Honoured to be compared with the likes of artists Melissa Etheridge, Tracey Chapman and Brandi Carlile (just to name a few), Australian singer/songwriter Toby has spent the last six years of her life crisscrossing the globe as she brings her beautifully-charged lyrics and matching voice to her countless fans.
Currently she’s on her 11th tour of Canada for her latest album dubbed "Coming Home", and the self-professed raw, feisty and energetic artist says Canada is a home away from home for her. Although she just kicked off her tour at the Ironwood in Calgary in July, she’s hoping to arrange another performance in late-August. Although she travels 35 hours to play in Canada, the talented performer couldn’t be more excited to play for her Canadian fans.
Toby took time out of her busy schedule while on tour to talk to GayCalgary Magazine and share her genuine passion for her music, her touring and of course, her devoted fans. Even if you missed her this month, you know Toby will be back soon enough with even more stories to share.
GC: With over 1,000 shows across the world to date, where exactly are you "coming home" to considering you’re on the road so often?
T: As for my home on this earth, well, it’s my home in Perth, Western Australia with my partner, my family and my friends. I love the ocean, the sun, the chilled out vibes and the good coffee. But, I am generally touring and my suitcase becomes some sort of a home. Wherever I put my suitcase becomes home for a night or two or three. Canada feels like home because I’ve been here 11 times in six years. I love Canada. I really do. The people, the scenery, the mountains, the cities, the hospitality and the music scene, there is so much to love over here. Driving through B.C. and Alberta never gets boring for me. The gigs are always fresh; the people in the audience are so welcoming. I feel like I have made some beautiful friends over here, and I feel like there are a lot more to be made.
GC: Lesbians love their feisty and raw female singers just as much as gay guys love their sultry voices - you must have quite the gay following wherever you go? What’s it like to be in the same category of some of our readers’ favourite singers - and there are many!
T: It’s a complete honour. I believe that lesbians have fabulous taste! So if I am on their radar, well, it’s a blessing. I think of so many singer songwriters who are gay and fabulous – KD Lang, Melissa Etheridge, Janis Ian, Tracy Chapman, Brandi Carlile - the list goes on and on. A lot of these singers have been such inspiration to me over the years. They have inspired some of my sound for sure. Such rich voices and honest lyrics. I do tend to have a strong gay following, which is awesome. The gay crowd seem to really support me, quite possibly it’s simply because I’m a strong, passionate woman who is doing what she loves to do.
GC: You are compared to some artists mentioned previously, what are some of your own favourites?
T: There are just so many! Janis Joplin, Ani Difranco, Damien Rice, Swell Season, The Beatles, The Doors, Queen, Tracy Chapman, Sade... the list could go on forever.
GC: What is the process that goes into your songwriting - you must have some pretty intense experiences to inspire such powerfully penetrating lyrics?
T: Normally after an ‘intense’ experience I can write an album! It drives the songwriting. Most of my songs come from me simply picking up my guitar and magically my hands start playing some chords, my mouth opens and lyrics pour out. These are always my best songs. It’s as if they have been waiting for me to pop out and to enter this world. Some songs take longer with lyrics or music first. There isn’t a structure to my songwriting , much like my life I suppose! Anything that really hits you in life, whether it is happiness, sadness, love, longing, heartache or empathy, these are the times to write.
GC: You started your tour in Calgary – is there a special reason? What makes playing in Calgary so much fun?
T: Calgary is like a second home to me. I stay with my best mate from Australia, who has lived here for many years now. It’s comfortable, it’s homely, its so close to the rocky mountains. I love playing at the Ironwood because it has such great sound, and an audience who really listens to and appreciates the music. It’s why we do what we do. Plus, the crowd keeps getting bigger, which I love to see. We also have a new lesbian following here, and it keeps growing, which is brilliant.