Leamington born, London based singer/songwriter, Tom the Lion is definitely one to watch, his songwriting skills are second to none and his music at its best is glowing with cinematic vibrancy and melodious sweetness. Following on from the success of his critically acclaimed first two EP’s (released exclusively via Rough Trade stores) he is ready to take the world by storm with his follow up. His hotly anticipated début album, entitled Sleep, is out 3rd February, and with it Tom the Lion is soaring to new heights. Title track, Sleep, previously named as the ‘Song of the Week’ here at Bitter Sweet Symphonies, as well as raking up attention from Clash Music, Vogue and Record of the Day, is simply stunning. Not only that, he is set to play in Austin, Texas later on this year for SXSW.
I caught up with the man himself to discuss his début album, his songwriting process and much, much more. Read on for more insight into the man behind Tom the Lion.
Your songs have a real sensory quality to them and of course, they are deeply enveloped in emotion. Can you guide us through your songwriting process, especially in relation to your song, Sleep. How long did it take you write it and where did the inspiration come from for the song?
Whenever I’m playing, whether it’s guitar or piano, I’m always looking out for things that sound unusual to me. There’s a moment when you move from playing something mundane to something that feels unusual, and I try and capture that, and use it as a starting place. I’d rather struggle trying to manipulate something that I can’t quite make sense of, than start with an idea that already feels defined and fully formed. Once that happens, I’m usually drawn into a lyrical space. That’s when I know it’s a good idea, when I’m compelled to define it with words. That’s how the song ‘Sleep’ came about. The sound matched how I was feeling.
You’re début album, Sleep, is causing quite a stir among Rough Trade’s music lovers. Is there a particular track on Sleep that you hold especially close to your heart? Can you tell us a little bit about the track and why it’s so special to you?
I hope each song develops its own context within the album. For me the experience of the album as a whole is more important than any one song.
Is the title track, Sleep, a good introduction to what we can be expecting to hear from the rest of the album?
‘Sleep’ is the first song on the record, and it defines it in that sense. I wanted each song to feel like an environment, and ‘Sleep’ was a good place to grow from. Lyrically, it all builds from there too.
Which song of yours are you the most proud of writing?
‘Silent Partner’ was lovely and quick to write. Definitely the exception to the rule though unfortunately…
I’m always fascinated by song lyrics and phrases; you’re particularly good at writing the perfect lyric. So I wanted to ask, what’s your favourite lyric that you’ve written so far?
Thank you! But hard to answer… I’m probably not the best judge. I try and make sure I say what I mean – for me that’s the only real measure of a lyric. It has to be accurate to its sentiment. Harder than it sounds, probably easier than I make it look…
If you could collaborate with any artist, who would that be and why?
I’d love to work with a film maker. To have a stimulus like film to write to would be really exciting. It would be a very different vocabulary to work within.
I wanted to take some time to try and get to know the man behind the music a little more. At what point in your life, did you realise you wanted to pursue a career in music and what drove you to want to pursue a career in music?
I’ve been playing music since I was thirteen. I’ve always loved it, and I’ve always been around it. Everything now is really just a progression from that.
When it comes to your live shows, is it something you look forward to, how do you approach performing?
I love playing live. You don’t have the degree of control you have when you’re at home tweaking in the studio, but there’s an instant feedback between you and an audience which can feel incredible.
Speaking of gigging, can we be expecting a UK tour soon?
Yep. There should be lots of dates over the coming year!
What does 2014 hold for Tom the Lion?
Hopefully lots of touring and music making. And then probably more touring… And then maybe a holiday? Somewhere hot..
A special thanks to Tom the Lion for this interview and for more info on Tom, please check out the following links below.