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Close-knit: An Interview with Torrey's Ryann and Kelly Gonsalves

4 April 2024

Photo by Katie Lovecraft

SF Bay Area textural pop group Torrey delve deep into a translucent dreamworld on their self-titled sophomore album. Bending classic shoegaze, rainy day indie rock sounds, and 90s alt rock flair into more intricate forms, the band uses these guitar-forward songs to shape-shift between gentle drifting and noisy breakthroughs. Some touchstones include Lush, Drop Nineteens, Cocteau Twins and The Breeders, but Torrey have a deft grasp of their craft and a forward-thinking studio approach that places them very much in the NOW. Singles like “No Matter How,” “Bounce” and “Moving” are pure 2024 and place Torrey firmly alongside like-minded groups like Seablite, Mo Dotti, Winter and Alvvays who are enlivening a similar set of inspirations.

Siblings Ryann and Kelly Gonsalves formed Torrey in 2018 while living in San Francisco. 2019 EP Sister and 2021 debut LP Something Happy were both recorded at the legendary Tiny Telephone studios and self-released by the band, documenting an early phase of clean, shimmery jangle pop. When it was time to begin work on the next album, every step of the process was slowed down and expanded. Kelly and Ryann spent a while trading voice memos, exploring melodic ideas, alternate guitar tunings, and guitar treatments that were new to the band. Song skeletons got fleshed out with weeks of fine-tuning the live drums, and then ultimately a home studio was put together in Ryann’s house and Matthew Ferrara of The Umbrellas came in to help capture the sounds.

Torrey’s pre-existing foundation of catchy songwriting is emboldened by the limitless approach of the recording sessions. Each song has its own personality, but feels connected to the rest; like a carefully curated playlist. This means the layered guitar tones and smeared vocal harmonies of “No Matter How,” pivot seamlessly into Deal sister-informed tunefulness on the buzzing and clattering “Hawaii” before moving into warped tropical ambience, glacial shoegaze atmospheres, and fuzzy guitar shredding.

Moments of reverb-heavy lo-fi ambling blunt the sharper edges of higher energy tracks like the euphorically poppy “Really AM.” There’s a different kind of tension on almost every track, but all the energies converge into the same flow. It’s fitting that Torrey’s most masterfully crafted album is also their first for Slumberland Records. As the album plays out, it perfectly arranges contradictory expressions of angst and tenderness, exaltation and melancholy, restlessness and acceptance. These songs are obsession-worthy for any dream pop enthusiast, with Torrey managing to call on some familiar spirits for guidance while sounding more like themselves than ever before.

Special thank you to Daniel Gill at Force Field and to Ryann and Kelly for their time.

James Broscheid: Congratulations on the release of your self-titled second record! I wanted to start by asking who is Torrey? Can you give us the history of the band starting with how you formed and who the players are on this record? 

Torrey: Thank you! We’re Kelly and Ryann, we’ve been writing together as Torrey since 2018. It started through sharing a collection of voice memos with one another, eventually leading us to putting some songs together and self releasing an EP in 2019. We’ve had a rotating lineup over the years – on this record you’re hearing Kelly, Ryann, Matthew Ferrara, Keith Frerichs (both of The Umbrellas as well as numerous others! – JB), and Adam Honingford. Matthew played on/produced/recorded/mixed the record and Keith is on drums. Our current line up has Sinclair Riley playing drums, Susie Chinisci on keys/vocals, and Adam playing lead guitar. 

JB: Torrey is being released on independent heavyweight Slumberland – a Bay Area institution! How did you manage to get hooked up with Mike (Schulman, label owner) and what does it mean to you to have that kind of support? Have any favorite records/artist released on SLR

Kelly Gonsalves: - By the time of recording this record we knew Mike had at least heard of us. The idea of reaching out to Mike definitely came up during recording, especially since we were working with Matthew (The Umbrellas). It always just felt like a “what if.” Then Matthew sent Mike mixes and the rest is history, we heard from Mike a few months later! It’s pretty special to be on this label and we feel very lucky to be a part of a stacked past/present roster. There’re so many favorites, but The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, Rocketship, Lilys, and The Aislers Set all had stand out records for me. 

Ryann Gonsalves: - It means so much to be on Slumberland! It’s amazing and so wild to have this opportunity and we’re so grateful to work with Mike! Some of my favorite Slumberland bands are Tony Molina, The Aislers Set, and Veronica Falls

JB: Can you compare and contrast the band’s two full-length records? Were the approaches similar as far as writing and recording? Any major differences? Were there any specific influences going into this record?

