We’re fortunate to have a lot of new music come our way at Sync, plenty of it superb. But it’s rare that you get ‘that feeling’ when you hear a voice; the feeling that it simply has to hit the big time. That’s certainly what sprung to mind on first listen of Tom Walker‘s masterpiece Blessings.
The song is also the title track of a debut EP (released in May) that shows the versatility of his vocals, lending them with equal aplomb to stripped back ‘pure’ songs as well as more uptempo and highly produced tunes.
With a London headline show at Omeara and a slot at Glastonbury under his belt in recent weeks, the Scotland-born 25-year-old’s star is most certainly in the ascendancy, so we decided we simply had to find out more about Tom…
SYNC: Tell us a bit of the background to the Tom Walker story and how your musical passion first developed?
TOM WALKER: I’ve always been around music since I was super-young, my dad is well into music and has always made sure I’ve had both a good and varied taste. The playing bit came a little later when I got my first electric guitar and became obsessed. After that it was drums and a bit of piano. I was never really that good at anything else so thought it was something I should try at university. I never really thought I’d have the chance to turn it into a career so I’m proper grateful for it.
SYNC: Your sound comes across to us as both old school and super fresh at the same time. What has the journey to finding your very unique vocal style been like, and what factors have helped you along the way?
WALKER: It definitely didn’t come to me straight away. I wrote some terrible songs to start with and stumbled upon my voice at uni during a writing project where I needed someone to sing a track and couldn’t find anyone last minute so had to do it myself. There’s been some key people that have helped along the way in writing sessions and bits of advice, and I suppose singing and writing constantly now for the past two years has led to me developing my own little characteristics and finding a sound that works for me.
SYNC: Blessings is such a very special song. How long was it in the making, and did you get a sense when writing and recording it that it could resonate with so many people?
WALKER: I wrote that over a year ago now, it came out really naturally but then we tried to record it a couple of times and never really found the magic that the song needed. At the start of this year, I was introduced to Jim Abbiss (who has produced Arctic Monkeys and Adele). He immediately got my vision for the track so we locked ourselves away for a couple of days and tried to make that vision come to life. I think we hit the nail on the head and really captured the soul of what that song is supposed to be.
Tom Walker – Blessings
SYNC: How did the collaboration with Naughty Boy on Heartland come about? Who else would you particularly like to work with in the future?
WALKER: I was lucky enough to have the chance to go down to his studio and do some writing with the guys down there. I didn’t expect him to be around but he turned up and we just really hit it off. Heartland was born out of that, we just wrote whatever we felt and never put the pressure on ourselves to write a hit. What came out is what you hear and we’re so proud of it.
SYNC: How would you describe your own songwriting process? What do you feel are the elements that enable your songs to convey such emotion and feeling?
WALKER: It changes depending on how I’m feeling, sometimes the tracks sort of write themselves and others I have to really think about or even go back to finish and tweak bits. Generally, however I’m feeling in the exact moment of writing is what the song reflects, I suppose that’s the whole point of songwriting though – I like it to be as honest as I can make it and hopefully people connect with that in some way.
Tom Walker – Heartland
SYNC: This year feels like it has already been a big one for you and with lots of festivals still to come. What has been your highlight so far and what are you particularly looking forward to over the coming months?
WALKER: It’s been mental, If you had told me this time last year I never would have believed that I would go from driving myself to gigs in my beaten up VW Fox to travelling the world playing to hundreds of people each night. It is just a dream come true. I can’t really pick one moment but having the chance to support artists that I’ve always been a massive fan of is an amazing honour and playing headline shows to hundreds of fans, that have spent their time and money just to come and see me, is something I’ll never take for granted. I just hope they enjoy it as much as I do!
SYNC: Finally, what are the plans for the rest of 2017 – we gather there is another headline show in London later in the year?
WALKER: More music, more shows. My next headline date is 26 September at Oslo in Hackney, London (tickets here). Tickets are flying out the door already so it’s definitely going to be one to remember. There’s plenty coming up so keep your eyes on my socials (@iamtomwalker) over the coming months to keep up-to-date on it all.
Tom Walker – Blessings (Glastonbury Session, BBC)