Interview: Tom Read

Feb 03 2020

Tom Read has been releasing a string of singles lately, most recently the track 'Falling', ahead of the release of his new EP 'Reorient' which comes out in March. Louder Than The Music caught up with Tom to find out more about the forthcoming EP and how he is changing his approach to releasing music in order to adapt to the way people now consume music.

What can you tell us about your latest release 'Reorient EP’?

This EP follows on from my previous EP called LAMENT that was released in 2018. The title REORIENT is inspired by a book by Walter Brueggemann that offers a framework for understanding the whole book of Psalms. He views the Psalms in three main catergories: Orientation, Disorientation, and Reorientation. The songs on the Lament EP all fell within the ‘Disorientation’ category, and focused on finding God in the pain, suffering, and mundaneness of life. With this new EP, I felt like I wanted to continue on that journey of coming out of Lament and disorientation, an into reorientation. It’s almost as if my life and faith is righting itself after being capsized. The songs on this EP tell that story in different ways.

Which is you favourite Track off this new EP?

I really love the simple message of the song 'Thank You' that I co-wrote with Josh Gauton. In an age where we are bombarded with messages constantly telling us that we’re not enough and that we need more, it’s important to step back and reflect on the things we already have. I recently noticed that we sing a lot of songs asking for things, but not as many songs expressing gratitude for what we already have. We might not have all the words to describe how we feel, but we can adopt a posture of gratitude and sing "Thank you".

You have pushed out three singles before the EP, why do it this way?

It’s the first time that I’ve tried this approach of releasing the songs as singles first. For better of worse, the music industry is much more focused on singles than on albums. I don’t think the album will ever go away, but with the way people consume music now on streaming platforms it makes a lot of sense to put out your music as singles, and it gives you more chance to get playlisted on platforms like Spotify.

In your opinion how has the music Industry changed over the years?

Following on from what I’ve just said, I think that the industry is more favoured now to artists who are constantly able to put out music and grow their following online, rather than artists that only release music every couple of years. Since no one is buying music anymore, and streaming pays so little, artists have had to adapt to making their money in music from other ways, whether it’s through getting your songs on a TV show or movie soundtrack, or creating more merch and playing live. There’s always ways to support yourself as an artist, but it takes some adaptability and a lot of work.
On the flip side, it’s exciting because it’s never been easier to put out your own music, so we are seeing so much new music and so many new exciting artists that you would probably never get to hear if it was only down to record labels putting out music.

Does it get harder writing fresh new songs. ?

I don’t think so. It doesn’t necessarily get easier though either. Writing songs is a discipline and a muscle that requires regular exercise. I think it you’re constantly writing then it’s not hard to come up with new ideas and fresh songs. The songs of this latest EP are a combination of some songs that have been written more recently, like 'Thank You' and ‘Borderless’, and other songs that have been kicking around for a few years such as ‘Falling’ and 'Search The World'.

Your 2018 release 'Lament' is amazing, where you happy how this album was preserved ?

I was really happy with the whole EP and how it was received. It was sort of my reintroduction as an artist, after my debut album Compass was released back in 2012, and it felt great to come back with a new sound and a bunch of new songs. I feel that where I’m at now, both lyrically and sonically, is the most authentic and comfortable that I’ve ever been able to be as an artist. That’s huge thing because insecurity and doubt can plague you as a creative person, so it feels great to really know who I am and be confident in that.

If you could work with any songwriter, who would it be and why?

The person in music that I’d most like to work with is Quincy Jones. His work with Michael Jackson in the 80s and 90s was just phenomenal and hasn’t really been matched. He’s in his 80s and he’s still just as sharp as ever. Working with him would be a dream. In terms of songwriters, I really love the way Chris Martin writes songs. There are no throw-away songs with him, and he seems to be able to hone right in to the emotion of the song. I think 'Fix You' is one of the best modern songs ever written.

How would you describe your style of music and what are your influences?

I think it’s getting harder and harder these days to describe music styles. Genres are so fluid and there’s so much crossover happening between different genres that it kind of doesn’t matter as much anymore. I’ve always thought that really great music transcends genres anyway. For what I’m releasing at the moment, it feels like it sits somewhere in the indie/alternative world. Both EPs were produced by Henry Marsden who has an incredible musical ear. Jonny Bird also had a lot of input into the songs which has also helped to shape the sound. In terms of influences, it’s funny because my own stuff doesn’t necessarily sound like the music that I listen to. My favourite albums and artists from last year were Kevin Garrett, which is kind of smooth r&b-soul type stuff; LÈON, which is really good pop; and Kings Kaleidoscope, which is quite alternative and quirky. I don’t think my music sounds like any of them though.

How would you define success in your career?

Success for me is definitely about being able to enjoy what I spend my time doing. Music is my biggest passion and I’m fortunate enough to be able to spend most of my time doing it in various different forms. From a non-career point of view, I think success can be defined by the type of husband, father, and friend I am. If the people closest to your life don’t think much of you then you probably haven’t succeeded, no matter how many accolades you have.

What is your favourite album of all time?

I mentioned Quincy Jones earlier, and I’d probably say that Michael Jackson’s ’Thriller’ has had the biggest impact on me both as an artist and producer. No matter how many times I listen to it, I still hear new things. Bille Jean probably has the greatest intro to a song of all time!

You're stuck on an island, it's hot, you only have enough battery life left to listen to one song on your phone. What track is it?

Probably Bohemian Rhapsody. There’s enough in that one song to keep me going for a while!

What does the next year hold for Tom Read ?

My EP comes out in March, and then I’ll be following that up with an acoustic EP that I’ve recorded and produced myself. I’m also planning to do a small house tour around the UK where I’ll be able to play some of the songs live in an intimate setting. If anyone’s interested in hosting me in their house for an event then get in touch!

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