Exclusive Interview with Pop Artist Stewart Taylor

“Maybe We Shouldn’t Talk” Still

Over Labor Day weekend, pop singer-songwriter Stewart Taylor released the visual for “Maybe We Shouldn’t Talk,” a catchy track about breaking ties with an ex-lover. Directed by Benjamin Farren and filmed primarily at Vasquez Rocks National Park in California, the western-themed video depicts the unraveling of Stewart’s last serious relationship

According to the artist, he and his ex argued over anything and everything.

“If there was a boundary that I set, he would cross it every time,” Taylor says in a press release. “I’m not saying he was a bad person. I did things, too, that hurt the relationship. It’s just that we all have our demons. I didn’t respond well to his and he didn’t respond well to mine. Some people simply shouldn’t be together.”

The video for “Maybe We Shouldn’t Talk” reflects on the song’s portrayal of the struggles of a venomous relationship and broken expectations. Taylor made sure to include certain symbolism, such as a game of tug-of-war and scenes where he and his ex, played by Jake Dean Taylor, chase one another, battle it out, and then passionately make up – a dangerous cycle that is repeated until broken.

“Maybe We Shouldn’t Talk” Cover Art

Taylor took some time to talk more about the song and video with Instinct.

Hi, Stewart! Congrats on the release of your music video for “Maybe We Shouldn’t Talk.” How has it been received by audiences so far?

So far, it’s been overwhelmingly positive! I’m very thankful for that. Of course, I’ve gotten a couple haters from, I guess, middle aged white men in Mississippi (laughs). Rando likes that. I look at their profiles and see that they’re white nationalists or something. Okay, you’re not in my core demographic and never will be, so I don’t care if you don’t like my hella queer video! Besides that, it’s been overwhelmingly positive from everyone else, and I’m very happy that it’s out in the world now.

Can you tell us more about the concept behind the track?

Image via Shaun Vadella

During the pandemic after everything shut down in the world, I was secluded in my room, and I was still writing, but I was kind of figuring out what my next steps were going to be as an artist because I couldn’t go out, perform, or do anything like that. My ex-boyfriend actually kept calling me during the pandemic drunk, and he would just start fights with me. He was still very bitter about our breakup and our relationship, and it was very obviously unsettling for me to be on the receiving end of that because I was just trying to leave this relationship and move forward in a positive way.

He would continue to call and berate me about our past together, and I was finally like, if you don’t stop calling me, back up, and respect my boundaries, then we’re not going to talk at all. You won’t even be my friend. You’re not going to be in my life at all, and I will cut you out. I really do believe in staying friends with exes if you can, but sometimes it’s better to not talk at all. In this case, I was so angry that I hung up the phone, wrote down ‘maybe we shouldn’t talk’ in my notebook, and started writing. A couple of weeks later, I finished it in a session with my co-writers, Charlie Snyder and John Silos, and I sent it to my ex. Like, here you go. And honestly, he really liked the song, and he backed off.

That was my next question. He knows about the song?

He knows about it and really likes it. We stopped talking for a long time, we kind of hit the brakes on that one out of necessity, and then about a year later, he reached out and was like, do you have a new mix yet? He even FaceTimed me the day I shot the video in Vasquez Rocks, at the end of the shoot being like, congratulations. So, now it’s good. We have a nice friendship, but we don’t talk all the time, and this whole ordeal inspired the song and video.

“Maybe We Shouldn’t Talk” Still

The last time we spoke, we talked about your hit “Mess Your Hair Up,” which was inspired by a long-distance relationship. Is it therapeutic and cathartic for you to put these emotions and feelings about your love life into music?

Oh, 100 percent! I don’t know how I would get through my life if I didn’t have songwriting or that outlet. “Mess Your Hair Up” was about a completely different relationship, which was much more positive and healthier. I did a total 180 when I moved to LA, unfortunately, and got into an extremely unhealthy, toxic relationship, which I didn’t know I was getting into at the time. Sometimes, you just miss red flags, which I won’t miss in the future now that I’ve learned those lessons, but I was in a completely different relationship this time around, and it was quite damaging.

We just weren’t healthy for each other. Some people aren’t meant to be together, and some people just don’t get along. You love each other, but for some reason or another, you just can’t stand each other or get along to save your lives. Thank God I had music all throughout that relationship because I was constantly writing about it

How long were you with this guy?

I was with him for about two years.

What should people know about recognizing signs of a toxic relationship and finding ways to escape from it?

