Tina Forlorn aka Sorrow Stories

London based music artist, songwriter, lyricist, vocalist, musician, creator, producer, mastering and video editor.

An excellent, well respected ambassador to the indie electronic community.

Tina has been on our radar for a few years now and we finally got the chance to put a few questions her way.

Sit back, click PLAY and enjoy the thoughts and music of Sorrow Stories.

january 2024

 Would you like to give us a brief intro into the journey of Sorrow Stories and how it all began.
 I have always loved music since I was a child and it was always around me in its different forms. My parents listened to a lot of music so from my early years, I was over hearing artists in different genres from rock to 80’s pop to new wave (which was everything from Genesis to Madonna to New Order to The Kinks to Duran Duran to The Bangles to David Bowie to Queen to The Cure to Talking Heads). Into my teens, I was getting more into alternative rock (The Seattle bands, The Smashing Pumpkins, Therapy? & more). I got a cheap guitar and started writing songs. Where I would pretty much just make up melodies and sing the lyrics in front of me as I hit record or started putting together something I was structuring, with no real intent to share them with anyone else at the time. I didn’t have any proper recording equipment for a long while so I’d just record however I could. Usually through tape decks that had mic inputs until I got a 4-trk and started gradually getting the things I needed to record with and of better quality. For quite a few years, I just went by my real name and was using tape up until the mid 2000’s (lol) I was filling up both sides with songs and often more than one tape a year and they were called things like the ‘Tina Amos Demos 1997’ or I’d give them album titles like ‘The numbing days of the seasons’ but I always wanted another artist name to go by. Even though I wasn’t in a band, I considered myself ‘the’ band because I was going to be doing everything within it. Around 2010, I started uploading some of these demos to Soundcloud and that’s when I decided on a name and officially became ‘Sorrow Stories’ I had also been listening to industrial, synthpop, and a bit later on, some trance & house (NIN, Depeche Mode, Delerium, Moby etc) and had been playing around with keyboards and things for a few years prior to sharing my acoustic songs for the first time. I think it was around 2012 that I started sharing electronic online. The first couple of years was just more creating sounds and some remixing.
What is the meaning behind the name, Sorrow Stories?
Overall, my songs are based upon ‘real’ experiences and feelings that I am telling stories about. There’s a lot of bleakness within them but at the same time, that’s not so much my intent as it is more about authenticity. Some of my favorite songwriters have the ability to connect their emotion and sometimes that’s done through great lyrics and other times, it’s just through translation of their voice or music. I always feel that through songwriting, at its core, it is about things that can’t be said or the places that can’t be easily visited elsewhere. It is sharing vulnerability in that respect. There is often a lot of metaphor in my songs, where I am bouncing around ideas and questioning myself at the same time. So the name ‘Sorrow Stories’ is quite obvious and simple in its meaning. Sometimes my songs can sound more upbeat or even more angrier than sad on the surface but I think there is always still that underlying tone of melancholy that they stem from.
Did you ever consider being in a band or a duo, or were you adamant it was going to be a solo career from the start?
There were times earlier on that I considered the idea of being in a band but I never really seeked it out too much. I’ve always been an introvert really and there were not many other people and certainly not other females that liked the same music as I did that were around me, growing up so I think that also helped it automatically to become a solo project. Then by the time I started sharing my music, I was already thinking in terms of deciding to just do everything myself. 
A lot of artists get put into one specific genre i.e synth, synthwave etc…How would you describe your sound and genre?
It can be difficult to pinpoint just one because I make different types of music and the styles can vary within those too. Generally, I refer to myself as ‘alternative’ but in trying to stick to the closest sounds per type of music, I’d say for my electronic, it’s more classed as electropop on the lighter side and industrial/darkwave on the heavier but there’s usually other sounds throughout still and it can vary from song to song...and then my acoustic guitar is probably more singer songwriter, maybe a bit like 70’s style folk mixed with alternative rock and a bit of indie... and then my soundtrack is typically more horror/sci fi pieces but I can also do 80’s sounding...I don’t really like to be pigeonholed. I just love to create and I like different types of music so I don’t want to have to fit just one genre just because... 
Would you say you take influence more from places and people and things that are physically around you, or your emotions and experiences?
Most of my songs are autobiographical, based upon things I have been through or just battling with my own thoughts. Mostly, they are directly from my own experiences but sometimes they can be based upon those who were/are in my life. On occasion, I can write from a more fictitious place but the idea is still based upon a realistic one. I always prefer to write from a personal angle, still putting myself in ‘their shoes’ if I am not the one wearing them. 
Musicians always get asked about their musical influences, but I wonder if you are influenced by art or artists in any other genres?
