It is an amazing thing to discover an artist that inspires you, excites you and adds a unique flavour to a popular genre of music. It is even more amazing to be able to chat with such an artist and learn about their process. I have been following Tom Aspaul for quite a while now and I am constantly engaging with every piece of music he releases (I’m a stan), but I have recently had the opportunity to ask him some questions and find out more about the man behind the music. He has recently released his latest single ‘W.M.’ which we called “Upbeat, positive retro-futuristic disco at it’s finest”. I wanted to learn more about the track, and his upcoming album ‘Black Country Disco’. Here’s what he had to say:
Hi, how are you today?
Hiya! I’m okay thanks! I think by my calculations this is Day 18 of self-isolation, which in all fairness hasn’t felt like it’s been that long! I’ve mostly occupied myself. Today I recorded a live version of one of my songs for Instagram, I’m just churning out content!
Tell me about your new song, W.M and your upcoming album Black Country Disco.
The name ‘Black Country Disco’ refers to the area around where I grew up – the Black Country, which is famous for coal mines and manufacturing – I wanted to show it’s not all doom and gloom, to celebrate the place and the people. I want the album to be a short, sharp slap in the face, just nine songs, all three minutes long or thereabouts.
W.M is a big disco bop – pretty much the centerpiece of the album – which was mostly inspired by disco from the late 70s and early 80s. The name of the single stands for ‘West Midlands’ which is where I’m from – Wolverhampton specifically. I wrote it after I left London six months ago (after a break-up) and moved back in with my parents while looking for a new place. I always had a slight apprehension about telling people where I was from, it’s got a bit of a bad reputation as a post-industrial wasteland. Moving to London can sometimes give people a little bit of a chip on their shoulder (me included) and a tendency to be a bit smug and patronising to the people who remain behind. I totally admit to that – so initially moving back to the W.M felt like a defeat. But after a while, I rediscovered why I love it and what’s good about it. The song W.M encapsulates that. The album as a whole does too I think.
What was the first song you ever wrote?
I’ve always made up little melodies since I was a toddler, but my first proper song with lyrics and a structure was called ‘Taken’ and I was 9 or 10.
What was it like?
I wrote it on a Yamaha keyboard in my tiny council estate bedroom and it was based on the most obvious chord progression known to man. I could sing it now if you wanted me to!
What’s the music scene like back home?
I was never involved in it, to be honest! I just made songs and demos in my bedroom, played them to a few people, but didn’t really reach out beyond that, while I was living there. Then once I was in London, I guess the barriers came down and I would reach out to people a lot more and collaborate.
How would you describe your music in five words?
Which artists do you admire?
Someone totally out of my league but who I look up to is JLo. I’m obsessed with Jennifer Lopez! I admire her work ethic, I admire how far she’s got without being the best singer/actress/dancer – within the last year, she’s played the Superbowl, been tipped for an Oscar (with Hustlers) and turned 50 years old! Her career shows no sign of slowing!
Two artists who are more my contemporary are Bright Light Bright Light and Little Boots – like me they’re both doing it themselves, self-managed, self-releasing, over 30 (!) and growing their audience organically. I love how Rod is constantly pushing and creating as a DIY artist – and managing to share spaces with major label artists all on his own – and then Little Boots, who signed my first record, has been killing it lately, smashing her Kickstarter campaign to fund the 10-year anniversary celebrations of her debut LP and playing and DJing around the world. They are two artists that show you don’t need the big machinery of the music industry to have a fulfilling career.
What would be your dream collaboration?
Seeing as it’s a dream, I’d love to go back to 1998 and work with Rodney Jerkins. Or back to 2006 to work with Timbaland. Or the early 2000s to work with The Neptunes!
What’s the best band you have played with so far?
Looking back, I just realised I’ve only ever supported female solo artists! They’ve all been wonderful. I loved Louise’s show because I have always been a massive fan. Kate Stewart was fab too, she has an incredible voice!
Who/What are you listening to right now?
The last ten songs I added to my 2020 bops playlist are:
Tommy Genesis – I’m Yours
Funk LeBlanc & Madeleine Wood- The Fix
Briight Light Bright Light – This Was My Housea
Hannah Jane Lewis – Love Letters
Tove Lo – I’m Coming
Shura – The State
Jared Gelman – My Dependency
Dua Lipa – Levitating
Foxgluvv – Desperately Seeking Susan
Grimes – Violence
And I’m also almost always listening to ABBA/Kylie Minogue/ELO or something like that.
Thanks for your time & I cannot wait to hear the album!
YOU ARE WELCOME!
You can stream Tom Aspaul and more on our Tracks of the Week playlist:
Photography by Sam Taylor-Edwards