As Millennials entered their 20s starting in the 2000s, the concept of a quarter-life crisis took off. Likely as a result of delayed adulthood and the hurdles it takes to start a career, the quarter-life crisis feels like something every young adult now goes through and served as fodder for singer-songwriter Taylor Bickett.
Track “Quarter Life Crisis” marks her breakout single. Now with over 18 million streams, the acoustic track showing off the singer’s vocal range further highlights her knack for storytelling – both via lyrics and visuals. In the case of the video, Taylor Bickett’s past and present selves come face-to-face in a diner setting.
The relatability isn’t lost on listeners, who have used “Quarter Life Crisis” for over 400,000 user-generated videos on multiple social media platforms. Part of the success comes from an endorsement by Drew Barrymore, as well as Bickett’s various performances – including opening before Carly Rae Jepsen at the Eastern in Atlanta and for Laura Marano and Andi Mitchell. In turn, those about to face this modern-day milestone have dubbed Bickett their “long-lost older sister.”
Tell us about your breakout single, “Quarter Life Crisis.” What inspired Taylor Bickett for the song’s subject?
I wrote “Quarter Life Crisis” in a transitional period of my life. I had just graduated from college, spent the rest of the year in London, and suddenly I was back in the “real world” in my childhood bedroom getting ready to move back to Nashville. The song started in my Notes app, as most of my songs do, with the lyric “I’m terrified of rejection, but I get high off attention” (which is also the first lyric of the song).
The more I wrote, the more I realized how much of my life exists in these contradictory statements. I was thinking a lot about my future and feeling confused and unsure, as well as an overwhelming amount of social media anxiety. The pressure to be posting and constantly seeking affirmation and validation, especially as an artist, can be really draining sometimes. Nothing’s clear, everything is uncertain – that’s life in your early twenties. I kept thinking, “Ugh, I’m not unique – everyone feels this way, so why am I being so dramatic about it?” And, of course, that’s basically the sentiment of the chorus I ended up writing.
“Quarter Life Crisis” also has a distinctive video. How did the video’s concept materialize?
I came into the creation of the music video with less of a concept and more of a feeling. I wanted it to be messy, a little self-deprecating and lighthearted, chaotic, and authentically me. The directors (Angelica Valente and Pseudo) came up with the idea to set it in a diner, and I was like, “This is so perfect.”
I used to be a hostess in a café, and I would spend my whole shift writing songs in my head and dreaming about being an artist full-time, and I think that feeling of thinking you know what you want but not knowing how to achieve it, or doubting yourself is a massive element of the song, and just of the general concept of a quarter life crisis.
Your career started picking up steam during the pandemic. How did this feel initially, and what’s your perspective three years later?
At the time, I was just winging it, posting videos from my parents’ bathroom (the best acoustics in the house) during quarantine because I was bored. I also used the time off, which, as someone who is happiest when she’s busy, initially felt terrifying, to write more than I ever had before.
Mostly, all I did during that time was write, sing, film videos, write some more, and so on. Looking back, though, I’m so grateful that I began sharing my artistry on TikTok. Never in a million years did I expect it to reach so many people and to touch people’s lives genuinely. In a time where we kind of all felt purposeless and confused, making music gave me purpose and set the groundwork to shape the rest of my life.
TikTok also helped grow your fanbase. How have you been using this tool?
I will always be so grateful to TikTok for allowing me to create a platform when I might not have been able to otherwise. I love the way it gives anyone a chance to market their songs, even with zero money or industry connections. I’ve also met a lot of my frequent collaborators through TikTok, and some of my best friends. Taylor Bickett
While using the app has done so much for me, it is just a tool. It’s easy to get discouraged when your posts aren’t performing well, but I try as much as I can to not let it affect the art that I create.
I’m going to release what I want because I love it and I’m proud of it, and then use the app to market that music, as opposed to letting it control my artistry. Social media is designed to be addictive, to give you that dopamine rush and then take it away and repeat for eternity, and you do have to be mindful of that.Taylor Bickett
What’s your perspective on all the user-generated videos featuring “Quarter Life Crisis”?
I mean, to say it warms my heart would be an understatement. Aside from the fact that it’s just incredibly cool that hundreds of thousands of people were making videos to my song, the trend was so sweet and nostalgic. When people shared photos of themselves at 16 and then now, I so often could visibly recognize a growth in confidence. Taylor Bickett
Smiles were bigger, stances were stronger, it was so inspiring. I loved when people would change the lyrics to fit their stories as well. Drew Barrymore did the trend (which was an insane moment!) and changed the lyric to “I swear 16 was yesterday, but now I’m closer to 48,” and it brought a whole new meaning to the song.
Tell us about your musical background: How did you get started with singing and songwriting?
I’ve always said I’ve been singing forever, which I thought was an exaggeration until I went through some old videos for the “Quarter Life Crisis” music video (we put real videos from my childhood on a projector for some of the scenes), and at two or three years old, I was making my family sit and watch me sing and dance to songs I made up. It was pretty much a no-brainer for my parents to put me in choir and theatre, and I was a diehard theatre kid until I graduated from high school.
I had always written a little but didn’t get seriously into songwriting until college. Freshman year, I entered a singing competition that told me three days before the finals that I’d have to play an original song, and I completely panicked but ended up writing something I was proud of and performing an original for the first time. I won the competition, and a lot of people made a point to tell me that they related to it. That was the first moment I realized people cared what I had to say, and after that, I dove head-first into songwriting.
You also have your debut EP slated for release later this year. What should listeners expect?
This music is so Taylor Bickett. It’s raw and emotional and a little silly and sarcastic and just means so much to me. I’m excited to get it out in the world, and add more to the story that “Quarter Life Crisis” started.
You’ve also been opening for a few artists. What’s been your approach for these sets?
I’ve done a few opening slots in the past year or so, including opening for Laura Marano’s Nashville tour date and my good friend Andi Mitchell on a few of her tour dates, and I typically play acoustic sets. As much as I love a full band, there is something magical about playing acoustic.
I love being able to change things on the fly based on my interactions with the audience and the intimacy of stripping my songs down to a simple guitar/vocal. That’s usually how I write my songs, so it feels like giving the audience a peek into my creative process.
Aside from your upcoming EP, what’s next for Taylor Bickett’s career?
I plan to write songs until my last day on earth, so lots more writing as always. I’m already ideating for the next project, and hoping to play some more shows and maybe even go on tour soon!