Over the last few months Australian four-piece Tora have given us a tidy collection of awesome new singles which have in-fact been anticipation builders for their upcoming album “A Force Majeure”, and they’ve certainly been working on us.
We were treated to an early listen of the album recently (which is incredible by the way) and our resident reviewer Callum MacDonald (of daste.) was very eager to ask the band some questions around the making of and inspiration for “A Force Majeure”.
First off, congratulations on yet another beautiful body of work. I’m absolutely in love with the album, you guys have yet again presented something fresh and original while treating us to those familiar Tora tones that we all adore.
Before I listened to this album I was really curious about what to anticipate. Obviously your first three singles gave us all a glimpse into what to expect, however, I thought to myself “..this is the first album the band has created outside of their hometown Byron Bay”.
Do you feel the experience of the entire creative process occurring outside of familiar territory had an impact on the albums overall direction, what was different about this creation process compared to others from the past?
Jai Piccone: The plan for 2020 was to spend the year touring Europe and the US, but as we know fate had another plan for us all. Being thrown into a tricky decision of either flying back to Aus or sticking it out in Europe. We decided on the latter and had no idea what it would bring. We spent the following 8mths/6 days a week in the studio writing and producing, this would manifest into our album ‘A Force Majeure’ .
At the time we didn’t realise how much the surroundings and culture influenced our writing process. This record and the way we wrote it was a first for us, having our studio permanently set up meant that we could record and work at any time. Just a short 20min bike ride from home, it meant you could clear your head before arriving at the studio, running over ideas or inspirations before arriving and jumping in.
Tora is just one of a plethora of incredible acts to be born out of the Byron Bay area, what do you feel it is about your hometown that is able to produce acts such as Tora, Parcels, The Babe Rainbow, and Parkway Drive who’ve been able to achieve international success across a range of genres?
Jai Piccone: Maybe it’s something in the water…. But seriously I think it stems from the culture at the heart of the Byron Shire. As a small town sometimes it might get overlooked for anything other than a tourist hotspot, but its support for the arts is incredible. Ever since our first band in high school, our community supported us with events, grants and gigs. I guess you could say we owe a lot of our belief and success to our community that continues to support us, that now extends all over the world.
Over the years, Tora’s been known to make use of DAW’s Ableton and Reason. The band’s soundscape is extremely intricate and beautifully layered so I’m wondering what strengths you find in each of them to create your sound? Was one more primary in the making of ‘A Force Majeure’?
Jai Piccone: For this record we used Reason primarily, mainly because that’s what we seemed more comfortable with and workflow wise it fit us better. When it comes down to it, they can all pretty much achieve the same outcome, it comes down to what you feel most comfortable using. In the end it’s you who creates the magic and the DAW is just the tool used to capture it.
Obviously, moving overseas must have been a huge experience for the group, especially with all that has happened to the world during the process – some people have tried to see the scenario with the glass half full perspective, using this time to reflect and regather themselves, however there is still a very sombre reality to COVID-19. How has this pandemic affected the group and was there any influence/reflection of the world, in its current state, during the writing process of the album?
Jai Piccone: At the beginning we found it hard to see the positive outcome, but that changed pretty quick once we secured our studio and started working on the album. Now we definitely see the positives and what we were able to achieve. In saying that we are still challenged by the prospect of being able to play live again, but until then we will continue to write music.
Your first three singles ’When Will I Lean’, ‘Call On Me’ and ‘Why Won’t You Wait’ gifted us with beautifully aligned visuals through collaborations with directors Onil Kotian, Bob Sizoo and Najim Jansen. How did your relationship with these filmmakers come to life and what is it about their work that drew you toward collaborating?
Jai Piccone: It’s always a similar meeting situation, we either meetup or video call. We try to gauge a vibe of who they are and what they do, then if it clicks we normally just set them a budget and trust they will make something beautiful.
Onli has worked with us on our previous album ‘Can’t Buy The Mood’, so it was natural that we wanted to work with him again. Bob we met here in Amsterdam and he blew us away with his directing skills and vision. Najim we also met in Amsterdam, similar to Bob he just took control of the vision and brought it to life.
We usually like to give them freedom to express how they are feeling when listening to the song, obviously we had mood-boards and references. But they definitely get to run a little wild and that’s what we like.
What were the key artist influences the band drew upon for inspiration during the creation of ‘A Force Majeure’, and what have been some of the band’s favourite releases over the past year?
Jai Piccone: Balthazar has always been a great inspiration for groove and their mixes always seem to be super smooth. James Blake is always one that we jump back to in the studio, helps us dive deeper into textures, harmonies, mix, and just all-round fatness. Leisure also, I guess, falls into the similar category as Balthazar, their attention to groove and melody.
Releases : Feng Suave – People Wither, Aleksandir – Skin, James Blake – Godspeed, Flying Lotus – Yasuke, Glass Animals – Dreamland, Tame Impala – The Slow Rush
Tora released another new song last week called ‘Put Down Your Phone’, which you can check out right here, and stayed tuned for the full album drop this Friday (September 3rd)!