Taylor Contarino Bare Minimum

Taylor Contarino Shows Her Artistry is More than “Bare Minimum” on Latest Single

Authentic singer and songwriter Taylor Contarino takes on the music industry with her latest release, “Bare Minimum,” out April 19, 2024. The small-town artist moved from South Jersey to Los Angeles and is currently pursuing her education and dreams. She is a lover of all things that revolve around music. Taylor is authentic in showing her vulnerability through her music and who she is as a person. She is an inspiration and the definition of an artist in every way.

Taylor Contarino
Bare Minimum
Photographer credit: Karly Ramnani

Q&A with Taylor Contarino

POETRY DANS LA RUE: How did you first become interested in music, and what inspired you to pursue a career as a musician?

Taylor Contarino: “I had a passion for music from a very young age. My mom would always play Eminem through the ups and downs of life. It provided constant comfort for her through the trials she faced with my father. I’ve had a deep love for music since my childhood and started attending concerts at a young age. During the pandemic, I began using my time to write about music, especially about 90s hip-hop music. I created a hip-hop music blog my freshman year, while living in New York. After creating my blog, I ended up getting more opportunities in music, and eventually, after working with a couple of independent labels and opportunities, I landed at Universal Music Group.”

PDLR: Can you tell us about your songwriting process and where you draw inspiration from for your music?

Taylor Contarino: “My musical process…I love making music! I could cry over how much I love it. It’s literally my outlet. I don’t see it as a thing I have to do but rather as a thing I get to do. Being able to take words and make them sound pretty or using my voice to say how I feel is the greatest thing ever!

Like yesterday, I was freaking out because I’m realizing that I’m graduating college in a month, and I’m going to have to become a big girl, you know, and I’m really scared about that. I’m going to have to be an adult. I’ve started writing how I feel about that. My creative process comes from moments like that, where it’s like I’m in the moment, and my emotionality takes over.

“It’s when I am at my breaking point that my music starts to evolve.”

That’s what I love about music; if I can’t turn to anything else or anyone else, I can always turn to my piano. I can always turn to Logic, like my software. I can always turn to my notes and write down how I’m feeling. It’s like I can turn my heartbreak into healing and my pain into beauty. Yeah, I sound like a poet, but I love that.

I also wrote a poetry book, which I released in the fall. Writing means a lot to me. Being able to express how I feel, letting it resonate with people, and making it sound beautiful means so much to me.”

PDLR: What do you enjoy most about playing in front of an audience?

Taylor Contarino: “Oh, I hate being in front of an audience. I’m crying because I love that you asked me that question, but I hate being in front of an audience. I have to force myself to get in front of an audience. I know that’s so weird, but it’s so scary. I’d rather be sitting in my room making music. But on the contrary, I know that it’s an important part of music. Performing is a part of being an artist. Every single time I perform, I’m getting stronger.

I have this thing where whenever something scares me, I force myself to do it. What’s the alternative? To hide from it my entire life? I’m a firm believer that if something scares you, you have to do it. Every time I get on stage, I’m conquering my fears, and I’m really just taking ownership of my body, words, voice, and the way I feel. I know that the more I perform, the better I’ll get at it. I don’t think practice makes perfect, but I do think practice makes progress.”

“Bare Minimum” Coming Soon

PDLR: Can you talk a little about your upcoming single, “Bare Minimum?”

Taylor Contarino: “Of course, I’m so excited! On April 19th I’m dropping ” Bare Minimum” part one, the single. It’s all part of a story from my last couple of months. The whole EP drops on April 26th, one week later from the release of the single. I purposely made it this way because I wanted part one to be a description of the things that I’ve been going through and the way I have been feeling. Part one, “Bare Minimum,” was written and made to be more emotional. Part two is going to be more of an anthem for healing and moving on, more of a motivating piece of music.

The whole EP intends to tell my lived experience and what I went through over the past couple of months with a relationship I used to be in. I’m really excited about the project and am so excited for the world to hear it. I’m just grateful to God. I can’t believe that I’m really putting an EP out because there was a time when I had given up on music for a long time.”

PDRL: What do you hope listeners take away from your music?

