Interview with Tom Odell: Recent Single, “Flying :))” and Tour Life, Along with Downtime
Singer, songwriter, and musician Tom Odell was propelled straight to the forefront of the mainstream when his debut EP, Songs From Another Love, was released in 2012, catching mass attention and leading him to win a BRITs Critics Choice Award in 2013 and a place in BBC’s coveted “Sound Of” list. Between 2013 and 2018, Tom released platinum-selling debut albums, earned numerous accolades, and continued to develop his songwriting prowess. His dedicated work ethic became an obsession that culminated in crippling anxiety, leading to a dark period of mental health that Tom wrote his way through, leading to broader lyrical horizons and musical expansion.
Having fulfilled his major label record deal with Columbia Records in 2021, Tom is now an independent artist, armed with a newfound sense of freedom and creative control. This new era of Tom’s career sees him take the focus off hooks and strategy and instead create an environment where his audience can sit with the music and breathe. The result is a work of minimalist beauty, comprising just Tom’s voice, a piano, and the occasional creak of a stool. His releases this year include “Sad Anymore,” “Best Day of My Life,” and “Flying :)).” He has also released official remixes for “Best Day of My Life” from Locus and Luca Schreiner.
Having first met Tom at The Governors Ball 2022 back in June, it was a pleasure to reconnect with him for the following interview.
The challenge is to become comfortable with falling, which is so hard when everything around us to telling us to panic.
Thanks so much for chatting with us today, Tom. I know you recently finished the first leg of your European tour, so I expect you’re quite exhausted but also exhilarated. What has been a favorite memory of yours from this past month?
It was a magical tour. There is nowhere better than Europe in the summertime. What a joy to get to travel around and make music in front of people 🙂
Stepping back from your current-day career, I want to talk about the rise of your career. Your debut EP, Songs From Another Love, came out in 2012. As you reflect on the last decade of your career, how have you grown as an artist? How has your sound evolved or your songwriting changed?
I’ve had lots of success and lots of failure over my career. I’ve put songs out which people seem to love, and others which resonate with no one. I rarely look back, but when I do, some of them I think are great and well written and others I think are rubbish. But what I can say with total confidence is that I’ve never put a song out that at that moment I didn’t believe in with my whole heart. And what I’ve learnt is that that is all that matters. My last record, Monsters, is a brutal record, it’s abrasive and f***ing dark and jumps all over the place, but that’s exactly how I felt at the moment I made it, so I feel proud of it. My record coming out later this year is completely different, it is peaceful and I think much more beautiful. Do I like it or hate it now? That’s irrelevant. Is it honest to that moment? Yes. And that’s all I can do as an artist.
I’m not sure if I’ve grown as an artist.. I certainly would like to hope so. But maybe change would be a better word. There is a naivety we have when we first start which we can never get back. A sort of innocence which lends itself very well to making something unique! But with a decade of experience comes a clarity of why I make music. So I sit at the piano much less confused than I did. And I feel braver than ever. I care less what people think. I care more about my fans than ever. Without their love and support I would have given up years ago.
Your songs are known for being very emotive and raw. Can you share how music has helped you through some of your more challenging emotional times in life?
I certainly sing about things in my songs that I would find very difficult to say in real life. It’s cliched, but I do feel like my songs are a diary that I share with the world. I turn to them when I am suffering, and being a human being there has been plenty of that! I can’t imagine the person I would be today if were not for the piano. I’ve been making up songs since I was 7 years old. I’m 31 now. I really do wonder whether I would have made it this far without music. Thank god my beautiful grandmother took me to piano lessons!!
Let’s talk about your recently released single, “Flying :)).” There’s a duality of emotions that back the writing, from the reflection on life to the feeling of flying. What was the inspiration behind this track?
I’m not sure where Flying came from, it was written very quickly, and Laurie Blundell (long term collaborator) and I really tried to get out of the way. Sometimes that’s best. Let the song be whatever it wants to be. I like flying. If I was granted one superpower it would certainly be to fly like a bird. I read a quote the other day and I’m probably misquoting but it was something like ‘life is like endlessly falling through the sky, however you never hit the ground’. I like that. I think that is an accurate description. The challenge is to become comfortable with falling, which is so hard when everything around us to telling us to panic.
What is it you hope to share with listeners through your music, particularly given that your minimalist approach focuses attention on your lyrics?
I’m not sure. But at the core of it would always be honesty. Was it Shakespeare that said his job was holding a mirror to the world? That’s a wonderful way to put it. Holding a mirror up to the world. I would say the best art tells you something you have known your whole life, but needed reminded of. That’s what the best art to me is anyway. But I guess art will always have multiple uses. It’s been both saddening and inspiring to see my song Another Love getting used by Ukrainians on social media to express their love for their country, and their anger! None of the lyrics have anything to do with Ukraine, but there must be something there, between the lines, between the notes of the melody, that resonates with their suffering. I’m so humbled by that. The best we can do as musicians or artists is just create something honest to us, and the world will do the rest.
Keeping to your minimalist approach, you’ve performed on large festival stages with just yourself and your piano. How do you think that affects the ambiance of your set and the connection with your audience?
I like doing both. I just did a whole North American tour with Max Clilverd (long time collaborator) who plays pedal steel and guitar. It was very minimal. When people are very quiet and the mood is right, it can be so magical. It is very dependent on the venue though. The next time I come to North America I’ll bring the full band though, as I love doing raucous band shows in the states. The venues are perfect for it and I feel like there’s something about touring the states with my band in one of those silver tour buses that just inspires me so much.
You’ve been on tour since February and will wrap it up in October. How do you maintain your sanity while you’re constantly on the go?
I meditate every day. I write a lot. I exercise as much as I can. I read. And still I’m always right on the edge.. haha.. But maybe that’s the thrill of it. Being on the road is an emotionally charged place. Maybe it’s the lack of sleep, missing my girlfriend.. who knows.. But maybe that’s what makes the shows, it’s being in that state. I often will have a moment during the shows when I have to pause because I find myself feeling it a bit too much. It’s always a fine line. You don’t wanna feel nothing, but you don’t wanna go too deep in, as it can f*** you up going there every night.
You do have a bit of a break coming up through about mid-September. What will you be doing with your off-tour time?
I’m gonna go to my favourite place in Spain and zone out for a couple weeks. I’ve just bought that book A Little Life and I’m already hooked, it’s wonderful. I’ve got a lot of music coming out over the next few months, and we are doing lots of shows. But I’ve got to say, I’ve never felt more inspired than right now. I’m f***ing flying :))
Is there anything else you would like to share with us today?
Go tell your friends you love them. And remember to drink lots of water. Thank you for the lovely interview xxx
For our readers outside of the states, be sure to catch Tom on the second leg of his European tour! He’ll be making stops in Hungary, Croatia, Italy, and more. You can find tour dates and buy tickets online: tomodell.com. As for our state-side readers, do not miss your opportunity to see Tom perform at Austin City Limits Music Festival! He’ll be there the second weekend, on October 15th…you just might find yourself happily in tears.
Glasse Factory - Tom Odell Drops Exquisite Piano-Lead Track Titled “Butterflies” Featuring AURORA4 months ago
[…] To hear “Butterflies,” listen through our Spotify link below and be sure to let us know if you love it as much as we do in the comments! P.S. Check out our rad interview with Tom Odell here. […]