Born in Pittsburg and raised in Cincinnati, rising R&B artist Tori Helene always knew from a young age that she was destined to be an entertainer. Heavily influenced and inspired by the greats; Stevie Wonder, Brandy, Christina Aguilera and Beyonce. Tori released her debut single “Make Ya” in 2017. I caught up with her to discuss her new single “Straight FN” that’s out now, forthcoming EP ‘Delusional’, being an advocate for mental health awareness and much more…
Terrance: How did you get started singing & writing? Do you come from a musical family or was it something you’ve always wanted to do?
Tori Helene: I started singing when I was about five. Watching Destiny’s Child, Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. It’s kinda just natural. I’ve always loved music and the entertainment aspect of things, but as I got older and started getting into writing and learning the writing process I would spend hours listening to Destiny’s Child and Beyonce and how they sing and rhyme and how they write their music. I’m not from a musical family actually I don’t know how I started singing. My mom said that when she was pregnant with me she would sing all the time so I think that might be it.
Terrance: Does being from Cincinnati, Ohio play a role in your music?
Tori Helene: I believe so. Even when I was younger I would be part of talent shows and we would have our annual black family reunions and that always got me interested in performing and I actually did when I was around eleven. It’s not a big music city. I mostly got my inspiration from TV and other artists.
Terrance: Growing up who were your greatest influences and who’s influencing you now?
Tori Helene: Well, my biggest inspiration is Beyonce of course. I also love Christina Aguilera, Stevie Wonder and Brandy. I love Brandy a lot. I love Tinashe because I love the fact that she’s worked hard and she’s been hands-on with her craft and also just her performing that inspires me to be a better performer. She’s very good on stage and same with Beyonce. They both have the full package so that motivates me to do better creative-wise.
Terrance: How would you best describe your sound to first time listeners?
Tori Helene: Well, I’m very versatile with my music. I love R&B, Pop, Hip Hop, but when it comes to R&B which is like my main genre I would say it’s more edgy, sexy and lyrically my music is bold, confident and kinda blunt, so that’s where I express myself the most lyrically.
Terrance: Talk about what inspired your new single “Straight FN” that’s out now.
Tori Helene: I would say that it’s a very bold and sexy record and some people might think of it as vulgar, but I just feel like, why can’t women do it? I’ve always listened to Trey Songz and Chris Brown and they make the baby making music and this song I feel like it’s a woman going to her man and let’s do it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a woman expressing herself so that’s kinda what I stand for when it comes to the song. The production is a little more Urban and Hip Hop with a little Trap but mostly R&B.
Terrance: What can you tell us about your forthcoming EP Delusional?
Tori Helene: That probably has some of the most darkest songs I’ve ever written and recorded. It’s very emotional and vulnerable. Some people might think it’s a little negative, but it kinda shows like the place my mind was at with my depression, so it’s a very personal project but I think people can definitely relate.
Terrance: I know you’re an advocate for mental health awareness. Talk about that.
Tori Helene: My dad is actually a psychiatrist, so I’ve always known some things about mental health. I started writing for a Cincinnati magazine just to talk about mental health and also to kinda relate that with my music, but since I’ve suffered from depression and anxiety I just feel like mental health is very common so I should definitely try to speak on that and to get people to relate.
Terrance: Are there any upcoming performances you can tell us about? What’s next for Tori Helene?
Tori Helene: I don’t have any at the moment, but I am just focusing on the single and the video that I’m going to release in a couple weeks. I have some interviews coming up so that will definitely be all over my social media. That’s what i’m focusing on right now and just working on putting the finishing touches to my EP.
Terrance: Lastly, what do you hope to achieve by the end of the year?
Tori Helene: Well, I definitely want to build my fanbase, connect with more people and just get my music out there and inspire other people.
Follow Tori Helene:
Facebook, Instagram & Soundcloud @toriheleneofficial