Taylor Contarino: “The only thing I ever wanted was for listeners to be heard, seen, and represented. That’s really all I have ever cared about. If people listen to my music, then that’s great. But for me, no matter what, I was able to use the creation process to heal through experiences the music refers to.

All the music that I make is real. The things that I’m saying actually happened. My mom never let me lie growing up. She always said, ” I would rather you say that you did something crazy than lie to me.” Growing up, if I went to a party, my mom would rather I call her and tell her I did something stupid than lie. My mom was heavy on the “Don’t lie to me,” just tell me how it is and be 100% honest.”

Future Collaborations and Music

PDLR: Are there any future projects or collaborations that you’re excited about?

Taylor Contarino: “Yes, I have so many. I’m so grateful! I’ve been working on so much music recently. I have four songs that I am currently working on and that I can’t wait to share with the world. I have a song called “God’s Business.” It’s a song about finding out that my grandpa has cancer. Sorry, not to get depressing, but we are working through it. There’s another song I’ve been working on with an incredible producer and talented bassist/guitarist called “Deadbeat.” It’s about my drug-addicted father.

Currently, I’m also working on a love song and another song about hating the club. I went two weeks ago, and I wrote a song called “I’m Over the Club.” I realized that I really don’t like going to the club. Why does it have to be so loud? I don’t know when I’m going to release these songs yet, but I’m very excited to share them with everyone.”

PDLR: Do you have any advice for aspiring musicians looking to break into the industry?

Taylor Contarino: “Of course! Don’t give up! If you never give up, you can never lose. My advice to anybody is to just keep going. I wish that I could have told myself this two years ago when I gave up on music; I wish someone were there to tell me not to give up. If you give up, what’s the alternative? What are you going to do? You’re going to be sad, and you’re going to regret it every day. Honestly, that’s how I was feeling. That’s why I continue to make music.

I also had a friend who sent me a long paragraph. Actually it was more like she wrote a book, basically, on why I should continue making music, which is the reason that I started doing it again. I love her, and she’s amazing! Her name is Rachel, and she’s one of my best friends. I am so grateful for her!

I would just tell people to keep going on their dreams because you never know when there’s going to be motion. You never know when you are going to succeed. Even if you don’t have a million streams, you are still a musician because you are making music. Don’t let the numbers, social media, or anyone tell you that you can’t do it. As long as something makes you happy, then keep doing it. Don’t be afraid to say how you feel.”

PDLR: How long have you been releasing music in general and professionally? 

Taylor Contarino: “Since my sophomore year of college, about two years ago. That’s around the time I also gave up on music because I felt like I wasn’t good enough. I felt scared of people reacting to my music and thinking I wasn’t good enough. That’s when I realized that it doesn’t matter if people think I’m good enough as long as I think I am. It’s about how I feel and how I perceive myself.

Once I changed my perspective, I was able to enjoy the artistic, creative process and the healing process. I am open to collaborations and working on art with other people. Everything I do is because of the love I have for the art.”


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New Music March

New Music March Moods Playlists

The music of March seemed endless as new albums arrived from Daisy Jones & the Six, Fall Out Boy, Miley Cyrus, and boygenius. Other notable news in the music scene came from Hozier, The Japanese House, and Ed Sheeran. This month, we dove into several mainstream albums, explored albums from new emerging artists, and spiced up our playlists with eclectic tunes from around the globe. Our “New Music Emerging Now: March Moods” playlists cover everything from R&B to Singer/Songwriter and French Pop to Alternative. A few new favorite discoveries include Blak Emoji, Eremos, Taali, and Annael. Explore all of these artists and more in our New Music March playlists below.

// MARCH SPOTIFY PLAYLIST // MARCH APPLE MUSIC PLAYLIST //

New Music March

New Music: March Albums & EPs

boygenius-the record //

Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus start their debut album as boygenius with two sonically polarizing tracks. “Without You Without Them” is a minimalistic harmonic vocal intro showcasing the three women’s raw voices. The album, entitled the record, leads into “$20” with boisterous guitars and an emotional climbing crescendo. As listeners weave through the group’s three artistic styles combined into one entity, they revel in the push and pull of rock-driven tunes and stripped-back hushed desires. Other highlights of the record include the guitar-driven “Satanist” opening with Baker’s edgy vocals followed by “We’re In Love,” which holds a nod to Taylor Swift’s “This Love.” Every song on the twelve-track LP coalesces as perfectly together as the voices of the supergroup. Rolling Stone, DIY, NME, and Dork all boast 5-star reviews for the 2023 debut from boygenius.

