Today’s track of the day comes from Californian based singer-songwriter Nedelle Torissi. The former Sufjan Stevens and Ariel Pink collaborator has released this dreamy reverie on sleep and insomnia on ‘Tin Angel Records’. The daughter of a priest-turned-jazz drummer father and ex-nun turned pianist mum, Torrisi grew up in California steeped in music. She remembers singing for relatives as early as aged three, and trying to wriggle out of homework so she could listen to Whitney Houston. Music was “a given, not a choice” in her house, she recalls fondly – “you don’t just take 5 piano lessons and quit. So I chose the violin and my brother chose the clarinet, and we both studied the instruments into our twenties.”
That devotion pays off on ‘Advice from Paradise‘ – the artists latest LP. ‘Cathartica’ is taken from the artists aforementioned release, with the material being recorded in two weeks with Haunted Graffiti member and former housemate Kenny Gilmore, with whom Nedelle “slept at the studio and worked all day until we became cross-eyed.”
GIGsoup caught up with Nedelle to ask her more about her music, influences, collaborations and muses…
This track apparently comes from a time of re-healing. After a painful break-up you found yourself writing these gentle romantic, minimalist R&B inspired tracks. What more can you tell us about this process?
This particular song is about insomnia, but it sounds very romantic, ha ha. In the song I’m speaking to sleep itself, as if it’s a person.
You come from a musical family- you played violin from a young age and have gone on to be a composer and musician. In what ways did your early musical exposure influence what you do now?
Well I tend to like songs that have traditional values- like a good melody, a hook, good lyrics. It might seem funny to say, but it has to be said now because so much music lacks these qualities. Also, I was taught that music is an important part of life. Like, no matter how poor you are, you should probably prioritize this thing that won’t help you out of poverty. (Joke).
You’ve collaborated with Ariel Pink and Sufjan Stevans. In fact you are now one of Sufjan’s backing singers. How have these collaborations manifested themselves in your own practise?
I don’t sing with Sufjan anymore, actually. I’m sure they’ve both influenced me- I’ve been a fan of Ariel’s since 2008 when my previous band Cryptacize opened up for him on a U.S. tour. I think if you’re a musician, things are bound to seep in a little. Like with Ariel I love how he is funny. I like humor in music, both lyrically and musically speaking, but a lot of people take themselves so seriously. I like to sprinkle in humorous lyrics to cut up the sadness, lol.
After your break up you’ve been making music on your own. How have you found this? What is it like to have the freedom to do exactly what you like?
It’s both a blessing and a curse. Having someone to bounce ideas off of is really helpful sometimes. Writing alone is cool too, but sometimes it reminds me of that thing Kierkegaard said about how despair doesn’t come from having limitations, but it actually comes from having infinite possibilities.
Cathartica is quite minimal in a lot of ways. The gentle guitar and drum machine is mixed with incidental noise also, such as birdsong and traffic. Could you tell us a bit more about how you have arrived at this sound?
This is actually a remix for the video’s purposes- I sung the song live while walking around, and that’s why you hear the ambient noises. My director friend Forrest Borie had the idea to mimic Springsteen’s video for “Streets of Philadelphia.” He sings live on that track, it’s awesome. He’s awesome.
The video for Cathartica was recorded in your home town, Vacaville, in California. It is about sleep and dreams. How was the experience of recording this? Did you feel like you were sleepwalking through these familiar places?
It was definitely a mix of sweet and bittersweet to walk around and think about the past so much, but it fit the vibe of the song.
‘Advice From Paradise (Deluxe Edition)’ is released on August 1st via Tin Angel Records
This Nedelle Torrisi article was written by Fraisia Dunn, a GIGsoup contributor. Photo by Conor Collins