I’m Not From London Introduces Tom King with his spellbinding gospel vocals of 18 year-old, singer songwriter and former winner of BBC 2’s Chorister of the year 2014. Tom has a released a stunning must see music video to newly released song ‘No Mans Land.’ No Mans Land is an emotional and dramatic follow up to Why Are You Here? This was an experimental song that was self-released last year on Spotify, where it soon gathered attention being streamed 30,000 times in the first month, the song has now reached 200,000 streams over the past year.
Tom’s voice in No Mans Land immediately stands out and you can’t help but pay close attention to the emotive lyrics and harmonies. The acoustic track sets the atmosphere of heartbreak and builds an intensity that allows Tom’s voice to truly shine and convey the message of the song beautifully. The chorus is catchy and combined with the layering of the harmonies, it stays in your head and before you know it your singing along. The harmonies were layered and backed which added an extra dimension to the song that I feel really added to the vibe of the song.
No Mans Land music video was produced in two days with legendary director Pedro Romhanyi who has famously directed Pulp’s Common People and Blur’s Parklife. The video to No Mans Land was a genius concept with its simplicity to the poignant timing of the release. The idea of it being recorded in Tom’s home creates the atmosphere of loneliness and isolation that is relatable to not only relationships but to that of lockdown we’re all experiencing today. When I first saw the video I may have been struggling a little with lockdown as I felt the power of the video with the delivery of Tom’s body language and his haunting vocals. Tom looked like he was reliving the events that had caused him so much pain this was a tender and honest performance that captures the emptiness experienced when a relationship ends.
Tom has been involved in music for most of his life having been a member of Guilford Cathedral Choir, having won a prestigious accolade Chorister of the Year, as well as appearing on Songs of Praise and performing live on BBC Radio 2 and Radio 4.
Tom had expressed an interest in becoming an actor, however, mentor Harriet Starling recognised Tom’s talents when he wrote a song for his GCSE’s. Harriet encouraged him to pursue a career in music and introduced Tom to Paul Aiden Co-Writer on Why Are You Here? As well as the song No Mans Land.
Aged 18 Tom has a life ahead of him in the music industry and he is determined and full of ambition to release singles and eventually an album. Tom has not been deterred by lockdown as he used FaceTime to talk with Pedro to make his powerful music video.
INFL – Hi Tom, How are you?
TK – I’m good thanks and how are you?
INFL – I’m really good thanks. Thank you for speaking with me today.
TK – You’re welcome thank you for speaking with me too.
INFL – How did you get involved with music?
TK – I started with Guildford Cathedral Choir up until my voice started breaking. At 14 I started to write songs using logic on the computer and playing the piano, I started to produce my own songs. I practiced chords on the piano and experimenting with logic creating different music and trying to find my own style of music. I also studied GCSE Music and I’ve been studying for my Music A Level. Harriet Starling has been mentoring me and encouraging me to pursue a music career. I have a great team around me who are helping to progress my music career.
INFL – How different is it from the choir to producing your own music?
TK – The biggest difference is being able to make your own music without being told what to sing. I have taken a lot from the choir as I was taught music theory, how to order a song, how to read and write music and how to sing technically as well as perform. This has all helped for making my own music as I had gained the skills to go solo. It’s been a long process getting the stage where I’m at as I’ve grown and developed as a person and a musician. A big difference has been life experience as I’m able to make songs personal to me rather than just songs, as I hadn’t experienced a break up when I was younger. I wanted to make music that was personal and relatable as this makes the best music.
INFL – What are your musical influences?
TK – I would listen to Adel and sing her songs as it is all about her vocals, I find the voice is the most important to any song and the instruments are there to showcase the vocals rather than take all the attention.
INFL – I notice that there is a Sam Smith influence too.
TK – Yes absolutely, I was blown away listening to Sam Smith and I bring a part of Sam Smith’s gospel style and the way he uses harmonies. I use these gospel and harmony influences into my own way of singing. I study the techniques of the likes of Stevie Wonder and Luther Vandross to help shape the way in which I can use my vocals. I’m a fan of Billie Eilish too as she has great vocals which appeals to me because I focus on good singers.
