Once in a while, you find yourself having the privilege to know someone so talented, you can’t help but feel fortunate. I personally have had the honor of knowing Samuel Tormey since he started to develop his talent. Sam, an old friend of mine, recently produced his second album “Vast” this past summer. Read more in our interview below to learn about his latest work and his musical experiences:
How did you come up with the title Vast and where does the album come from?
The title "Vast" comes from four places. First, it comes from the vastly different musical genres this album touches. Second, the vastness of the lyrical subject matter. Third, this album is dedicated to my dad, and my dad and I love contemplating how vast the universe is and how small we are in it when we watch nature documentaries together. Fourth, my dad and I also love reveling in the vastness of literature.
Does the album tell a story?
This album attempts to tell the story of a man on a journey who starts in misery, recognizes his misery, seeks a way out, gets advice form an angel, finds joy in nature, finds joy in spirituality, finds joy in others, then has a spiritual crisis. The journey ends with the man lost in recoil from the crisis.
What motivated you to produce this new album?
The primary motivation is a never-ending urge to find satisfaction and serve others by expressing myself. In particular, to serve my dad by dedicating a worthy album.
What inspired the variety of tracks on this album?
When I write a song, I typically first pick something that I want to express, then come up with the lyrics, and lastly set it to music. There are multiple styles on this album because I choose the exact style that suites the expression and the lyrics.
I noted an increase in including vocal elements in your track-what was the reason behind this?
In contrast to my first album, this one contains a lot more original work. Someone once asked me which instrument in a band I like the most. I told him lyrics. I put a lot of effort into my lyrics. Lyrics are why Bob Dylan and Iron & Wine are my favorites.
The character you created in this album seem deeply personal-would you say you drew from your own experiences to produce this?
I absolutely did. I think an important question is, “what makes great Art?”. Does great Art transcend selfhood? transcend biography? express the universal? I think a lot about this question. It is undoubtable that Art must express the Truth and nothing but the Truth. So, I didn’t do a great job of transcending my biography, but I hope I tapped into the truth of some universal themes, like meditative contemplation, the dance of faith, the tonic of nature, the joy of friendship, the love of family, and the drive to keep on going.
There are a lot of questions about religion, nature, and the universe-in the album description you explained your influences, would you please share with readers your influences here?
I was influenced by Gregorian chanting for Melancholy Ocean, John Shepard’s choral pieces for Redemptio and Rejoyce, John William’s album Spirit of the Guitar for Maria Luisa and El Nino, the sound of an augmented chord for Shattered, and Fleetwood Mac’s Avalanche for Lost. I think Iron & Wine implicitly influenced By the River and Grass in a Puddle of Rain. By the River was inspired by a time when I was camping in the mountains in Colorado and there was an icy cold mountain stream. I meditated by the stream and all my anxiety and worries just washed away. Grass in a Puddle of Rain was inspired by my deep appreciation for grass in a puddle of rain in the sun. It is heavenly beautiful and kind of combines all the elements. Die Tryin’ starts from the Matisse quote, “Any non-religious Art is at best an anecdote”.
Personally, I know you have extensive background in musical training-could you share how you learned your instruments and music production knowledge?
This album has four of my all-time favorite classical pieces. A few great teachers taught me classical guitar. Never could I have recorded those pieces without that training. I also took a music theory class in college which really helped me pick chords to convey some of the more complex emotions in songs like Melancholy Ocean and Shattered. The class also helped with the contrapuntal theory behind the two melodies in Redemptio. I don’t really know anything about music production, hence the poor production quality of this album.
Will you be performing any pieces from this album live?
I am moving to Austin soon and it has been on the back of my mind. Once I get settled in then I’ll probably start looking to perform.
Will there be further collaborations with other musicians soon?
None in sight. I tried to collaborate once, but it didn’t work out very well. We didn’t agree on what we wanted to express and I’m not great at finding new chord progressions. But maybe once I get to Austin I’ll try again.
What will we see from you in the future musically?
It is really difficult to say. I feel the need to reinvent. In my self-image, I had no doubt I could make an album this good. However, I have no idea how to top this album. Maybe more acapella or perhaps write lyrics about literature. I would love to brainstorm with someone about possible next approaches.
Where can readers find your latest musical pursuits?