Nottingham based, 19-year-old, Tori Sheard smashed a sold-out gig at Bodega this summer, affirmation she’s continuing to grow since her sell-out EP launch at Rough Trade Notts.
By Harvey Brown
Approved by local legend Dean Jackson (BBC Introducing…)
A local inspiration to young aspiring artists
#27 on iTunes Alternative charts with her debut EP ‘Edge of the Earth’
This is Tori’s year!
We sat down with Tori to discuss musical influences, new releases and horse-sized chickens.
Your sell-out gig at Nottingham’s Bodega Social Club last week was a smashing success, the electric atmosphere I’m sure helped settle any nerves – how did that gig compare to previous performances, perhaps where you had to win a crowd over?
Thank you for coming! I’m still not quite over it, I can’t believe we sold out! There was so much love in the room, I’m so so grateful. I’ve played hundreds of shitty gigs, when it’s either empty or when I’m trying to sing over a rowdy pub. I’ve been lucky enough to play some awesome gigs in the past year, including The Bedford and Borderline in London, and my EP launch at Rough Trade in Notts, and a BBC introducing gig at Rescue Rooms. It makes all the graft SO worth it, and it really makes me appreciate it. All the little disheartening gigs teach you how to talk to an audience and how to be resilient- character building!
What music did you grow up on and how far has that been an influence?
I listened to a lot of pop as a little one, Girls Aloud and Atomic Kitten! My dad has a varied music taste and my mum has always played a lot of Country. Shania Twain will always be my fav…we still sing to her in the car now haha. I think the country and pop has influenced me a lot. I had a big emo phase when I was 14ish, and I think that gave me a lot of lyrical inspiration. I then got more into more folk stuff like Joni Mitchell, and then into more of the singer-songwriter scene.
Your ability to master the haunting spirit Folk music can offer is so profound, which artists do you try and emulate through your sound from?
Thank you! I was going for a Keaton Henson/Daughter sound with my EP, with added country influences. I kept telling my producer I didn’t want the songs to sound too ‘perfect’ because I wanted them to feel raw and honest. I’m quite lyrically focused which I guess is a folky thing. I like floaty sounds and the big Florence And The Machine kinda sound. With my new stuff I’m hoping to play around a bit more with synths and electronic sounds and combine them with raw folk writing, after listening to more artists like Florence, Maggie Rogers and Aurora.
Songs off your recent EP ‘Edge of The Earth’ such as ‘Seasick’ and the more upbeat country track ‘Treading Water’ connate to overcoming struggles, to what extent has music acted as a therapy whilst becoming a young adult?
Ahh, music is medicine, I strongly believe that! It’s escapism and expression for me. I don’t write very often as when I try to force it, it never works and I get sad haha. I try to wait until it ‘comes to me’, as cliché as it sounds. Then a whole song will come at once and sum up how I’ve been feeling. This seems to happen once every six months almost like clockwork, so I think I’m due a new song soon…
I listen to a lot of music that’s therapeutic too, especially artists like Nahko & Medicine For The People, Nick Mulvey and Aurora. Their songs always have a good message!
How did your ‘Strangers’ music video come about…The narrative of the video is from a male’s perspective remembering an old love, was this a conscious decision from your behalf?
Funny story actually! A happy accident… I wasn’t planning a music video but received a Facebook message from Russ Noon from Mornray Films. He said that they had a music video that a client no longer wanted and that it was mine if I wanted it! It just really happened to suit my song Strangers! It’s not quite what I wrote it about, but I really like that the video is a little ambiguous and open to interpretation, just like the lyrics. I like the cinematic feel it has.
Does anyone else in the family share creative genes?
My mum’s side of the family is very creative in one way or another. They’re all great singers, raised on old country music. Although I can’t get my mum to sing outside of the house yet! My Aunty Dominique used to play in bands, and my cousin Tanya is a professional singer. Lots of independent, driven women in our family!
Writer’s block can be a common annoyance amongst creatives, what’s been the hardest song to complete to date?
If it’s not flowing, I’m quick to abandon songs! All the songs I play have come to me fairly fast, which is lucky. But it’s the periods’ in-between songs that are a struggle when I can’t make the right sounds! I get very wound up when I can’t write. A goal of mine is to finish more songs, even when the inner critic is getting loud!
What facilities does Nottingham have for young aspiring artists like yourself that you’d like to recommend?
Nottingham is brilliant for aspiring musicians. The open mic scene is super supportive and there are lots of lovely promoters. I work for Inspire Youth Arts- they offer lots of awesome creative opportunities to young people, so that’s always worth keeping an eye on. CRS is amazing, too. Oh, and Nusic!! Full of advice and opportunities.
Are there currently any other artists within the Midland’s music scene you like?
I’m a big fan of Felix MB, I’ve never actually met him, but I checked out his music and was awestruck. Emzae & Joey Collins are smashing it at the moment. My lovelies over on First Light Recordings- Alfie, Betsey & Emily Makis are ones to watch! Nina Smith is a gem – doing so much for the local scene as well as having a kick-ass debut album. I love them all!
What plans do you have in terms of releasing and performing?
The new single next! After putting so much into my Bodega gig, I’m not really sure what to do with myself at the moment! Eventually, a new EP and launch gig. Hoping to plan a little tour in October to see some different cities, but I’m just seeing how it all goes!
What would be your Desert Island disc be?
I spent a long time thinking about this. A lot of my favourites are a bit too sad for a desert island, I’d need some bops to get me through. Come On Over, by the lady herself, Shania Twain.
And finally, would you rather fight 100 chicken-sized horses or 1 horse-sized chicken?
Chicken sized horses sound far too sweet to fight-Can we make friends instead? If not, I’ll take on the chicken and hope I can outrun it. I couldn’t hurt a fly!
It won’t be long until Tori Sheard is the voice of a generation that seeks music further afield from pop.
Read Natalie Greener’s review of Tori’s sell-out gig here
By Harvey Brown