New York City, the concrete jungle (where dreams are made of FYI), has proven its romantic tales of fame to be true once again. Tor Miller, the new voice on the block (soon to be charts) has the perfectly heart-melting story of success that has taken him from local gigs to touring with the likes of James Bay. Wanna know how to do it yourself, proper Tor Miller style? Step one, grow a passion for music while carpooling to school with your mum for hours a day listening to 80s legends like Elton John, David Bowie and Billy Joel. Step two, hit up the local pianist and wedding singer to teach you how to translate inspiration to creation. Step three, ignore fancy studios and equipment – go straight into recording on your iPhone, get some gigs in the lower east side venues and expose your goods to the public and your set.
Oh wait, maybe good to mention that having a voice that gives Hozier a good run for his money helps. It certainly has for Tor, as his continuous night time gigs after long days at NYU grabbed the attention of music executive Daniel Glass, landing him a deal with Glassnote Records. A captivating, raw voice that pierces through heavy instrumental arrangements effortlessly demonstrates Tor‘s talents in soulful power ballads that gives a promise of big things to come. Make sure to keep September 30th in you diary, as the release of his debut album American English most definitely could provide some fresh features on your aggressively emotional playlist.
As if his voice isn’t enough, Miller’s talent stretches far into songwriting too. Hit up his EP ”Headlight” and listen to ”Midnight” and let the lyrics sink for a while. If Tor’s tale has made you want to jump on the next flight to New York, pause before you start searching airlines online, swaying with melancholic, rhythmic piano chords Miller’s music will take you straight there.
What was it like touring with artists like James Bay and George Ezra? That’s crazy! How did that come about?
It was such an incredible experience. Playing for such large crowds and familiarising myself with how a large tour operates was exhilarating and educational. Both James and Ezra are friendly and accommodating gentlemen, so it made the experience all the more enjoyable. James is a fan of the EP I released and we had a mutual friend in Jon Green, who showed my music to James. I believe that is how the offer for tour came about. James and George have also have the same manager and he is close with the folks at Glassnote so it was all very organic.
What’s the story behind the name American English? Does it have a special meaning to you?
I have spent much of my time over the last four years living and working in London. At first I was stricken at the glaring differences in slang between British English and American English. There would be moments where I would be completely lost in a conversation. As I spent more time I started picking up on the slang and infusing it into my way of speech. American English is the way I talk, the experiences I had as a young American in the UK and the influences from my homeland and my new home which pop their head up in the album.
What’s your favourite song off of the album and why?
It constantly changes! I believe thats a good thing! But at the moment I would say that “Crust Punk Queen” is my favourite song. I am proud of the lyrics as well as how the vocal is dictating the rhythm. The recording also emulates the 70s sound, which I love!
Your album artwork looks like a film noir crime mystery, (which is amazing!) is that what you were going for? If not, then what look were you going for?
I am a massive noir fan! Love Raymond Chandler as well as movies such as Chinatown. So thank you! My friend Erica Snyder and I went out one night in the city and decided to shoot. I had recently bought the trench coat and wanted to get the coloring of neon signs into our photos. It wasn’t something that was thought out too thoroughly but I knew what I wanted to wear and how I wanted it to be dark with the a nice usage of NYC.
How does this album differ from your “Headlights” EP? Do you think your music has evolved in any way?
I believe that American English is the more grown up version of the EP. The arrangements are more lush. This is a more dynamic record in terms of tempo, and touching upon more of my genres and influences.
You say you were taught piano by a retired wedding singer, that’s amazing! Tell us more about him and what it was like?
It’s unfair to paint him as just a wedding singer. He was much more then that. Anthony Rufo was a local guy who gave lessons, played his gigs and recorded albums. He made music fun for me and taught me any song I wanted to learn and was really the first person to push me to start singing as well as writing my own music. I owe a lot to Anthony.
What was it like studying at New York University? Was studying music worth it in the sense that it improved your skills at all?
I enjoyed my time at NYU! It was incredible to be living in NYC again. I was making a lot of music during that period of my life and many of my lifelong friends were made in that period. I gained great insight into the music industry through my class and always loved hearing from guest lecturers, who would speak of their come ups.
What’s your opinion on the New York music scene? What’s your favourite and least favourite thing about it?
I don’t feel as if I have ever been incorporated in the New York music scene. At the surface I am unaware what it really is made up of. Though their are many creatives I know who are grinding away in the studios and apartments and will be releasing some very great stuff in the near future. I had a lot of residencies at venues around NYC. Labels and Publishers would come to watch me perform, which never amounted to much. Then at one of my Rockwood performances in the Village, Daniel Glass came to watch me. After that show several months passed with nothing. My manager met up with Daniel backstage at, I want to say a Mumford or Phoenix show, they discussed my music and possible release on a small indie. Daniel stopped Chris and said that Glassnote was willing to sign me. They shook on it and the rest is history. I love to collaborate with any of the artists on the label!
How did you get signed to Glassnote Records? Are you going to be collaborating with any of their other great artists?
Maybe Bon Iver, Kanye, or Kevin Parker, possibly all of them combined! I think they would be open to the proposition haha.
What are your plans for the future?
I am about to go out on a US tour. The Album comes out in only a few days and we will have to see what the reaction is and where that takes me. But in the meantime, I will keep writing and rehearsing as best I can.
American English is out 30/09