At just 21, Emma Taylor is already kicking ass and taking names from LA to NYC.

I was connected to Emma via phone call by her lovely manager Jessica Shein on a rainy evening with only 16 hours of distance between us by car ride. Taylor will be graduating early from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts this winter to pursue music full time in LA. However, the undergraduate doesn’t like to be thought of as a “student. Instead, she wants to be taken more seriously. After speaking to her for just a few minutes, it is apparent that Taylor has known herself for quite some time.

Taylor, like many artists, has been singing her whole life, but started writing songs at only 13. Growing up, trying to define her style was difficult: “I couldn’t figure out where my place within the indie genre was,” said Taylor. That’s when Taylor coined “sad girl music”. She described “sad girl music” as a genre that accepts and encourages vulnerability. In other words, it’s okay to be emotional.

It’s not a secret that we live in a culture where emotionality is not always encouraged or accepted, especially for women who are often described as “overemotional.” Taylor agrees that women are often “slammed for being too emotional.” The sad girl music genre is therapeutic for Taylor, who further describes the genre as “the music you listen to when you want to be deep with yourself and feel things.” But this is more than just music for Taylor; it’s a lifestyle.

With inspirations like Joni Mitchell, Taylor tries to pay homage to the great singer-songwriters that pushed her to succeed in her craft. Taylor also cited watching strangers “do their thing” while walking around NYC as a day to day inspiration. However, Taylor looks forward to moving back to sunny LA. She described entering NYC as a culture shock because of its high energy and the fast paced lifestyle of those who inhabit the concrete jungle.

Thanks to self-love, Taylor was able to keep her head on her shoulders in an environment far from home. The topic of self-love and self-care has seemingly taken over the media with articles teaching readers how to love themselves and outlining the importance of the subject that is, often times, at the top of a millennial’s to-do list. Taylor attributed this fabled state of “self-love nirvana” to her supportive family and working on herself. But Taylor hasn’t always been this confident in herself – especially with social media dictating a user’s mood and feelings: “We post that selfie, and it doesn’t get the likes we want, and we instantly think we’re not cute enough,” said Taylor.

But Taylor’s music has helped keep her grounded. One of main musical focuses concerns the lyrics and stories of her songs. Taylor explained that current music usually has a great melody or beat, but the lyrics are then drowned out by the background noise.

With music created to make her audience feel something, Taylor places a great deal of importance on the song’s story. But writing her own music and lyrics is a long process. Taylor explained that she usually starts with the lyrics of a song and carries a notebook around with her at all times to jot down anything that comes to her throughout her day. She then moves her lyrics over to the guitar, while experimenting with different tuning. Taylor is a self-taught guitarist and calls her technique a bit weird. But music comes naturally to the LA-native, who can write a verse in just five minutes.

GrrlPunch hopes that Emma’s creativity and freedom of expression inspire other grrls to manifest themselves wholeheartedly. There’s a level of vulnerability required in expression, and Emma is executing that effortlessly in her “sad girl music.”

To see what all of this sad girl music is about, check out Emma’s newest album on her Spotify page below. Be sure to keep up with her day-to-day happenings on her social media: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.