Daisy Jones & The Six-AURORA //

Daisy Jones & The Six is an interview-style novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid. The music-centered story, influenced partly by Fleetwood Mac, can also be compared to the film Almost Famous for music lovers. Daisy Jones & The Six finally comes to life with the Amazon Prime Video series starring Riley Keough and Sam Clafin. As the series unfolds, the songs on its soundtrack, AURORA, build emotional credibility and exposure. While this album may never touch the 70s classics, AURORA becomes a modern-day nostalgic masterpiece of its own. Songs like “More Fun to Miss,” “Look At Us Now,” and “The River” combine elements of longing, feminine influence, timeless 70s-sounding guitars, and band member banter. If this album hasn’t struck a chord with you, watch the series to see how each song unfolds and comes to life.

Fall Out Boy-So Much (For) Stardust //

Fall Out Boy returns with their eighth studio album, So Much (For) Stardust. The thirteen-track album may not emulate the angst of “A Little Less Sixteen Candles…” à la From Under the Cork Tree, but the Chicagoan band cohesively and succinctly generates a modern millennial gem. Leading with two stadium-charged singles led fans to believe this album was a return to form of sorts to earlier FOB days. So Much (For) Stardust does not disappoint, combining elements from their sound over the past two decades. The band delivers dance-worthy anthems, witty lyrics, and vibrant pop-rock tracks. Anyone who strayed from the Fall Out Boy path seems lured back under their spell for “Heaven, Iowa,” “Fake Out,” and “What A Time To Be Alive.”

Taali-taali //

Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Taali soars high with her self-titled record this month. Taali, a veteran songsmith, took upon the challenge of crafting an album with the idea of removing autobiographical anecdotes. The album leads off with an instrumental strings piece, “Did We Die?” straight into “When the Dust Settles,” a minimal piano and vocal track that builds midway with a sense of urgency. Taali’s artistry shines through on the poppier floaty number “Anywhere” as she uses her voice to let the notes take flight. “Somewhere over Kansas” swoons listeners with stacked vocals, while “It Comes for You” adds an edgier side to the album with a poignant keyboard melody. Lyrically, the album explores “grief, wanderlust, self-discovery, and empowerment.” Taali exudes artistic flair and cohesiveness. This album is one for the decades.

Violaine-Rose Rouge-EP //

Chanson française artist Violaine discloses a lyrical journey on her recent Rose Rouge EP. “Toute Petite” is a soft, heartfelt ballad about dealing with negative self-dialogue. Her poetic French lines roll off the tongue on “Juillet” with lyrics like “de nos errances, ivresses dense, je n’ai pas de regret…même si mon cœur n’est pas étanche, je veux rêver…” The second half of the EP picks up with “Oxygène,” a poppy confession of love, and the seductive closing track, “La Partie.” “La Partie” combines infectious beats with Violaine’s sultry vocals, leading to a satisfying instrumental fadeout.

New Music: March Discoveries

Annael “J’accuse” //

French pop singer Annael caught us off guard with his self-aware single “J’accuse.” On “J’accuse,” Annael blends genres with elements of dance and pop and a stylistic aura similar to the likes of Stromae. The diction and elocution of this song are beautifully executed. “J’accuse” creates a sonic loop of transcending sounds that echo a summer music festival. The track digs deeper, however, on self-criticism as Annael shares on Instagram, “Chaque personne à un côté sombre qu’elle doit apprivoiser. C’est un challenge au quotidien, de vivre avec ses défauts et d’y faire face*.”
*Every person has a dark side that they have to tame. It’s an everyday challenge to live with your faults and to face them.

Blak Emoji “Last Night Lost” //

Electro-R&B artist and producer Blak Emoji hypnotizes fans with the remastered single “Last Night Lost.” The vibrating electro beats meshed with luscious falsetto vocals immediately grasp and enthrall listeners. Seductive lyrics creep into your head and resonate with the catchy beats and chorus. “Last Night Lost” is a sweet addition to any going-out playlist.

