Music

Tayla Parx’s Tractor Era: How Moving Back to the South Inspired Her New Album

Grammy award-nominated singer-songwriter Tayla Parx has always been country. Hailing from Dallas, the 30-year-old multihyphenate became just the fourth Black woman in history to write a Country Airplay No. 1 with Dan + Shay’s “Glad You Exist” (2021), and a few months ago, Parx moved to Nashville.

There, she has been developing a sustainable ranch while prepping her forthcoming third album, Many Moons, Many Suns (out on her TaylaMade Records), which explores the unexpected end of her engagement and combines country, rock, house, soul and contemporary pop. “I’m buying goats, sheep and cows,” she says of her new home. “I’m already excited about the songs that I’ll create just being here.”

Below, Parx previews her new album and reflects on queer pop stardom. 

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What’s the first thing you did when you woke up today? 

The first thing I did when I woke up today was load a tractor. I got a tractor to live in and my friend just dropped it off. I’ve been working on my little ranch. 

What drew you to Nashville?

I started to come down here last year, but maybe three or four months ago, I officially was [here] full time. I’m still in Los Angeles once or twice a week, but this is my home. 

What was a key moment on the journey to your new album?

Being able to take four years, I finally was like, “I feel new again.” [We] go through these feelings of breaking down and building up and breaking down your new version of yourself … I’m in that moment now. [That’s] when it’s the right time for me to create, or finish, the album.

Last year you co-wrote on Troye Sivan’s “Got Me Started” and Janelle Monáe’s “Water Slide.” Did you carry any inspiration from those sessions into your own?  

We have a problem in the songwriting world where you’ll see a queer artist and they have only straight writers on the project, and that’s a bit weird. Or we see a woman artist and they only have straight men as writers, and that’s also a bit weird. I’m not saying we can’t have that perspective, because I’ve written for a lot of different people and I haven’t experienced their version of life. However, it’s always important to have at least somebody be a part of the project that can see you in a very different way — and maybe that’s because they’re queer. So I’ve been choosing to write with a lot of artists [with whom] I can write from that perspective. I’ve been a lot more selective these days.

“Era” has heavy ballroom energy, as does “10s.” How did examining your relationship affect your influences while recording?

We have that ballroom energy, New Orleans energy, all the things that I’ve experienced in my life that are such a huge part of queer culture. With “10s,” I played a lot with pulling from my community, the different sounds that inspire us and make us move. I really wanted to go to the extreme. A lot of the music that is the most groundbreaking is ballroom. We’ve been forced to be out of the boundary, or seen as that, for so long that it was like, “F–k it. Well, I might as well be the best version of me — and do me to the max.”

When you were coming up, who were the songwriters that made you feel most seen? 

I feel like I’m just now having an opportunity in the past few years to have artists that actually make me feel seen. Around 2015, I was listening to Marika Hackman’s “Boyfriend,” and it’s a queer song and I had never heard something lyrically like [that.] That’s not to say that there [aren’t] any queer artists that have been out there being very forward, I’m just saying what spoke to me. Being born in ‘93 and a teenager in the 2000s, it’s a very different thing. 

If you had to pick three essential tracks from the new record, what would they be? 

I would say, “Standing Up to the Wind,” “Gentlewoman” and “I Don’t Talk About Texas.” 

Beyond the album, what are your plans for the rest of the year? 

We are getting back on the road. I’m super excited because it’s been a minute since I’ve been on the road. I went from consistently touring to taking a break and really allowing the music to come. We got some crazy sustainable and biodegradable merch coming, which is really cool. And more behind the scenes of the process — I’m making sure that everything within the TaylaMade world reflects [my] values.

A version of this story originally appeared in the June 22, 2024, issue of Billboard.

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