KG: For the first record we were practicing regularly and were playing shows. A lot of the writing happened in a group setting. It was also recorded in a studio, which influenced how much time we could spend on it. This new record came from a time when we were in limbo. I spent a lot of time writing by myself and revisiting ideas for about a year. From there it was a lot of back and forth of sharing things with Ryann followed by a few months of fleshing them out in her garage. We just spent a lot more time with these songs than we had with things prior. I was more confident. I think Ryann was more confident. That confidence went straight into recording. We also recorded at her home at the time, which gave us some freedom. Working with Matthew had a big impact too. As far as influences – We were listening to so many different things at the time it’s hard to think of specifics. Probably just a lot of 90’s early 2000’s sounds.

JB: Speaking of Matthew, I was so happy to see that he contributed to the recording/producing/mixing of the record! I will keep talking about the impressive spirit of collaboration that takes place between bands in the Bay Area until I’m blue in the face! How big of an impact does the local scene have on a band like Torrey? That kind of support has got to be so refreshing. Did Matt contribute to any of the songs?

KG: - Working with Matthew was awesome. He’s super talented and great to record with. We pretty much just let him do his thing during recording. All the synths/keys on the record are Matthew as well as the lead guitar on “Slow Blues”, the guitar “noise” on “Happy You Exist”, and the lap steel guitar on “Garage Intermission”. He spent a lot of time getting the mixes right, filling the songs out where they needed to, and generally helping us create the sound/atmosphere of the record. 

RG: The scene in the Bay Area rocks. It’s super supportive and collaborative, everyone plays in each other’s bands. The inclusivity of the Bay Area pop scene definitely had a positive impact for Torrey, back in 2018, our buddies had our backs and got us on some really fun bills when we were first getting started.  

JB: Speaking of the scene, how is life residing in the Bay Area treating the band – socially, politically, local community, etc? And how does it inform your music? 

KG: Life residing in the bay is complicated. Most of us have grown up or at least spent most of our adult life here, so we have seen it grow and change a lot over the years. It’s hard to say exactly how the Bay Area has informed our music, but it’s impossible to say it hasn’t. There’s so much art, diversity, and history here. So many opportunities everyday to learn something new and grow as a person. 

RG: My experience has shifted quite a bit with how I exist in the Bay. This shift definitely informed the writing process for this album, the lyrics feel much more introspective than our previous record. I lived in San Francisco from ages 18 to 30, longer than I’ve lived anywhere else. When we started writing this record, I was at the beginning of turning inward and having a closer look at myself. A lot of the lyrics reflect that subtle, kind of meditative conversations with yourself while experiencing the beginning of a big transition.   

JB: Descriptions like “shoegaze” and “dream pop” are thrown around pretty freely these days and mentioned in regards to your band. Do you give any credence to labels? Sure, Torrey has those elements but I am really enjoying what bands like yours are doing with it nowadays. Giving those genres a new and unique spin. I think “Really AM” is case in point. 

KG: Yeah, I think to some extent. “Shoegaze” and “Dream Pop” just seem like approachable umbrella terms these days. There’s definitely those elements on this record, but we were conscious in trying to make those sounds unique to us when recording. If I’m being honest, I don’t even think of the record as “Shoegaze”, although I’m not upset at being thrown into that conversation. Genres like shoegaze/dream pop (this actually goes for every genre), are tough because everything has been done before. All you can do now is try and put your spin on it and hopefully you get lucky capturing something that feels good to you and fresh to others. A lot of this record was trying to find a balance between those influences. Thank you for the “Really AM” shoutout, might be one of my favorites off the record! 

JB: There is an interesting sibling dynamic in Torrey. Were the two of you brought up in a musical family or at least had the support of your parents? How has that relationship evolved and was there any particular piece of music when you were younger that made you think, “That’s what I want to do!”?

KG: There was always music in our lives growing up, but no one in our family actively played any instruments. One Christmas our mom got us a guitar and drum kit and that kind of planted the seed. Our Mom has always been supportive of us and encouraged us to try a lot of different things. Music is just one of those things that stuck. Weezer’s “Blue Album” (Geffen Records, 1994), ’blew’ my mind as a kid. I can only imagine how fun it was for my mom to share a wall with my amp while I was practicing non-stop, painfully making it through “Say It Ain’t So” on repeat. That’s love!

