Unless you like to avoid pop culture – and let’s face it, if you’re reading this, we know you don’t – you’ll recognize Taryn Manning. She starred alongside Britney Spears in Crossroads (see, you know her) and went on to have movie roles in 8 Mile, Hustle & Flow, Crazy/Beautiful, and more. She’s currently on Hawaii Five-O and has had appeared on TV shows like Sons of Anarchy and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
But unlike many actresses who decide to dabble in music once they’ve made it, Taryn has always been a musician. She formed the band Boomkat with her brother in the early 2000s and later landed a song on the 8 Mile soundtrack.
After acting in a string of movies, Taryn is back to music with a new single called “Send Me Your Love” and an EP on the way. The dance anthem is already working its way up the charts, driven by a party beat and Taryn’s signature smoky vocals.
Taryn stopped by the Crushable offices this week, and we had a chance to pick her brain. Read the interview to learn more about Taryn’s new EP, her upcoming acting projects, and what big dreams she wants to tackle next.
Your new single is “Send Me Your Love.” Tell us a little bit about the process of creating that song.
Taryn Manning: Well, I’ve been working on an album for a long time. I wrote it quite some time ago with a friend. We wrote it on a piano. She’s amazing, her father was in Wings with Paul McCartney. She’s and incredible musician, guitar player, and we write together a lot, we’re really good friends. The reason why I love writing with her over other people is because our songs have more meaning, and we have fun with metaphors and playing with different uses of words. So it’s more intelligent. And the chorus, it’s really however you interpret it. Send me your love, whether it’s a loved one, or a higher power, like a God type thing. I wrote it about life and how mundane it is, and in our everyday we have to do this monotonous stuff. And then, by the pre-chorus – I always have a character in my songs – she starts to break down and be vulnerable, and yells out send me your love. You know, send me some strength and hope.
You have a new EP coming out soon. What kind of sounds will we hear on that album?
This EP is a selection of songs. To me less is more. So five, eight at most. Just like a chunk. It’s going to stick to a dance theme, the EDM world. I’ve been DJing a lot, I always loved dance music, and it’s definitely on its high right now. So I’m going to ride that out. It’s called Freedom City. And basically I titled it that because I think it’s a way of life. And recently, over the last year, I’ve just grown a lot as a person and overcome some stuff, and I feel free from my own mind and myself. And so the album, hopefully when people hear it, it will reflect a positive message. Through party beats but without having to have any party lyrics. But still feel the vibe. And big anthem dance songs.
How did you get into DJing?
I grew up very close with my brother. We have a band called Boomkat together, which we’ve had for a long, long time. So my brother grew up in hip hop culture. He was a break dancer growing up, we grew up in Arizona, and he had turntables, and everything was two turntables and a microphone. So I watched him, and then we formed Boomkat. It kind of started off like the Beastie Boys, but a brother-sister team. We would just rap back and forth, and he wrote all my raps. I started to DJ at 19, but then we got signed really quickly and thrown into the studio. And my DJing just kind of faded out. And then from the experience of Boomkat, Dreamworks was always wanting to send my brother and I out acoustically when we were an electronica group… it was frustrating for us. Because they would want us to play with guitars, but we had this electronica sound. So when I did my solo stuff I was like, you know what, I want to be self contained. Because I don’t want to run into that situation anymore, because this is dance music, and I want it to sound like dance music. So I started to learn again how to DJ. And now I DJ on turntables, I got CDJ 2000s, I have Traktor. I really embraced it.
You do a lot of acting work, too. How do you balance that with your music?
I remember with Dreamworks with Boomkat, it was a while ago, and they hadn’t embraced the actor/singer vibe yet. I had a song on the 8 Mile soundtrack, because I was in 8 Mile and I actually met Eminem and he became a fan really organically of my music. And Dreamworks was weird. They didn’t understand. They were like, well, what do you want to do, Taryn? Do you want to act or sing? I was like, I want to put my song on this soundtrack. Hello! Now labels kill to have that, you know. So that was tough then, they really kind of made me choose. So during the Boomkat period I just decided music’s my passion. So I felt like I could go back to acting after the tour and all that. Then I did Hustle & Flow, and did a string of movies. A lot of indies, a lot of TV. I’m not going to lie, music’s been a little heartbreaking for me. It’s been a rough road, but I won’t stop for some reason. It’s a part of me. But I put this song out almost like getting back into a relationship. Like, are you sure you want to do this, Taryn? I thought, how about no expectations and just throw it out. And it seems, because I did it like that, it’s doing well. And I just have to keep my expectations low, so I don’t get upset. It’s a hard road.
