Katelyn Tarver Takes On 'Labels' In Empowering New Song: Premiere

Luca Venter
Katelyn Tarver

Singer-actress Katelyn Tarver's new single, "Labels," offers a #MeToo era rumination on exactly what the song's title suggests. And she wanted the video for the contemporary R&B-flavored pop track, premiering exclusively below, to convey the song's positive message.

"I wanted it to feel empowering for people," Tarver tells Billboard, "and I was trying to figure out how to share what it meant to me but in a way anyone else can insert their own story into it." She and director Nathan Presley chose to do that by adding a cast of others -- men and women of various ages and appearances -- singing lines from the song along with Tarver.

"We just sent out a notice on these casting websites and we picked these people and they were awesome," Tarver recalls. "They each kind of made the song their own. I just loved the simplicity of it, and getting to put other people in the video was really fun for me. I thought it sent a strong message that was powerful, and what I wanted to say with the song."

"Labels" will be part of Tarver's new EP, Kool Aid, which is due out later this year. She's also released the tracks "LY4L" and "Never Fade," and she's confident Kool Aid is even stronger than her previous EP, Tired Eyes. "That was a lot of songs I had in my pocket for a while, and I was assigned to this label that wasn’t sure what the release plan was, so they were sitting there a little longer than I wanted," Tarver says. "They still meant a lot to me, but it's kind of exciting this time around to have songs I feel are way more recent and really close to the moment I wrote them which is cool." Kool Aid's title track, meanwhile, is another topical offshoot of where Tarver was coming from on "Labels."

"It's an interesting time in the world for these songs to come out," Tarver says, "and I was definitely affected by seeing people used their voices and not be afraid or scared of sharing their point of view. I was really inspired by that and kind of realized I hadn't been doing that as much as I could be doing with my music and with my art."

Tarver hopes to tour in support of Kool Aid but is also keeping her acting in high gear. The Big Time Rush and No Ordinary Family veteran appears in the new season of HBO's Ballers, which premieres in August, and she's keeping an eye out for appealing auditions while also making music a similar priority. "At this point I feel pretty invested in working a lot in both fields," Tarver says. "It's challenging because mentally I just feel like I'm in a lot of places. The (acting) work can come in waves, so I try to set aside a couple of weeks at a time to just focus on music and writing. I just have to balance it, but I'm glad to have both in my life."