Over the pluck of gentle acoustic guitar, TAELA’s entrancing vocal delivery snakes through sparse production. During the instantly irresistible hook, she urges, “Stop saying my name like Beetlejuice, and sighs, “You’re dead to me. It seals a Halloween-ready send-off to an ex with a black lipstick kiss.

Born in Saint Louis, Missouri to Caucasian and Native American parents, the single mom took a leap of faith and relocated to Nashville to write songs in 2021. Landing a publishing deal with Kobalt allowed TAELA to focus on writing and recording. In February 2022, she self-released the single “trophy,” which debuted in the top 10 of the U.S. iTunes Alternative chart.  The anthemic track, which examines how people perceive one another on social media, has amassed nearly six million combined global streams to date. 

A chance meeting with the band twenty one pilots resulted in an offer to relocate her to Tennessee full-time so she could pursue a songwriting career.

Getting settled in Nashville allowed TAELA to work on her mental health and her diagnoses of obsessive-compulsive disorder and borderline personality disorder, and her career progressed to the point where she was heading to Los Angeles for regular sessions. But trouble was lurking. “I fell in love really fast with my then-husband and got pregnant really fast,” she recalls. “It was a cycle that I recognized was happening, but it felt comfortable, familiar, and I lost myself a little bit in him.”

TAELA’s second pregnancy had complications that led to her being on bed rest, and after the birth, her managers reached out about more work in Los Angeles. She began writing songs to perform herself; posting“trophy,” a rebuke to online haters, in early 2022 was a breakthrough. The song racked up millions of views in the first few days after its release.

Tell us about beetlejuice and what inspired it? 

I had been dealing with a toxic ex who always came back around when I finally started to heal and do better. I started thinking of them as a ghost from my past trying to haunt me and keep me in their darkness. I created beetlejuice (dead to me) based on this concept! Keep your ex in the graveyard.   

How do you like Nashville vs LA and NYC as a writer and artist?

Nashville will always be home to me. It’s where I created an identity for myself in music and first started creating. It’ll always have a special place in my heart and I hope I can keep writing there as much as I can. LA is a totally different energy that I connect with a little better, I’m a little more comfortable being a weirdo out here and I think sessions are more laid back for sure which can be good and bad. I haven’t spent much time in NYC but I will be there a lot soon- I’ll get back to you on that!   

You have been open about your struggles with mental health. How does music help you cope?

There’s something so therapeutic about being able to escape into a song and let your emotions be. I have always used music as a coping mechanism for my mental health struggles and that’s what inspired me to start creating.  

How has motherhood changed you as a person and as an artist?

Becoming a mother gave me something to live for outside of myself. I can’t imagine a world without my little boys. They keep me patient, healthy, and humble. Before I was a mother I wasn’t taking care of myself at all. I didn’t care about who I was, I had no passion and no purpose. Now, I do everything in my power to be the best version of myself for them. Everything I do is for them. Everything I create is for them. Every breath I breathe is for them. I do it all for them.  

Take us through the process of writing Trophy, what prompted you to write such a powerful song?

I spent over 20 years of my life consistently worrying about what people were thinking about me and allowing myself to be destroyed by other people’s opinions. I woke up one morning and was like no, I’m not doing this anymore. I got out of bed and took a cold shower and the chorus melody popped into my head and the lyrics followed. I called my friend Dave Pittenger and was like “I think I just came up with something, you gotta help me finish this song” I went in to the studio the same day and walked out with Trophy!  

 You say you are healing now. Tell us about your healing process and what you do to help it every day.

I think the journey of healing is never-ending. Some days I’m completely fine, other days it still feels so fresh and painful. What helps me the most is writing in any form, journaling, poetry, music. I meditate every day and I pray a lot. I also tell my closest friends and family when I’m doing bad, I’m very honest with them. It helps to just let other people know. That’s a new thing for me.