An interview with Toria Summerfield. New album “FROM HER RIB” available now.
The first time we caught Toria live was at a Trifecta Sound Co. showcase, and to be as cliche as possible, she immediately had us hooked. Her sound was dark but optimistic, a combination that has a way of grabbing you, or at least a way of grabbing us. The ability to be vulnerable and stay creative without losing the audience is a tightrope act, but not that night, no tightrope, just Toria and her songs.
A little while later we were introduced after a show when a group of us ended up in her car listening to mixes. Toria was in the driver seat, her producer Riley was sitting shotgun, and in the back with us was a mutual friend Graham. Amongst these three we were severely under qualified to be critiquing mixes, but Toria didn’t seem to mind that we had tagged along.
As the last song finished up we switched gears and grabbed an Uber. Along the way we argued about great songwriters, and when the driver’s phone played “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” we all agreed Paul Simon deserved some praise. It didn’t come out that way exactly, I think it went something like “Yo, Paul Simon Fucks”, to which Toria replied replied, “Paul Simon does fuck”.
A few weeks later Toria released her album (From Her Rib) and after a few listens (with a clearer head) we knew we had to sit down with her and pick her brain, enjoy.✌️
Howard & Lloyd: Ok let’s start with a softball to get rollin’. Early on, who made you want to write your own music?
Toria Summerfield: The first artist I ever really ‘dove’ into was Lana Del Rey... I would’ve been about 14, maybe 15. I remember the first time I heard ‘National Anthem’ with the monologue, my life changed. It felt so good to have someone iterate how I felt, listening to her music felt like coming home — it was something I really needed at the time. Lana wrote a lot about having a rocky adolescence and finding comfort within music, I built a lot of my identity around that principal and subsequently began writing more music.
H&L: You seem very comfortable sharing emotions in your music, which explains the LDR connection. For you personally, what are some of the themes or topics you’ve been exploring in your music lately?
TS: This one is hard for me to answer. I’ll leave it at this: I just write what I’m feeling. I’m hoping to feel better soon.
H&L: Good segway. Your music is very personal and without putting words in your mouth we assume that can make collaboration with producers/engineers/musicians vulnerable and difficult at times. How do you approach that? Or is there an approach?
TS: I’m very fortunate that my producer Dex Riley and I are very close. He understands there are moments where I need space to write and record, but also pushes me to become more comfortable with writing in a collaborative manner. It depends on the context of the song — some songs I’m crying [while recording], some songs I’m laughing [while recording], so there are variables to how open I’ll be for another person's presence in that moment.
H&L: Your new album “From Her Rib” has been out for about a month now. What has been the most memorable response you’ve received so far?
TS: I had an interview with an online music review content page from Madrid, SPAIN!! He was super cool and asked really really personal questions. That was super cool to find out my music is going places I haven’t even been yet.
H&L: Staying with “From Her Rib”, where did the concept for this album come from? What, if anything, made this process different from your previous projects?
TS: The concept was not thought out, feelings never are. It was much different from the last, in the sense that it took me much longer to complete this album. I thought about it more. I was more critical of myself. It felt different.
H&L: Now I’m going to put you on the spot a bit discussing other artists. The last time we spoke we talked a bit about Paul Simon, give us a few other singer/songwriters you’re into right now.
TS: Hm. Elliott Smith [between the bars, say yes], Tom Petty [It’ll all work out] and Lil Uzi Vert [P2].
H&L: Love the mix of stuff. Also a great nod to an overlooked era of Tom Petty’s catalogue. Any final words for the readers?
TS: I’ve been having a hard time expressing my feelings and emotions [in regards to music] lately, I feel like there’s things to say, but something’s in the way. I appreciate you giving me the opportunity to say something here. It means so much that you listened.
Toria's album “From Her Rib” is available now and can be found wherever you stream your music.
Special thank you to Dex Riley for providing the photography.