- Singer-Songwriter: Shotgun Tori
- Genre: Indie/folk/singer-songwriter
- Albums: Are We Fine Yet? (2011), Be Brave (2013), Shotgun Tori and the Hounds (2019)
- Current Town: Johannesburg
- Best for: Intimate to large performances
- Known for: Barefoot performances, left-handed guitarist
- Podcast: Shotgun Story
My Stories SA: Episode 8 – Shotgun Tori
Episode Release Date: 22 Nov 2020
Lo-fi indie songwriter and singer of folk songs, Shotgun Tori, writes songs because she can’t not. A passionate performer, her sweet road-worn vocals encapsulate the human experience. Music for real people, deep feelers, and lovers of the light.
Influenced by Leonard Cohen, Ani DiFranco, Martha Wainwright & Ryan Adams, she hails from Johannesburg, SA and has performed her heart songs in dive bars in London, coffee shops in Amsterdam, intimate cafes in Cape Town, rooftops in Namibia, beach bars in Mozambique, festival stages all over South Africa and on the steps of a castle in France.
A recent review of the new album said “it’s unpredictable, persuasive and sort of effusive of pulling a genre up by its roots and then putting it back down, a little awry but just as good.”
Shotgun Tori Interview
Singer-songwriter, Shotgun Tori, interviewed by Si-lest Gomes.
Any new projects/albums/songs you want to talk about?
I’m writing a lot at the moment and I’m watching the world change (and the way I approach music along with it). It’s a period of introspection and it’s very much based on this present moment, so every album I’ve ever done or song I’ve ever written feels like a distant memory I kind of remember, but can’t quite hold onto. And the new stuff… it feels so vulnerable and precious that I can’t talk about it yet without it changing form.
What’s your story? Tell us a bit about your journey and your drive to make music after your near-death experience?
I grew up in Joburg, went to the same Convent my mum did, and then headed over to London with my guitar at 17. It feels like a whole different lifetime. It wasn’t the start of my music career as I’d thought it would be, I wasn’t ready yet. Although, some highlights of that time include playing bass in an all-girls Beatles cover band; a stint in a Country & Western band; a number of shows at the infamous Kashmir Club; and an embarrassing rendition of a Sheryl Crow song at a hip hop open mic.
I got a degree in Television Broadcasting whilst I was over there and came home to start working, got sidetracked by an intense relationship which led me wholeheartedly back in to the music and prepared me emotionally for the songs that I’d start writing. When it ended I headed back to London for a while and lived in a warehouse somewhere on the Northern Line with a ragtag bunch of artists and dancers and musicians and that really held the space for me to learn to create from a new angle.
A while after I came back to SA I got very sick and whilst awaiting the blood test results I had a moment of ‘knowing’ that I was going to die (long story short I wasn’t anywhere close to dying but there was my moment), and I realised that I had never done what I had been born to do, which was to tour the world and make music. It hit me like a ton of bricks: Purpose.
It took me a few months to get better, but once I did I bought a Breedlove, recorded an EP and I hit the road. Best decision I ever made.
We’ve all had that one interview answer that still haunts us in one way or another…that question that we answered without having the time to think about it or that we just blurted out in panic. What’s yours?
All of them. I can’t listen to any interviews I’ve done. I tend to be too honest.
What triggers your creative spark?
Real life! If it triggers an emotion, it’ll trigger a song. There’s a great quote by Irving Layton (Leonard Cohen’s mentor) who wrote poems to cause trouble “The sparks fly / I gather each one / and start a poem.” I was very inspired by that quote and spent the first part of my touring career doing exactly that.
What is that one song that intimidates you – that song that you dread to perform live, and why?
These Birds. I’ve been playing it for over a decade.
What would you ask yourself in an interview question?
Q: What local artist would you most like to collaborate with?
A: Msaki. If you don’t know who she is, google her. She is another level.
Tell us a bit more about the artwork on your album covers and how it ties in with your tattoos?
My best friend Lauren Schlachter (@laurenpeachfish) does all my illustrations and tattoos (although I do have a couple of her designs done by other tattoo artists). Her style of illustration is my favourite and she’s mostly had free reign for the album covers. They very accurately depict the feelings of those albums, and the songs those times represent. The sad and weary, the brave and defiant. The morning after the night before…
We read an interview where you spoke about the skill of being able to process your emotions through music and the writing of it, and how it has impacted people’s lives. This is a gift that is often overlooked – how music facilitates our emotional journey (especially through the tough times)? Please share a few of these stories with us?
I’d heard that ‘Be Brave’ became the soundtrack for the overcoming of grief; ‘Wooden Deck’ has encouraged people to leave dead-end jobs and follow their passions; ‘Cautionary Measures’ helped me get over my two miscarriages; ‘Fucking Therapist’ was instrumental in a past relationship recovery.
You normally perform barefoot? What’s the thinking behind it?
I’ve always felt like I’m simply a channel for the music to flow through, and without shoes the channel is clearer.
The Shotgun Story Podcast?
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Instagram: #mystoriessa @gosiafrica