Amber Taylor: ‘I’m the sexual side effect’

by Dyana Bagby, September 16, 2011

As lead singer/guitarist and current business manager for the Atlanta band The Sexual Side Effects, Amber Taylor, is busy. She’s booking clubs for her band to play, she’s writing songs, she’s posting flyers around the city promoting upcoming gigs. She also holds down a day job working as a web designer and computer programmer.

The Sexual Side Effects headline the annual East Atlanta Strut on Saturday, Sept. 17. SSE plays My Sister’s Room on Oct. 1 with local artists, and plays Atlanta Pride this year, taking the Bud Light Stage on Oct. 8.

The Sexual Side Effects includes “Spikey” Mike Sidner on bass, Matt Foster on guitar and drummer Clay McClure. The band is working with producer John Briglevich (Drivin’ N Cryin’, Edwin McCain) on a debut EP.

“The ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’ is what we got going — except the one-inch part,” Taylor says in deadpan humor.

So how did the band come up with the name The Sexual Side Effects?

We came up with the name after all those drug commercials started coming out and talking about “sexual side effects.” Everyone has heard the term. It’s easy to remember. Basically, I’m the sexual side effect.

When was the band formed?

I’ve always had my solo projects and in 2007 came across our drummer, who is the founder of The Sexual Side Effects. Earlier this year the bass player and I started talking about reforming the band and all the stars started to align. All these opportunities came up. We found the right producer. We have a video person we are working with, photographers. The band is more than the four guys in the band — it’s all of us, from the booking agent to the photographer.

How long have you been performing and what goes into promoting SSE?

I’ve been playing music for 20 years. I learned to play the guitar when I was 13. I had a knack for it; I was born with a gift to understand the guitar. It’s just taken this long to get the momentum going as far as business. You have to understand business aspects of [the music industry]. There’s been very little sleep this year for me. If we do it right, we can go all the way.

When did you transition?

I started transitioning (with hormones) at 23 and didn’t live full time until 27. I’ve been slowly changing for 10 years. It basically took a long time to live different. The past five years people have been switching from saying sir to ma’am. I really haven’t told people in the straight world I’m transgender. They have no clue. The time is going to come when it will be time to announce it. Some will be upset, others will be like “wow” — trans people are just normal people.

I’ve been very lucky and that also gives me a sense of obligation to go out into the world — I have a greater purpose.

Share some of your experiences being a trans musician.

One of the biggest things personally that I feel, as I change, is I’m not being feminine enough. I’ve come to realize that I’m the Joan Jett. Part of me is still a boy.