Every Monday we will be bringing you interviews with unsigned UK or Ireland artists for Independent Music Monday. Recently we caught up with unsigned Birmingham singer Tori Cross to find out more…
Where are you from and how did you first get into music?
I grew up around Birmingham. I’ve always been into music and while I was at school I was the one putting together the playlists for house parties and got a buzz from finding new music.
I started writing music aged 16. I enrolled into a performing arts college and started jamming with all these talented musicians! I didn’t play an instrument myself so I began writing lyrics and melodies with my friends who played keyboard or guitar. That’s when I really got into music and decided I could make this my career. When I applied for college, I initially applied for Musical Theatre! I’d always danced and loved to sing so it seemed to make the most sense, but the teacher who interviewed me suggested I should audition for the music course. I guess that’s why I am where I am now!
Who were your musical influences when you were growing up and who are your influences now?
I’ve definitely been influenced by the soul singers I listened to growing up. I listened to a lot of Nina Simone and Etta James. I also listened to a lot of new soul in my teens. My go to albums were Corinne Bailey Rae’s self titled album and Lianne La Havas - ‘Is Your Love Big Enough?’ BUT, her album Blood is also amaaaazing! These artists definitely influenced me sonically. Their vocal style had an impact on me too as that was when I was refining my own vocal style. When I write lyrics I often look to Amy Winehouse’s back catalogue for influence. Amy was so free in her lyric writing. I feel like she really didn’t care what other people thought, if she felt it she wrote it. When I feel like I’m blocking myself from writing something in fear of what someone else might think I stick on her album ‘Frank’!
How would you describe your sound?
I find it quite difficult to describe my own sound. It’s definitely a cross genre. I’d say it’s Pop soul with a hint of jazz and rnb.
What is your latest release called and what was the influence behind it?
My latest release is called Midnight! I’ve been itching to release it for so long. I’ve had it completed for a while but I’ve just been waiting for the right time to release. I wrote it for the times you're laying in bed around midnight unable to rest. I feel like it’s always at that time around about midnight that your mind and your imagination starts to wander. I think Midnight encapsulates this feeling! It’s also about being in a long distance relationship. Being away from your partner and part daydreaming about being with them.
What’s your local music scene like?
Birmingham’s music scene is definitely on the way up! The rap scene especially in Birmingham is buzzing with a lot of local artists on the rise. The rnb/soul scene is also getting more recognition. I’ve only been back in Birmingham for about 8 months so I’m still settling into it, but with Birmingham Music Awards and all of the talent the city has I think it’s starting to get the recognition it deserves.
What do you have planned for the next 12 months? Any albums or festivals?
I’ll be at Future Yard Fest in August! I’m also supporting Felix Shepard at the Castle and Falcon in November. I’m working on some new music and am in the studio as often as I can be! I’d quite like to do an EP but I might release a few more singles first. Either way, more new music is definitely on the cards in the not too distant future!
Is there anyone you’d love to collaborate with?
I’d love to do a collaboration with Kojey Radical! I love his style. His lyrics are really thought provocative and real. I’d also love to work with RAYE. She seems like a lot of fun! Her songs have soooo much energy! My songs tend to be more mellow so it would be really cool to do something different!
Any funny stories surrounding your live performances?
Not so much funny but I have a story from when I used to backing sing for XamVolo! We were due to support Shura at the Arts Club in Liverpool. The night before I came back from a birthday party early whilst my housemates stayed out because I had this gig the next day. I got home and found my bedroom door smashed in and our bedrooms ransacked! I didn’t get a wink of sleep all night and day. Me and my housemates tried to nap on the sofa in the lounge but the builders were fixing all the doors so we gave up and went to the Asda cafe. It was a great gig in the end even if I was sleep walking through it! Less funny more dramatic I guess haha.
What is the one thing that you want readers to know about you?
I’m a simple girl! My perfect Sunday is having my family over for a BBQ. Get the jerk chicken sizzling and having a laugh with my family. That’s when I’m happiest!