Torii Wolf‘s “Ten Billion Years” is a beautiful and melancholic song that explores themes of grief and longing. We had the opportunity to shoot them some questions regarding their beautiful takes on Spirituality, modernity, and the intricacies of their work. What we found after digging a little deeper was a wellspring of sensitivity, coupled with a strong sense of modesty and gratefulness that makes Torii one of the wisest voices you can hear -and read- at this time.
“Ten Billion Years” is a very powerful and profound song, I can’t imagine it was easy to write something so vivid about loss. Was it part of a grieving process or was it a more retrospective song well after the fact?
When I sing Ten Billion Years I lend my voice to my late Uncle who was taken too soon and how I imagine he might be whispering in his children’s ears as they grow and go through everything in their lives missing their dad. The voice of encouragement and comfort. The reassuring voice of knowing the warrior comes from within.
Many stars in our sky are said to be somewhere around ten billion years old. I believe our souls are much like stars. Our souls could be billions of years old and our expression here is the star we see shining when in fact the star we see is only a burning light from many many years before. If this is the case then the spirit world is closer than we might think. We can find souls shining thru all forms here many many years beyond one tiny human life span.
Whether it’s death or distance, your EP deals broadly with these same feelings of loss and longing. It must have been somewhat emotionally exhausting. even if it was therapeutic, how did you manage?
Swimming in the longing and the grief is a comforting and beautiful place for me to express emotion. It feels far more exhausting to go on about life as though that isn’t the most of it. I find it to be a part of human nature for us to have this deep desire to feel seen and heard. To be loved and understood by one another feels like an integral piece in this lifelong journey. Maybe as we go along this path seeking deep connection and understanding we are only getting closer and closer to our higher selves. The deeper I connect with another being the closer I am to my soul’s purpose here. The depth of longing and missing could be connected to a piece of us that we once knew and have forgotten along the way. Less sand castles and more electricity bills. How to stay close to the pure beings we once were when we arrived here. What if every person we experience along the way is a mirror showing us who we are. Helping us to remember. And what if we do the same for them. I want to stay in touch. I want to be a vessel for the spirit world to keep sharing. I am here to lend my voice to the world like an answering machine to record and replay the messages from the aether.
You’re the musical half to Kayko Tamaki’s visual in Memento Mori Productions, It can’t be a coincidence that the name and this EP’s themes go so well together, can it?
As fate would have it Kayko Tamaki founder of Memento Mori Productions had started her production company in 2017. We joined forces in 2018 in many ways magic. I don’t believe in coincidence. My best friend and bandmate Amber Singh used to refer to me as memento Torii long before I had ever met Kayko. Our visions align. Kayko has suffered from a lot of loss in her life and as she has expressed to me in many ways, my music speaks to her soul in her grief and her creative expression. Our styles and our mediums lend well to each other and for that, I am eternally grateful.
You’re not shy about the words “Transcendental” and “Spiritual” surrounding your work and your musical persona. What kind of spiritual/philosophical ideas do you vibe with the most right now?
I have always felt very open and connected to the spirit side. I stay close to spirit and I do my best to acknowledge this body I have here as an instrument for spirit to come through. I do my best to get out of the way so the flow comes through strong and clear. I feel grateful to take form here and be a reflector in this world. Each and every one of us like a string on a guitar sounding different notes. Vibrating together to create full chords. Whole sounds. I feel grateful to be a part of this symphony. Even in the dissonance, I find such a deep beauty in the tension.
As technology and Materialism encroach more and more into our lives, spirituality seems to be falling to the wayside in a lot of people’s lives, what would you say can rekindle that interest in the spiritual side of things?
Technology and Materialism consuming us. Changing the way we live in many ways. Ways we might not even be able to recognize just yet. Our bodies look different from the way we hold these devices that lack of human interaction. Physical contact. Face-to-face conversation. I don’t believe spirituality will ever “go away”. We might drift away and get lost in the abyss but spirit is always there. Come back to nature. The symbiotic relationship between a bee and a flower. Trees communicate with one another they need each other and although you can’t hear them speaking with each other they are communicating thru their roots beneath the soil. Like we do. Without words we are staying connected we can feel what happens in the collective energy. Watch the magic in the leaves and the patterns and shapes they take. Witness the way the animals communicate and work together. An ant has two stomachs and will go out and fill up their second stomach just to bring back food for their community. We are innately connected. We instinctually take care of each other and we are far more connected than we care to notice sometimes. Allowing technology and materialism to swallow us up and give us this false idea that we might become whole from this insatiable culture without any depth or human connection is eating away at our experience here in these perishable bodies. We have the opportunity to have a visceral experience on this planet. The precious gift of our senses. The opportunity to heal one another by one 20second long hug. I have found that practicing presence can bring us back to spirit. Becoming aware of our breath and extending our lives by breathing 5.5 seconds in through the nose – 5.5 seconds out.
I read that you feel songs forming “in your own body” as you write them. Tell us a bit about this holistic approach. Is this something innate for your or did you develop a sense for it over time?
As I’ve grown older I’ve become more aware of when I feel a song coming on. I’ve heard some different artists over the years explain a similar feeling to mine and it has felt really comforting and has in some way given me permission to embrace the feeling. Celebrate the feeling. It feels similar to how it feels when you need to relieve yourself. When you have to pee so badly on a road trip and your down to the final 15 minutes of the drive and it just feels like you’re going to explode! Sometimes now I will hear a story or catch a feeling out of the blue and I can tell that it’s a baby seed planted in my soil. The song might not show itself until a bit later. Maybe those are the nightshades in my garden. Either way, I’m feeling a lot more connected to the divine timing of these crops as they grow thru me. I have found that the more I show up for and surrender to them, the more they come to life on their own. The more I stay open the more they come thru and for that, I feel so grateful.
Give us a glimpse of the things you surround yourself with in the main creative space where the magic happens. What’s The Wolf den look like?
I keep myself surrounded by wood and metal and rocks. I also have photos of my family members who have crossed over along with some other tangible things that belonged to them. Like my grandad’s shine box and my grandmother’s teeth. Just to name a few.
What’s gonna be the focus for you once the EP is fully out there? Any gigs or video shoots coming up?
I have been working out different ways to perform this EP. It has been really fun to strip the records down and work with my dear friend BadTooth on some guitar-only versions. We are going to film a live stripped-down Edendale Sessions performance above the clouds in Silverlake//Los Angeles in June. I also have the full band experience ready to hit the road! With BadTooth on guitar Xaint Val on drums and Wxrchild on bass and keys. We have beautiful chemistry together. I am really looking forward to getting back on stage in a live setting with other human beings. My first show back from this pandemic will be at Red Rocks in CO with Maddy O’Neal on May 26th. It’s quite surreal, feeling that we are going to be experiencing live music again.
CONNECT WITH TORII WOLF
photos / Kayko Tamaki & Dillon Buss
story / Samuel Aponte