Q&A with Norway's new guitar heroine Tora Dahle Aagård - Blues/Pop/Rock must-see act on the music scene

"I miss rock, blues and soul being on top of the charts. And, to be honest, I also miss really good songwriting. I miss songs being played on the radio because they are brilliant, not because they were written to fit the radio format."

Tora Dahle Aagård:

Fusion of Both Modern & Retro Touches

TORA DAA is a Norwegian Grammy-nominated pop/rock band fronted by guitar heroine Tora Dahle Aagård, who is subject to worldwide praise and popularity due to her playful virtuosity and mesmerising stage presence. She is followed by 150K guitar aficionados from all over the world on Instagram. The band is acclaimed for their captivating and powerful live shows. TORA DAA’s third album “Seventeen” was released in 2022 and features timeless and catchy tunes. Guitar legend Cory Wong features on the track “This is it”. Their previous album “Girls” received a Norwegian Grammy nomination and featured appearances from Joey Landreth and drummer Aaron Sterling. Tora Dahle Aagård has had an hitherto eventful career: The talented guitarist has performed in London’s Royal Albert Hall, jammed with guitar legends such as Jennifer Batten (Michael Jackson), Paul Gilbert (Mr Big) and Aaron Sterling (John Mayer). TORA DAA consists of Tora Dahle Aagård (guitar and lead vocals), Isak Seltveit (bass guitar), Guri Tranås (backing vocals), Anders Brønstad (guitar) and Magnus Galguften (drums).

(Tora Dahle Aagård / Photo by Thomas Pettersson)

She has even shared the main stage of the world’s biggest virtual guitar festival Guitar.com LIVE with renowned names such as Joe Bonamassa, Carlos Santana, St Vincent and John McLaughlin. Tora Dahle Aaagård is International Ambassador for Marceau Guitars with her very own limited edition signature guitar models designed for her. Tora Dahle Aagård and her band Tora Daa released a new single titled "Sugar" (April 2024), the first single from their upcoming fourth album (scheduled for 2025). As with most of Tora’s music, ‘Sugar‘ demonstrates her unique ability to combine old and new, thus creating her very own refreshing, yet timeless sound. 

 

Interview by Michael Limnios

Special Thanks: Tora Dahle Aagård & Hilde Østgårdsgjelten Sørum (Backstage)

How has the Rock music and Culture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

I have always been a big fan of rock music and it has influenced my own music a lot. I wouldn’t say that the rock culture has had any effect on my views of the world, but it has inspired me to take bigger risks and give more f***s!

How do you describe your sound, music philosophy and songbook? Where does your creative drive come from?

Everything I make has to make me feel something. I write songs in different styles on different topics, but my number one rule is that it has to be 100% honest and real. It does not matter if the songs are about sex, trauma, gay rights, love or family issues – the music has to complement the lyrics and together, it has to tell a story that makes me, and hopefully listeners, feel something.

It is also very important to me not to make music that I think will please the radio stations or that I “think” most people will like. My songs and my sound is mine because I don’t try to sound like anyone else. If I wanted to be like everyone else, what’s the point in me making music at all. My creative drive comes from always wanting to get better whilst staying productive and creative. Nothing in this world gives med more joy than that of writing and producing a song, knowing that I am making something different and of course something really really good.

"I have always been a big fan of rock music and it has influenced my own music a lot. I wouldn’t say that the rock culture has had any effect on my views of the world, but it has inspired me to take bigger risks and give more f***s!"  (Tora Dahle Aagård / Photo by Helheim - Stian Engen)

What moment changed your music life the most? What´s been the highlights in your life and career so far?

Getting nominated for a “Spellemann” (Norwegian Grammy). I have always been an underdog but at the same time, I have always believed in myself. But getting that confirmation from the jury that I made one of the best albums that year (2020) gave me a confidence that I think will keep me going for years. Additionally, I am so thankful that I get to write songs and play shows as my full-time job. My number one goal is to keep it that way.

What's the balance in music between technique (skills) and soul/emotions? What is the driving force behind your continuous support for your music?

The older I get, the more I realise that it is a balance of both. For many years, my guitar playing was 90% emotions. But after spending years of work on my technique, it is so much easier to express my emotions through my playing. If a musician has more skills than feeling, I personally find it very uninteresting.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

I miss rock, blues and soul being on top of the charts. And, to be honest, I also miss really good songwriting. I miss songs being played on the radio because they are brilliant, not because they were written to fit the radio format.

What is the impact of music on the socio-cultural implications? How do you want the music to affect people?

Personally, I want my music to give confidence to people that have been and are still being oppressed. I want music to include and inspire. I want music to provoke and generate discussions. I want music to be bold and honest.

"Everything I make has to make me feel something. I write songs in different styles on different topics, but my number one rule is that it has to be 100% honest and real. It does not matter if the songs are about sex, trauma, gay rights, love or family issues – the music has to complement the lyrics and together, it has to tell a story that makes me, and hopefully listeners, feel something." (Tora Dahle Aagård of Tora Daa, a Norwegian Grammy-nominated pop/rock band / Photo by Lars Røraas)

What does to be a female artist in a Man’s World as James Brown says? What is the status of women in music?

Gonna keep this one short. I don’t really care. A lot of people seem to care about the fact that I’m a so-called “female guitar player” but really, I’m just a guitar player. This doesn’t mean that I’m not fighting for women’s rights. I am a 100% feminist, but I think we should stop using the label FEMALE artist and FEMALE guitar player. We’re all just artists trying to create great stuff.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

1. It’s gonna be hard and you will cry a lot.

2. Never ever ever stop believing in yourself.

3. People will say no to you. You will feel rejected, but you need this experience if you wanna survive in this business.

4. Say yes to every opportunity when you’re starting out. Every experience is a good experience, and you will need it.

5. You will feel demotivated a lot and that’s okay. Focus on improving your skills and stop scrolling on social media.

6. Music is amazing and it’s worth every challenging moment. But you need to work your ass off and keep pushing forward.

TORA DAA - Home

(Tora Dahle Aagård / Photo by Marthe A. Vannebo)

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