Driving from city to city for two months, stopping briefly to play to different audiences may seem like a nightmare, but for Australian singer/songwriter Toby, it’s heaven.
“What’s not fun are the long hours. The fun about touring is the connection with people,” she says. “It’s because of the people you meet and the connection you get, in whatever relationships you form, whether it be for one minute or for a lifetime or a day.”
Since June 30, Toby and her band have been touring the West Coast, growing and maintaining the fan base and “reminding them that we are still around.” Although she has toured Canada a couple of times, she has played only once before in Ottawa.
On Sunday, Aug 21, Toby will be at the Elmdale House Tavern. It’s a rare treat for Ottawa music lovers, especially as the singer will be performing solo.
“You can only depend on yourself,” she says. “I think you instantly offer more, do more, play more and become a different player because you can’t rely on band members to fill the gaps. I find that I am more personal with the audience and a bit more of a storyteller.”
Toby will be singing a mixture of old tunes and new songs from her latest album, Sleeptalk.
“It’s got a bit of a bluesy feel to it, a little bit of a European jazzy feel,” she says. “It’s probably my most chilled-out album, but it’s definitely got… well, in Australia they would say a lot of guts.”
The album is the culmination of two years of touring, and in Toby’s opinion, it echoes her growth as a songwriter and a musician.
Songwriting is not her driving force: her energy comes from performing. Writing is an organic process that happens when the mood takes her.
“Songwriting comes very rarely, but when it does it really hits me. Generally a song will come out and I will start playing and singing at the same time. I don’t mull over songs; I don’t hang around them for very long. If they don’t feel quite right, I throw them in the bin,” Toby says.
The Ottawa appearance is a welcome break. It’s a time-out from playing to big audiences and an opportunity for the singer to connect to new people.
“Sometimes a show with just 30 people is just as wonderful, exciting and beautiful as a huge show with thousands of people,” she says. “You know you are going to connect along the way with different audience members, even if it is not personal connections — it is a connection through the music.”
Toby’s Elmdale show starts at 9pm, and audience members should be ready for the singer to take the stage with passion.
“For me, it doesn’t matter how grumpy I am. If I have a bad day or a good day, as soon as I step onstage it makes sense. I am really happy,” she says.