Tom Grennan shot into the public sphere after featuring on Chase and Status’ single ‘When It All Goes Wrong’. Since then, he has released his own EP and has recently been on tour whilst he begins to plan his debut album. Listed on BBC MUSIC Sound of 2017 and set to play festivals such as Reading and Leeds, British Summer Time, TRNSMIT, and kicks off his own tour in early Autumn, this artist is one to watch. I caught up with him over a brief telephone call to talk about his music as food and the difficulty in defining his music.
How was the gig at the Union Chapel last night?
It was really good, it was really, really good. I had a bit of a sore throat then as well but, all in all, it was sick. It was definitely a big moment
It’s kind of ironic, because I was actually going to ask you how you look after your voice! Or if you have any routines for looking after your voice?
Yeah, I do, I do, I do! I just rest it, warm up, warm down but recently I’ve been in America. I just haven’t really had time to fully adjust back to the time zone. I haven’t stopped! I haven’t stopped singing
You’ve just released your second EP, you’ve been doing these gigs and you have your tour ready for Autumn. Do you more music plans in the works? Like another EP or an album?
Yeah I don’t know whether it’s another EP but I’m definitely planning an album. I don’t know when it will be out though, I don’t know when it will be recording but I’m planning!
What kind of direction do you want to go with it or any sounds?
I want a classic album, a classic sounding album. I don’t want none of this *raspberry noise* that’s the only way I can explain it, do you know what I mean by that though?
So you want something that is more like this is your debut album, it’s not like the ‘oh he’s just finally got out an album aw brill’ but then it’s poo?
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I want this to be a special album. It’s my first album. I want it to be loud instruments, I want it to be massive sounding.
I’d say you have quite a mature singing voice so who are your musical and vocal influences, if you have any?
I don’t really have any. I get asked this question all the time but I don’t really have any. I found my voice myself in a sense. I didn’t really listen to much music when I was growing up apart from the music that my mum and dad, well my mum, listened to; my dad didn’t really listen to much music apart from Irish music.
What kind of stuff did your mum put on then?
When I was really young it would have been like Queen, The Carpenters, Madonna…who else would she bang out? Elvis…loads of people, but then I listened to loads of grime music growing up. And then when I kind of like wanted to broaden my musical taste, if you want to call it that, I was listening to The Wombats, Arctic Monkeys, Two Door Cinema Club, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Craig Charles, but then like Amy Winehouse—I’d love to sound like… well I’d love to be able to do what she does with her voice but no one will be able to do that.
You definitely ride on the same soul wave as she does, for sure. In Soul music, if we going to put you into any sort of genre, there’s a storytelling vibe that I feel comes across. Especially in your track ‘This is the Age’.
Yeah that’s about my dad and that’s actually his voice in it at the end. Everyone’s always like what is that, but it’s my dad, that’s his voice.
Why do you choose to feature your dad?
Because he had a different life to me, and he’s a king. He’s a king of what he’s done, he’s my king, do you know what I mean? And yeah, he’s just a cool guy, everyone should know about him.
What else do you write about? How else do you get your ideas? How do you work it out?
Just stories basically, stories that I’ve heard, that I’ve been through, memories, friends, all that kind of stuff. But it’s just real life things.
What will your stories be now for the album, where will you draw from now?
I don’t know. Writing just happens for me. I don’t plan what I’m going to write about. I just sit at a guitar or sit at a piano with whoever and just write about whatever. I don’t plan it.
I’m not trivializing it, but do you think if you had a really good lunch that day, you could write a song about your really good lunch?
Maybe, if it’s really, really good, but if it was really, really bad I’d probably write about that as well. I reckon I could do that. I had a really good fishfinger sandwich today so I might go home and write one about that.
If you were to describe your music or sound as a food, how would you describe it?
I try not to eat meat right now, but I’d say like when I did, it’s like that first bacon sandwich in the morning after a really big drinking session or that family Sunday roast dinner.
I feel like they’re two different sides
Exactly, and that’s what I’d describe it as. Or maybe just a pack of Fruitellas.
Any particular flavour?
Yeah, strawberry obviously, or apple actually. Where are you from?
Milton Keynes, but I’m studying in London
That’s jokes, I’m from Bedford
I know! I saw you’re from Bedford and I was like ‘why does he have such a London accent’?
Dunno…dunno. It’s probably because I’ve been here now like 3 years or whatever. I pick up on things pretty quick. I dunno, but you sound like you’re from here as well
Yeah but we’re not far from each other really to be honest
No we’re not. What Uni do you go to?
Queen Mary, like Mile End, East End.
I went to St Mary’s.
I saw! I did a quick Google
Yeah right, you did a quick google innit
Of course, of course! Let’s be honest! No, but I have actually been listening to your music because I saw your name pop-up, who’s this kid? Let’s check him out…So how would you describe your music in a non-food way to someone who hasn’t listened to it before? I was kind of struggling too..
Thank-you, I appreciate that….. Yeah, you know what, I get asked this question, but I don’t know what it is. It’s Tom Grennan. And that’s the only, without me sounding like I’m trying to be this big person, but it is me. I don’t know what genre it is, whether it’s soul, whether it’s indie…
Even on the EP there’s a massive difference between ‘Patience’ and then ‘Praying’ and this is an EP, but all these different things are coming across, but it is Tom Grennan. If you sang on something else I’d still be like ‘yeah, that’s Tom Grennan’
Yeah, it’s mad, I wouldn’t really know but I’d just say it’s Tom Grennan. Ha!
For your Autumn tour, or just generally in the rest of 2017, what are you looking forward to?
Loads of festivals, I can’t wait for Reading and Leeds, doing KOKO in London, September
Yeah! Have you been there before?
Yeah, it’s a sick venue, are you going to come?
I hope so! I only saw today that you’re playing in it, I was like ‘might have to pop down there’
Yeah do it, bring your friends as well…what else am I looking forward to? Meeting you if you come to KOKO… who else am I looking forward to? New music! Can’t wait to get new music out there, and yeah I’m just looking forward to the next few years
If there was someone that you could work with on a track or an album, who would it be?
You know what, there was a song you did on the last EP and it was giving me Adele vibes
There are obviously other cool things I could chat to you about, but I know that I have to let you go to your next person, good luck with it!
Yeah I’ve got loads, it was lovely to talk to you, you’ve not been boring like a few of them, alright, cool, nice one.
To get tickets to Tom’s gig at KOKO go here: http://www.koko.uk.com/listings/tom-grennan-27-09-2017
To listen to his music on spotify go here:
To listen to the interview go here: