At only 19 years old, rising singer songwriter Tom King delivers a sound that is wise beyond his years and with the successful release of his debut EP, he’s already proving himself as a key player in the singer-songwriter space. We had the opportunity to sit down and have a coffee and a chat with Tom about his EP ‘Confessions of a Lonely Heart’ and how his background as a choralist has helped shape the artist he is today.
Firstly congrats on the release of your debut EP Confessions of a Lonely Heart – it’s a melodic triumph that demonstrates your maturity and lyrical honesty, and if you don’t mind me saying so, at just 19, your lyrics speak as if they are formed by someone much older, and the control you have over your overall sound is impressive for someone of your age, where do you think this mastery of songs comes from?
“I started writing with Paul Aiden, and it was literally just me and him in a room and I had never really written before, so we started off with basic production, just guitars and vocals until I got comfortable. Since then I’ve now done hundreds of writing sessions, and I think sometimes it’s difficult when you’re in a room with lots of writers and a producer and its and to get your ideas across and get the sound right, but that’s now something I’ve found that songs I end up liking the most are the ones that come from the sessions with just one other person so I can get my creative ideas across easier and work with them more collaboratively. When I’m writing a song I like to write with the producer together and really pick the sounds and be really involved as it’s my sound.”
You were part of the prestigious Guildford Cathedral Choir and won the Chorister of the Year Award at just 13, how do you think this experience shaped your current sound and the artist you are today?
“These are completely different worlds of music, I grew up in the choir where they have quite strict rules, lots of rehearsals and it really is hard work. We got taught all the technical aspects of music too such as learning theory and sight reading, which was tough but it has set me up so well with my musical knowledge and knowing how to write music with chord patterns and keys. I sometimes go into a studio session and sometimes as we’re jamming someone will ask what key we’re in and I can identify it by ear which often surprises people I’m working with. I guess I didn’t notice I was learning all this technical stuff but it has come in very handy.”
So would you say in terms of your process, do you like the structure of what you have been trained in or do you like a more free form?
“I am quite structured and regimented with my song writing, but nowadays pop music is becoming a lot more free form so I do struggle with that at times but I believe it’s also one of my strengths because I can write a good structured song.”
You speak about Adele and Sam Smith being your idols, why do they form such an important reference point for you?
“I feel like Sam Smith was emerging when I was a younger teen, and they were a big role model for me because I felt I could relate to them, we’re both singers, musical theatre kids, and their music is something that resonates with me, not to mention I love their voice and personality. With Adele, she is one of those artists who has always been in my life with my Mum playing her in the car and I remember moments like hearing ‘Chasing Pavements’ on the radio. When she released ‘25’ it was a huge inspirational record for me.”
Often artists such as Sam Smith will dabble in the world of dance music before settling into their stride with big power ballads, was it a conscious decision that your sound was less dance and more piano ballad?
“I think I went into every session wanting to write a piano ballad and then I often felt the need to try something new so I have done some lo-fi bedroom pop stuff, some dancy stuff, some EDM basically to try loads of different things and I think there’s always room for improvement so you never know when the right song is going to come so I try to be open minded and try new things.”
You say your EP is like a confessional of unrequited love you experienced in school, do you feel it helped you resolve your own personal issues and how do you think it may help others?
“It has definitely helped, I’ve moved on from those situations now and it’s good because I’m not as sad, but it’s bad because I now don’t have anything to write about (laughs). It’s been therapeutic, and there’s a lot of things I’ve talked about to writers about in sessions that I haven’t even spoken to my friends about.”
Do you find that with penning your feelings and thoughts down in song form that now when you perform them or listen back, you have to relive these experiences over and over?
“I do but it’s like a little time capsule and its nice because I get to go back to the sessions where I wrote the tracks and so they are now layered with newer, better memories.”
My personal favourite track from the EP is ‘Freedom’, the song is an honest account of how love can feel all encompassing, but I’m interested to know how a song like this is formed in your mind and how it ends up as the finished version it is now?
“That song I literally didn’t have any plan going into the session. I remember the session was in North London so it took me ages to get there, and when I arrived, George Moore and I had a chat and he had a piano idea and he played to me, I instantly loved it but was then sat on the sofa with no ideas for lyrics and suddenly I started with the verses and then the chorus just popped out and a fully formed vision of this churchy gospel vibe song.”
Excitingly, you’re playing your debut UK show at Laylow in February next year, but performing is an entirely different way of connecting music to audience, any exclusives for what we are to expect from the show?
“I’ve done a couple small gigs recently and they’ve been so much fun, I am musical theatre kid at heart so I love getting up and performing so naturally I cant wait for the headline show, I’m getting all my friends there with everyone singing along.”
We are excited to continue watching this powerhouse of song writing talent continue to flourish in the industry and we can’t wait for his show in February. You can stream Toms EP ‘Confessions of a Lonely Heart’ on all major music streaming services and you can follow Tom King @tomkingmusic