Tora, an electronic band from Byron Bay, are set to release their long awaited debut album on June 9. Blitz sat down with Jo and Jai from the band to discuss their experiences of writing the album, how they have developed as a band over the years and what happens on a six month long tour in a van.
How did you guys form Tora? Did you already know each other?
When we were young, we were all at school together. I’m [Jai] the youngest in the group but the other guys were all in the same year and they were playing music together previous to this band so that kind of cultivated their relationship. My big brother was sort of their best friend as well and as I was growing up I also became friends with them. They went off to Melbourne to explore more experimental electronic forms of production and song writing and when they came back to Byron, we all started jamming together, the three of us at least, writing music together. When two of the other guys came back from Melbourne we formed this group of guys who were just making music and jamming together. We put out a song and eventually it just became more and more established.
Did you already have an idea of the sort of music you wanted to play?
Yeah I think so. I think originally the project started out as an experimental electronic outlet for Jo and Toby and after we all started jamming together it developed into more of what we were going for. We all liked that kind of music but it took a while for us to really find our sound, and we’re still experimenting and changing all the time.
What was your International Tour in 2015 like?
It was pretty crazy, especially because I [Jai] was still in school at the time. I left school and dove into the idea of pursuing music as a career. We toured the States first, did a brief stint in Canada, Europe, Mexico, then went back to Europe and finally back to the States. It was six months; we were driving in this small van, we had a few friends with us from time to time and we were sleeping on the floor of the van some nights. We played 83 shows in six months. It was very intense but we also we wanted to play enough shows to make it worthwhile. Because we were an independent act we didn’t have the budget to fly back and forth and do different tours so we just stayed for an extended amount of time to really get the most out of it. And that was our first international endeavor.
Do you have any expectations for your upcoming tour? Is there anything you’re particularly looking forward to?
I think we’re all really excited about playing our new music. We’ve been playing our old material for probably two and a half years or so, which grew as we released more music. We’d learn each song one and a time, sometimes two, but this time we’ve learned the bulk of the 15 tracks on the album and are ready to play most of them.We’re also stepping up the production value. As a live band, we’ve got new lighting, crew and sound guys making everything a bit tighter and tastier for our audiences. We’re excited to have a better ideas of what we’re aiming for and what we’re growing to become.
Do you think that your sound has changed over the years?
Yeah it’s always evolving. From the first EP to the album now there’s absolutely a progression in song writing and production value. The vibe has also changed a bit but because it’s been over a fairly long period of time, it hasn’t been a drastic change. It’s been a slow progression and I’d say its just evolving.
As a band, what is your greatest achievement so far?
It’s hard to pinpoint one but it also depends on whose perspective you’re considering the question from. I’m sure our managers would have a different idea of that but I think our biggest achievement is finishing this album. It’s been something that we’ve been striving towards pretty much since the beginning of the project. We always had the idea and the ambition to release a full-length album and with the previous EP’s we didn’t quite have the confidence in what we made to develop it into a full-length album. So, basically everything we’ve been working towards has led to this moment, where our skill set is developed enough to the point and where we are confident enough to do everything properly for this album. It took two years of writing and producing to complete this album work along with a lot of emotional ups and downs. For us to tick through it and actually finish the album is huge for us.
Is there a particular influence behind the album?
I think per person there probably is but as a collective everybody has different influences. It’s hard to say whether there is a particular artist who has influenced the album as a whole, because all of the songs are quite different. I think there are influences for individual song. We initially called one song “Blame Jake” but decided on “Blame” – it was a play on words because it sounds like James Blake reflective of our inspiration found in his new album. But on a whole, I don’t think there’s an individual influence for the whole album.
You’ve played a lot of big name festivals over the years, what’s been your favourite to play?
‘Best Kept Secret’ in Holland.
If you weren’t playing music what would you be doing?
Jai: Personally, I would be skateboarding, modelling perhaps. But those are still things I’m doing its just that’s probably what I’d be doing anyway.
Who has the most annoying habit?
Jai: Jo sometimes used to clip his toenails in the tour bus. I wouldn’t say that’s a habit, I think that happened once or twice but it used to freak me out.
Tora’s album ‘Take a Rest’ is out out on June 9 and you can also catch them playing at Oxford Art Factory on June 24.
By Grace Miner