Q&A: Student artist Tori Templet shares journey with music

Photo courtesy of Tori Templet | Atlanta freshman Tori Templet released her new single "Hypocrite" on March 1. The song already has 2,000 streams.

Thomas Moran | Arts and Life Editor

How long have you been interested in music?

I’ve always loved to sing. Music has always been a part of my life. Growing up, my family and I would go on cruises, and I always sang karaoke. Literally, every night I would leave dinner early to go to karaoke.

I never really thought of it as a career though. I never saw myself becoming famous or being “pop star.” I still don’t honestly. I just make music because I love it.

The first time I thought of singing as a career was when I got my first ukulele for my 16th birthday. I tried playing guitar in middle school, but it did not work out whatsoever. I was so bad. But surprisingly, I picked up ukulele really fast and just ran with it. Thanks to the internet, I taught myself the basic chords and used YouTube if I was still confused. I started posting covers on Twitter and got really good feedback. From there on, I kept working on perfecting the ukulele and figuring out the kind of sound I wanted to share with people.

I also started leading worship at North Point Community Church during my junior year of high school. That really helped me with stage presence and stage fright because I reminded myself that I wasn’t performing, I was just worshipping with a mic in my hand and people in a crowd that were doing the same thing as me.

On my 18th birthday, I decided I wanted to try playing a guitar again. You can only play and learn and write so much with a ukulele. I went with my mom to Guitar Center (heaven on earth), and I picked out a Martin Concert X Series. I surprisingly picked up guitar just as fast as I did with ukulele. I just looked at it and told myself “okay it’s only 2 more strings and a lot more frets, you can do this!!” Just as I did with ukulele, I went straight to the internet to teach myself chords and different songs. From there, I started playing in local coffee shops.

Music has always been something I’ve been passionate about. I’ve learned so much, and I still have so much more to learn.

What compelled you to first start recording/writing your own music?

The first song I ever wrote was called Island Time. I had just gotten off of a cruise and was missing the ocean. I just grabbed a notebook and started writing down my feelings. I recorded a crusty voice memo and put it on Soundcloud (it’s still up there, I sound like a fetus in it.) Ever since then, I’ve been posting covers on Soundcloud and some originals. I remember that first moment where I had realized I had created something of my own to show people how I was feeling and what was on my mind. It was incredible.

Can you give an in-depth step-by-step description of what the process looks like of creating a song?

I am constantly writing. When I’m inspired, I go straight to my Notes in my phone and jot down whatever is on my mind. Sometimes I get lucky and a whole song just flows out of me. I immediately pick up my guitar after I have a verse or so down, and I try to find a chord progression that fits the mood of the song. I always ask myself “What kind of message am I trying to convey?” Once I find that message, I roll with it.

Once I have a song that I am absolutely in love with that I want to share with the whole world, I get in the studio.

The only difficult thing is that the studio is in Atlanta, 13 hours away from Waco. Sometimes I have to be patient with the song until I get home for a weekend.

My friends from my church I lead worship at own their own studio, and I work with them. They are complete goofballs but geniuses when it comes to music. They truly see my vision for the song and create it exactly how I would want it. My producers are the backbone of the whole recording operation. I’m just the girl with the voice and the chord progression. We first figure out the basic chords, and I start recording vocals. From there, they build a track off of it with all the little details that make the song incredible. After the song is completely mixed and sounds just right, I upload it to a digital music distribution site. There are tons out there but I use TuneCore. It allows me to release my music on dozens of platforms from iTunes to Spotify to Shazam. I choose which day I want the song to be released. After that, we just wait until it is finally out for everyone to hear.

When did you release Hypocrite?

I released Hypocrite on March 1, but I actually wrote the song about a year ago.

What is the message/inspiration behind the song?

This is my favorite song I’ve ever written. There’s so much passion and frustration and anger in it. I was in a really hard relationship, and it got to the point where it just felt toxic. I was seeing a completely different side of the guy I had fallen for just a few months before. He looked like this strong, incredible guy on the outside, but he seemed insecure on the inside. He wasn’t the same person he was when I had met him, and it was frustrating. I couldn’t handle it anymore, and I finally realized he didn’t deserve me.

There isn’t any underlying message of the song. It was truly written out of anger and frustration and how I had felt at the time. This song is for any girl or guy that’s been cheated on, that’s in a toxic relationship, or for someone that just needs a song to scream in the car. That was my goal through all of this. I wanted to reach those people that are going through something I went through. It sucks, and I want people to know that they’re not alone.

Has the song had any success so far?

The song has only been out for a week, but it already has over 2000 streams and that number keeps climbing. I’m very thankful for the people in my life that have constantly been promoting it and sharing it with their friends.

Have you made any other music or is this your first released single?

This is actually my second released single. I released a song called Right Here in November of 2018.

Do you have any advice for other aspiring artists?

I actually always ask this question whenever I meet my favorite artists. One of my favorite responses I’ve gotten is from Jeffery Jordan, a member of The Band Camino. He said, “If you know what you want, go for it. Don’t let anything hold you back.”

If you know what you’re passionate about, run with it. Keep writing, keep chasing you dream. Stick with it even if there are roadblocks. It can be hard as a college student to sit in class knowing that you don’t need a degree to pursue what you want to do with your life. Be patient. For some, the music industry is easy to just hop into, and I envy those people. But, it’s also important to recognize the journey of it all. All things take time. I’m so excited to be in the waiting because I know that I will be so much more grateful for wherever I end up when I get there.