ToJa had such an odd name that that was what caught my attention to begin with. But as I dug deeper I got more and more interested to know more about the band. Anders Ekdahl ©2017
Every band has to introduce their music to new people. What is it that you want people to get from listening to you guys?
-Having fun with our songs and we want people to feel what we felt when we created the songs – get into the lyrics and simply enjoy the music. Everything we do is very much mirroring the situation at the time we developed the songs.
How hard was it for you guys to pick a name? What had that name have to have to fit your music?
-That was quite simple. We never cared about if the name fitted the music. It was just Tommy and Jan and it sounded good to us.
Everybody is influenced by certain things. What band(s) was it that turned you on to the kind of music you play? What inspires you today?
-In the beginning it was pretty much a combination of everything we liked in our younger days like Pink Floyd, Deep Purple, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden – 70’s and 80’s stuff we grew up with. ToJa wasn’t intended to be a Rock’n’Roll thing at the start – just a fun project which turned out to be really good so it became ToJa. Today it’s more difficult because everything sounds like everything. Metal sounds like Metal, POP sounds like POP. It’s sometimes boring to listen to the radio especially in Germany. There are just a few stations who really play good ol’ rock’n’roll – stuff that we love. We always did what we liked to do and that was the reason why we did all the stuff we did. Folk, Metal, POP, Ballads. But always the way we felt it had to be. Crazy? Maybe, but it works and feels good.
When you formed did you do so with the intent of knowing what to play or did you do so from the point of having a band name and then picking a sound? How did you settle on the name/sound combo?
-When we started it was more kind of painting pictures with music rather than colour. That was cool because there were no limits. We did what we wanted to do and what we liked at the time. It felt really good – it still feels good today.
I believe that digital is killing the album format. People’s changing habit of how they listen to music will result in there being no albums. Is there anything good with releasing single tracks only?
-That’s the word of the month. Yes, absolutely. Playing in a band today is a bit weird. Everything is totally different. No locations to play, CDs and Vinyl not really top notch any more. Everybody just skipping through the music. People go like “I have 2000 Songs on my smartphone – how many do you have?” They do not really enjoy the music anymore. It is a bit frustrating because nobody even recognizes the amount of work behind what artists – be it musicians or writers or painters – are doing. We still believe that listening to an album, holding the Case and Cover in your own hands, reading the lyrics, enjoying the music is still quite something rather than just consuming single songs from time to time.
What part does art-work and lay-out play when you release new recordings? How do you best catch people’s attention?
-From the very beginning the Cover Artwork was an important part of Toja. It’s part of the whole thing. If people go to their record-shop (if there is still a record-shop) or just watch pictures on the internet you got to have an outstanding cover-art to get people’s attention. We don’t like just having a picture of the members on the front and that’s it. There must be a relation to what is in there – musically. If people watch the cover they have expectations. We developed our logo – a peacock – some years ago that is now a fixed part of everything we publish. So whenever people see it they know . . . that’s ToJa. It’s kind of unique.
Has social media re-written the rules on how to promote your music? Or do you go about doing promotion the same way?
-There is no living as a musician without social-media anymore. You got to use it, be part of it, to spread the word. We have written a song about it – it’s on the new album. And it’s a quick contact to our fans.
When you play in a band, does that make you feel like you are a part of a scene, of something bigger and grander?
-It used to be like that – it just feels good to be in a band like ToJa. If people in the band are no good or do not play with emotions and enthusiasm – it’s all about emotions – than the band will not work. So yes, it’s the combination of individuals that make the difference.
How much of a touring band are you? Is touring/gigging still a great way of spreading the word of the band?
-Oh yes, it’s nowadays probably the only way. We love to play live on stage. That enables you to get an immediate response to what you are doing. That’s the best you can get. We love it. Unfortunately it is quite difficult for a relatively unknown band like us to get gigs or do a tour these days. You have to pay for it. In former days you got paid for it. That is pretty much different today. No illusions. But, we have a fantastic line-up including our original keyboarder Andy back on track and a dear friend on guitar who supported us from day one – Mr. Marc Bugnard (ex-Roko). He’s now part of the live line-up. How cool is that?
What will the future bring?
-We will do our best to get the chance to go on tour somehow and let people enjoy and be part of the world of ToJa. That’s what we really want. The World has changed so dramatically – and not necessarily in the right direction. Music is one way to try and change things or – very simple – just let people forget all the madness for a moment or two.