(ENGLISH VERSION BELOW) Mehr Elektronik, mehr Beats, mehr Finsternis. Mit ihrem sechsten Album „What An Enormous Room“ geht die meisterhafte Indie-Songwriterin Torres in eine neue Ära. Im digitalen Gespräch einige Wochen vor Release ging es um den eigenen Bezug zum Zuhause, die Verbindung zu Julien Baker und der ganzen Musikindustrie & der Sache mit der Hoffnung.
Und so hört sich das an:
ENGLISH VERSION More electronics, more beats, more darkness. With her sixth album ‚What An Enormous Room,‘ the masterful indie songwriter Torres enters a new era. In a digital conversation a few weeks before the release, the topics ranged from the personal relationship with home, the connection to Julien Baker and the entire music industry, to the matter of hope.
minutenmusik: Hello, Torres! Thank you so much for taking your time! Now, it‘s just a few weeks to go until the release of your new album „What An Enormous Room“. How are you feeling about that? Are you already excited?
Torres: I feel good. I actually feel pretty relaxed about all of it.
minutenmusik: Okay. Just because you are so content with how it turned out or just because you know how it’s going to be like after releasing other albums before?
Torres: A little bit of both. I’m really happy with the album that I made. I’m really proud of it. And as far as expectations about how people will receive it, I have no idea. But I’ve really experienced quite a range of responses to previous albums, so I’m prepared for just about anything.
minutenmusik: I have to admit that I was very impressed by the album when I was listening to it because it was such a different sound in contrast to your previous discography. How did you come up with this new sounds and this expression? Did you know when starting with this whole album process that it’s going to be different from your previous ones?
Torres: I did, to the extent that I am always trying to create a different sound with each album, but I do recognise that this one is more of a jump, sonically. And part of that was just. I do a lot of demoing. I’m in my studio right now. I’m just at home in my basement, but this is where I write and practise. So I knew when I was down here making the demos for what would be the album that I was sort of gravitating to some sounds that I hadn’t used before and creating a different world, so to speak, than I had before.
And then additionally, I did produce the album with Sarah Jaffe, who is a dear friend of mine and a really accomplished musician. She brought her instincts into the recording studio. And so she took some of the songs that were sort of going a certain direction even more into that direction. A lot of the rhythm section, for example, Sarah is pushing things to be a little groovier or a little faster than maybe the songs would have been otherwise.
minutenmusik: And I wonder, would you say that there are also the connections between the topics you are talking about and the sounds? Because there are sometimes rather dark topics in there, and yet the sound is somehow shifting between hopefulness and desperation in some sense. And I found that very interesting, that there is this variety of topics and sounds. Would you say that there is a connection there?
Torres: Yeah, I think that’s really perceptive. I was aware that the songs had the potential to feel a lot darker than I wanted them to feel, and so I was cognizant of making the music. I don’t want to say lighter, but I wanted it to be danceable that people could move to, so that it didn’t feel like a heavy weight. I didn’t want it to be like a blanket. I wanted it to be uplifting still.
minutenmusik: Yeah, I found that very interesting because I was reading the lyrics first and then hearing the album, and I was totally surprised what came out there. So, yeah, very interesting choice.
What I also found interesting is the whole title of the album, and I think that the whole concept of rooms and spheres is also very interesting in concepts of music. How would you describe the room that you had in mind by creating this album? Did you think of that when writing this one, or how did you choose the title for it?
Torres: So when I write albums, I am always sort of thinking of each song as a room in a house. I very much see making. building songs, making music like architecture. The bones are like the percussion, the rhythm section, the bass, and then you’ve got your melodies, so there’s, like the bones of the house, and then there’s what you put in the room, which is the picture and all of that and the lighting design. So I have thought about music like that probably since the beginning.
Then I end up thinking of a whole album as a house, usually sort of carrying that feeling forward with me into making this new album. I was also thinking about the psyche, the interior world of the mind, as being a room in and of itself. And we occupy this room in our head. And that’s sort of like, I think of exploring one’s own psyche as exploring a dark room and sort of like turning on all the lights and sweeping out the corners for cobwebs and trying to make it essentially a room that one would want to occupy.
