Following on from our Issue 11 preview last week, we wanted to further tease you with a few interview extracts from Tom Odell's inspiring interview in his Autumn/Winter '16 cover feature. After being taken away to somewhere else by his performance of songs from his new album 'Wrong Crowd' at Islington Assembly Hall, Editor-in-Chief, Cecilie Harris, sat down with the talented musician to discuss his innate harmony with music
It’s clear that his talent comes from a place of truth. Lost in conversation, Tom and Cecilie speak about the impact of music and the importance of being in a place of clarity whilst creating - zoning out from oneself is ironically the easiest way to unravel true emotion. During his compelling interview, it becomes clear why Tom's performance on stage fully exposes his vulnerability. Tom’s music isn’t just catchy, it’s personal. With songs that touch on personal experience; from wide-eyed grins to first loves and their inevitable heartbreaks, his charisma comes from his aura of openness and ability to stay true to who he is. As a musician he has an ability to draw the blinds on time itself and engulf you in his private world. We all need that small daily escape; even if it’s just for the duration of a song.
To see the 8-page print feature, photographed by Cecilie Harris and styled by David Nolan, and read the full interview, Issue 11, ‘Imagined Songs', is available to buy online and in stores here.
Who is Tom? Behind the public mask.
Gosh, I don't know, I feel that anything I say will seem self-indulgent haha. So much reflection going on here. I guess everyone will have a different view; from my girlfriend to my best friend to my mother and my father, my cat, you and maybe someone that listened to a song yesterday that I wrote. I don't see me, and I think that's important isn't it? Not to see yourself. The happiest times of my life are when I'm totally unaware of myself, when I'm no longer and I just experience. Perhaps the most joyful moments are the ones when you are no longer 'I', and you're part of something. Like when you lose yourself and become with the world whilst meditating, or when you're with your girlfriend hugging late at night, you're no longer simply one person. You intertwine with that person and feel together. The same applies to music, which allows you to become totally un self-aware and together with the music - you float. The moments that I most search for, and I think most of us search for, are those moments when you're no longer 'I'. When I'm performing, whether it's a big band, a small band or just me; I become one with the piano and almost with the audience. It's a total shared experience and that's what is so magical about it.
It is so lovely to sit here and chat to you after you left me with such an amazing experience at your Islington gig.
Thank you! This is great tea by the way, it's fantastic. It was very important to me that we did shows before the new album came out. I wanted people to hear the songs live first, and allow some of my closest fans to really experience my new music in an intimate environment. They have been so supportive over the past years and I wanted to make sure everything was perfect. The new album is very cinematic, dramatic and much richer musically, so we used silhouetted lighting to really create an experience where the audience feels the tension. You have to take the audience on a journey to constantly keep their attention. It's gotta almost feel like everything might collapse at any moment; the piano might fall over, the lights might fall down or I might completely lose it. Then those ballad moments need to feel so emotional and deeply sad, you all might burst into tears at any moment. In order to get that performance, you know, that drama needs to be there and you need to feel like it's the last gig you're ever gonna play. Every note is sung with utter conviction and every hit of the snare drum is like the last, you know?
You are such a passion performer. I’m not sure if you own the piano or the piano owns you?
You shut your eyes and you’re transported somewhere - somewhere else. With the piano it’s almost a fight, like trying to tame a wild beast or something. You push it to its limits and then you transform into this creature; the piano and you. Words cannot express how much joy I get from being able to play. Actually, I’ll probably sit down for half an hour this evening before I do the show later. To feel the music come up through your knees from underneath the piano - it’s so wonderful.
I felt like you created your own little universe whilst on stage.
When I was performing the first album it was very introverted, and the performance was much more centred around those intimate moments that were in the show you saw - the piano moments. On ‘Wrong Crowd’ it’s much more about the exploration of different feelings and expressions you can make with music and performance. There are a few songs on the album like ‘Concrete’, which is in a way a sensual song, where it was interesting to push even further and play with the sort of sexuality of it as well when performing it.