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1) Who would you say are your five biggest musical influences?
I usually find it difficult to separate the music I personally enjoy from music that may have influenced the way I sing or the way I write songs. With that said, I think Alice In Chains has influenced my love of intricate vocal harmonies as well as my tendency to juxtapose deeply personal lyrics with a heavy sound. The grunge and alternative rock sounds of the ’90s were always on my radio growing up, so my style in general is influenced by Soundgarden, Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, and anything else you would have heard on alternative rock radio in the ’90s.
I learned to growl sing from listening to early Opeth. Opeth also gave me an appreciation for nonstandard chord progressions, odd meters, and weird musical transitions with a nod to 1970s progressive rock. I’ve also loved the dark, mysterious vibes of Katatonia’s music for a long time. I think their songwriting is stellar in that it’s musically complex but easy to breathe in and absorb.
2) Do you feel being from the Bay Area specifically informs your music, and if so, how?
San Francisco is an open and accepting city and the people are generally non-judgmental, so I’ve really felt free in expressing myself here. It has provided a creative and accepting environment for my music to flourish. My vocal coach here is fantastic and she encouraged me to start writing songs. The encouragement and acceptance I’ve received from my community here has been paramount to my success.
3) If you could put together your dream tour, who would be on it?
I’d love to tour with Ghost. I think theatrically we would put on a visually stunning show and would probably share some fans. I bet touring with Arch Enemy would be awesome since their frontwoman Alissa White-Gluz and I are both vegan. We would have the best food, for sure. But any tour that gives me a chance to share my music with people who find personal meaning in it is a dream tour for me. If I can reach one person and make them feel like they are not alone, I’ve done my job.
4) Where does a song begin for you? Is it lyrics, subject matter, riffs?
All of the above. I approach songwriting with a free spirit, and I try to let a song form without forcing it to fit within a certain process. For example, Dark Side Of Me began with the subject matter. I wanted to write about my struggles with chronic depression and I sat down at the keyboard and started playing and wrote the music and lyrics at the same time. Victim started with a guitar riff and Goodbye started with a keyboard riff. Actions Speak Louder was a poem I wrote on a park bench that I adapted into a song. I let the songs find me however they want.
5) Your sound and feel in tune with modern paganism and witchcraft culture -- is that something you celebrate, or practice?
The aesthetics of modern paganism and witchcraft culture are beautiful to me. I love black clothing, long hair, powerful female imagery, tattoos, crows and I try to be in touch with and respectful of nature and animals, but I don’t practice or identify as being part of any particular culture. I just try to be a good person overall and tend to like the darker things in life.
Iva Toric's The Devil's Mark is due out this fall. Keep up with her via her website.
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