We all have those albums that no one else seems to be familiar with, in our circles at least, but that we won’t shut up about. For me, one of those albums was Tor‘s Blue Book. I don’t even remember how I stumbled on it back when it was released in 2016; I vaguely recall that it might have been through a Bandcamp recommendation but I think that this was before the days of Bandcamp Daily and their recommendation system. Hell, it was probably some member of the blog (Trent, was it you?) that recommended this to me.
In any case, I quickly become enthralled with the album. It presented a chill, urban sound, a sort of trip-hop melded with the faintest of techno elements to create something quite alluring. I listened to it again and again when I first found it and then kept coming back to it as time went by. As time did, I started to wonder whether we’d ever get a new release from the project, one that wasn’t an album of remixes but a complete new and work. Imagine my surprise, and joy, when Tor announced a new album this year! I’ve been looking forward to Oasis Sky, said announced album, ever since the first (amazing) single was released and let me tell you, I was not disappointed.
Oasis Sky represents a lusher, more vibrant version of the Tor sound, stepping away from some of the urban “coldness” on Blue Book. The result is an album that goes on for miles, deep into the sub-strata of its redolent sound. As a result, I wouldn’t say that it’s necessarily better than Blue Book (because they are both very good releases) but different. Oasis Sky gives way to more exploration, has more nuance and hidden sounds to it, and a fresh new experience around the same Tor sound. Therefore, it presented a perfect opportunity for me to reach out to Tor and talk to him about the evolution of his sound, the themes behind the new album, and the future of the project. And that’s what you can find below! Enjoy, and don’t forget to spin both albums.
Hello Tor and thanks for taking the time to chat with me! It’s been five years since your excellent album, Blue Book was released. How has the reception to that album changed over time? Do you find that people are still discovering your music from that release?
Thank you for having me! I do find people are still discovering Blue Book. I see putting music out like setting it off into the world and the ripples continue to come back years later. It’s great that there are so many music discovery and recommendation options available now too, I’ve discovered loads of older music that’s new to me just through recommendations on Spotify and Youtube.
Moving forward to Oasis Sky, it sounds quite different to Blue Book. More organic, open, and lush. Was this your intention? Did you set out to create something different from the previous release or is this simply the music that flowed out?
I’m glad you think so, thank you! I always try not to repeat an idea, and a lot of the process with the new album was trying out new things and finding interesting sounds and patterns I hadn’t explored before. I guess my tastes change a bit as time goes on, while making Oasis Sky I was very much into piano sounds, long synth chords with volume patterns applied on top, vocal chants and harmonies, synth stabs and things like that.
Speaking of “flows”, how do you arrange your albums? One of my favorite things about your releases is how all of the tracks seem to fit together, creating a sort of coherent journey. How do you pull that off and is it even intended?
With this album I definitely made the first and last tracks with the intention of them occupying those spots, but it seems like I’m never sure how all the rest of the songs will fit together until near the end of making an album. Once I have everything more or less finished I piece them together to the final arrangement.
Oasis Sky seems to also be more centered around nature than around a more urban, busy sounding sort of style. Is this just me projecting my experience (and being influenced by the cover art for both releases) or something deeper?
It’s definitely inspired by nature, and of the energy plants can bring into a space. About how your home can be a sanctuary, a place to be quiet and find inspiration. We’re also surrounded by forests and mountains and ocean here in Vancouver and that definitely played a part into the themes for the album.
I really liked the remix release of Blue Book. Is something like that planne for Oasis Sky? How do you find artists for these remixes? Do these reflect the musical community you’re a part of?
There are plans for some remixes for sure. I love hearing interpretations of the songs from artists I admire and it’s a great way to breathe new life into an album and extend it’s lifespan. Some remixers I know well and are friends, others I approach to see if there’s interest. Some are up and comers that are super inspiring.
Finally, where is Tor headed next? Are you looking forward to live shows coming back? Is there a new release in the near future or will you make us wait five years again? ;)
Very much looking forward to shows coming back, I can’t wait to play all this new music out! I also don’t want to wait 5 years again til my next album, I might try some smaller releases and different things in between as well, some more collaborations, one-offs, EPs, things like that. I have a good space here and feel like I’m settled into a good situation now and I’m just going to keep going.