Do you have any acting projects coming up that you’re really excited about? Any new movies coming out?
Yeah. I have a comedy that I did. I finally got to do a comedy, because normally I do all dramatic roles. It’s called A White Trash Christmas. And it’s funny. I have three sons in it, and I’m like the Grinch that stole Christmas, but then I’m reformed throughout it. I get visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. I mean, it’s been done, but it’s super cute and it turned out really funny. And then I’m on Hawaii Five-O still, and going off to do this film called The Shallows, which is a true story. It’s about these adventure seekers, these hikers, that run into some serious trouble. And most of them aren’t with us anymore, but I got to portray a real person. That was pretty awesome.
You had a clothing line, too, Born Uniquorn. Any new developments on that front?
I actually put that on the back burner. It was super time consuming. On another level. I had no idea, but I hung in there for six years. Then I was like, this is crazy. What goes into that is nuts. And there’s some stuff you have no control over. Like the production, or the production coming back late or messed up. For Barney’s or Saks, if it’s not perfectly what they ordered, quality control, they’ll cancel the whole thing. So we had so much inventory. But it was such a great experience, and I want to do it again. I just learned so much.
Is there any advice you would give to someone who wants to pursue a career in music?
What’s so cool about music is that you can really stay independent and make money, because of the internet. And there are so many outlets to put your music up, and for it to be heard. But I would just say to really hone your craft. And to also know the business side of it. Because I feel like when people go to music college or college for acting, they forget to teach you about the business aspect of it. They just teach you about classic music, or if you go for acting you’ll learn every playwright. But what about the fundamentals of how to survive as a musician or an actor? And because I’ve done all three, in a way, I feel like I’ve learned so much. And it’s not all pretty. But I would never discourage anyone. Because I feel like anybody can make it. Not anybody, but you can… there’s no guarantee, that’s what’s cool. You can get one phone call and your whole life is changed. But it is definitely a difficult road. I signed up for a difficult road. But it’s cool, it’s fun. As long as you make sure you’re still having fun through it. That’s probably my biggest advice. Don’t forget about your family, and your friends, and the simple parts of your life. Because you cherish those during the crazy times.
How does your family feel about your career?
It’s funny, because my mom was always very encouraging. We grew up very poor, but she somehow always made it work so I could do my dance classes, and do everything. She wasn’t a stage mom. She wouldn’t be there with the curling iron, but she definitely could have cared less about my homework and wanted me to get to dance class. Sometimes I wish she would have pushed academics more, but whatever. I did this. When I bought my turntables a couple of years ago, she was like, oh, God, what now? And I’m like, I don’t know mom, I just want to play music! And then cut to yesterday, she’s saying, so, when’s the next DJ gig coming? So she’s funny. I think it’s just kind of a normal mom, you know, just being mom. And then next thing you know, it’s, are you practicing your DJing? She was so mean when I bought them, because it’s not a cheap endeavor. You have to get the whole setup. She’s always worried about money because of how we grew up. And my brother’s super proud. He loves Boomkat, but even when I do my solo stuff, he’s proud of me. We’re really close. Even though we’re six years apart. He’s older. It took a long time for that age gap to close, but when it closed, we were like two peas in a pod. We’re like the same person. A lot of people think that I’m older than he is.
You’ve accomplished a lot at this point in your career, but what big dreams are still out there for you?
I’m very into this music push, and I feel good about it. The thing about me is that I definitely live kind of day to day, but I know that I want a family and stuff. I know that I can act until the day I die, so that to me is a beautiful thing. I know that as I mature and grow older, I’ll play different roles. And that’s exciting for me. The dreams of some of the roles I’ll get to play. And I look forward to that. Right now, I’m still young and I have energy, so my dream is to tour all over the world and spread my message. And try to inspire people that they, too, can do what I did. Because I really was just a girl with a dream at one time. And I moved to Hollywood and made it happen. To me, it’s not about reaching some level, it’s all a journey. And I find the beauty in the ups and the downs now. I appreciate it all.