I want my head to be a room that I want to be in, because that’s where I’m stuck. I’m only in here, actually. I cannot see myself. I cannot see anything but from inside of here. So that said, I wanted to make a record that really reflected my feelings about wanting to make that room what I want it to be and what I want it to be is full of possibility and not restrictive. I want it to be the opposite. I want it to be huge. I want it to be big enough for me to move and dance. So that’s what I was getting at with „What, an Enormous Rooms“.
minutenmusik: I think that’s very interesting, because when one thinks of houses and rooms, one usually thinks of very enclosed spaces. So there is this very nice opposite in there.
Torres: Yeah. I have lived in a very small room in the past, and I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to expand the room, push the walls out.
minutenmusik: And I also think that this also kind of is connected to the song „Songbird Forever“, because I think that there is this omniscient narrator, and I found that very interesting, because usually I got the impression that your previous records were very personal. And this piece stroke me as this omniscient voice in contrast to that. But if you see that this whole house thing is kind of built by you, that also makes sense in some way.
Torres: I like omniscient. That’s good. I think I do spend a lot of time trying to perhaps be more omniscient than I am.
minutenmusik: But I think that makes things easier if one tends to try that, at least.But how would you say that this piece, „Songbird Forever“ came to you, and how did you choose the musical expression to that?
Torres: Thank you. It’s a very special song to me. I made a demo of that song several years ago. It started with the loop. The birds on the record are actually from a recording of birds from my house several years ago from just outside window. And I started with that loop and then a guitar loop to go with it, and I sat on it for a while, and then I did end up adding the lyrics, which did become the final lyrics. But I felt like I wasn’t going to release it at any point because it did feel a little too loose, a little bit unfocused, maybe.
But then, as you do, you sort of go back and listen and relisten. I think that song ended up being more meaningful to me than maybe I thought it was, and actually more personal than I thought it was initially. And so I included it, like you said. Omniscient. Yeah, it’s a bit of an ambiguous voice, on the one hand, but then, on the other hand, it’s very much me. And I think part of that is perhaps I’ve always felt like I’m bigger or like I was supposed to be bigger or something than I actually am.
More transcendent, more something. And that song was my way of maybe expressing that desire to feel uncaged, untouched.
minutenmusik: I think that’s very powerful move in some sense, because it’s such unusual way to express one’s own feelings, to use that voice. And I think that’s very beautiful in some sense.
Torres: Thank you.
minutenmusik: We also discussed that there are rather dark topics on this album, and yet there is this lighter sound. How would you yourself characterise the songwriting process? Was it a very hard way to put these whole feelings into words and into songs? Would you say that it was very. Rather freeing?
Torres: Yeah, it was freeing. I wanted it to be. I mean, I never want to put something into the world that doesn’t feel in some way hopeful or helpful. I don’t necessarily think there’s a point to putting things into the world that are just despairing, because we have far too much.despair. So I knew that I had these expressions that I needed to put into the songs. Expressions of fear and anxiety and worry about the future and worry about the present. There’s a lot to be worried about, as you know.
And personally, I’m not impervious to feeling hopeless. I am kind of an anxious person, a very anxious person, actually. But I also have a lot of energy and a lot of hope, and I feel like I have a lot to give. So, in expressing these fears, I wanted to make sure that they were accompanied by something that felt buoyant. And musically speaking, the music could help move the anxiety, sort of disperse it, dispel it. So, yeah, that was the conscious choice, to have the music be something that you might hear in a. I don’t know, I’m not going to say a disc. Something that you can move to.
minutenmusik: Yeah, I think that’s very beautiful, because, as you said, I think it’s also always inspiring if music addresses one’s own fears, but still manages to keep some uplifting styles in there.
While we were talking about rooms, there is also the track „Forever Home“ on this album, which is very interesting, especially topic wise, because as we spend so much time at home in the last years, due to the pandemic and stuff, I think it’s still very interesting to appreciate one’s own home. How would you describe the impact the last years had on your own concept of home and your feelings towards the topic home?
Torres: So I’m married to a woman who really knows how to make a home. She has elevated my living experience. It’s gone from here to here in every way. I used to live alone for many years and, well, I’m not going to say alone. I had a cat.
minutenmusik: That’s something.
