“There is always a piece of myself in every song I write” An Interview With Tor Miller

After the successful release of his debut EP “Headlights”, followed by a single “Carter & Cash” New York native, Tor Miller is now gearing up to release his debut album sometime in Spring – “My debut album will come out in the spring and is a step up from the EP in a sense that the arrangements are more lush.” We recently chatted with Tor about his musical beginnings and his top 4 goals for 2016.

Read our full interview below:

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Outlet: For those just discovering your music, can you tell us a little bit about yourself, your background and how you got started as a musician?

Tor Miller: I grew up in New York City where I took piano lessons as a young kid. I was never very interested in lessons back then and I would constantly skip and instead play basketball with friends. When I moved, at around age 11, I was paired with a new teacher, named Anthony Rufo, who made learning piano anything that I desired it to be. He was the one who pushed me to start singing and taught me simple song structure. I started a band in high school and served as the manager/booking agent/band leader. When I left for college I had residences in several bars in the lower east side and subsequently labels started showing up to these performances and I eventually met Daniel Glass and decided to sign with Glassnote!

O: Did you always know you wanted to pursue a career in music and did you have any self-doubt?

TM: Once I wrote my first song at the age of 11, I knew this was something I was meant to be doing. I don’t have time for self-doubt, I know this is what I love to do and is the activity which has shaped my life for the better.

What has been the proudest moment of your career to date? And not-so proud moment?

TM: My proudest moment thus far is when I wrote the song baby blue. I love that song and if that were the only song worth a damn on this upcoming record I’d still feel the album were a success. As for least proud, maybe getting a little too drunk at some of those early piano shows and taking my frustration out on the crowd.

O: How would you describe the music scene in New York? Has it had any effect on your musical style?

TM: I have been out to many shows in the city and have had a blast but I don’t feel as though I am apart of the scene and don’t feel as though I can pinpoint what it really is. I draw influence from the general aura of New York, the events which I’ve experienced on a day to day basis, and situations that go beyond music. And to add to that, my musical stylings have been predominately shaped by older artists.

O: Growing up, what were your musical influences? And was there ever a time where you would try to sing exactly like what you were hearing?

TM: My musical influences are David Bowie, Elton John, Ray Charles, Queen and many more. I crafted my voice by singing along to Ray Charles and Bowie and learning all the nuances to the voices and performances. I knew every note and riff they did on those records.

O: “Midnight” has this sense of loneliness and isolation. Was that song inspired by your own feelings towards living in a big city?

TM: Midnight was a song I wrote with my good friend Jon Green when I was living in London. It is about that existential moment you have as you take the city in with one big inhale, you listen to all the commotion around you and you exhale it all and experience this cathartic release. Midnight embraces that loneliness.

O: What do believe the difference is between a good song and a great song?

TM: If I knew the difference I would only be writing great songs.

O: Do you find it easier to bring your own personal experiences to the forefront and express them through your songwriting/music?

TM: There is always a piece of myself in every song I write, even the ones inspired by events of someone else’s life, I always relate it back. I connect on a much deeper level to songs that speak of my life, and the connection I have seems to be evident to the listener and in a world where people don’t know if artists really write their own music, they long for a genuine and honest piece of work, something that feels real, I guess you could say.

O: When writing songs, do you write with the mindset of making a number one hit or to write what feel honest, and true to you?

TM: I find it rare, in my experience, that writing for radio results in creating a good song. So I just try to write pieces that I like. I’m very self critical, so if I can make it past myself then I’m happy.

O: “Carter & Cash” shows your ability to branch out artistically and continue developing your sound. Both musically and lyrically, how did that track come together? Can you tell us a bit about the background/story behind the track?

TM: I was in LA and working with a writer named Tobias Karlson. I had been gone on a long string of writing and performing which took me all over the world and lasted about 5 months. All the while I was keeping a journal which I would pass back and forth to my girlfriend at that time. I would write in it addressing all the passages to her and she would do the same for me. She would sign off all her entries with ‘you’re the Johnny to my June.’ I was missing her and longing to see her so I wrote the song about our situation, my constant traveling and how I put my career before our relationship but I was trying to assure her that what we had was concrete, regardless of the distance or time spent apart.

O: I heard that you recorded “Hold the Phone” on your iPhone from your dorm basement days. Has the process of making music changed for you over the years?

TM: It has pretty much stayed the same! I am always recording ideas and full songs on the iPhone. It’s what I know, it lets the song be open to interpretation in terms of arranging other instruments, and allows me to edit and play around with different ideas, because it’s not some elaborate recording which I labored over and feel beholden to.

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O: So we’re based out in Melbourne, Australia. Any future plans to tour here?

TM: I would love to! I’m on tour in he US and have been running from snow storms every step of the way and I can’t stand the sight of it anymore. I could use the warmer climate haha.

O: What are your top 4 goals for 2016?

TM: I want to sell out Webster Hall in NYC.
I want to release my debut album.
Either Perform at or attend Glastonbury.
I want to tour parts of the world I’ve never been before.

O: Lastly, what’s next for Tor Miller? Can you tell us any details about your debut album?

TM: My debut album will come out in the spring and is a step up from the EP in a sense that the arrangements are more lush. There are strings and horns and are my attempt to recreate some of the sounds of my favorite records from the 70’s.

Upcoming Tour Dates

05 Feb 2016
Rickshaw Stop | San Francisco, CA

06 Feb 2016
The Crepe Place | Santa Cruz, CA

08 Feb 2016
School Night | Bardot Los Angeles, CA

10 Feb 2016
Valley Bar | Phoenix, AZ

12 Feb 2016
Lost Lake Lounge | Denver, CO

13 Feb 2016
The Tank Room | Kansas City, MO

14 Feb 2016
The Duck Room | Blueberry Hill St. Louis, MO

15 Feb 2016
The Basement | Nashville, TN

You can find Tor Miller here:

Facebook – facebook.com/tormillermusic
Instagram – instagram.com/tormillermusic
Soundcloud – soundcloud.com/tormiller
Twitter – twitter.com/TorMillerMusic