Caroline Larke “Horses” //

Caroline Larke introduces us to her single “Horses,” and we fell for every detail in this song. “Horses” is a stunner on the first listen, with vocals soaring over open space. The track’s lyricism, delivery, and musical progression resound with perfect execution. The folk-style acoustic song paints a picture of serenity and loyalty. Stylistic decisions on vocal elocution echo Billie Eilish in “When the Party’s Over.” “Horses” invites you to channel your inner zen and surrender to your full potential.

Christine and the Queens “To be honest” //

Christine and the Queens announced “To be honest” as the first single off his upcoming album, PARANOIA, ANGELS, TRUE LOVE. “To be honest” is yet another masterful melange of sounds surrounded by the striking vocals of Christine and the Queens. The ever-present combination of mixing French and English lyrics and creating transcending sounds prevails in this lead single. The three-part LP is due out on June 9th, 2023.

Eremos “Ghost On the River” //

In mid-March, Athens, Georgia, rock band Eremos released the mesmerizing single “Ghost On the River.” The delivery on this track, from the vocals to the lyrics and the emotion behind it, speaks volumes to listeners. Written with minimal production and drawing inspiration from blues, indie folk, rock, and country, Eremos hits every note with “Ghost On the River.” “Ghost On the River” is a timeless song that will have you belting out the words right along with it. The alluring and unique vocals only strengthen as the track continues. A captivating guitar arrangement, emotion-evoking opening vocals, memorable singalong chorus, and a properly placed guitar solo make this song perpetually superb.

Lucky Iris “23” //

Lucky Iris is an alt-pop duo from Leeds, U.K. After a period of writing and developing their sound, the band is gearing up to release their new EP, ‘maybe i’m too much.’ “23” is the first serotonin-boosting single from the upcoming summer EP. The production on “23” takes listeners on a sonic nostalgia journey; it’s truly the “frisson” type experience that many music fans often search for in a song. From what we’ve heard, “23” represents the beginning of a new creative era for the young duo.

Sophia Patsalides “Beautiful Ghost” //

Female Cypriot artist Sophia Patsalides, a new music discovery on Groover, landed on our March playlist with “Beautiful Ghost.” The single has a captivating intro, and the vocals are phenomenal. The buildup in this song and the recurring loop from the opening easily make it a breathtaking earworm. Sophia’s pop and R&B style on “Beautiful Ghost” solidifies our interest in the new emerging artist.


March was a massive month for new releases, so check out the full “New Music Emerging Now: March Moods” playlists below.

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Matt Duncan

Now Spinning: Matt Duncan ‘Soft Times’

Soft Times, the 2013 debut soul-pop record from Matt Duncan, gets a third pressing from Soul Step Records this weekend. The ever-popular LP drops in time to make the perfect gift for music and vinyl lovers this holiday season.

Local Lexington, Kentucky singer-songwriter and soul artist Matt Duncan has a long resume of lofty accomplishments in the indie music scene over the past decade. You may recognize his captivating music featured on several hit TV series such as “Private Practice” and “Vampire Diaries.” Soft Times holds a library of eleven timeless tracks eluding to Motown, The Beach Boys, and blue-eyed-soul artists (i.e., Hall & Oates, Van Morrison, Amy Winehouse, etc.). Big horns, transcending vocals, and anecdotal songwriting round out the highs of this alluring record. We are thrilled to be introduced to this hidden gem via Soul Step Records.

Subscribe to Soul Step and get early access to the Soft Times Yellow Sun variant HERE!

Matt Duncan
Album artwork by Robert Beatty

// Favorite Tracks //

“The Keys” is a vacation getaway jam to start your soulful, poetic listening journey of Soft Times. Cure your winter blues and take a mental trip “down to the Keys.”

Soft Times” embraces big band-style brassy arrangements by Ryan Moore and Evan Belt. Smooth vocals and poignant lyrics from Duncan make for an ideal title track.

“The Horn of Plenty” is a stunner track reminiscent of “Under the Boardwalk” by The Drifters with its similar steady bass. A vast blend of piano, bass, horns, and guitar surrounds classic soul and profound vocals.

