Living In Full Color
As the release of her first EP, “Colors”, approaches, Tori Allen is embodying the world she wants to be a part of.
On a slow night in early January, I sat in my car on Music Row, hurriedly shoveling down the last couple bites of a granola bar while waiting on an Uber passenger. I was tired and needed some sort of energy boost. Just as I finished chewing, I looked up to see a sparkly figure hurrying towards my car. I rolled down the window and asked, “Are you Victoria?”
“Yes, sorry to keep you waiting, it’s me, I’m Tori!” the figure called as she slid into the passenger seat, beaming at me through emerald green lipstick. Her energy was infectious — she had me laughing and spilling my life story within moments, and the conversation flowed naturally from there. By the time the brief drive to Midtown was over, I had promised to come to her live show at the High Watt the next week, and was eager to hear the music from this bright, colorful being’s upcoming EP in person.
When the show rolled around, I was not disappointed. Her natural enthusiasm and talent infused the room with a warmth and joy that had the whole room dancing along to her killer performance. Everyone in the room left with a smile.
Have you always known you wanted to be a musician?” I asked as we leaned against the ticket booth inside the entrance to Cannery Row.
“Yes,” she responded immediately. “When I was really little I was like, ‘I’m going to be a dentist someday’ -”
“Yeah, I was going to be a veterinarian.”
“Yeah, we were! Then we got the creative bug. Oops! Sorry, Mom.” She said, waving her hand in the air and laughing.
As a young child in Austin, Texas, Tori started playing piano, before beginning to learn classical violin in 6th grade, and then in 8th grade she picked up a guitar and started writing her own songs. That’s when her dad sat her down to watch a video from before she’d been born, and she found out that he had been a musician all through the 70s, even touring with the Scorpions.
“I didn’t know because I’m the youngest of 6 kids, they’re all much older than me. Once I came around, Dad’s rock and roll days were long gone, his guitars were long gone… he was just Dad. In 8th grade, he sat me down and said ‘I don’t know if you know this, but let’s pop in this VHS video of me really quick because I think you’re turning into me without you even realizing it.’”
Inspired, by the summer she was playing in local coffee shops. “I was horrible, I had no business playing anywhere — but someone let me play, so I did,” Tori said. “Like all creative flow, the more you create the better you get.”
After one year at college, she decided “I’m going to be a star and move to Nashville.” That was eight years ago, and she hasn’t thought about moving away since.
“Once I got here, everything just kind of started working. I stopped doing all these things that people were telling me I needed to do. It’s funny how when you go with what feels right, your choices become easier. It’s easy to create and jump on opportunities that feel right, that feel good.”
Despite working hard to create music, Tori has many other passions and hobbies that she keeps up with.
A self proclaimed nerd, she enjoys puzzles and collects metal brain teasers (“like you get from Cracker Barrel. I have a collection of easily over a hundred of them, all sizes.”), regularly listens to NPR and StarTalk, loves documentaries (her current favorite is Buzzfeed’s series “Follow This” on Netflix), and… cats.
“I absolutely adore cats. I love cats. I have everything cat, I am a cat… not really, but…”
When asked if she knows what she would have done had she not been a musician, Tori says, “I would have been a chef. I love food, I love to cook, I love people. It still would’ve been the same thing just with a different medium.”
One of her favorite things to do is to go into a kitchen without a recipe, see what’s there, and create her own dishes — especially if there are good spices to work with. When she began to describe cookies she made with orange, cranberry, saffron, and maple syrup, I was practically drooling — and almost felt embarrassed to tell her about my favorite but now simple-seeming cookie recipe that I created — bourbon oatmeal chocolate chip. She was very excited though, and quickly came up with the idea for the Great Cookie Bake Off of 2019. (This is actually going to happen — stay tuned because we’ll be posting video of it here on Meridian Creators!)
Asked to describe her music, Tori struggles for a bit. “It’s kind of funk, kind of indie country — it has a lot of funk and soul vibe in it. Kind of hard to put your finger on, but I always say if Macy Grey and Amy Winehouse had a kid with a chick that plays fiddle, that’s me.”
The past five years, she and her best friend performed as a duo called Girlbilly.
“Finally we stopped and I decided, ‘I’m just going to do Tori.’ I didn’t know what my songs would sound like without another person because I’d worked so long on that. But I took a year, wrote a lot of songs, and I found out a lot about me and what it is I really want to do,” Tori told me. “It was amazing how I really started peeling back these layers of Tori and the things that are important to me. All of a sudden this fire got lit inside of me, and everything just started working. I call it ‘the season of my life that Colors was written’ because these songs were just coming out of me.”
COLORS is Tori’s first solo EP, named for “easily the most important song I’ve written in my life.” She’s been spending quite a lot of time in the studio lately, and before releasing the EP, “Colors” the single, as well as her debut single “Made In The Shade”, are coming soon.
Beyond the release of her EP, Tori wants her music to inspire others and help the world. “I think about being a performer every day for a living, I think about the opportunity we have to help the world because I’m the one with a microphone every day. If I’m not using this for good, what am I actually doing here on earth?”
Whether people are listening to her online or live on Broadway in Nashville— or someday in the future, at her dream venue, Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado — Tori is confident in her work and determined to grow her fan base organically because her music makes people feel good. As she told me before heading upstairs to perform at the High Watt, grinning with beautifully done peach ombre lips,
“All music finds its home eventually.”
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