Tora-i breaks down her ethereal and introspective new EP ‘& what else?’
The singer-songwriter gives HUNGER the low-down on how the project came together and the stories behind it.
Multi-talented musician Tora-i dropped her soulful, wonderfully produced EP & what else?. Inspired by the solitude she found whilst touring with Omar Apollo in the States, the artist found herself in a moment of forced reflection and introspection, leading to what would become this new project.
It is Tora-i’s sophomore EP, coming three years after 2020’s Cavalier, and it’s safe to say that it was more than worth the wait. Her vocals sound better than ever; ranging from buttery smooth falsettos to confidence-oozing melodies through the project’s runtime. The subject matter is nothing to be scoffed at either, with the talent touching on topics such as capitalistic doom and feelings of isolation with her always-impressive pen game. With a variety of sonics, genres and influences on display – including folk, jazz and R&B – Tora-i is refusing to be boxed in. Here, she breaks down the inspirations, meanings and messages behind each track from & what else?.
& what else? was first coined out of exasperation, ‘what more does life have to throw at me’ but as I and the music have developed over time, it has grown to say, ‘what else does life have in store for me?’ The project is simply me going through different passages in life and taking the lessons/meanings from each step. It can feel as though we’re all isolated, each living our own realities unrelated to one another, but there is only one current, and it is how we react to it.
I started this amidst tour last year; after watching the crowd’s reaction to songs, I knew the project needed something louder, faster & driving. The dissonance makes it a little uneasy and curious. It’s about time; how there’s never enough, how we could use it wiser, and how it’s a blessing.
Be honest! We dabble in too many niceties out of fear.
This was the first song we made for the project and also around the time when I had come up with the name & what else?. This song came out instinctually, making it the hardest to finish. Not only was this a song separated by distance (Josh in LA and me in London), it was worked on during lockdown, and that was not my most creative space; it also took time because of how intentional I wanted to be with wording. We had started something so earnest that had to be carried through from top to end.
The title comes from my birth year and traditional stories. An age-old tale of early 20-somethings questioning what they’re doing and if they’re taking the right path. The strain of life under capitalism, the idealisation and romanticism we put on the other end of the spectrum. But ultimately, you make joy in whatever choice you make because life will keep going.
Even if you lose your way, there will always be a place for you.
The Sunday song. This was high on my priority list of moods throughout the project, and ‘Palace’ is a feel-good song about returning back to yourself. It’s restorative, just like Sundays.