By: Abbey Adams
Sitting down with Taryn makes you feel a sense of comfort, like meeting up with an old childhood friend you used to build tree forts and swing on swing sets with. There’s a sense of wonder in her eyes – like she’s always yearning for more. Her wide bright smile mimics the relaxed feel of most of her music. What she describes as, “alternative folk with a blues infusion.”
I ran into Taryn at a friend’s gig. Her stage presence was nothing short of “chill.” Making subtle jokes here and there, responding back to every “woo” or yell her way with a sweet as honey, “Thank you!” Her eyes closed in a whimsical daze as each finger plucked a guitar string just as beautiful as the next. The voice immediately drew me in; it was convincingly superb, tugging at every speck of emotion in my being. After hearing her play, I knew I had to talk to her. I pulled her aside and confessed my need to interview her about her life and journey to music.
Taryn Surprenant says, “I owe a lot of it to my Dad.” A karaoke DJ that let his daughter entertain the old folks whenever the talent grew stale. Music has always been running through Taryn’s blood (her grandfather sang while her mother played the violin). As she got older, it became more of a reality. Writing songs by 12 years old, Taryn was able to harness her songwriting skills and soon started a band with her best friend that lasted throughout her high school career. The two went separate ways after graduation leaving Taryn with only one choice; to finally teach herself to play guitar. “I realized I only knew how to sing and write. I needed to find someone who could play guitar, or I needed to teach myself. So I just did the latter,” she says laughing lightheartedly, “I wanted more control over what I wanted to create.” It thus began her solo music career.
The 24-year-old started playing local gigs’ just last year and has already made some valuable connections in the music scene. She says, “I never really took music seriously. It was just a fun thing – a hobby. Then I saw what my friends were doing… it was amazing. Being around people who were pushing themselves made me more motivated to take it more seriously.” When asked about the Syracuse music scene, Taryn describes it as “Cool, collaborative, and supportive” something she hasn’t seen much of in any other area.
Attending college in Oswego (majoring in teaching English as a foreign language), student teaching every day at a local middle school, and playing gigs every weekend only prove her go-getter essence. Taryn half jokes with me saying, “I wanna cry half the time, but I don’t have the time.” She thanks me for acknowledging her newfound sense of artistic independence. The struggle between music and career is something many young artists encounter early on. Taryn very much enjoys her teaching career and values everything she can do for the students. She says, “I like the diversity that comes from bringing together 13 different religions from 11 different countries. There was one class where I had 12 different languages in one classroom. It was amazing and so supportive. It was beautiful. I really want to get involved in that.” Although teaching is close to Taryn’s heart, music is ultimately what she is going to focus on after her college graduation. “Music gives you this feeling that is so powerful. You feel like you’re doing good things.” Down the road, Taryn knows she can always go back to teaching, but right now, music has to be her number one. She uses music like a therapy tool, as many musicians do, to find the underlying root of every emotion. “In a way, a way it’s like embracing vulnerability and raw emotion. I think society has this thing where sadness and anger aren’t seen as beneficial… what is making me feel this way? Then I figure out a way to work through the pieces to get out of it.”
I toyed with the idea of Surprenant’s future success in the biz, by asking her what the name of her first official tour would be. After complimenting my intriguing question, she explained her bizarre answer that only made me more aware of her innate sense of creativity. “I just learned about this stuff called Terracotta. It’s the clay stuff that you would make Chia Pets out of. It’s one word, and it’s just such a cool name. I like the mysterious essence to it,” she confidently says to me.
Surprenant means “surprising” in French. Something I think Taryn will do soon; surprise those around her. Her advice to young female artists? “It’s really important to own your sound and not feel like you have to fall into anyone’s specific category. I have to remind myself that I don’t have to abide by anyone’s idea,” she says, “I’m not in any category, and I can go anywhere I want.”
For more info on Taryn and her music, visit: http://tarynsurprenant.com