We caught up with musician Tori Boltwood following the release of her stunning single ‘Stay On The Moon’ for a full in-depth interview. Enjoy!
Hi Tori, what is your earliest music memory?
One of the earliest memories I have regarding music and myself is making up songs when I was upset or working through things as a child. I used music as a way to help me handle and understand emotions I didn’t fully grasp as a child. What I think is interesting is that music is still that process for me. It’s still my way to work through my emotions and express my authentic self.
I remember as a child; that when I was upset or overwhelmed, singing would instantaneously make me feel safe and centred. Like my world would become stable again simply by letting my heart release through song what it needed to let go off. I don’t remember really a single word of what I made up lyrically then. It probably wasn’t even full sentences. But the way singing made me feel was engraved on the very core of myself. I truly believe music is magical that way.
Who or what got you into music?
My parents sent my twin brother and me to a Musical theatre camp when we were close to 12-13 years old. I remember the moment I walked onto the stage and started the whole process of learning music, dance, acting, and just performing in general. I fell in love with how it felt to create. I fell in love with how performing on stage made me feel.
Though I don’t truly think I grasped it entirely, then I think that was what would spark the realization that singing was part of a wonderful world of art and performance, and I wanted to be a part of that world with all my heart. Before then, I don’t think I understood that being an artist/musician/performer/ creative could be a part of your identity. It was, in many ways, a life-altering realization.
Who influenced your latest release, ‘Stay On The Moon’?
‘Stay On The Moon’ was written about the end of a toxic relationship with one of my family members. Writing a song about the end of a connection with a family member was probably the most difficult process to work through for me.
Even though I knew that I needed to work through this pain, musically, a small part of me still wanted to almost protect this person’s image. I have been taught in the past that we ‘never call out family publicly’, but I think that’s a mentality that can trap so many people, especially songwriters, in bad situations and silence people from seeking healing.
Stay On The Moon’ might not make everyone I know happy, but if it can help someone else have the courage to set boundaries and take care of their mental/emotional health, then it’s worth it.
You recorded this superb release at Sound Machine Studio in South Texas; what was the recording process like?
The recording process is very stress-free and enjoyable for me at sound machine studios. The most important thing I have to remember sometimes is to pace myself. I always become very hyper-focused and will tend to forget to take breaks etc. Thankfully my producer, Mason, who also runs sound machine studios, is always an advocate for his clients and makes sure to remind me to relax and take the time I need to rest.
Depending on the song, it usually only takes us two ( 2-4 hour) sessions for instrumentals/add-ins and main vocals. An interesting fact is I never really listen to my takes, or dry takes, as some people call them. Mainly because I can be very indecisive and overanalyze.
So I usually trust my producer to choose the best vocal takes for most of our songs. Then I’ll listen back to his choices and punch in parts I think I need to do better or differently from there. I’m one of those singers that hearing my own dry takes can make me cringe.
I have always been my own biggest critic. So if it was up to me alone without Mason’s help and guidance, I might still be reworking my vocal takes for my first song, haha. Stepping back and learning how to best handle my creative process has made the handful of songs we have put out over the past three years possible.
You are based in Fort Worth; what’s the music scene like there?
I am originally from Florida, where I was mainly part of the musical theatre and jazz band performance scene, so the Fort Worth music scene is still somewhat of a mystery to me. I started making indie music right as covid hit in 2020, so most of my musical experience has been focused on social media-based platforms.
I am looking forward to venturing out and discovering the Texas/ Fort Worth music scene. I have missed performing dearly, and I can’t wait to lean back into my roots of performance.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
There is an endless list in my head of artists I respect and want to make music with someday. Cher and Adele are two women that empowered me to believe in my strong / lower range, so they definitely are at the top. But there are plenty of others as well. I am always being moved musically by the Artists of today that stand in their originality.
Artists that make a choice to be true to their individuality even if it separates themselves from ‘mainstream music’, such as Swedish artist Isak Danielson, Billy Raffoul, Spencer Sutherland, Sasha Sloan, Forest Blakk, Faouzia and Alec Benjamin. All these artists have really risen into the music public eye, but for many of them, I have followed and listened along since very early on in their careers in music. All of them have outstanding skills with lyric writing, which is very important to me.
Yet most importantly, it’s their original sound that continues to influence and inspire me daily. To me, they all have talents and voices that are timeless and truly transcend music genres. I want to be an artist that defines herself and is never defined by the industry or falls into just one category or metaphorical ‘box’ musically.
To me, the artists I listed above show me that is possible. They influence me to hopefully one day be able to help others believe in their own ability to be original. I also really want to turn into collaborating with other indie artists.
The past few years have taught me how saturated the world is with amazing talent. I just want to tune in and make connections with these beautiful amazing artists. They inspire me every single day.
What’s your dream venue to play?
I don’t really have a dream venue so much as a dream performance. I grew up loving Elvis Presley’s music and adore his voice. I would love to be a part of a future All-Star Tribute shows they have put on for him in the past. It’s one of my dreams.
Other than music, what are you passionate about?
I have always been drawn to many outlets of creativity. One of my biggest passions in life has been writing; long before I ever truly ‘wrote’ music lyrics, I was very much in love with writing fictional stories and poems. Because of this, I also grew up devouring fiction novels. I have always been a bit of a bookworm.
I also went to a Charter Arts School from 6th-12th grade and studied drawing/ painting /photography/acting / musical theatre and four years of martial arts. In college, I also took a semester in Ceramics. I have found that I am the kind of creative that can lose myself in many different formats of art and creativity.
What changes would you like to see in the music business?
I think any artist’s relationship with the music industry isn’t all positive. I am very thankful for the privilege to even make music. But for me, when I look at the industry, it all feels like a complex game that tries to make us accept that there are ‘winners’ and ‘losers’. It can all feel very shallow and fake.
So my biggest hope for the industry is to feel a shift towards authenticity and to get back to making it more of a community of music and less hyper-focused on the ‘business’ aspect. Sometimes it feels like we have gotten to the point where music has become a business of numbers and less like an environment for creating art.
What would it be if you could choose one thing for fans to take away from your music?
I want them to feel seen and heard. I want them to be able to connect and feel like they are a part of my music. When I write, I strive to make the songs have depth so that many people can find a thread of connection in my words and feelings. I write music to feel seen. I write music to feel heard.
If I could solve all the problems in the world with a song, I would do it in a heartbeat. But unfortunately, that’s not physically possible. So I hope the least I can do is make sure that my audience doesn’t feel alone in this crazy world. My music is the attempt to create a connection that helps not only myself feel alive in this world but helps other people not feel so alone.
Have you started working on your next release?
Yes! I already have a new song called ‘Wicked Woman’ dropping on May 13th, as well as many other new releases that are ready to be shared with the world.
FVMusicBlog May 2022