In a 15-year career that has spanned a host of musical genres from singer-songwriter to hip-hop, Torii Wolf has never failed to create a sense of intimacy with their listeners.
Wolf believes in music’s power to transcend. And when people hear their moving voice and wide-ranging musical style, they immediately drop into the emotion of the song and connect on levels that transcend genre, gender, time, and space. For Wolf, a New Yorker now based in Los Angeles, songwriting is a full-body experience. “I feel a song forming in my whole body; the urge to express is totally physical,” they say.
How long have you been creating your art?
I have always been into creating art. The medium has changed over time. But, I’ve always been very into singing and writing. I started with the drums when I was 8 years old.
Where are you from? How does that influence your art?
I am from New York. Growing up in New York has really made me in touch with the seasons. I spent a lot of time in my solitude. Never really slept. The night time alone in New York has always brought out a lot of raw emotion.
What projects are you currently working on?
I have been working on painting and raising money for Black Trans Lives through my website. I’ve been working on releasing a song a week since COVID-19 hit. This shelter-in-place has had me back to being with myself in my creative flow—just like when I was growing up in New York.
What is your inspiration? And why?
I feel deeply inspired by connection. Human, spirit connection. A lot of my writing began in finding inspiration from inanimate objects and their relationship to one another. I have always felt interested in dropping into the symbiotic relationship between two. For example, a boat to the ocean. The way that two colors coming together can make an entirely new color. Synergy.
As I’ve evolved in my life and my writing, I feel a lot of what comes through has a lot more to do with the relationship between being and spirit. I enjoy building a bridge to the spirit world, keeping the lyrics vague and open enough so that the listener can have their own intimate experience with the song. [My new song] “Wash Away” has a lot to do with the push and pull in yin and yang energy. Masculine and Feminine. Becoming pure again. In harmony. How friction creates energy. Life.
Why is music important to the queer community?
I’ve always found music is a world we can live in for three to five minutes that can sometimes feel like and infinite realm of connection. As we are all uniquely unique, we are also quite similar in these human bodies. Music holds a place for us to connect. To come to and feel. To be held in our own experience here. Music transcends.
What do you hope to achieve as an artist?
I hope to expand and grow in my own art and also create a safe place for people to feel seen and understood—a place to feel safe and free in their own expression as I become more and more free in mine.
Who are your top 3 major influences?
Radiohead, Sigur Ros, and James Blake.
How can we all support your work, talent, and gift?
Stay close, stay connected, stay open! Keep sharing who you are and what you love. We are here to continue paving the way for the youth, and create a more open loving and accepting world here for each other.
I will continue to release music and music videos that I make with my partner and director Kayko Tamaki. Follow me on Instagram @toriiwolf. Check out my ToriiWolfVEVO channel for videos and go to my website to get your custom painting to help Black Trans Lives.