Alternative Indie-Folk band Shotgun Tori consist of duo, Victoria De La Harpe and Fred Van Der Merwe with their hounds Calvin van der Merwe and Jonathan Whittington. It has taken them four years to release their full length album, but all good things comet to those who wait.
The album was recorded at The Bass Station with Barry Berk and includes guest artists like Kobus de Kok Jnr (Black Cat Bones), Lucy Kruger, Laurie Levine, Brad Wooldridge (Crystal Park) and Bronwyn Krige (Them Particles).
Why has it taken 4 years to complete this album?
“Best intentions aside, life happened. You know how we’re told that it does whilst we’re busy making other plans? When we first went into studio, all we were certain of was the first five tracks that we’d planned to record on the original EP. So we laid those down. And then there were weddings and babies and new loves and loss and relapse and recovery and when we looked again, we’d grown into different people. The writing of the next five tracks happened in studio and was a part of the discovery of who these new people were, in relation to each other and to the music.”
Tell me about the concept behind this EP, the themes, the song writing?
“I’d say it’s an album of recovery. It’s about standing up again (after a rough time, a miscarriage, a broken relationship), weathering storms, finding your ‘fight’. It’s about making a go of things from a place of imperfect, letting go of the illusion of control and just allowing things to be what they are and learning to appreciate what’s in front of you.”
“In terms of the songwriting, I usually write in burst of intense emotion – lyrics and melody – and then, in the case of this album, I took the tracks one by one to Fred (the original Hound) and he rearranged some things, reconfigured the odd melody and then wrote those exquisite guitar parts you hear throughout the album. The only track off the album that differs from this pattern is ‘Goodbye Amanda’ – Fred came to me with the melody and guitar parts written, and a story he wanted told. So we work-shopped the lyrics together and there she is.”
Which one song off the album best represents Shotgun Tori and why?
“Today I’d say ‘Put Your Back Into It’ (although you could ask me tomorrow and my answer would probably be different…) It’s the track that we’re most enjoying jamming as a band and it speaks of our roots as lovers of old school country music. Also, it’s an honest take on how relationships require work – and if there’s one thing I pride most about our songwriting, it’s the honesty.”
You have such incredible musicians supporting you on this album – how did you get such high caliber musos to play on this album and elaborate on your relationships with them?
“Gosh, this might be a good place to set the record straight. I’ve been playing solo for so long (and I still do sometimes) that more often than not folk refer to this album as a ‘Shotgun Tori’ album. This is 100% a full band ‘Shotgun Tori + the Hounds’ album. In every crevice of it’s being, the songs are fleshed out by a part of each one of us. So I’d say it’s a mutually supportive relationship.”
“Fred & I played in our first little band together with a violinist and a third guitarist about ten years ago, Jon & Fred played together in the Hellphones and Mr Croxley way back when, and Calvin is Fred’s little brother (and they both play in Crystal Park). We’re all big fans of the genre, and of each other – making music in this configuration just makes sense. Also, it feels good, and sounds pretty rad too.”
With all these great musicians that you have worked with, is there anyone you else you would love to collaborate with in the future?
“YES! Colabs are my favourite part of being a musician. I have some ideas, and some plans – I can’t jinx them though so I won’t elaborate.”
I love the art work on this album – tell me about it (who designed, the idea behind it, etc)?
“Lauren Peachfish (music befok illustrator, designer, tattoo artist (Fallen Heroes)) illustrated the cover. Jared Viljoen (designer extraordinaire) gave it the final shine. It’s the morning after the night before. It’s prom night, with all its expectation. It’s about the build up and the confetti comedown. It’s the aftermath.”
You have been around for a long time – is there a moment in your career that resonates with you; a pivotal moment, a highlight….?
“It’s hard to pick just one moment, and every one of them that comes to mind that feels valuable and moving has been in combination with other musicians – harmonizing with Matthew van der Want, Jay Bones, Deep Fried Man, Southern Gypsey Queen, Josie Field; collaborating with Lucy Kruger, Emma Du Preez, the Hounds; touring with Lucy, Dave Knowles, Gil Hockman – this rich experience of a music career is a tapestry of deep love and connection. It’s a love that’s allowed in a world where we’ve twisted its definition. I feel so lucky that I get to share in creating moments that cause goose-bumps and tears and life changes. It’s mostly creation in collaboration that does it for me.”
If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take one album with you, what would it be and why?
“I’m currently loving the Avett Brothers ‘Emotionalism’, but if there had to be only ONE – I’d go for a Leonard Cohen compilation. He makes me ache. I’d take it to a desert island to remind me of my humanity.”
Stream the album here: https://soundcloud.com/plugmusicagency/sets/shotgun-tori-the-hounds-1/s-lkGjg