I typically like darker music but I can appreciate styles from rock to electronic – the main criteria is really that it speaks to me in some way. I think most of the genres I like can appear somewhat in my music. I do also like some Metal and the elements of screaming or more brutal heaviness has not been heard so much in my music. Not yet anyway (haha)
You perform, produce and record your music yourself, is it important for you to be in control of the process in this way?
I think I am a bit more lenient to working with other people now than I was years ago. There was a long time when people used to ask me to collaborate or remix a lot and I was quite adamant about not doing so. In more recent times, I have made exceptions, where those feel right but I think in general, I do prefer working alone. There is a certain satisfaction in doing everything yourself...which doesn’t mean never thinking this part couldn’t be better or someone else couldn’t do a better ‘technical’ job but I think when you have an inkling of how something needs to sound than nobody knows better than the person who is creating it, what that vision is. It’s just a matter of being able to translate that well...Hopefully my progress can be heard over the years. I am definitely still learning but what it really comes down to is I enjoy all aspects of music making from writing the lyrics to creating melodies to mixing and mastering and even video editing. I don’t think that doing everything involved is something that interests every artist. It is a lot of work, that can amount to a lot of time and some artists just excel at one or two things and that is fine but for me, I enjoy all areas of music making and so it makes sense for me to at least attempt to understand, if not do them all too.
You have a lot of your tracks remixed by many artists i.e. Psy’aviah, People Theatre, Death By Laser, to name but a few. What is it that you enjoy about this process?
I think it can just be enjoyable to have different interpretations of songs. It’s getting to hear the other roads that could have been taken or maybe a path never considered, without removing the original idea. I always appreciate the level of interest people take in remixing my tracks. I did a remix album – ‘Beyond Remedy: The Remix Affect’  last year with 28 trks (37 when you include bonus) and 15 different artists. Incl Stabbing Westward, 808 Dot Pop, Null Device, Power State Failure, Paul J. Weston, Steve Deeley & more. I like to give other artists the freedom to do what they want with my songs but yet if I think something needs suggesting, I can say. Sometimes it can be challenging working with different productions but I do enjoy it and I do all of the mastering for them. It doesn’t necessarily need to be for every song but I think remixes can also breathe life back into the originals and it allows everyone involved to share in the promotion. 
I’d like to ask you about your songwriting process, when you sit down to write a song do you know what you’re going to write about or does it just come to you? Do you do lyrics first or melody?
There are definitely times when I will just be playing my guitar or keyboard and I will start making a melody and then hearing the words and how I am going to sing the song. I might have a subject in mind. Most of the time though, I am not doing anything musically and all of a sudden, I will start forming lyrics in my head and hear how I am going to sing them and how the general direction for the track will sound... and that becomes the foundation. It can be inspired by a big event or a moment in time, something I am thinking about or sometimes nothing at all. I pretty much always start with lyrics and melody.
Do you have a home studio? What music tech do you use for your productions?
I moved a little while back and have had a lot to contend with so I’m still in the process of getting more of a studio properly set up. I am more grabbing things here and there from different directions when I am creating atm but I do have a lot of different instruments and software that I have built up over the years.
Some of my main ones would be:
Mics - Shure SM-58 and Shure MV7
(Both for singing but I use only the MV7 for interviews/podcasting)
Synths - Black Microkorg XL (Which works with Analogue and Midi and I use this to play my synth melodies, bass lines etc)
VSTs - I mostly use software, although I do have Roland (bass, synth and drums) and some other hardware I sometimes use too. I especially like U-he atm but I find that pretty much most VST’s come with some sounds I can create with. I use different ones from different places in songs. Just whatever sounds right to me.
Guitars - Acoustic: Faith Eclipse Mercury Electro Scoop 
(This is a black short-scale parlour acoustic guitar. Being of a fairly smaller size, I always had a lot of trouble finding a good sounding acoustic that was also comfortable in all ways to play and this is perfect for me as it’s small enough to fit my size but big enough to still sound great quality and the color and feel of the guitar is really nice)
Electric: Custom Telecaster: I have a really great sounding custom built Telecaster that comes with Tonerider Hot Classics pickups and a Bigsby. The theme is based on two 1978 Superman comics against Green Arrow and Red Tornado. I really love the sound of this and it is one of a kind.
Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) Signature Jaguar: which comes with the same mods that Cobain did himself. Perfect for that more ‘grungy’ sound.
Ed O’Brien (Radiohead) Signature Fender Strat: I love the Fernandes Sustainer that comes with this. 
Custom ESP guitar: One of my go-to guitars is this lightweight custom built purple ESP guitar with EMG pick-ups. 
Amps & Pedals - Peavey ValveKing 20hm tube Amp (for electric)
Yamaha THR5A Amp (for acoustic) Stomp HX & Helix Native for amps, cabs and fx etc.
