Transviolet Wants to Make the World a Better Place
And make you dance at the same time.
With their euphoric melodies and sing-along choruses in tracks like "New Bohemia" and "Girls Your Age," the breakout L.A. band Transviolet has mastered the art of an irresistible pop gem. But listen to the lyrics, and you'll find important messages beneath this foursome's ear-wormy hits. The group's decision to write about issues—such as human rights, perfectionism, and social justice—sets them apart from much of the material you'll hear on the radio today. But it's not always an easy one! And as lead singer Sarah McTaggart explains below, trusting your gut can be tough...but in the end, it all pays off.
As a writer, the things that I'm passionate about always find their way into my music. For me, the things that I care about are social justices, feminism, and the human condition. They're always at the front of my consciousness, so they find a way into my music. We had a lot of opposition when we were first trying to write about it. We’d work with producers and they’d ask us, “Can you just bring something the kids will like? We want it to be on radio!” They didn’t want us to do stuff that was too complex.
I’m glad that there’s a market for what we’re doing, though. I’m excited that there are people who are hearing our music and are so enthusiastic about it. They tell us stuff like “Thank you for touching on this subject that’s really important," or "Thanks for writing something that matters.” Because honestly, you can write a love song one thousand different ways and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s nice to write about something different, though.
I’ve worked with a lot of producers, and some are nicer than others. Some are more set in their ways, and they'd tell me I didn’t know what the f*** I was doing. Or that I didn't have the experience, or what proof did I have that this is going to work?! My response was always this: I don't care if this is a radio hit or if it just reaches one person, but it’s what's honest and authentic to me. That’s the only thing that matters. It was basically a f*** off in so many words. I’m not a very confrontational person, so that’s hard for me. I was a nerd in high school; I just wanted the teachers to like me. It was hard for me to tell someone that I don't agree with them, but in some ways it’s easier when you feel so strongly about something.
I’m not one of those people who's really into the music on the radio. There are exceptions to that rule, of course, but for the most part I tend to gravitate to music with a little more substance. So when they [producers] were trying to pressure me to change my style and my lyrics and do something that had more mass appeal, I told them I wasn't going to dumb it down. And I’m so glad I didn’t.
Sometimes I would feel conflicted about things, and wonder if I was throwing away my career or that my label would drop me. But then I’d always think back to the people who inspired me, like Freddie Mercury. When he finished “Bohemian Rhapsody,” he took it to the record label and they were like, "What the f*** is this?" They told him it was never going to work, and look at him! He didn't listen, and he took it behind their backs to radio DJs and it ended up being one of the most innovative songs in music history. When I feel like giving up, I remember that there are people out there who have fought for making great music.