RG: Music was always around growing up, shout out to our mom for that! She took us to see The Cranberries, it was my first concert, and I remember being absolutely captivated by Dolores O’Riordan (vocalist). We were in the front row at the Shoreline in Mountain View, CA, I was super little but I remember being mesmerized by the energy of it all! Without a doubt that was the first time I thought “That’s what I want to do!” Which was later reinforced by stumbling along “Fever to Tell” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the public library when I was in middle school. I’ll never forget the first time I heard Karen O’s voice! 

JB: Do you spend much time listening to other bands and if so, who are they? While we’re at it, what would you rank as your most influential or favorite records of all time?

KG: It’s kind of been all over the place recently, nothing really specific. My partner and I have just been enjoying listening to a lot of different movie scores/soundtracks. As far as all time records go, Radiohead’s In Rainbows (XL Recordings, 2007), immediately comes to mind (it’s a perfect record). Frank Ocean’s Blonde (Boys Don’t Cry, 2016), is up there. By law I have to say My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless (Creation Records, 1991) and Cocteau Twins Heaven or Las Vegas, (4AD, 1990). Stereolab’s Dots and Loops (Duophonic Ultra High Frequency Disks, 1997). Pixies Surfer Rosa_/_Doolittle (4AD, 1988 / 1989), The B-52’s The B-52’s (Warner Bros. Records, 1979), The Avalanches Since I Left You (Modular Recordings, 2000). Modest Mouse’s _The Lonesome Crowded West (Up Records, 1997). Broken Social Scene You Forgot It In People (Arts & Crafts, 2003), The Radio Dept. Lesser Matters_/_Pet Grief (Labrador, 2003 / 2006). There’s a Yo La Tengo record somewhere on the list. Let’s stop at that because this will honestly never end!

RG: I’ve been listening to a lot of my friends’ music lately, Tricky FM, Try The Pie, Sucker, and Christina’s Trip. I’m so inspired and in love with all of their work. One of my favorite records of all time would have to be Either / Or (Kill Rock Stars, 1997) by Elliott Smith

Photo by Katie Lovecraft

JB: Does everyone hold down day jobs because I wanted to ask about touring. I know how difficult it is to manage playing live dates with full-time jobs. Does Torrey have any dates coming up and will there be any wider-ranging U.S. dates? I’m in Tucson and would love to see the band at some point!

Torrey: Yeah, we all have day jobs, we are big fans of the weekend lunch time practice session! It does/has made it hard to get time to play an extended tour. As of now we have some Southern California dates coming up which is exciting. Maybe if the stars align, we’ll be able to set something up. We’d love to come to Tucson!

JB: Torrey’s lineup has changed subtlety since Sister in 2019 and Something Happy from a few years back. Can you discuss those changes and is it difficult to fit new personnel into the vision you have for the band?

KG: Being in a band is hard, especially as you get older. With the amount of time and energy it takes you have to really have to want to do it. It can be fun, but it can also be draining. Each change has had its challenges and you adapt. This record came out of a time when we were in transition and it’s some of the better stuff we’ve done together. The group we have right now is great – we’re lucky to play with them. 

RG: We’re super fortunate to have worked with such talented musicians and friends over the years. I think as we began to understand our music more, more movement happened in terms of our lineup. Our current lineup is a dream. I’m so grateful to play alongside these rockers! 

JB: Would you both be willing to run down each of the album’s tracks and provide any interesting insights as far as writing and recording?


KG: Rain started out as a loop. Once I had the guitar parts down I sent it over to Ryann. She tied it together with the melody and tambourine. It was simple, but felt good. Recording it was all about how we can make it big and have the breakthrough towards the end pay off. Matthew added a lot of delay to the vocals to create space, a low bass synth line driving the song forward, and percussion backing the lead guitar. Getting the guitar “solo” right was important. We wanted a proper introduction to the album.

RG: When writing this melody, I was recording while laying on the shag rug at my old house. I love harmonies and movement in melodies, but I was pretty sure I’ve gone too far with this one and was kind of joking with myself and fully prepared for uncertain feedback. When Kelly responded with “That’s it!”, I was so stoked. During this part of our writing process I would often just throw down every melody that came to mind and send them back to him, it was playful and chaotic in the best way. 

