If Tori Zietsch wasn’t a musician, she’s pretty certain she’d be a gardener. “I’d be growing lots of veggies, and planting heaps of flowers for the bees, and getting all my clothes and face and hands really dirty.” she tells Audiofemme. As fate would have it, Zietsch became an accomplished folk musician instead, performing under the moniker Maple Glider. Hailing from the sunny shores of Naarm/Melbourne, her debut album, To Enjoy Is The Only Thing, tells stories of love, loss and growth to a backdrop of delicate acoustics and unapologetic lyricism.
Growing up in a religious family, Zietsch found herself reaching for her pen and paper to escape into a world of lyricism and poetry. “Music offered an escape from the reality of what life was for me at that time. I spent a lot of time making up songs as a kid and I’d then lock myself in the bathroom for hours to get that good reverb! It drove my parents wild,” Zietsch remembers. “Songwriting is a skill I taught myself to self-soothe. Music just always made me feel really good. It took a long time before I even realised I’d spent a large portion of my life pursuing it as a career. I’ve just always felt compelled to be writing and performing.”
To Enjoy is the Only Thing is fuelled by self-reflection and inspired by a time when Zietsch took a break from music, moving to Brighton in the UK, and the period of time that followed. “In 2018 I decided to take a break from working on music, which was actually the first time since I’d started. Coming out of a relationship, reflecting on my religious upbringing, familial relationships, travel, and what it felt like to come home. The themes are pretty broad, but I feel very connected to the songs as a body,” she explains.
The album is out June 25th via Partisan Records and Maple Glider has shared a handful of singles so far as she gears up for the release. This includes hushed album opener “As Tradition,” in which Zietsch repeats the lyrics “love is just a word;” there’s a sense that by using it as a mantra she’s fastening herself to the belief as a method of protection, even as she offers a malleable persona up to listeners (“I can be soft/I can be just what you want”).
“Swimming” picks up where “As Tradition” left off, with Zietsch’s vocals and the soft acoustic strumming providing an almost trance-like quality. The mournful, solemn lyrics detail the evolution of Zietsch’s relationship with her ex. “My ex wanted me to write them a love song and honestly that’s all I was trying to do. I really sucked at it though. I just couldn’t make a happy love song. It forced me to be honest about our situation, and how I was feeling. We broke up not long after,” she says. “There were so many beautiful moments within this song though. It’s nice that they can be held onto somewhere.”
“Good Thing“ unpacks Zietsch’s past self-destructive behaviours; poetically raw and sonically rich, her vocals echo over some the album’s finest instrumentation, building to the powerful line “I guess that’s how we learn/By setting fire to things that bring us life/Before we get to watch them burn.” The tangible emotion in her voice only adds to Zietsch’s skill as a storyteller and her ability to relate to anyone with a similar self-destructive streak.
Maple Glider’s latest offering, “Baby Tiger,” emulates a lullaby and was inspired by a cat named Coriander. “I nicknamed our house share cat Baby Tiger; Baby Tiger hates closed doors. She’ll always want to know what you’re doing on the other side. It became routine to hear her scratching at my door. It was something that felt constant and unwavering and regular at a time when I was a bit vacant. Her energy made me feel lighter,” Zietsch says. She had just moved home to Melbourne after living away for a couple of years and was struggling with her mental health. “I think I started to use dating as a bit of a distraction from dealing with it,” she remembers. “I hadn’t really done that before; sought out comfort from strangers.”
Elsewhere on the album, “View From This Side” incorporates an intimate minimalist sound as the track renders delicate portraits of the lives of those around her; “Performer” explores the disconnect Zietsch feels between herself and her persona on stage; the album’s final track, “Mama, It’s Christmas,” juxtaposes the joviality of the holidays with the difficultly of an absent family member. Throughout To Enjoy is the Only Thing, Maple Glider guides the listener into their own world of contemplation and reflection through her rich vocals, which paint a mesmerising sonic picture. The combination of Zietsch’s raw emotional power with the tender instrumentation makes for an unforgettable debut.
“I’ve come to really value the time that I get to spend writing and recording music,” Zietsch says. “I feel so lucky to have been able to make my first record, and to have had the life experience leading up to it that really made me want to create an album so badly.”
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