Tora Fisher Interview: ‘Spilling Over’ debuts July 10, CBGB date announced

“Tora displays the depth to rally the masses with keenly written lyrics
and expressive vocals.”—

Of men, grief and love lost, the ability to reveal heartbreak dominates the new album by Tora, who is releasing her debut CD “Spilling Over” July 10th.

The pop rock singer/songwriter Tora will perform at this year’s CBGB Festival in New York City on Friday, July 6th, at 10pm at The Lit Lounge. 

She will join heavyweight artists Guided By Voices, Wyclef Jean, Redd Kross, Fishbone, David Johansen and many others who are part of the 2012 version of the infamous annual music festival that mixes new and emerging artists with performances by established talent. 

Tora returns to New York straight on the heels of a wildly successful performance at the Sunset Sessions Rocks Radio Promo and Film Supervision Conference June 21-24th in California, where radio and industry peers raved about her visit alongside the likes of Lit, Everclear, Taproot and P.O.D.  

“Watching Tora at Sunset Sessions reminded me that I can be surprised by music. I believed her and know large audiences will too,” said James Howard Program- Director WWDC in Washington DC. 

Added Ward Hake, Vice President of Music, 20th Century Fox, “If you’ve been wondering if the NYC music scene is still vibrant with new young artists, then you need to check out Tora. Tora is a native New York artist with her own sound and vision.”

With a powerful voice and edgy, eclectic style (not to mention those wordsmith prowesses) that bring to mind a combination of Tori Amos, Adele, Ann Wilson and Chrissie Hynde, twenty-two year old Tora Fisher is a musical force to be reckoned with.  Tora found her voice -and salvation- through heartache and loss. Remarkably, the singer was the sole survivor of a tragic plane crash. 

In her debut CD, Spilling Over, a passionate ode to these very themes, Tora explores these feelings track by track and word by word, having written or co-written all the songs on the album, and delivering something that is nothing short of highly personal and intensely moving, a passionate song cycle that explores the emotions which emanate from the very depths of the human soul. 

From songs such as “Dirty Secret” and “Summer Eyes”  that explore a somewhat forbidden love to classic break-up/heartache songs such as “Nothing” and “For Dead”; from the soaring, anthemic qualities of “Finally Free” to dealing with post traumatic stress in “Own The Skies” to the emotions of seeing her father’s grave for the first time on “And I Won’t Cry” and “Second Tree From The Corner” (written when Tora was just thirteen), every track on Tora’s remarkable debut causes the listener to pause and think, contemplating the parallels between the songs they are hearing and their very own life experiences.

a photo from the studio with co-producer and co-songwriter Michael Mugrage. Photo by Seth Glassman.

a photo from the studio with co-producer and co-songwriter Michael Mugrage. Photo by Seth Glassman.

Accompanying Tora in her debut are stellar musicians Michael Mugrage (who also co-wrote several of the tracks on the album with Tora and produced the CD as well),
Seth Glassman on Bass and Frank Vilardi on Drums. 

Spilling Over was written in New York City and recorded at Carriage House Studios and was a project a year in the making. 

Said Tora, “I called the album Spilling Over because I finally wrote about all the experiences I was trying to keep inside. Once I gave in to exposing myself on the record, all of the songs nearly exploded out of me.  It can be scary to dig that deep but I knew it was the only way the music would be honest and meaningful…and hopefully, touch somebody.”

Accompanying the release will be a series of select concert dates throughout 2012. 

Recording artist Tora Fisher sings at the Citi Military Appreciation Day event to honor U.S. veterans and current service members at Citi Pond in Bryant Park on November 11, 2011 in New York City. Source: Simon Russell/Getty Images North America

Recording artist Tora Fisher sings at the Citi Military Appreciation Day event to honor U.S. veterans and current service members at Citi Pond in Bryant Park on November 11, 2011 in New York City. Source: Simon Russell/Getty Images North America


Monsters and Critics interviewed Tora about her groundbreaking debut effort:

Monsters and Critics: Did you grow up a creative household and if so, how did if influence your career?

Tora: I basically grew up backstage. My Mom and Dad were producing Broadway shows, opera productions and the like. The way some girls try on their mother’s pearls and lipstick, I was imitating choreography and musical numbers instead. So being creative and musical wasn’t just encouraged it was nourished.

