Meet London’s Most-Prominent 18-Year Old Beat-Maker
An Interview with Tom Misch.
If you have SoundCloud and a heart, you've likely already fallen in love with the work of London song-maker, Tom Misch. If you have SoundCloud and a heart, you're also likely to know very little about him and nobody's blaming you. I linked with Tom over Skype one sunny Saturday morning, completely unsure what to expect. Quite luckily for all of his fans, he's just as sincere as his music.
THUMP: When did you first start making music?
Tom: Well my dad forced me into playing the violin when I was about three and it all started from there. I went to Suzuki for violin lessons, and you learn to play by ear instead of reading music. The teacher would play me something and I'd just copy it. I started playing guitar when I was nine and just fell in love with that—I've been playing nonstop ever since.
I started producing when I was in sixth form (high-school). I was doing music tech as a subject and learned how to use Logic Pro and that's when I kind of had a platform to put my ideas on. It all just went from there.
Do you still use Logic?
Yeah, I don't really have a need for any other software.
What instruments can you play? When I'm listening to one of your tracks, how much is you and how much is artificial?
The guitar is real, so is the singing. The bass is me, and violin of course. I use a lot of clapping and that sort of thing, but then I use Logic for some nice piano sounds and stuff like that.
Is there a specific creative process when you start a track? Do you have to put yourself in a certain mindset or have any routines?
To be honest, I don't have a particular recipe, but I normally start with the chord progression and then I build it from there. I listen to a lot of jazz, so the chords are really important to me. The stuff that I make comes out quite differently every time.
How did you get involved with Carmody?
Well, I've been writing with her for about five years and we'd been doing little gigs before I got into producing. It would be guitar, singing folky stuff. Then I got into producing and we started writing songs on Logic.
Were you surprised at how well "The Last Song" was received?
Definitely, yeah. The fact that it went up on Majestic Casual obviously meant that it would get a lot of exposure, I guess I was pretty surprised. I didn't particularly like it at first, to be honest. It's quite a poppy track, you know.
Is Carmody going to be featured on your upcoming EP?
I'm working on two EPs at the moment. My solo EP, which will be my singing and production, and one with Carmody, which is all-collaborative.
Is there a specific inspiration or theme to either of these releases?
No over-arching theme really, it's just showing the direction that I want to go in: song-writing, jazzy kind of hip-hop stuff. The Carmody EP is more song writing based though. She's an amazing writer so it will sound a lot more poppy.
If you could compare your sound to any other big artist, whom would you compare it to?
Production wise, it would probably be J Dilla, or a combination of Robert Glasper and Sampha. I'm not really sure of any one artist to compare myself to.
I wasn't aware that the beat-making scene in London was very big. Certainly not as big as cities like LA… are there many people you know of making music like yours?
Before I got into production, I didn't even know that there was a beat-making scene. Once I dug deeper I discovered more producers. It's not as big as the US, but there is definitely an underground hip-hop and beat-making scene.
How did you get involved with Soulection?
They sent me an email about five months ago and asked if I wanted to be a part of their white label series, and I jumped at the opportunity.
Was there a reason that you went instrumental?
With that EP I wanted it to be purely hip-hop production. With the song-writing EPs in the works, I wanted to let loose with a pure beat-making vibe.
Do you have any plans to play in North America in the near future?
I don't really envision myself touring worldwide anytime soon because I'm starting a jazz guitar degree in September and that's a four-year degree. I might not complete it, but it's definitely something that I want to do.
Have you been approached by any agents or managers?
Yeah, I have. Agents, managers, and A&R people, but there's not really much that I can do with school starting in September. It's something that I'm thinking about, but I'm quite school-oriented.
I remember you telling me some time ago that you don't DJ. How do you translate your songs into a live performance when a lot of your songs have electronic elements?
I'm very new to the whole scene so I haven't really done much with the live element. All of my live experience is from before I even had SoundCloud, so I still need to find a way to bring it all together. I'd love to translate the whole experience with a band and electronic elements in the near future.