Here’s what I’m going to say about that. It can seem extremely inconvenient to notice red flags because you’re in love with a person, falling in love with them, or you’re just infatuated with them, and you think, oh, maybe I’m really not okay with the way they just spoke to me, but I’m going to brush that off. That can lead you into a lot of trouble down the road.

If someone is constantly criticizing you, belittling you, putting you down, trying to make you smaller, saying ‘I’m just trying to make you better by criticizing you all the time,’ those are major red flags. If someone is being emotionally abusive, manipulative, and controlling, and I definitely experienced that in past relationships, those are major toxic relationship red flags.

Image via Shaun Vadella

At the end of the day, the person you’re with should be lifting you up. They should be celebrating who you are, not trying to constantly change you. My ex wasn’t a bad person, but he had a lot of demons. I have my own demons, and our demons didn’t agree well with each other. Some people just aren’t good matches, and it became a toxic relationship.

I love that the video for “Maybe We Shouldn’t Talk” has a lot of symbolism, like a game of tug-of-war to depict the constant push and pull. What were some others that we should take notice of?

I’m glad you noticed that because I love incorporating symbolism into my videos! It’s my way of extending the artistic experience into film. Yes, there was tug-of-war because we were in a constant, literal, tug of war. There’s also a compass in the video. It says, ‘Follow Red Arrow because this shows the way to me,’ and I thought that gave a wild west theme as well. You see my ex-boyfriend, actor Jake Dean, looking at it, and then over his shoulder, you kind of see me in the background.

I wanted to incorporate that in the video because I feel like when you’re in a toxic relationship, you go through constant cycles of toxicity, and maybe abuse, where you get in fights, make up, have a honeymoon phase, and then you get in a fight again. The cycle repeats itself, and you keep finding that person and going back to them until someone breaks the cycle. Eventually, I broke the cycle and left my boyfriend because I realized it wasn’t healthy for either of us. It wasn’t going anywhere positive.

“Maybe We Shouldn’t Talk” Still

Then the more obvious symbolism is the snake, the python that I was donning in the video. That’s Beau, and he belongs to my good friend Reed. He’s a very nice Python by the way, in case there are any questions (laughs). But that kind of symbolizes how some people become snakes in everyday life. People you didn’t foresee being a snake, and that’s direct symbolism to my last relationship.

Are you currently single one right now?

I am currently single and seeing people on and off. I am very dedicated to my career, my songwriting, and my videos, and that’s what I especially learned from my last relationship. I would rather be single until I meet the right person because it’s just not worth it. It’s not worth being in a toxic relationship.

Have you always had a passion for singing and songwriting?

Image via Shaun Vadella

I have. One of my earliest memories is coming up with original songs. I was probably four years old, coming up with songs and singing them. My family would overhear me, and I’d get all embarrassed. Oh, no! You heard that!

What are some future goals right now you hope to accomplish with your career?

I have a lot of goals for the future. I definitely want to keep writing for other artists, which I have been doing. I recently wrote for a great pop artist in LA. I can’t say too much about it yet, but she is fantastic and kind of reminds me a little bit of Lady Gaga. We wrote a great song together, and I want to get more cuts with other established artists. I also want to release another music video, probably in the next six months. They do take so much time to plan though.

Because of the pandemic, I actually got back into acting. I was sequestered to my room, and I was like, I can start taking acting lessons again over Zoom. I found that I really missed it. I hadn’t done acting since I was maybe 18 years old. That’s something I did from childhood up until I went to college, and then I stopped because I was just focusing on my music. So, I found my way back to it during the pandemic, and I would love to keep working in film. Those are my major goals for at least the next five years.

“Maybe We Shouldn’t Talk” Still

Are you currently working on an EP or anything like that?

It’s funny you ask that. I used to be very EP focused when I was still in college, and I thought, I just have to get an EP done. I released two independent EPs, one during college and one right after college, and I found that it was more effective for me to just release singles and videos because I basically got just as much press from doing that.

It was also easier as a new artist to kind of get people’s attention with one track instead of asking them to listen to a whole bunch of tracks that they’ve never heard before from an artist they’ve never heard of. At this point, I would love to do another EP, but I would rather continue releasing singles as I go. That way, I can still do a visual for them, and I can probably get that out quicker than doing a whole EP.

Before we wrap up, are there any other upcoming projects or anything else you’d like to mention or plug?

I’ve got something coming out with Huluween relatively soon. I can’t say what, but I’m writing for other artists on that platform, and there will be some fun Halloween music coming out in October!

Stay up-to-date and connect with Taylor by following him on Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok, or visit his official website.

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