I discovered Tor Miller’s debut EP, Headlights, on this very day eight years ago. It was four quick tracks, just over 16 minutes, but it was all I needed to get hooked and remain on this bandwagon for nearly a decade. Mixing the energy of an old NYC detective film noir with the careful craft of modern pop music, Tor has written a catalogue of songs that can appeal to everyone. Too often when we talk about “accessible” music in the major label boardroom way, it’s about the lowest common denominator — something that’s inoffensive, simple, and easy for the majority of people to passively listen to. I’d argue that Tor surpasses that through the intricacies of his work, the elements that make it timeless. I feel just as confident recommending his music to a new coworker, a blogger friend, or my grandparents, and I haven’t been wrong yet.
In the last two years, his career has seen some big changes. He parted ways with his label, Glassnote Records. He started managing New York hyperpop artist, Mel 4Ever. And of course, like all of us, he had to put the majority of his plans on hold while the earth shut down for a while. But with the independence that leaving the hold of a label brings comes a new album, new shows, and the new ability to do whatever he wants without conforming to the vision of a larger entity.
His latest single, “All Time Low“, is one he’s been holding onto for years after being told he shouldn’t release it. And honestly, as a fan, I’m kind of pissed I didn’t get to hear it sooner — it’s a classic Tor Miller ballad that would have blended in perfectly on American English, full of soaring choir harmonies and that smoky piano bar feeling that his music captures so well. The moment at 2:22 when everything stops for a split second and comes back in full force feels like every memory I’ve ever had flooding into my mind at the same moment. It’s overwhelming and beautiful and takes my breath away… and then just like that at the 2:53 mark, it all goes back to normal. I’m back in the smoky piano bar trying to act like I didn’t just have a very efficient 30 second meltdown.
I chatted with Tor back at Thanksgiving about what it’s like to regain total creative freedom as an independent artist, what to expect from his upcoming album (due out in May, as far as we know!), and the magic that happens when you find your creative community. Check it out — and watch the video for “All Time Low” — below!