Want to see what 28-year-old Dallas-based musician Taylor Rea sees when she writes and records songs for her Zhora project? Just wait for the music videos that accompany them, and you'll get a pretty good idea.
Check out the brand new clip for "Lights," an ethereal electro-pop tune from her upcoming EP, to discover the kinds of imagery, moods and textures that inspire Rea. She's letting us share it with you first:
Conceptualizing the "Lights" video was one thing for Rea, but she admits she needed help to make it a reality.
"Yeah, I didn't know what I was doing," she jokes.
So Rea pulled in production whizzes Anthony Longoria and John Mitchell to film it and recruited visual artist Edward Ruiz to create light and video projections. All parties helped direct what turned out to be an enthralling collage of vivid colors and textures. Rea herself is part of the palette.
The video was filmed in a studio space Rea shares with other musicians, a workshop she says is so spread out and roomy that "we use skateboards to get around."
The singer-songwriter is no stranger to those types of creative environments. The Houston-raised artist's first music-making experimentations happened in her early 20s while she couch-surfed in Dallas and collaborated with other musicians. She eventually joined the local dance-folk group Ishi, where her aerobic stage movements and sugary supporting vocals lent themselves brilliantly to live shows.
Rea says her eventual departure from Ishi a few years ago was the right move, mostly because she need to branch out and find her own musical identity.
"I might have never figured out what I really wanted to be," she says.
What she wanted to be, it turns out, is Zhora, which so far has meant cool synths, of-the-moment beats and layers of Rea's crystalline singing voice.
Her stuff isn't always perfect for the kind of dancing she did with Ishi, but that's OK with her: "I definitely would've liked for my music to be more dance-y, but I guess that's just not what my heart wants to make right now."
You might not realize it if you've seen her seemingly fearless live performances, but Rea is soft-spoken and a bit shy when you meet her. She's also very thoughtful about both her words and the art she puts into the world. That could explain why she's taken her time on the new EP that features "Lights."
She considers the new four-song collection -- which will be unveiled at a Dec. 19 listening event at Off the Record -- to be her first fully-formed solo effort. The new material finds Rea collaborating with fellow outside-the-box local music-makers such as Ronnie Heart, Dylan Silvers, Tiger Darrow, Adam Pickrell and more.
While Rea will perform as Zhora during her listening party, she doesn't know yet what shape a hypothetical headlining concert gig would take. She just knows she'll be nervous before embarking on such a thing.
"I freak out a little, but once I get on stage, I usually feel better and can focus," she says. "And if I'm still unsure, I will just ask myself, 'What would Beyoncé do?"
Find out more about Zhora at zhoramusic.com .