“No Matter How” 

KG: This is the oldest song on the record. I think there’s a voice memo on my phone from 2019. It was the first song that clicked for Ryann and I that got this album moving. Sounds like warm days in Golden Gate Park, sunsets over Lake Merritt, or driving through the valley. 

RG: The energy behind “No Matter How” is super reflective of the shift I was experiencing during this time, like I mentioned before. Lyrically comes from a place of harnessing your own power and playfully breaking away from old ways of being. There’s for sure some Cranberries influences in there too with the outro backing vocals. 


KG: The guitar in “Moving” is inspired by the shoegaze greats. Matthew set up two AC15s (Vox amplifiers) in the garage; offsetting the tremolo on each. It was loud. It was disorientating. It was a blast to record. I think what makes this song interesting though is the juxtaposition between Ryann’s Kim Deal inspired pre-chorus into those soaring choruses. It feels like a nod to a couple influences from that time. 

RG: Kim Deal rocks, some inspiration in there with the line “I could be nothing” being sung through a harmonica mic. 


KG: Bounce came around the same time as “No Matter How”, but it changed a lot when we were getting ready to record and while we recorded. It’s crunchy and pretty. Matthew came up with the keys complimenting Ryann’s vocals throughout the song. There’s the call and response between Adam and Ryann towards the end. Everything came together nicely and it was an early highlight for us during recording. 


KG: This was originally written on an acoustic guitar, but it sounded better playing loud and fast so we just leaned into it. There’s some Amps*/*Breeders influence(s) happening. The drums are awesome on this track. 

“Garage Intermission”

KG:  This is essentially an interlude, coming down from the first half of the record. I had a recording of that chord progression over a backing track similar to the one you hear on the record. Matthew definitely made it vibe. He was also determined to have a lap steel guitar on the record. We just wanted to have fun with this one. 

“Slow Blues”

KG: This just turned into a big spacy song, with a near ridiculous lead guitar. We were just like “Hey, this needs some fuzz Matthew!” and he brought the fuzz. I honestly laugh when I hear it sometimes, but it’s only because I love it so much.

“Pop Song”

KG: “Pop Song” is what happens when you say yes to every idea and a reminder to have fun during recording. It sounds like it’s going off the rails. The synth is amazing, but ridiculous. The breakdown with Ryann talking was a happy accident. Matthew adding a drum filter/sweep/dropout? Sure, why not? It’s a highlight for sure. 

“July (And I’m)”

KG: Similar to “Garage Intermission”, this turned into another break on the album. It was nice throwing something acoustic on there. It’s a 12-string that we doubled and the drums are from an old Yamaha keyboard that Matthew ran through a bass amp. Just reminds us of the bedroom pop we used to find in the early 2000’s. Simple and brief, but feels good. It’s one I still like going back to for a listen.

RG: This song actually has lyrics, but when it came to recording it felt better to just sing the melody with no words. I love how songs shift in different environments. 

“Happy You Exist”

RG: Wrote the chorus on the spot while we were recording and it turns out to be some of my favorite lines in the whole record! 

“Really AM”

KG: “Really AM” is a few different ideas coming together. One half is really straightforward and the other is loud and chaotic. It’s one of the songs on the record where Ryann’s lyrics and the feel of the song just came together really nicely. It’s also some of the most fun I’ve had recording guitar. There was a lot of freedom to play around with the sound. Matthew did wonders getting the mix just right too. 

RG: Sneaky little Grandaddy A.M. 180 nod (from Under The Western Freeway, 1997) in the song title! 

“We’re Dancing”

KG: “We’re Dancing” is the second half to “Rain”. They complement one another. And like “Rain”, it didn’t change much from the original demo, but it definitely sounds bigger and fully realized on the record. The garage was so loud recording the guitar. The last 45 seconds or so of the track is just a microphone capturing the sound of the room. We knew immediately it needed to be the last song! 

Upcoming 2024 dates:

April 23: Bottom Of The Hill – San Francisco, CA

May 16: Jade Cathay – San Jose, CA

May 17: Subrosa Community Space – Santa Cruz, CA

May 18: Make Out Room – San Francisco, CA

May 23: Permanent Records – Los Angeles, CA

May 24: The Showroom – Oxnard, CA

May 25: Gonzo! Ramen – Carlsbad, CA

June 6-8: Oakland WeekenderThee Stork Club, Oakland, CA

For more information or to make a purchase, please visit Torrey’s Bandcamp or their label Slumberland Records.



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