Paytra Gessler is a woman with many talents. Gessler is a singer, songwriter, pianist, and actress. Her singing career has allowed her to perform everywhere from Disney World to New York Fashion Week. As an actress, she has also had the chance to appear on MTV’s Truth Campaign and Law and Order: SVU. And not to mention, Gessler is also an active writer as a PRETTY GIRLS SWEAT reporter. The girl does it all!
Right now, the New York-based artist is making major moves in music and just released a new single. We had the chance to chat with Paytra and get the 411 on the new track (which is a must-add to your playlist!), navigating the entertainment industry as a woman, and her upcoming projects. Ahead, get to know the powerhouse entertainer a bit better:
1. When did your love for music begin?
My love for music began in the living room, dancing to "Annie" songs at age 5. Or maybe when I'd steal my mom's stilettos and dance and sing to Beyonce songs for hours. I always wanted to perform and had a strong sense of work ethic. Once my dad convinced my mom to take in this old upright piano (which was pretty much junk in my mom's eyes), I started to practice all day, every day. I'd skip play dates with friends to work on Beethoven and sing for hours until I finally found the right note- basically, I was a strange kid. I remember when I was 5, my dad taught me "Let it Be" by the Beatles in like one hour- and I was playing full out chords when my hands were too tiny even to do it! Then, my mom was like "hmmm okay maybe she's good at this." I just really loved music, and it's still the same way.
2. What has been your experience navigating the music industry as a young woman?
Being young is hard- being a woman is even harder. I feel like people underestimate your knowledge and just assume you don't know the business side of the industry- but I do. After being caught up in bad contracts (ask any artist- they have their own story), I educated myself big time and even opened up my own publishing company, so I control copyright and royalties plus help other artists do the same! One thing I will say: being a woman is a beautiful thing. So much appreciation of femme power and strength has been the root of my music. I love wearing knee high boot heels and embracing my body- it's so empowering.
3. Who are your musical inspirations?
Alicia Keys is probably my biggest inspiration. As I said, I was a classical pianist first. I was so shy before music- I could barely talk to people. I feel like Alicia Keys' music books (and I have them all) made me transfer my love of music from just piano to piano and vocals, which gave me so much more confidence. "If I Ain't Got You" was the first song I performed EVER (and it sounded awful) but her music is a huge reason I am the artist I am today. I also love Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Rihanna, and TLC.
4. What was your inspiration for the song?
My trip to Albania inspired this song- I heard that word, and I was like "I HAVE TO WRITE A SONG ABOUT THAT." Literally- that was it. It's about a night out in the city with your boo, and you're experiencing all those butterflies and attractions. I've always been so shy about writing about my intimate life- that I never did until now. You'll notice the song is very danceable and high-energy- it's for a reason. I figure I can't be shy about the lyrics if I'm onstage dancing with my dancers!
5. What was the songwriting process like?
I told my producer to give me a dance beat, and I sat in the back mumbling lyrics until It came about. Then, I rewrote it a million and one times until it was perfect! I usually go into a session with an idea, and it evolves depending on how the music makes me feel. Fun fact: I had to re-record the song two times because my American accent in the Spanish parts was way too strong for me.
6. What are some of your goals as a singer/artist?
My goals would be to continue to grow as an artist and release tons of music that people love. I really want to create a comfortable living this way. It's not my goal to be mega-famous (that's just a bonus), I just am my happiest when I'm creating music.
7. What's been your favorite moment in your music career thus far?
My favorite moment was probably seeing myself on TV a few times. That, and also having genuine supporters that love my content. It means so much for someone to connect to me in that way and just reach out to talk. I feel like I know people I've never even met!
8. What advice would you give to other rising singers/songwriters?
My advice would be to make sure you're happy. Make sure the people you're surrounding yourself with are positive and good people. It's easy to get caught up in this industry (trust me). If you don't wake up and love your music and life, there's no point in being in this industry. Also, don't let anyone tell you to change. That's the biggest one.
9. What's up next for you in the music world?
So my music video is being shot soon- and I have another single coming up next month! It's going to be a busy summer for me because my goal is to release my first ever EP. I'm also working on a movie called "Golden" which is being shot in NYC. If you're in NYC April 24th- I'll be performing at "Bowery Electric" at 7:30 PM.
Take a listen to the track BELOW!