “Heart on the Stage”, the album I released this past November, still has a lot of feats to make worldwide. I am making sure that project gets the correct push as well. I spent so much time perfecting it that I can’t let the work not receive its shine. In the meantime everyone can check out my YouTube Series, “The Newbian King Show” where I discuss my experience in the business and present music. Just go on YouTube, type in “Taija New” and Voila! Make sure y’all subscribe though because videos are uploaded frequently.
Internet Hollywood: Who are some artists that you would like to collaborate with or feature on your next project?
Taija: I don’t have any honestly. I believe they will come in their time. I used to collaborate a lot in the beginning of my career but now I’m so focused on solidifying myself as an artist and strengthening my presence in every song I create. My way of doing this is working solo with tunnel vision. For instance, instead of having a singer sing the hooks that I write I am being selfish at the moment and singing them myself to push the limits of my artistry. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to grow in different ways with music. This is not everyone’s process but it’s mine.
Internet Hollywood: What is your main goal this year and what do you want to focus on the most?
Taija: My goal is to break into the industry this year. Two years ago it was to tour; I did that. Last year it was to begin getting paid for shows which is a direct reflection of our hard work and efforts; I did that. Can you believe we just started getting paid gigs? That is why I love my team so much because they worked hard when there was nothing but potential. But back to the question; this year its to break through and become a household name around the world. That is the goal. I pray I’m able to achieve it.
Internet Hollywood: Last two questions; Is there a time frame on when you want to fulfill your goals, and is there a plan b if you don’t manage to fulfill them?
Taija: I think many things, even from close friends and family, have been assumed about my attitude towards music. Im glad you asked because this question has been brought to me by them specifically. I think they believe I’m naive you know? As a woman I know that claiming your spot in the industry needs to happen sooner than later although there are examples of the latter. My time is now, I want this now and I’m ready now. I don’t have a “Plan B” per say because I truly do believe in what I do. Right now I am an Assistant Bursar at a 4-year college. Now some would call this a plan B but I don’t. Remember when I said I wasn’t naive? This is the career that fuels plan A does that makes sense? It’s kind of cool because I have always been a nerd. I have been saying that since my song “Newbian King”. I get to challenge myself mentally with my 9-5 and it’s awesome! I need that believe it or not. I expand knowledge which also helps my writing lyrics; it’s so symbiotic. Plus this business cost money, lots of it. A paycheck helps!
Internet Hollywood: Thank you for the interview, Taija!
~*~*Thank you for reading*~*~
~*~*Credits & Links*~*~
Official Website: www.taijanew.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/tai janew
Soundcloud: www.soundcloud.com /taijanew
Twitter: www.twitter.com/taija new
Instagram: https://www.instagr am.com/taijanew
Curt Tota: Instagram