Various guitar pedals from reverbs to distortions. Some of my new favorites are the SLO multi texture reverb pedal (LTD ED Luna) and the Mercury 7 reverb by Meris. I also am very pleased to have the Electro-Harmonix Op-Amp Big Muff Pi Distortion Sustainer Pedal (which was especially used by Billy Corgan from The Smashing Pumpkins on Siamese Dream) and the Jerry Cantrell (from Alice In Chains) Dunlop Guitar Wah Pedal (Special Edition)
Mixing & Mastering - Various Software: Fabfilter & Vallhalla are some of my favorites for EQ, Compression, FX etc
izotope and Mastering the mix suites 
PreSonus Eris Monitors
Social media & Spotify…A lot of artists feel the noose is getting tighter around the necks of the indie artists due to social media algorithms and poor returns from streaming services. How do you overcome these obstacles?
 It goes without saying that music is not a fair industry. Sorrow Stories does make some money from streaming (along with other places) but of course, the payout to anyone is so insulting compared to what it should be. I definitely feel the frustration of algorithms. Especially when putting up a video or song and you can’t even reach all of the people who you know may be interested, let alone new listeners because sites hide our posts and don’t like us linking to places that are not their own. We are all within the limits of certain social media and particular music platforms in order to ‘reach’ our audience and other than trying to find more ways to promote ourselves, I don’t know how we overcome these obstacles. I guess we just keep on pushing on and stay true to why we are doing this in the first place.
If you could change anything about the music industry, what would it be?
In an ideal world, I think music should be recognised more as a profession and there should be much more credibility there. Music and the arts are so important to most people’s lives and yet, they are not taken seriously in the same way other jobs or even self employed work is. I absolutely am not thinking about ‘making money’ when I am creating but on the business side of things, it’s not right that just because we love to do something, that therefore it shouldn’t be treated like a career if we are putting the work in.
Frustration creeps in with some artists when their music isn’t getting heard or noticed, some disappear into the wilderness. Do you feel their frustrations, and what advice would you give to those trying to get exposure?
In terms of whether I’d continue making music or not based upon listeners etc, it really makes no difference to me because it’s never been about that as to why I do this. I get some interest and if I can find more people to hear my music then hopefully more will join me in time, but for many years, by choice, I was really my only audience so the number of followers are appreciated but really have no bearing on whether I would continue to be creative or not. 
I don’t know what to suggest for more exposure. There are a lot of things (many of which I don’t do or not enough of myself) like interacting more with your audience, reaching out to the right places or people for more promotions...things like that can all help. Sometimes I think people just need a break or to try another direction. I think it’s important to be able to separate the love for making music from the reaction you get or don’t get from other people. This can be difficult to do but if you focus too much on the latter, then the traction becomes too important and will probably eventually start to affect your creativity so I think it’s always important to remember ‘why’ you love music and songwriting. Every single artist, from the independent to the most famous had a time when nobody else but the artist themselves was listening and there is a reason why they started.
I came across the track, Revoke (Live From London, First Take Demo 2016) an acoustic track, and you’ve also produced acoustic covers like, Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush. Could you see yourself doing live acoustic sets in the future, or do you have other plans in the pipeline?
Acoustic is really where Sorrow Stories first began and I find there is just something that feels special in playing very stripped down songs and baring your soul. I am actually starting to go through some old demos and trying to clean up the ‘sound quality’ as best as possible this year. They go back to when I was about 12, so I think it could be interesting for people to hear these tracks more easily and for those that have been following me since my earlier uploads, as well as for myself to go back and revisit those demos. I am also hoping to do some new acoustic songs this year. I have been playing guitar still on and off but it’s been a little while since I have put out some new acoustic tracks.
The cover of Kate Bush’s ‘Running Up The Hill’ was something I did several years ago for a Sony competition, along with The Beatles – ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ . I wasn’t really expecting much to come of them tbh. They are quite raw and I just wanted to try my hand at doing my own versions of them. I don’t do covers too often but when I do, I like to try and bring something unique to the table, rather than just imitate. I don’t see the point in doing covers, unless you are paying tribute, maybe, if you are just going to repeat exactly what has already been done – and usually done better.
Unfortunately, due to health reasons which I’ve been dealing with for quite a number of years now, I don’t have any current plans to be able to do live shows but you never know, maybe I might be able to do something in the future from home on youtube or something like that. I hope so. 
Tell us about the ‘Tamesis Trilogy 1 Soundtrack’ and how your paths crossed with Dennis Da Silva.
