albums / Y Kant Tori Read
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Atlantic Records promo bio
Behind the somewhat mysterious name Y Kant Tori Read hides the case of mistaken identity known as Tori. A young pianist/singer/songwriter, she likes to think of herself as a band, "although the band members change at every performance," she explains. Her real name is not even Tori. She elaborates: "Tori came from 'notorious' for wearing red leather pants to my father's church on Sundays and directing the children's choir."
"Y Kant Tori Read is my decoding rebellious statement," Tori continues, "although I want people to read into it what they want, whether it is that she refuses to read because she doesn't want to be part of the negativity that she might read, or because reading represents an accomplishment, like being a cheerleader, being on the Honors Society, or being a lawyer. We are judged so much by our accomplishments, and Tori refuses to be a part of that. You either accept her for what she is or... will you not accept her because she can't read?"
The real-life Tori is far from being illiterate. Actually, she was a child prodigy. "We had a piano in the house," she remembers. "My older brother and sister played, so I began banging on it at two-and-a-half. By four, I could play by ear the scores to the musicals I heard, and that was my world. I didn't play with dolls, I listened to my father's classical records, my mother's show tunes, my brother's rock 'n' roll records, and I played it all back by ear."
At five, Tori joined Baltimore's Peabody Conservatory, and for the next six years, she devoted herself entirely to her musical studies, practicing all week and attending classes every Saturday. "I was kicked out at 11," Tori remembers, "because I couldn't fit into the rigid structure of the organization. When I was practicing at the conservatory, I was always playing pop music, but in the style I was being taught, which was classical. They couldn't accept rock 'n' roll as an art form. They had rules I couldn't obey, and I lost my scholarship."
"I loved music," she continues, "it's all I wanted to do, and I couldn't just go back to elementary school after having played Brahms and Beethoven. So when I turned 13, I began playing bars and piano lounges." Her father, a minister, served as her chaperon. "He was either going to support me in the one thing I wanted to do, or he figured I might be pregnant at 15 and a drug addict or something out of boredom. My playing the clubs was great for my father too, because it opened his mind to a whole other world. And we became friends because of that."
Producer Narada Michael Walden heard Tori when she was only 17. He told her that if she mailed him a new tape every week, he would produce her once she was ready. Although she'd started composing at five and writing lyrics at 11, it was then that songwriting became her main preoccupation. "Narada and I never went past the demo stages, simply because I wasn't quite ready. The stuff we did sounded like today's dance music, so I guess we were ahead of our time."
Having moved to Los Angeles at 21, she formed the first edition of Y Kant Tori Read. "I went 180 degrees away from the dance stuff I'd been doing with Narada. It was college radio-type music, and after a while I became frustrated with playing just dark music. Eventually, my songwriting evolved to what it is today, a style that brings together very far left classical, dance, and rock 'n' roll."
Tori's songwriting eventually brought her to the attention of Atlantic Records. She recorded her debut album for the label in Los Angeles, under the supervision of producer Joe Chicarelli, best known for his engineering for Jimmy Iovine and his production for Frank Zappa, Pat Benatar, and Oingo Boingo. Backing Tori (who plays keyboards and piano and sings) are some of the musicians that were in her first L.A. band, as well as Mr. Mister's Steve Farris on guitars, Paulinho Da Costa on percussion, and Fernando Saunders on bass, Kim Bullard on keyboards, among others.
Ranging from the pure rock moves of "The Big Picture" to the ambitious, sweeping, three-part epic, "Etienne Trilogy," to the pain-drenched ballad, "Fire On the Side," "Y KANT TORI READ" is an impressive first album, both lyrically and musically. "Working in the clubs so young like I did," confesses Tori, "I became a chameleon, and took on so many personalities. This album is the coming together of these personalities: the warrior - the lady with the sword from the album jacket - the child (that I couldn't be in the clubs); and the woman, who is the balance between the two. I am just entering womanhood, actually."
Stylistically diverse, remarkably innovative, and intensely personal, Y Kant Tori Read's debut album is a mesmerizing amalgam of rock/pop tunes that proves hers is a singularly powerful musical vision.
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