At age 21, Taylor Momsen’s creative freedom is 19 years in the making

I was congratulating rock singer Taylor Momsen for commanding total career-freedom at her tender age of 21 when she reminded me, “I started working when I was 2!”

“I’ve worked a long time” to gain creative freedom, Momsen said and laughed, since she started her career as a model (age 2), then graduated to actress (“How the Grinch Stoke Christmas” at 7, “Gossip Girl” at 14).

But in her early teens, she also joined a band, The Pretty Reckless. That singing gig is what she has chosen as her full-time career.

Her band rocks club Vinyl in the Hard Rock Hotel on Wednesday night. The band brings with it hit rock hits “Messed Up World” and “Heaven Knows.”

“I’ve worked for 19 years at this,” she said of the entertainment arts.

Attaining and maintaining creative freedom is “definitely a constant fight,” she said.

“To create the art you want, and have it actually (selling in the marketplace), you have to say ‘(expletive) off’ a lot. That comes with repercussions,” she said.

“If it’s not done the way you want it, it’s not yours anyway, and you might as well work at McDonald’s.”

I asked her how in sync she has been with music business people.

“Art and commerce are not friends with each other. So I try to stay out of it as much as possible. I let our manager deal with all the business side of things,” she said.

“No one’s involved in my music. My art is my art. I make the art. However you want to put it out, as long as it’s what I made, go for it. From the record to the imagery to the music videos. That’s my art, and you can market it however you please.”

That means Momsen (like many creative artists) has a lot more career freedom than people who choose to work for companies and never say “no” to bosses.

Momsen pointed out everyone has the human right to say “no” whenever they want — they just have to be prepared for the consequences.

She has experienced such freedom consequences, she said.

“I mean, I got banned from television because I told people to (expletive) off. I couldn’t get a record deal because I told people to (expletive) off.”

“So there are repercussions, and you have to fight for it, but everyone can say ‘(expletive) off.’ In fact, it’s fun.

“You gotta live for you.”

I told Momsen I didn’t realize she had lived through so many moments of artistic conflicts.

“Oh yeah, many, many times,” she said. “I definitely have said ‘no’ to a lot of things people were wanting me to do.”

I told her it took me years of adult living to force myself to say “no” and “stop” on occasions that required such action, so she’s more mature in that way at 21 than I was.

“That’s Larry David’s quote,” she said. “He says: The more I said ‘no,’ the more I got everything.”

Doug Elfman’s column appears on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Email him at delfman@reviewjournal.com. He blogs at reviewjournal.com/entertainment/reel.

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