Nedelle Torrisi Talks Recording Under Her Own Name, Moonlighting as a Social Worker + More
From Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti and Sufjan Stevens to Xiu Xiu and the Curtains, California artist Nedelle Torrisi has collaborated with her share of great artists. Despite her love of working with others, this singer and songwriter has also released her own material under a number of monikers, including Cryptacize, Paradise and Nedelle.
Following all of these projects and team-ups, Torrisi has opted to go by her own name, and her new self-titled album details the thoughts she had and emotions she experienced while working with Kenny Gilmore of Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffitti. With its haunting, emotive vocals and thought-out lyrics, the album is a great representation of where Nedelle Torrisi is today.
But music isn’t her only love. Torrisi is studying for a degree in social work, and by day, she works as a paralegal. Despite her busy schedule, she chatted recently with Diffuser.fm about recording the new album and balancing music with more practical career pursuits. She also discussed what drew her to social work and explained how that vocation might lead her to prison.
This isn’t your first solo album, but it’s the first one released under your full name. Why did you decide to present yourself that way?
Back in the day, I released some albums under my first name, and I couldn’t do that anymore because of this very famous singer named Adele. So that’s the first reason. The second reason is I released a 7-inch last year under [the name] Paradise. And I was just scared that I would get sick of that name after a while. So I wanted to stick with something that’s tried and true, and there’s nothing like my birth name. To have it be my name and then also self-titled, I thought it was a kind of a simple hello to the world, like, “Hi! I’m back. Here’s my new record.” It’s like no frills.
You’ve released a lot of music in the past. Did you approach this one any differently?
The idea was that it was going to be a more full production than I’ve ever done before. I wanted it to be a glorious pop album. That was the concept. So I made all these demos and Kenny Gilmore, who’s a very creative producer, helped me with the album. But the songs are similar in the sense that there’s always the same apparent influences in my music. The choruses may be a little stronger.
I read that the concept of the album is also about your friendship with Kenny Gilmore. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Well, the album isn’t about the friendship or anything. The music isn’t about the friendship. But the making of the album is the story of us really working on it for a long time – the trials and tribulations of collaboration. But musically I was in big funk. I wanted to ride through the funk, so I was trying to write these pop songs that are loving and joyful to just kind of change my mood. That’s what I was thinking when I wrote the music.
What song stood out to you as the most memorable to work on?
It’s the first song, ‘Psychic Returns.’ I just remember every second of writing and making a demo of it. I think it’s a fun one with a big sweeping chorus. Kenny also wanted me to do the vocals when I woke up because he thought it would be more vulnerable sounding. And he has all sorts of fun ideas like that. So I may sound a little too raw, but it was a good musical conflict.
Aside from music, you also are in the process becoming a social worker. What inspired you to get into that?
I just wanted to balance music and some sort of stability, some sort of stable job. I think it’s good for creativity sake, and mostly just because I don’t want to put too much emphasis on making music for the wrong reasons. So I’ve always had some other job. Right now, I’m a paralegal. But social work has always interested me because it involves talking and has some sort of therapeutic aspect for people who can’t afford to have a regular therapist to talk to. And that interests me. And my parents both worked in a prison when I was growing up. I’m interested in work with that population. It’s just something that’s always interests me, and I hope I can get to do it soon.
Other artists would talk about wanting to do music full-time. You, on the other hand, want to put a balance between music and social work. What happens if one takes off? Would you be willing to leave the other behind?
Well, that is the delicate balance that you have to strive for, because I would never want to have to give up music. But I just don’t think it’s a long term, stable choice. I just don’t want to worry about healthcare when I’m 50. I don’t know. I’m very pragmatic in that sense. Also, in terms of creativity, the pressure to keep churning out albums and touring and the work is so hard. When you go through that alone, maybe you don’t want to music anymore or you’re inspired. I want it to be this thing I come to for joy, not feel pressure to do.
You’ve worked a lot of artists in your time. Is there any one out there you’d love to collaborate with?
Oh my gosh. I’m like the collaboration queen, but no, not really. I really love working with Kenny, and I really hope he produces my next record. I like writing songs about myself. I’m not interested in writing songs with someone else. So I’m really good right now.