Tori Helene, Cincinnati’s latest rising voice in the hip hop and R&B scene, recently dropped her debut EP, Delusional. The Natown-produced project shows growth and a different creative direction for Helene, who released two singles last year – the sensual “Straight F***in” and heated “Judas.” The mood shifts quite a bit to introspection, pain, and healing on Delusional, where Helene has the chance to show off her impressive vocal range, get into her feelings and still drop some quick-paced bangers. A story of relationship woes, the EP fittingly starts with “Lord Knows,” the most vulnerable track, then travels through peaks and valleys, like the pain-escaping “Under The Influence” and the D-Eight assisted “Numb,” finally ending with a cocky and playful showcase, “2 Legit.”

Tori Helene gets a running start with Delusional, making her a newfound force to be reckoned with. Here, the Cincinnati singer talks about healing through her music, artists she’s inspired by and what’s up next.

AF: Congrats on your EP! Walk me through your inspirations and thought process going into this project.
TH: Thank you! I started on Delusional at the beginning of last year. I was in a deep depression [from] 2016 to 2017 and wanted to use music as a way to get these dark emotions out. Delusional shows a little bit of my vulnerability and my honest thoughts about relationships and experiences that I’ve gone through.
AF: “Under The Influence” is a standout track, can you talk about what the song means to you?
TH: Under The Influence” was a collab I did with my producer. It’s about being in love with getting high and how it has helped me when I’ve been down. So we made the song where I’m talking like I’m talking about a man I’m in love with, but it’s really about my love for weed [laughs].
AF: Who are some artists you’re inspired by?
TH: My biggest inspiration is Beyoncé. I’m a huge fan. She has inspired me to be an entertainer. I would watch her when I was younger and just study her voice and how she performed for hours at a time. I also love Stevie Wonder, John Mayer [and] Whitney Houston.
AF: What’s your favorite song on the EP?
TH: I love all the songs on the EP. They all have my heart but if I had to choose, it would be “2 Legit” and “Numb.” “2 Legit” is fun and “Numb” is super real for me because it’s about my last relationship and how I messed it up.
Tori Helene Delusional

Tori Helene. All photos by Randy Lefebvre.

AF: How did your music career begin?
TH: My music career began when I was 15. I started recording at my friend’s basement. I wanted to start learning the recording process and getting a feel for my sound. Then I went to college and decided to fully pursue [music] after I graduated. I graduated and then started releasing singles for a couple years and now Delusional is out.
AF: What’s something you love about the Cincinnati music scene?
TH: I love the versatility and I also admire everyone’s love for music here. It’s beautiful.
AF: What are you working on currently?
TH: I’m working on pushing Delusional and I’m about to start working on more music for later in the year and next year! The grind doesn’t stop.
AF: Any touring coming up?
TH: I do plan on doing a promo run later this year or next year. It’s still in the works.