Tom Misch is one of the more promising young artists coming out of the London beat scene, which is bursting from the seams with limitless talent and imaginative musicians; making his continued rise to the forefront even more impressive. Channeling his love for beautiful chord progression and never ending appetite for new sounds, songs, and ideas into each fiber of the complex musical tapestries he crafts, the young Briton creates like no other. Equal parts meticulous, seasoned, naïve and experimental, Misch’s music cannot be easily classified or labeled—only thoroughly enjoyed.
After a number of close calls and failed attempts, Earmilk was finally able to track Misch down. Even though the time difference was an incredible obstacle, the wonders of the internet allowed us to Skype and have a full conversation spanning his musical beginnings to his near future.
EARMILK: When I first discovered your soundcloud and twitter, there were only a small amount of people commenting or following you. Then, after the Soulection radio show, some of your songs play counts tripled and you had a lot more attention. How did that feel, such a quick turn around?
Tom Misch: Yeah, it was a number of things that kind of brought people attention to my music I think. The shout out from Joe Kay was one of them and it brought in some of the selection crowd, but it mostly picked up when my sister and I did a track called “Follow” and Majestic Casual put it on their YouTube channel.
It was very exciting the shout out from Joe Kay and having more people listen to my stuff etc., I think it probably gave me a lot of confidence with my music
EM: Were you originally nervous to step in front of a mic?
TM: Yeah I’ve always been quite an introverted guy and not always liked my voice, but my family has always pushed me to sing and so I did on a couple of tracks and I think I like my voice now. I think the main reason I started singing on my stuff is because I wanted to reach a wider audience.
EM: Personally I'm a fan of your voice, it has like a smoky lounge vibe to it, something you don't often find in a 19 year old. It’s really mellow.
TM: Haha thanks man. [I] think I wasn’t too keen at first cause it’s quite low and most singers, especially in the soul-r&b realm, have high voices, but now happy to sing in my range.
EM: It’s interesting, much more relaxing. I know you said in previous interviews that you got started listening to massive amounts of music on your way to 6 form (i have no clue what that means), which is similar to me. I took the bus and took that time to develop a relationship with my headphones and the albums that still mean a massive amount to me. What were some of the first records that you picked up?
TM: Agh ok yeah Six Form is like school for 2 years before Uni. I mean the first stuff I listened to was Red Hot Chili Peppers.. and Nirvana. I was listening to all those classic things u first play on guitar. [I’ve] been through a heavy metal stage and then got into blues.. and it’s been the last 4 ish years that I’ve really channeled in to the jazz, soul, world music hip hop, and folk stuff.
EM: What made you change directions in such a drastic way?
TM: My sister’s boyfriend at the time was heavily into his music and think he definitely showed me a lot of the stuff I listen to now. He also produces and so we thought about music in a similar way i think. Also I think I’ve always had a crazy obsession with chords and jazz and soul etc is heaven when it comes to chords. He showed me Dilla as well.
EM: I was going to say, during your explanation there wasn't a mention of hip hop or instrumentals, when did that start?
TM: Yeah, the hip hop instrumentals came with being introduced to Dilla about 5 years ago I would say and been obsessed ever since.
EM: In your earlier days you did a lot of remixes and recently you did the Busta Rhymes reworking, is that something you are going to continue and how do you pick the song to remix?
TM: yeah I mean I’ll always be making beats and if I can think something will work well with a well known acapella then I sometimes use it.
EM: So when did you make the decision to start crafting beats?
TM: I got a Mac so i could do some of the stuff at home and then just took to it really naturally. It gave me a platform to lay down ideas and that was really exciting
EM: Was that always the plan since you started working with logic?
TM: About 3 years ago, when I started music technology a level at 6th form.
EM: So, it seems like 6th form was a real transformative time for you?
TM: Yeah definitely, it was the first time where I immersed myself in music and have ever since. I also started digging for new music and discovered whole networks of genres and stuff I like.
Also I learned a tone about the music industry in the last 6 months, as I didn’t know anything before hand to be honest.
EM: You said you were obsessed with chords, which in some ways is evident in the arrangements you produce, but it also seems like you are obsessed with experimenting with various sounds. Your layering is fantastic, how do you go about creating soundscapes like 'Memory"?
TM: Thanks, yeah I like experimenting with sounds i find that exciting. I’m working on a beat this morning that I want to release soon and I’m using the weirdest Asian violin sound, but I think it works.
“Memory” started with a chord progression, just the piano. And then I added some drums if I remember correctly… left it for a couple of months, revisited it and started playing around with it adding new things… added the violins etc and started to put some structure into it, then decided to add a bit of singing so did that middle section and sent it to my manager, as I wanted to release free download
He said, “No, no. it’s very good people should pay for it.” So, it became my first single and first release on beyond the groove. For me making a track like “Memory” is like a bit of a maze it takes a bit of time to play around with ideas and shape the track.
EM: It was a complex track for sure, when i was trying to figure out how to describe it, there was like seven different things I could have possibly said that's my favorite aspect of it, same goes with "Journey."
TM: Ah ok glad you like it! They both were made in similar ways I think an idea, then leave it for a couple of months and revisit.
EM: does that happen to you often? You put it down and come back to it.
TM: Only recently really, I used to make a beat in a couple of hours and put it up on soundcloud. A lot of my beats on Beat Tape 1 are like that, but now i prefer to sleep on them and add to them. but still occasionally just like to make something and drop it
EM: I'm guessing that more people have reached out for your talents. Is there any change in your process when you produce for other people?
TM: Yeah people do reach out, mostly rappers. No, not a change really, but I have them in mind when I’m working with them. I think working with other people sometimes just brings out different things in me. For example I work with a singer songwriter who lives up my road, called Carmody, and when working with her my productions sound different to my solo stuff but it has a distinct sound still.
EM: does she literally live up the road?
TM: yeah haha
EM: that’s amazing haha, how did you guys meet up, was it school or something?
TM: Yeah, it’s pretty convenient. I’m friends with her younger sister and her family is like family friends. They’ve always been just up the road. About 5 years ago started doing little gigs with her, me just doing extra guitar, then when I started producing we did some tracks and that relationship has continued.
Our collaborative EP is dropping next month I think.
EM: Do you know when your official project is coming out?
TM: I’m not sure really. I really enjoy making tracks and just putting them out there once they’re done; I find it hard to hold thing back.
EM: your manager probably hates you for that
TM: Yep aha, but i would like to get a body of work out; one that I could perform live with a band at some point, but I’m in no rush.
I plan to do a Beat Tape 2 soon and then solo EP with singing etc.
EM: Look forward to it, thanks for the great conversation. Have a good time and good evening man