INFL – When you’re not studying, writing or performing music who do you listen to?
TK – It depends on my mood really but I will listen to what is on the radio to see what is popular. I will look out for the artists with the best vocals like Adel or Billie Eilish.
INFL – Tell me about the first song you released Why Are you Here? Were you surprised by the response with 200,000 streams?
TK – Yes I was totally surprised at the response, within the first month I had 30,000 streams. I had no idea this was going to happen, I did this independently without a record deal. I didn’t even promote the release other than through friends and family, so it was a total shock to get so many people listening to my music. I got tagged on Instagram by a young girl dancing to my song and it was a great feeling that people are relating to my music and feel they can reach out and tag me in their posts. It was also a weird feeling at the same time, as I didn’t think this would happen.
Why Are You Here? Came about when Harriet introduced me to Paul Aiden Co-Writer and during our first session we experimented with sounds using a guitar and lyrics and it all fell into place and it felt natural working together. It was the first time I’d worked with anyone in this way for my music. I was happy with the outcome and knew that I wanted to release it. Prior to the release Harriet Starling had spoken to me about not getting our hopes up to the response. We didn’t know it would blow up and be so popular.
INFL – Tell me about No Mans Land, how did it come about and why did you release it during lockdown?
TK – No Mans Land was supposed to be released before lockdown and there was talk of a record deal but this didn’t go through, so I did it anyway and I’m still independent. I’d been sat on it for over a year and it got to the point where I just wanted it out there. When I made this song it was with Paul and it was our second session together. I knew exactly what I wanted to do and how I wanted it to sound. I wanted to bring my gospel style to this song and my strong harmonies. Paul and I worked on it and produced a song that I’m very proud of.
The music video was recorded on my laptop at home and I sent the footage through to Pedro who directed me via FaceTime and we put it together in the space of two days. It all happened very quickly and it was great to work with Pedro, he was very unassuming and professional.
INFL – What is it like having to wait so long to release your music?
TK – It is difficult as the anticipation is a struggle at times, especially as the release date gets closer as I feel a bit worried about when it goes out, as well as relief and excitement. It can also feel anti-climatic when I’ve said to friends that I’m releasing new music and they are like ‘I’ve already heard it’ as I play my music to them a long time before it is released.
When my music is released it is weird that my parents get to hear about my experiences and my feelings. As they often don’t know that I had felt that way and that the songs are so personal. My family and friends are very supportive of me, and my music career.
INFL – Your music is very personal, how do you start to write the songs and where do you get the inspiration?
TK – It is important to me that the music I write is personal to me it can be difficult at times and I do get writers block. I write notes on my phone as memories come back to me or ideas come to my thoughts. I write when the emotions arrive to me as I feel them but I also tap into a memory to get the emotions I’m after for a song. It can be difficult when I’m happy and in a good place because the emotions aren’t there for the types of songs I want to make. Tom joked it is good that I’m not sad or upset but terrible for writing songs with emotion. I think that the freshness and rawness of feelings make the best songs as that is how you feel in that moment. I find writing very cathartic and a positive way of dealing with painful experiences and relationships. It is also relatable for others to hear when they go through similar experiences.
INFL – How would you describe your music for those who don’t know your music?
TK – I would describe myself as being a singer songwriter who has a focus on vocals with a heavy gospel harmony influence. I don’t know about labels or genre as such but I would say that my music is mostly sad and emotional as well as soulful.
INFL – What are your plans for the future?
TK – Well I’ve practiced a live stream to my friends and family and I plan to do a live stream gig in May for everyone to listen to. I plan on writing as much material as possible. I plan to release more singles in the coming months but overall I plan to be able to make an album. When lockdown is over I plan to do lots of live shows and gigs and promote my singles to a live audience.
INFL – Thank you again for your time, it was a pleasure to speak to you and find out about your new music. I wish you all the best and I look forward to your future releases. Take care and all the best.
TK – Thank you as well for speaking to me. Thank you that’s nice of you. You take care too.
Go Check out No Mans Land by Tom King
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Article By Rich Clark of Harrogate Photography