But I think the most influence it had on my career was my perspective about what being a “professional” meant.

I had no disillusions about the hard work and dedication to your craft it takes to be the best. But amidst all the sweat and tears seemed a genuine love for what these artists were doing and that has been my beacon through this adventure. The day I am not absolutely in love with what I am doing, I won’t do it anymore. But to be honest, that day is never going to come. Music is my life.

M&C:  How have major events in your life – both positive and negative – influenced your art?

Tora: It’s hard to skirt around what has always been “the elephant in the room” as far as my art is concerned. I survived a terrible accident that took my father when I was thirteen.

That’s the day music transformed for me. It wasn’t about just wanting to write songs it was about needing to. I was so overwhelmed by grief, fear, anguish, guilt…you name it.

But I found this beautiful silver lining when my songwriting had transformed overnight to something with substance and emotion and content. That cathartic aspect taught me how to write songs from a real place, and without that I’m not sure where my music would be or if people would hear themselves in it like they do.
  What is your creative process?  How do you typically sit down and write a song?

Tora: I feel most at home when writing at the piano. The melody and chords tend to come simultaneously with the lyrics not far behind. Each song has a personality; once I determine the emotional response I have to the chords the content of the song almost always becomes instantly clear.

But My favorite part of the creative process are the spontaneous moments. When I am so overwhelmed by an impulse or emotion that the song comes out of me in full, one sitting, as if it was already written.

I think when a song that you’re writing captures a moment in time or emotion so wholly, it takes the burden of it out of your memory. You will always remember but it will never weigh as heavy on you. Kind of like how some people believe a picture can capture a piece of your soul, I believe great songs capture a piece of time. I think thats why I tend to write about my darker moments and the men that I’ve lost in life and in love…to lighten the load I carry. 
M&C:  You’re also a gifted pianist – did that come naturally or was it “years in the making”?

Tora: It was absolutely years in the making. I started when I was six and it is the best gift my mother ever gave me, I like to say. She insisted that classical training was the best foundation and she pursued every possible avenue to better me as a musician.

I didn’t know anything about regular summer camps because I was studying performing arts and piano at Interlochen. I didn’t watch TV because I was hammering out Rachmaninoff.

Of course, I had a couple moments where I would throw my hands up and refuse to play another single note, but my mother would always tell me that I would thank her one day.

And a couple weeks after my Dad died, I sat down at the piano and wrote Second Tree (a song that is actually on my new album) and it all clicked. Everything I had been working for, all the classical training and countless hours had prepared me for this.

The moment where I could be fluent enough in the language of music to express my innermost thoughts in my darkest hour. Believe me, I have thanked my mother many, many times over since then. 
M&C:   When you’re not writing or performing, what do you enjoy doing?  What is a typical day like in the life of Tora?

Tora: Anyone that sees me in my down time can probably guess I am a huge dog lover. I have a blue Great Dane named Titan that I’ve raised in NYC since he was eight weeks old. He is a full-time job and doesn’t care if I’ve been out till 3am playing a gig…he’s up at 7am and he’s ready to run.

But it’s a labor of love and nothing melts my heart more than when he lays at my feet when I’m writing at the piano. He absolutely loves the vibrations; I think he finds it soothing. I’m just waiting for the right opportunity to start including him in my album artwork because he definitely is my little (well…big) mascot.

It’s been a good, on par day for me if I have written a song and taken my dog to the park. And believe me, I feel all too lucky to be able to say I truly love every day and I surround myself only with what brings me happiness.

M&C: Are you an artist who really enjoys live performances or would you rather let your recordings be how your music is interpreted by your audience?

Tora: I would prefer a live performance any day of the week. It’s not just important for me that people know what they hear on the album can be replicated live, but feeding off of the crowd’s energy is food for my soul. In a way, though, that’s a little selfish of me because I think my more intimate songs are best heard in a room, alone where you can get lost in your own thoughts.

It’s not that I want my songs to make you cry, it’s that I hope you feel safe enough to do so and that you feel lighter after…just like how I felt after I wrote them. And that’s the best way I know how to pay forward my gratitude to the people that believe in my music and in me.

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