Interview: Tor Miller
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In the twilight of NYC, everything seems closer together, louder, and the subway rattles under the tall buildings cosying midnight cocktail bars.
In New York, the city always lies wide awake.
Brooklyn born singer-songwriter Tor Miller almost epitomises late film noir, looking as if he’s starring as the lead. As for his sound, Miller ranges from big, bold and beautiful with a glorious sonic thread of range, depth and scale – but his distinctive music and performance is rooted deeply from his soul.
Miller’s grandiose aesthetic make him iconic as the stylish New Yorker, describing his life and journey in relation to classic film noir, like The Naked City or While the City Sleeps. He explains; “It would be a very unbalanced film.
“There are spurts of chaotic hyper activity, travelling and performing in my life that are separated between lulls of sitting in one place, writing music, and living a quite ordinary life.”
But, for 21-year-old Tor Miller, one thing is certain - New York is and will always be home. The streets are lined with influences and the concrete jungle is a labyrinth for inspiring lyrics, telling the stories of the big apple.
“There is a hustle and a pace to it which I try to capture in my music and in my way of life,” he says.
With lyrics telling short stories prompted by experiences and emotions, his debut American English is accomplished, offering variations in moods and ideas that keep the album so raw and true.
“I always start with the subject matter; that will affect the overall mood of the song. I then sit down and work the melody and chords at the same time with filler lyrics,” he explains.
“Music made me feel better in a time when I was very sad. And now in an age of advanced technology, where devices like my phone and computer have dulled my senses, music still makes me feel.”
Consequently, each track offers something spectacular, a wave of refreshing confidence and deeply enriched soul. Piano-heavy, Miller’s music plays rising tribute to his roots and evokes 70s throwbacks in jazz electricity. His distinctive and expressive voice partners perfectly with the instrumental arrangements offering an essence of drama and allure.
Latest single, ‘Always’, demonstrates his impassion for what he does, and what he does so well. As the follow-up to his recent Radio 2 play-listed track ‘Surrender’ – ‘Always’ is deeply vehement with a pop of sparkle.
Emotions build and feelings derive simultaneously with orchestral progression, following him on his lyrical journey and intensified heart-rending passage. With conflicting emotions telling the tainted tale of parting individuals, Miller explodes with a deep expressional chant of ‘I will be loving you always’.
“I was in a long-distance relationship and I constantly wanted to convince my now ex that through all the trails we had been experiencing that things were going to work out.
“I was really attempting to convince myself that things were going to work; however, knowing deep down our relationship wasn’t going to last.”
The video was directed by award-winning filmmaker, Fern Berresford. With slicked back hair and his overcoat collar popped up, Tor is shown as an American English, haunted by visions of his past in Greenwich foot tunnel. Thousands of miles from the neon lights illuminating the dark corners of NYC.
“It was very fun!” he says of the filming. “Fern is great and everyone involved did such an amazing job. I probably had the easiest job… we shot all through the night and finished up at 7 in the morning.”
Reflecting: “I am very happy with the end-product.”
Endeavoring on an escapade across the globe from New York to London, Miller’s noir story is just beginning with English American, and it’s almost certain that his classic pop-piano sounds infused with zealous lyrics are going to go even further than a trilogy.
“It’s been incredible and I really do love England very much. It’s nice to now be so familiar with a foreign country. I have my pubs and restaurants I like to go to, and have made some friends that I love seeing."
Although there’s still misunderstanding with the dialect.
“Pants for underwear is confusing. Geezer is good. Innit. Gaff.
“I like 'Lost the plot’.”