Melbourne born-and-raised musician Tori Dunbar has always had a love for singing and songwriting. It is her love for audio production; however, that sets her apart from the rest. After studying audio production at Collarts, Tori went on to record, produce and mix the majority of the songs she has recorded for her solo project so far.
“I didn’t expect to like it as much as I do. In saying that, my first official debut single ‘My Head’ wasn’t done by me at all. That one was much more experimental than anything. I’m not more excited about this one than the other songs or anything, but it was interesting to do. It was a total journey for me, having Anna Laverty produce it, just because it was something I’ve never done before.”
Despite experiencing a new way of producing music, creating music itself is definitely not something new to Tori. Hailing from the Eastern Suburbs, Tori began music at the ripe age of six and has stuck to her guns ever since. Once she finished high school, she decided she wanted to turn professional as it was something she always wanted to do. So she started studying a Certificate IV in Music Performance at Box Hill.
“I played keyboard and guitar through primary school and high school. It’s pretty funny actually. My dad always played guitar too and when I was younger my brother and I shared a guitar. So dad used to set a timer and make up practice every night for half an hour. I always used to do the full half-hour, but my brother admitted to me not all that long ago that he used to cheat and skip some of the practice time!”
Tori also began song writing at a young age. From the age of 14 she first began to learn how to play the songs she knew from the radio. She then understood the idea of being able to sing and play at the same time, and then create her own chords, melody and eventually lyrics.
“[Song writing] came from a ‘I want to try that’ part of me. Once I learnt that I could do it, I wanted to do it. Nowadays, I will definitely start with chords or a rhythm- it’s got to have a colour to it. The lyrics I’ll write as I progress with the chords. With ‘My Head’, I wrote the first verse, then the rest of the song just predicted itself into the next section. My songs are often written together. It’s rate that I’ll write just the lyrics, or just the music, by themselves. That’s why I have so many unfinished songs because I get to a point where I feel that I can’t continue with them.”
And unlike many other artists, she finds herself writing songs for others rather than herself. Once again, ‘My Head’ happens to be the exception.
“I come from a place of unintentionally comforting others. It’s about me reflecting back to others about how they should feel about or sense themselves and trying to help them; give them hope. I try to write from a hopeful perspective rather than a dark place because I don’t like to send my audience there, not do I want to sit their either. The inspiration for ‘My Head,’ came to me after disagreement I had with somebody. You know when you’re in the heat of the moment having a big argument with somebody and they tell you that you’re making up things? It’s called ‘gas lighting,’ and it makes you question your own sanity. I’d never written anything with this sort of sound or feel before, but I enjoyed the percussiveness of the vocal and writing it in that way.”
With such an intense passion for the words she writes, and also how she conveys them, there is no surprise that Tori’s biggest musical inspirations range from Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, to John Mayer and Jason Mraz.
“My music is very rhythmically and lyrically driven. To put it into a specific genre is hard- maybe it’d be singer-songwriter? But some of my songs borderline onto folk and some have a soul vibe to them. I really like it that way though.”
Tori’s debut single ‘My Head,’ was released on July 7. Despite it being the first single she’s released, she doesn’t expect herself to dwell on it before she brings out more music. The Real Songwriters Live #5, an event she’s very much looking forward to, will act as a ‘semi-launch’ of sorts for it.
“I released the video for it last Friday, but I’m looking at getting another single out in a couple of months. I want to push out back to back singles until the end of the year and then release my debut EP early next year. I want to get as much of my music out there as soon as I can. I’m really excited to perform it at The Real Songwriters Live Show #5 too. Working with Jena has been amazing, and everything she’s done has been so crazy helpful. My brain can’t imagine what Wick Studios is going to look like on the night because I’ve only been there before for rehearsals, but I’m guessing it’s going to be awesome. It feels almost inclusive to be working with the RSOM team!”
Tori is one of the featuring artists at The Real Songwriters of Melbourne Live Show #5 on July 22nd at Wick Studios. Tickets are $15 at the door. You can view more information about the event here.
Written by Jordyn Hoekstra