“Sparkle and Fall” has rock-esque guitars and vocals, leading to a jazzier outro of horns. “Sparkle and Fall” displays Duncan’s range of several genres on Soft Times.

“Summer Song” contains Beach Boys-like lyrics, arrangement, and a signature doo-wop feel. Pair this A-Side closer with “The Keys,” and you’ll have yourself celebrating Christmas in the tropics.

“Lost Boys” is a standout outro to Matt Duncan’s gorgeous collection of songs on Soft Times. The final track combines nostalgic elements of Motown and older pop vocal groups with a modern-day feel similar to MIKA or Allen Stone.  

*Soul Step Records upfronts the cost of vinyl production for new artists. For more information on Soul Step Records and their mission, visit their website or follow them on Instagram below.

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Parker Louis

Now Spinning: Parker Louis ‘All Good Things’

Soul Step Records brings the heat for the end of the year with a stunning repress of the 2019 LP All Good Things by Parker Louis. The independent record label in Nashville launches two hypnotizing vinyl variants, Jungle Swirl (pictured below) and a limited edition Wax Mage beauty.

Parker Louis, of Columbus, Ohio, can be compared to soulful songwriters Sam Cooke, Raphael Saadiq, Anderson East, and Allen Stone. Louis’s smooth, bluesy style ranks him high among R&B and neo-soul fans of today.

All Good Things is now restocked and available for excellent audiophile listening on wax. From “No Love, Lately” to “Waiting,” listeners absorb jazzy instrumentals and raspy alluring vocals. Not only does the album sound exquisite on vinyl, but Parker Louis has recently shown off his vocal range on the road, opening most recently for fellow Columbus, Ohio, band Caamp. All Good Things is a timeless R&B gem to add to any collection.

Pick up the Jungle Swirl variant HERE!

Parker Louis Soul Step Records

// Favorite Tracks //

“No Love, Lately” is a first-listen showstopper the minute the needle hits the groove. The overall bones of this track go deep in classic R&B with relaxed instrumentals, choir-like backing vocals, and a sweet-singing guitar.

“Vibe” is a smooth, sultry track to accompany your romantic dinner or evening party. One-thousand percent not lying when we say these songs sound superb on vinyl.

“Gemini” is our favorite of the 8-track LP. Louis’s vocals shine brighter than ever on this slowed-down confession of love. The guitar-driven outro calls for some wine and slow dancing in the dark.

“Lights” has a highly reminiscent vibe of Anderson East, which is a lofty compliment in our book. While listening to this side B opener, fans will quickly realize that Louis’s incredible songwriting talent is not letting up.

*Soul Step Records upfronts the cost of vinyl production for new artists. For more information on Soul Step Records and their mission, visit their website or follow them on Instagram below.

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Aquarius Purple

Now Spinning: Marcus Machado Aquarius Purple

We are head over heels for this Purple Ink Spot repress of Marcus Machado’s 2021 debut album, Aquarius Purple, from Soul Step Records. Described as “guitar-driven rhythm and funk for fans of Raphael Saadiq and Jimi Hendrix,” something kept calling me to spin this album.

Aquarius Purple is a Guitar & B type record with funky instrumental tracks such as “Aq Intro” and “Table Dance.” Marcus Machado’s style, rooted in soul, rhythm, and dream-like instrumentals, sends you into a temporary reverie. Throughout the galactic-sounding journey of the album, music fans may also liken Machado to Thundercat or Black Pumas. “Let’s Play” is a soul-heavy instrumental track contrasted by “Her,” a funky dance-beat bop. Collaborative sounds from Jermaine Holmes, Daru Jones, JSWISS, Ahrel Lumzy, and TFOX make Aquarius Purple an eccentric album with striking layers.

Pick up the Purple Ink Spot variant from Soul Step Records HERE!

Aquarius Purple Soul Step Records

// Aquarius Purple: Favorite Tracks //

“Let’s Play”

“Tomorrow Never Knows”

“Her”

“Running”

*Soul Step Records pays the upfront costs of vinyl production for new artists. For more information on Soul Step Records, their mission, store, and contact info, visit their website or follow them on Instagram below.

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