Signed as a songwriter at just 19 years old by Warner/Chappell Publishing, it didn’t take long for Tayla Parx to hit a wall.
“Around 20 years old, 21, [I was] saying, ‘Yo, I’m writing all of these songs, and most people don’t even care,’” Parx tells Billboard. “‘They don’t care how hard I work, they don’t care how little sleep I get. They just care that I get the job done.’”
That experience was the impetus for Parx’s new venture Burnout, a songwriting camp that aims to instill self-care practices in its participants, from meditation and mindfulness to healthy eating. The first edition will be held in Brooklyn from October 9-12, and Parx — who scored three Billboard Top 10 singles last year including Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” — is already planning followup camps in songwriter hubs around the globe, including London, Los Angeles, Nashville, Stockholm, Toronto and Seoul.
“The thing that’s necessary for the creative in today’s age is to find the calm in the chaos, because it’s inevitable in our lives,” says Parx, also an artist who recently released the remix EP Me Vs. Us featuring AfroJack and Alan Walker. “It’s really, really important for us to be able to unlock that creativity instead of kind of being on an assembly-line workflow. So we’re just trying to provide these creatives with the proper tools, whether that’s mindfulness, [or] whether that’s watching the food that you eat.”
Parx notes that unlike other songwriting camps she’s attended, Burnout isn’t about traveling to an exotic destination but rather learning to lead a balanced life as a creative professional in a highly-competitive industry. As she sees it, that balance is not only essential for one’s mental health, it’s essential to being a good songwriter.
“We are making music for people who aren’t living in a studio every day,” she says. “So once you become out of touch with reality, you’re losing the thing that makes you the most special as a songwriter, and that’s being connected to the world. That’s what we’re doing at Burnout, is reminding you, ‘Hey, don’t forget. Check in with yourself.’”
One of the confirmed participants at the Brooklyn camp (there will be 10 or 11 songwriters total) is Grammy-nominated songwriter Ali Tamposi, who herself has struggled with balance in the past.
“The last four years of my life have been focused primarily on self-care,” says Tamposi, who says she’s been friends with Parx for several years. “I’ve been sober for four years. Therapy is probably the top of the list for my self-care routine, and meditating. For me it’s going to AA meetings…I’ve really put in the time to reserve my energy and take care of myself.”
Parx notes that she made an effort to include songwriters from a variety of genres and backgrounds and with varying levels of professional experience at the Brooklyn camp, which is being held at the Urban Cowboy bed and breakfast. Additionally, she’ll be opening it up to one unpublished, unsigned songwriter who can submit for the slot beginning Monday (Sept. 16). “It’s about infecting people with this mentality early on, so it becomes the normal,” she says of bringing baby writers into the fold.
Sponsors for the Brooklyn camp include Parx’s own Parx Studios (a creative collective that has worked with Lil Nas X, Billie Eilish and Noah Cyrus, among others), Nuraphone headphones, Native Instruments and Grey Noise Studios, which is providing the recording space. Though Parx is putting up much of the money for the camp herself (she refrained to say how much participants would be paying, though the unsigned songwriter will attend for free), she notes that the ultimate goal is to attract enough sponsors to make future camps free for everyone. As Tamposi sees it, Parx’s effort is part of a larger trend towards a more collegial songwriter community overall.
“The creatives I think are looking out for each other more than ever right now,” she says. “It’s definitely refreshing.”
Though the industry has a long way to go, what Parx hopes to achieve with Burnout is nothing less than a collective reshaping of the way songwriters approach their work. Because for her, a career spent with nose firmly affixed to grindstone is missing the point.
“Once you’ve got the No. 1s, and once you’ve got the Grammys, and once you’ve got all of that stuff,” she says, “whether you’re 25 years old or whether you’re 50, if your body and your mind and your spirit is broken down by the time you get there, you can’t enjoy it either way.”