Noah Toritto’s debut album set to release in March

Noah Toritto’s debut album will be out on music streaming services on March 5. The band created the album over quarantine the past year.

Photo courtesy of Sammy Watts.

Noah Toritto’s debut album will be out on music streaming services on March 5. The band created the album over quarantine the past year.

Gia Yetikyel , Reporter

Noah Toritto knows fish can’t actually hurt him.

But when a friend told him about their phobia of fish, the quirky phrase turned first into Toritto’s mantra, then into the title of his first album. “I Know Fish Can’t Really Hurt Me,” will be released on Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming services on Mar. 5.

After realizing he wasn’t going back to school at the start of the pandemic, Toritto started to write a few songs and treat it like a “pet project.” He reached out to Jared May and Seamus Masterson, the bass and violin players respectively, ultimately gathering a total of eight band members. Along with wind instruments, the group features drums, piano and choral vocals.

As the project progressed, the band, currently named Noah Toritto, started seeing a lot of potential in the music they were making. While they can’t perform in venues now, the band is still enthusiastic about this album and potential endeavors for the future.

“I Know Fish Can’t Hurt Me” is an instrumental jazz album that runs about 20 minutes long. With some band members residing outside of Chicago because of the pandemic, the musicians used Zoom to work, with calls lasting hours at a time. During the recording process, Toritto took drives around Chicago to inspire and motivate himself.

“I love all the views, all the sights, so it was nice to reconnect with that and appreciate some things that maybe I’ve taken for granted in the past,” he said.

Toritto felt inspired to write music by “how shitty things were” this year, even outside the challenges of the pandemic. While he has had trouble writing music in the past, Toritto found it easier to focus on this one project as opposed to having multiple projects for other bands.

“I think being stuck in one place, you just kind of have to create that inspiration,” he said.

Even without lyrics, Toritto believes listeners will get to know him better through this album. To him, this project embodies who he is as a musician and music lover. While there is heavy jazz influence, the music involves many moving pieces to capture the ears of listeners who don’t usually give jazz or instrumental music a chance.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, musicians like Toritto are forging new paths of what creating in a safe way looks like. Toritto said he has only seen May and Masterson once each since the album was conceived. Toritto said the downside of remote work has been the delay associated with mixing individual tracks, but there has been much more creative confidence.

“People have space to work and experiment with their own ideas. There’s no writing in the same room, there’s no pressure to come up with something,” Toritto said. “Since everybody was working individually, it allowed people to take as much time as they needed.”

While bass player May embraced the individualism of the process, he also noted that their success came from the band’s communication. Through experimentation and communication, the band was able to virtually make music that embodied their passions and frustrations.

May said he hopes that as time goes on, there will be even more room for spontaneity in his work.

“The way that we all kind of approached it was really by instinct,” May said. “In having everything that we knew about music, everything we listened to, and (we) just kind of compiled it into whatever came out in the moment.”

May described the final song as “overwhelming” due to other stressors, but found himself hands-on and incredibly driven to do it justice. May said he has a “special connection” with the final song “The End” because he was awake for most of the night trying to write it. “I just got so excited about it, ideas just kept on coming out,” he said.

After months of work and mixing tracks, Toritto started to see the album come together. To him, the most significant moment of the process was how tangible the music felt toward the end.

Masterson remembers how “raw” the demos sounded at first, but his excitement grew as he saw the project become the album it is now.

“The fact that we were all in different states and cities trying to figure this out, there was a really big delay a lot of times, which speaks to the length of time it took to actually record and finish the whole project,” Masterson said.

Masterson encourages listeners to have fun with this album, noting how much of an experiment this album was for him and the band

Masterson hopes for people to “dance along [and] bump their heads,” and for listeners to “try to feel it the way that we have… just enjoying it for what it is.”

You can find more of Toritto’s work here

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @GYetikyel 

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