Musical creative Taylor Hughes formed pure xtc during an extremely isolating period. In 2019, she packed her bags and moved from Baltimore to the New York City metro area, living on her own for the first time. Time was spent crying on subways, climbing rooftops, meeting and avoiding new people, feeling extremely fulfilled to feeling like a hollow empty shell. Thus sparked the inspiration behind Taylor Hughes’ debut single, “Ghost,” a haunting electro-pop track inspired by her experience with isolation in a new environment, Taylor aka pure xtc explores the sensation of feeling like a ghost amid the excitement and people of a bustling city.
Then, pure xtc found herself relocating from New York City to Kansas City during the pandemic, and here she dived headfirst into the music scene. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, she strives to gain visibility and representation through her music.
Her latest single “Bad Dreams,” a haunting track with booming vocals, is a preview of what’s to come for pure xtc’s upcoming EP, Nobody’s Home.
“Bad Dreams” is the late-at-night realization of the ending of a toxic relationship, and reliving all of its negative aspects.
“‘Bad Dreams’ is here to hold your hand while you’re lying awake at night, replaying the worst break up of your life. You’re finally waving goodbye to red flags you blindly ignored for years," says pure xtc. "The gaslighting, the guilt, the betrayal. The truth twisting into your back like a knife. You can retrace the steps, fantasize and recreate the outcome, but you can’t change it. This song is about that moment of acceptance when you’re not sad anymore, you’re just pissed.”
Intrigued? We are, and so we caught up with pure xtc to find out more about her work.
So great to meet you pure xtc! So, can you tell us how you identify?
pure xtc: She / her — lesbian.
National Coming Out Day was on October 11. When did you come out and what was that like?
pure xtc: I’ll start this off by saying I was a very late bloomer, haha. I was all about music. Aside from obsessively watching Blue Crush in middle school, I’ve always liked women. It just took me a while to grow into myself and understand exactly what that meant. I lived in a very conservative country town in Northern Maryland and I was one of the few Black kids in my class. I was deep in my Hot Topic phase and already felt “different” enough. I came out post-high school. I was in my early 20’s when I had my first girl-on-girl experience. After that I immediately came out. It’s like I was just waiting for that hands-on experience to validate something I already knew. Most of my friends and family knew before I told them and they were really supportive and not shocked by any means.
You're from Baltimore but moved to New York and then KC?
pure xtc: I’m from Baltimore, MD and moved to NYC and lived there for a few years. I miss it dearly. The scene there is incredible and it felt so safe and normalized. I particularly miss Henrietta Hudson and Booby Trap, two of my favorite queer bars there.
I mainly moved to KC for safety during Covid and my fiancé is from here originally so it just fell into place. I have to add, I love the sense of community the KC LGBTQ+ scene has. Everyone I’ve met so far has been very kind and welcoming to me. Especially at and during my Pride performance!
When did you become a musician and why? Any influences and experiences you care to share?
pure xtc: I asked my parents for a drum kit when I was 5, they got me a Fender Stratocaster instead. It was bigger than I was at the time but I was obsessed with it and took it with me everywhere to show everyone I could play "Smoke On the Water."
My parents are musical and I was always surrounded with music. My dad would take me to local record shops on the weekends and my mom had me in piano lessons around 4th grade, it was really important to her that I learn how to read music.
I finally had the chance to play drums at 15 and that was a huge life shift for me. I spent the last 15 years touring with different bands across the US and Canada, growing more in love with music. During the pandemic I started relearning guitar and singing for the first time ever and that’s how pure xtc formed.
I don’t think I’ve ever really had a choice in the matter, music is what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s all I know.
Nobody's Home is out on November 12. Watch the trailer here.