Tora Talks 'Take A Rest', Balance, & Friendship
Meet Tora: hailing from Byron Bay, Australia, this indie-electronic foursome (comprised of Jo Loewenthal, Jai Piccone, Thorne Davis, and Shaun Johnston) is about to become the breakout band of the summer…starting with their brand-new album, Take A Rest. Contrary to the title, rest is the furthest thing from this band’s mind; with tour dates stacking up in Australia, Europe, and beyond (don’t worry—there’s Stateside plans in the works, too), a new electronic element to their performance that requires practice, practice, practice, and a growing fanbase that’s hungry for more, Tora has got its hands full (to say the least).
Just prior to the release of Take A Rest, we stole frontman Jo Loewenthal for a quick chat—on Take A Rest, friendship (these four go way back), and what’s next for Tora. Check the full interview below.
I know that you guys have only released two singles so far, but what has the reception been like? How are you guys feeling?
Yeah, we’re feeling really good about it all. We’ve had massive response from friends, of course, which is significant for us, and then also on all social media channels; Spotify is doing well, and it seems like there’s a lot of support in countries we didn’t expect, like Brazil is doing super well, and Mexico, and Germany, and then of course the States. I think we’ve got a strong fanbase so it’s going really well. But yeah, in general we’ve just got so much good feedback, and even just online comments and people just getting really excited about the next release. It’s pretty cool.
Amazing. I know the album is coming up—is there a narrative behind all the songs or is it more of a compilation or how would you describe it?
It’s a good question, we wrote the songs over about a two year period, from a lot of inspiration from the touring we did in 2015. We went on a seven-month trip to the US, Canada, Mexico, and Europe, and we kind of spent a bit of time living in different places, like how wherever we were staying was set up. So a lot of inspiration drawn from that period. One of the songs actually dates back to about six years ago, so it’s been a long time in the works. But I think there’s not necessarily a theme; it’s more just like a compilation of all different inspiration and experiences that we’ve had over that period of time. The way we came to that is that often there’ll be one person who brings a song to the group, and then we work on it together. So we wrote probably 30 or 40 ideas individually, some started together but most of them written separately, and then we brought them into the space where we produced and recorded the album, and kind of just mashed it all together into one album and choose the best ideas.
Cool, so would you say it’s super collaborative?
Yeah, I mean for the most part, the producing was very collaborative, and the final stages were really collaborative, but for the writing of the songs, most of the ideas were created individually, by myself and Tobi and Jai. Actually bringing the songs together and making the finished songs together is definitely very collaborative.
So you guys have already released two EPs prior to this. How do you feel that you’ve evolved or stayed the same or different?
It’s always a bit of a balance when you make a new body of work because you want to keep fans happy by not changing the sound too much, but you also want to bring some new elements to the table. So that’s something that we really strived hard to do this time was to come up with some new sounds that we hadn’t made before but then also still kind of keep the vibe that we had going. So that was a bit of a balancing act. But I think that we’ve definitely seen a big progression from previous releases. I feel like we’ve put a lot more time and energy into creating originality in this album, and I think also there’s been a bit more focus on the actual songwriting itself, like the lyrics and the melodies. But with that said, we’ve still made a lot of effort to shape the production and have it sound as unique and interesting as possible.
I know that you guys have known each other a really long time—do you feel like you have a special chemistry? What’s like working with people that know you so well?
Yeah, there’s definitely a strong connection between us all. We’re first and foremost friends, best friends—and some of us are actually stepbrothers—and the music comes as a result of our connections. So I feel like a lot of the music just happens quite naturally. We kind of just live life, share experiences, do our thing, hang out, have a good time, and then the music just kind of comes as a result of what we do on a daily basis together. I think it comes hand in hand. It’s not the music that comes first, it’s the friendship.
I definitely think the best music is always the stuff that’s really organic and not forced at all.
Yeah, I agree.
So besides the album obviously, what’s in the pipeline for you guys for the rest of the year?
Yeah, so we’ve got quite a few tour dates booked, and at this point we’re focusing on Australia and Europe, but we’re definitely looking a bit further on and we’ve got some plans for some other places to come and play. But for the most part we’re just going to be focusing on getting our live show honed in and to the point where we can really incite people into coming and seeing us play live. That’s always been the big focus for us, is the live show, more so than the record I think. We’re a band, we’re a live band, and a lot of the times people don’t realize that until they come and see us play and see that we’re actually performing the sound that we hear on the record. We make an effort to make it as live and organic as possible. With the new record there’s a lot of elements that are a bit of a challenge to pull together in a live environment, but we’re working through it each day, and just getting it to the point where we can fully have a jam-style set with all the electronic layers still there. Over the coming months will be probably recording a bunch more live videos of the tracks, just exploring the world a bit more, and always working on new music, because as experiences happen, the ideas come in. So we’re always creating, and looking forward to coming back to the States as soon as possible really.
Featured image courtesy of Tora
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