Torres: She kept me going. And I would say that previously, my relationship to home was kind of a sad one. I didn’t love being in my home. I wasn’t great at creating a home that I really wanted to be in. I would try and I never could quite get it right. I feel like my house always sort of looked like, or my apartments always sort of looked like 20 year old frat bro and then combined with 85 year old hoarder or something.
minutenmusik: I have a picture in mind.
Torres: I never really quite got it right. And then I met Jenna, my wife, and we started living together from 2019, right before the pandemic. So my relationship to home became a much better one. I started wanting to be in my home more, and it’s become more and more like that as the years have gone on. I really want to be in my house all the time. That’s mostly because of my wife.
minutenmusik: I also saw that the nice Julian Baker wrote a little text for your album, which I really appreciated. And I loved her text because it really encapsulated many things that I also thought about your music. How would you describe your own connexion to the music scene and your own feelings towards it? Would you say that you are really good connected to other musicians? Do you tend to enjoy this and the whole community thing, or is it something that you are not that much part of?
Torres: I would say that I used to be less collaborative. I don’t want to say reticent to involve myself with other musicians, but maybe I didn’t have the desire or I didn’t really recognise how important that community is. That was a byproduct of my youth, I’m sure. And now that I’m older and have been in the music business now for over a decade, I truly understand more and more how valuable it is to be connected to other musicians, working musicians, non working musicians. All musicians, but I’ve definitely learned. I’ve learned that I need those people way more than I thought I did.
And I also enjoy collaborating much more than I thought I would. I would say every day I’m growing in that department. And, yeah, I have become close with Julian. I’ve become close with several musicians that I’m like, wow, I really value your insight here, and I value your support. And I don’t know, it’s a really mean. I’m not going to complain about the music industry. There are aspects of it that are difficult, and people that are doing the same thing as me can relate, and it’s nice to have people to bounce ideas off of and lean on and support you.
minutenmusik: Yeah, sure. I can imagine that. So would you say that there is going to be a Torres album full with features in the future?
Torres: Yeah, I would love that. Absolutely. There are so many musicians that I would love to collaborate with that it just hasn’t happened yet, but I am definitely open to working with other people.
minutenmusik: Looking back at the whole process behind the album, because you’ve written many songs one and a half years ago or even much further ago, how would you say, did it change you as a musician and your own songwriting process and your view on you as a musician?
Torres: Yeah, there are always little evolutions, I guess. I would say. I trust my own instincts probably more than I ever have, but I also think that I have more fun. Well, I know. I know that I have more fun than I used to, whereas in the past, I’ve had the tendency to become very serious and very insular and pretty closed off, especially when I’m in the process of making an album and very precious about it.
And when I made this album with Sarah, I was really open and I had a lot of fun and there were a lot of laughs and I was able to trust her a lot, which is kind of new for me to sort of trust other people with my songs. I just feel a little bit lighter on my feet and very solid in that way.
minutenmusik: I think that’s very healthy way of making music. If you put it like that.
Torres: It should be fun.
minutenmusik: Yeah, it should be. Looking forward to your tour, that’s also going to be a lot of fun. Are there certain moments in the set list that you’re looking forward to the most because there are some set different than before, maybe?
Torres: Yeah. I mean, the set list will be different for sure. For one, I won’t necessarily be playing the whole new album every night, but over the course of the tour, I will end up playing the whole album from night to night. There will be changes, so I’m just excited to play the new songs with my band.
And there will be some older Torres deep cuts coming back. Some of the mainstays that I always play might be slightly different this time. The atmosphere of the new album sounds so different and I just love performing it. Every time I go on tour, I get excited. And, I mean, especially in Europe. Europe is just the best for playing shows.
minutenmusik: Thank you very much. I wish you all the best for the tour. Thank you very much for the talk. I really enjoyed it. And, yeah, also wish you the best for the release, of course.
Torres: Thank you very much. Thanks for your time.
Torres live 2024:
- 06.02. Bumann & SOHN, Köln
- 07.02. Privatclub, Berlin
- 08.02. Milla, München
Rechte am Albumcover liegen bei Merge.
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