Dennis took an interest in some of Sorrow Stories first remixes and features on ‘The Past Always Repeats Again: The Remixes’ 
He is a film director and he liked what I was doing musically and thought I could bring something fitting to Tamesis Trilogy 1 which is based around the River Thames (in London) and influenced by the Tiny Colour Movies project by John Foxx, who Dennis had worked beside earlier in his career. The first tracks I put across to him were ‘Tideway’, ‘Isis’ and ‘Thames Gloom’ and then I did some more music, which along with a couple of others by Dennis and Philip Spalding, eventually led to an album release of the Tamesis Trilogy 1 Soundtrack that I put together. I asked Dennis if he could give me the audio from the film to go through so that I could put some of the dialogue between the songs. The film was screened live in London and festivals around the world and won the Jean Luc-Godard award for best experimental short 2020. I know Dennis has been busy working on other film & theatre projects but there are plans for a follow up. I have already started work on some of the new tracks.
Your latest release, ‘The Dark Glass Soundtrack’ is part one of six. Will you be spending 2024 concentrating on the other five releases or do you have other releases planned?
The Dark Glass (2023 Reflections) Part 1/6  is soundtrack type music I am revisiting from 2014-16 that I am now releasing as separate EP’s where I am reproducing the originals, but also adding new things to them. Plus, I am including additional versions of the songs too. My plan is to spread them out between other releases but you can probably expect to see at least part 2 and possibly part 3 sometime in 2024.
I definitely have other new songs on their way. Some of the first will be my other collabs with Aiboforcen (via Alfamatrix) which will be out within the next few mths. Following on from my feature on the Cycle Of Life EP, there will be a second EP and then an album release. There are references to and samples from the Aliens movie franchise within those. I already was interested in the collaboration but as I am a big fan of ‘Aliens’, that became another reason I was glad to be involved.
Before or around that time, there will also be some new Sorrow Stories electronic songs with vox, the first of which I am busy finishing off right now. 
If you could perform a gig anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would it be, and who would be your dream support act?
I guess if my health was better and I got such an opportunity then somewhere like the 02 Arena in London... or even Brixton Academy, Shephard’s Bush Empire, Electric Ballroom in Camden... touring around the US would probably be an adventure... but I think realistically, if I was up to playing live then I might be more comfortable in smaller venues. Support acts, I would most likely want to bring on board other independent artists who I felt deserved more recognition. Or maybe I could just do a few Sorrow Stories sets in one, starting with acoustic in the first half and then electronic or something like that.
Many artists listen to genres that they are not producing music for. Which track/artist is your favorite that is NOT similar to yours?
Tbh, this is a really difficult question as there’s not really anyone that I hear to the point of purchasing that I feel I am most similar too but I am not sure that I listen to many artists that are so far away from the type of music I could feature in my own songs either. I guess, once in a while I can appreciate something that is more ‘mainstream/commercial sounding’ than I would ever typically create myself or would normally listen to. For example, I like ‘Blinding Lights’ and ‘Save Your Tears’, as well as a few other trks by The Weeknd. I wouldn’t go as far as to buy his music but there can be an underlying 80’s vibe to them and I can appreciate that he is good at what he does and enjoy listening now and again.
You’re a big fan of the DC Comics franchise, and you entered a soundtrack competition for the tv series ‘Stargirl’. Did you win it? And just for a bit of fun, If you could give yourself a superhero name, what would it be?
I have been a fan of DC and Superman/Batman in particular, for quite a number of years. I have quite a big comic collection and especially enjoy a lot of stories from the 90’s and before. I do watch comic book films & shows from all companies. There are good exceptions and others that can be entertaining, but I do feel that the superhero genre on the big screen has become quite superficial alongside its popularity, which is a shame as I would like to see more of a good balance of drama, action, sci fi and comedy. My favorite thing about superheroes is that the characters have to deal with tragedy and their own sense of isolation and loneliness but despite the odds against them, they still choose to do good. 
I happened to see a Stargirl competition for Spitfire Audio running in 2021 and wanted to try that out. There were hundreds of people doing it and I am not sure that mine even got seen by more than five people. Also, everyone else seemed to be working with spitfire loops and sounds. I created the music to fit the trailer (it’s actually the first version of what later became my song ‘I Tried’) and that was my first time directly fitting a piece of sound to the film itself and that was a good experience and one I’d definitely like to do again.
If I was a Superhero, what would I be called? You know, I probably should but I really don’t know the answer to this question. I think I’d just go by Tina Forlorn. I would definitely be a darker character. Like more in line with something from The Watchmen but with my own story. I guess I would take on the persona of my Sorrow Stories logo – with the book, rain and an umbrella. Have my lyrics be part of the dialogue. Maybe my power could be saving others from sadness but my kryptonite would be that I couldn’t stop my own. 
Thank you, Tina, for taking time out to be part of this Q&A. The very best of luck in 2024.
Is there anything further you would like to add?
All the best to you too, Andy, and thank you very much for inviting me to do this Q&A for Revival Synth. Thank you to everyone that supports Sorrow Stories. Please come and check out my Bandcamp and stay tuned for new music coming soon!
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