Nedelle Torrisi’s last breakup was bad – “not throwing-clothes-out-of-a-window bad”, she laughs now, but gruelling enough to leave her feeling blue as a bruise alone in Los Angeles, wading alone through the fuselage wreckage of a four-year friendship and band. “I was frustrated at the thought of starting over again, because it also dissolved the band we were in. The silver lining was that I was alone, so didn’t have to negotiate any musical decisions anymore.” A few months later, the Sufjan Stevens and Ariel Pink collaborator found herself with a batch of “unhinged, romantic, boy-crazy songs” that seeped romance from beneath every airy stroke of keyboard, lush 90s-R&B-throwback vocal and crisp drum machine clap. “I thought writing these sappy pop songs would somehow lift me out of that depression,” Nedelle remembers. Instead, the resulting album, ‘Advice from Paradise (Deluxe Edition)’, soon for re-release on Tin Angel Records, finds hope – revelling in the uncertainty, excitement and butterfly-flutter nerves of pulling yourself up from the ground and beginning again.
The daughter of a priest-turned-jazz drummer father and ex-nun turned pianist mum, Torrisi grew up in California steeped in music. She remembers singing for relatives as early as aged three, and trying to wriggle out of homework so she could listen to Whitney Houston. Music was “a given, not a choice” in her house, she recalls fondly – “you don’t just take 5 piano lessons and quit. So I chose the violin and my brother chose the clarinet, and we both studied the instruments into our twenties.”
‘Advice from Paradise (Deluxe Edition)’ features on backing vocals Domino baroque-pop favourite Julia Holter – someone Torrisi says is “a good reminder that listening to your heart and being yourself is always best. She doesn’t compromise her values for shallow gains. As we all know the music industry is a slimy place, so I think this says a lot about her character.” She learnt too from cult acclaimed folk troubadour Sufjan Stevens, who since releasing Nedelle’s old group, Cryptacize, on his Asthmatic Kitty label, has invited Torrisi to play in his backing band and sing on his latest album, ‘Carrie and Lowell’. “His work ethic is admirable, and as a band leader he’s good at challenging everyone so they never become complacent.”
The album was recorded in two weeks with Haunted Graffiti member and former housemate Kenny Gilmore, with whom Nedelle “slept at the studio and worked all day until we became cross-eyed.” Then, disaster struck. “So, the album was missing in Russia for four months,” says Nedelle, incredibly. “The story is crazy, involving Russian friends, a nice taxi company, and a lot of luck, but we got it back!”