If you haven’t already sauntered through Tora’s new album Can’t Buy The Mood, stop what you’re doing and go listen to it now. The Byron Bay four-piece have delivered a thirteen-track collection of brilliantly chilled-out indie-electronica… and we’ve been spinning it all morning.
Fresh off the album’s release, we caught up with the band themselves for a complete track-by-track run-down. Take it away, Tora…
With an incredible new album fresh under their belts, we caught up with Byron Bay quartet Tora for a complete track-by-track run-down.
Deviate is about how humanity is spinning out of control on this technological trajectory. Over time, new technology replaces old and we are slowly getting sucked into our screens, meanwhile all human jobs are being replaced by machines slowly but surely, so the underlying message is ‘let’s deviate’ basically let’s change our course.
I actually started writing this idea many years ago, and I forgot about it for a long time until last year I was in London working at RAK studios with Jai and Roy Kerr who produced London Grammars first record. We were going through my ideas to see if there was any old gold there and as soon as we heard this idea we decided to work on it more together. After 2 days we had restructured the song and added heaps of layers, but it still wasn’t quite right. Then a few months later when we were all back together again. In Byron, we stripped away a lot of the layers and reworked the song for the 3rd time. We finally got it finished 4 years after I started it.
I (Jo) started writing this song a few years ago and originally the intention was to make something full of surprises and changes, to keep people on their toes. This song is very personal, but basically, it reflects the struggles my father went through over the 10 years following my parents’ divorce.
I remember I left the studio early the night Morphine was started. Jai and Thorne stayed late and decided to make something a bit more dark and dirty than the other ideas we were cooking up at the time. I remember arriving the next morning and hearing the intro for the first time I freaked out, there was something about it that grabbed me, I knew straight away that it would one day become an essential part of the Tora repertoire. We worked on the song for the following 12 months and eventually got it to where it is today.
Can’t Buy The Mood
The message behind this song is basically that no matter how much money you have, you can’t buy happiness, and when you get too caught up in chasing money, you lose yourself and everything important, leaving you ending up lonely.
Ice Bucket was actually started back in 2015 when we were in Europe on our 7-month world tour. That’s why it’s got quite a lot of the traditional Tora production, full of quirky sounds. We rediscovered the idea after almost 4 years of the idea being forgotten, and the chorus instrumental section was so weird that we had to use it. We reworked basically everything else in the song all together until we had something that felt current but also maintained a taste of the older Tora sound, reminiscent of our first more widely recognized song ‘jaigantic’.
I started writing Paramount in December 2017, I was sitting alone in the Universal studio and I remembered this melody that had been floating around my head for the last year or two, as I recorded it I realised it was quite a catchy hook, but then I forgot about it and didn’t touch it for a few months. A year later I rediscovered it and realized that it would work nicely on the record if I reproduced it, so we changed most of the layers and the structure, added an outro and then the song was complete.
Control ft. Boi
Towards the end of 2018, our A&R team at Universal publishing organized a writing session with Anna also known as Boi. Having no idea what to expect, I was taken aback by the amount of energy she brought to the session, it resulted in a very bubbly playful vibe which is exactly what the album needed to feel complete. A few weeks later as we were finishing the album, we all flew down to Sydney to meet with Anna back at Universal where we wrote a second verse and added finishing touches.
Bring Me Down
This is a conversation between two different people, the first of whom is talking about world problems and trying to shed light on them, whilst the other person just wants to remain ignorant and blissful ‘Don’t bring me down, win me…etc’. Basically a typical argument between a left-wing and a right-wing person.
This is a song about self-improvement, looking without yourself and finding ways in which you can grow and become better. The idea was spawned early 2018, but it was just the intro chords for at least 6 months, then we built the rest of the song in August that year. It was one of those songs that we knew had potential but we didn’t know where to take it, until we had had some time away, sometimes that’s what you need to complete something.
Similar is a song about the push and pull of a long-distance relationship. The verses reflect the uplifting feeling of quality time spent together, while the chorus reveals the lethargy of being on opposite ends of the world and constantly relying on communication through text. In the end, though, gratitude and admiration are the triumphant feelings in the song.
It was almost midnight in the middle of the Australian winter, I was missing my girlfriend who was in Europe at the time and I was sitting in the lounge room just messing around on my guitar, when suddenly I was hit with a wave of inspiration. It all just came at once, the chords, the lyrics, the melody, the rhythm, everything. I didn’t labor over it, I didn’t even think, I just hit record and let it flow through me.
‘Everything emotional comes out all at once, I realize I really care, there’s pieces of myself all over the floor when I can’t feel your warmth’.
I ended up just keeping the first vocal take because I couldn’t get the same emotion when I tried to re-record it in the studio. It was without a doubt the easiest song I’ve ever written, I felt like I had been possessed, or like I was a radio tower receiving a signal, a very surreal moment for me.
We started Tiger with the intention to make an upbeat song, firstly Jo was hitting a chair with a stick and then Thorne joined him and it started sounding like a beat, so we grabbed the closest microphone and recorded that which is the intro of the song and part of the beat throughout. Slowly over a few hours that day, we just layered up the idea with synths and production sounds until we had most of the instrumentation.
Jai wrote and performed the vocals on this one, and over the period of a couple of months, we slowly refined the structure and production elements, each taking turns in the driver seat at the various studios we were working in.
This tune started out as a very experimental quirky song, which we ended up taking down a bit, but it’s still quite packed with surprises. The instrumental section is almost trap-inspired haha. But on every Tora record we like to have songs that keep the listener on edge and unsure what’s coming, a comparison to this song from Take A Rest would be the song Too Little.
Originally this song was part of Other Designs, but we felt it made sense to separate them so that we could take this song in its own direction and create an outro to the record. This was the last piece that we made for the album, we wrote it in the final week.
Can’t Buy The Mood is available now. Listen above.
Catch Tora live at any of the following dates:
September 12th – The Lansdowne, Sydney
September 27th – The Northern, Byron Bay
October 4th – Melbourne Museum, Melbourne
More info here.