By Rogelio Cazares
Growing up as a New Yorker, Tor Miller found inspiration as a kid by listening to big artists such as David Bowie and Elton John. “I was about 11 when I started listening to Bowie. I would commute from New Jersey to New York as a kid with my parents, it was about an hour and a half commute so I really started listening to music seriously during that time.”
David Bowie was a very big artist for me. I listened to Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars every day as a kid, and it was the first record which inspired me to start writing music. I’m also a big fan of Elton John, Ray Charles and Tom Waits.
Living in the big city was key to shape Tor as an artist. “I was born in NYC and moved to New Jersey for high school. What I loved about living in New York as a kid was becoming so independent at such a young age. I was also surrounded by so many different cultures and walks of life. What I have in jersey, which is harder to find in NYC, is the solitude and vast open land. I can be more in touch with nature in New Jersey and can enjoy the beach without having to get on the subway and then a bus.”
His latest single “Surrender” is an intimate moment with a musician who has gone through something of a transition in the last 18 months; from piano-bound to stage front and center under the glare of spotlights.
Your sound is complex with a mixture of genres, classic and contemporary. What genre would you ascribe your music?
Tor: I guess I would call it: autobiographical, piano-centric, 70’s inspired Pop. That’s the genre.
When did music become a career for you?
Tor: When I was 14 I started performing live on the weekends. In my mind that’s when I first considered myself a real musician, and I never looked back from that moment.
What has been your main struggle so far in pursuing music as a career?
Tor: It’s hard to say what the biggest struggle has been so far. I find it hard to stay in the present mind. I’m constantly looking forward so sometimes I don’t celebrate my successes because I always want more. Not that bad a struggle, but one nonetheless.
What makes you sit down and begin writing a song? What life experiences do you draw from?
Tor: Well I sit down to play almost every day, so for the sake of discipline I try to write a little every day. There may be something weighing heavily on my mind, which needs to be verbalized and released into a song. I also read a lot and get a lot of song ideas from other stories.
Which bands are you listening to you at the moment?
Tor: Big Thief’s new record. I really like the Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam’s new song “A 1000 Times.” Since the death of Alan Vega I have had a lot of Suicide spinning around the house.
If you had the chance to go on tour with any other band, which would you choose?
Tor: Vampire Weekend would be great! I have always been a fan of their music. I would love to go out with the 1975, because they seem like fun guys. Haim would be a good one as well.
What do you have lined up for the rest of the year?
Tor: I played Lollapalooza this weekend! My debut record ‘American English’ comes out September 30th. I will be out on a US and Canadian tour in the fall. And promoting my music wherever they will have me!