Tips 2013: Tom Odell

Meet Tom Odell, one of The Music Fix's Top Tips for 2013. What's so special about this guy you ask? Well, let's start with his ability to go from a whisper to a roar in a heartbeat, his prodigious piano playing, his beautiful and passionate songs - not to mention his lovely face and charming personality!

On the night of his recent opening slot for rising star Jake Bugg at Manchester's Club Academy, Odell chatted amiably about his musical inspirations, Lily Allen, and what he wants for Christmas....

How did you get into music?

I always played the piano. I learnt when I was about seven. I’d go home from school and I’d always play the piano. I had lessons to start with...

So your parents never had to bully you into practicing?

They were going to give my sister lessons and she didn’t want them, so I begged them to have them. I think I was around seven and I remember when I started playing I didn’t want to stop.

I guess all my music comes from that. I listen to a lot of music. Started listening to my parents’ record collection, and it sort of grew from there. Started out listening to Elton John, Leon Russell...I always come back to piano players, I don’t know why. Something in the way you can play the piano and sing, superior to the guitar, something about it.

Is your family musical?

No, none of them.

So you’re kind of the odd one out?

My sister, my mum and dad, none of them play any instruments. My grandmother plays the piano. Both my grandmothers play piano. Actually my great-great grandmother was a concert pianist! So I think that’s where it comes from.

So you spoke a bit about your early influences, who did you listen to?

When I moved to Brighton I started listening to a lot more music and I really got into Cat Power, and then also Arcade Fire, Beach House. I love Beach House! Also some older artists like Tom Waits, and Leonard Cohen...lots of artists really, and Bruce Springsteen as well, that’s been a later thing.

But I’ve never really had one artist that I’ve listened to obsessively. I always go back to Elton John, Billy Joel, but like the-80s, the 70s era Elton John - Honky Chateau, Mad Man Across The Water. Early 70s artists are my biggest influence. Just because of the volume of music they put out! I hope music goes back that way. And it feels like we’re going back that way. I mean The Vaccines have been saying recently that they’ve been going back to that...

They followed up their last album really quickly. They were saying everyone can do it - why sit around and just wait?

Why sit around? I think [there's the perception] you have to. Few people are having like big records now, it’s much more diverse, and I think there is definitely a positive side to that. I want to release a record every year, I would love to do that if I could. It keeps things fresh.

Everything is so instantaneous, and people are so fickle, and few artists can have the liberty to stay away for three years and come back and still have that fan base.

I don’t think you should have the liberty. It’s interesting, just having put the EP out, we put four songs, the amount of comments and messages I get from people saying we want more music. I think people want, from all artists now, they want more music.

You’re signed with Columbia and have just released your EP 'Another Love'. How did that all come about? Did you send out demos or did they come to you?

I did that for quite a while, the whole demo thing. I lived in Brighton for a while, I did some demos. It’s funny because it’s, I mean you are looking for financial support but I wasn’t actively sending out to labels. I really wanted to make an EP and started commuting up to London searching for musicians to play with and we did some shows and a friend of a friend of Lily Allen heard it.

At one show there was about 10 people there, the following a few more people came and then at the next show Lily Allen was there and she had some input in Columbia and I got to know Lily a bit. That’s when I met some managers and stuff and I signed to didn’t feel that rushed, it felt like a gradual process. But yeah, Columbia’s a great label.

It’s like a classic label, I mean we were just talking about Dylan, and Springsteen, they’re on Columbia....

And The Vaccines...and Kasabian!

That’s right! All our favourites! You’ve been touring with Jake Bugg; how has that been? How’s the crowd reaction been?

Good. London was a bit tough. We did a show in Portsmouth at the start of the week which was really really cool. He’s really great to be on tour with, I mean you can feel it in the crowd, people are excited to see him. I reckon for most people it’s the first time they’ve seen him and it’s just a really exciting thing to be doing.

Speaking of Jake Bugg - looking at the success he’s had, it’s been really quick for him. Would you want that kind of success?

I don’t really think about how fast it’ll happen. It’s amazing to me when a person says to me they love the music, the songs got through to them. I’ve never felt that feeling before, it’s incredible. I’ve spent the last five years trying to write this’s a great feeling!

What are your plans after this tour finishes up? You’ve said the album’s done, it’e been recorded. When’s that due out?

April next year. But after this we will be doing a few more shows. I’ll have my first head line show in December. I’m quite busy up to Christmas. And then in the New Year I’m going to America. We’re doing a show in Los Angeles at the Troubadour Club. And the first single will be released in January.

As Christmas is fast approaching, what are you hoping to find under the tree?

It’s actually my birthday around then. I really want one of those guitars, it’s like an electric guitar with an amp in it, and you can just play it sitting down. A battery amplified guitar - that’s what I want!

Tom Odell's debut album will be out April 2013. His EP Another Love is out now. Visit him on his Facebook page, and Twitter

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