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Hitmaker of the Month Tayla Parx on Ariana Grande’s Emotional Journey to ‘7 Rings’

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On Tayla Parx’s debut album, “We Need to Talk,” released April 5th, fans finally got a glimpse of the preternaturally seasoned songwriter that they’d never seen — or, rather, heard — before. “It’s my perspective without any filter,” says Parx of her solo songs. “I’m an artist that pushes the boundaries of both genre and gender.”

But it’s those so-called filters that have solidified her status as Variety‘s hitmaker of the month. As a songwriter, Parx’s recent credits include Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings” and “High Hopes” by Panic! at the Disco,“ both songs with tremendous staying power, on the charts, in streaming metrics and on the radio. Says Parx: “When you get me writing for someone else, it’s about their ideas, their way of saying, ‘I love you’ or ‘I hate you.’”

The secret to her craft? “I like to keep the same process because it works — it goes back to learning people,” says the Dallas native. “When I step foot into the studio with an artist, My first question is: ‘How was your day? What have you been going through?’ The cool thing is that it’s like a therapy session.”

Grande’s undeniable “7 Rings,“ which racked up nearly 60 million audio streams this month alone, is a prime example of inspiration that came from emotional tumult. “I had to get to know Ariana and really, truly listen to her,” says the 25-year-old Parx. “That song began with the craziest weekend in New York,” she recalls, referring to the pop star’s very public break-up with “SNL” cast member Pete Davidson (who would quickly rebound with actress Kate Beckinsale). “I was watching Ariana’s life unravel and re-stitch itself back up again within the span of a week, and towards the middle of that week, she walks into the studio with a big bag from Tiffany’s. She’s like: ‘I just want to thank you guys for being here for me — for your friendship.’ It was a really nice gesture to show her way of caring. That’s the wonderful part about songwriting — it’s real life. There’s a song in every situation.” (On “7 Rings,” Parx is credited alongside Victoria Monét, Njomza Vitia, Kimberly Krysiuk, Tommy Brown, Michael Foster, Charles Anderson and Rodgers & Hammerstein, the latter of whom earn the lion’s share of publishing on the song.)

Grande’s hit parade garnered the pop singer critical praise. “It all started with the ‘Thank U, Next’ record because people were seeing that she was genuine this time around,” says Parx. “She showed a different type of vulnerability than ever before. She’s also being very sassy on the top-line, which is fun, because we don’t really hear Ariana talk s—. She’s stunting like a rapper would do on this record instead of being cutesy and sweet.”

Indeed, not only did Grande score one of the longest-charting hits of the year — with 2.8 million adjusted units for
for “7 Rings,” according to BuzzAngle Music — she also achieved another successful step in her evolution as a credible artist. “It goes back to authenticity — she’s not asking for permission to be herself this time around,” Parx says of her mission to empower (rather than, say, enable) Grande. In fact, Parx believes that female artists should stick to working with female songwriters for this reason alone. “There’s only so much that you can explain to a man who you know comes from a completely different world than you do.”

That said, Parx remains an equal-opportunity hitmaker who is happy to work with male artists such as Brendon Urie of Panic! at the Disco, whose “High Hopes” has moved 2.3 million adjusted units to date. “Anything I do is ‘Tayla-made,’” says Parx, “because I really do tailor [songs] specifically for every artist, which is why I’m able to jump from genre to genre.” And gender to gender. “I’ve written for both guys and girls. … It’s more than just me and my abilities — it’s this artist and their energy that is allowing for the song to be what it is.”

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