Interview. Tom Speight: "There are lots of songs in the album that feel really special to me and I am excited to share them"
Editing: Jorge García

Tom Speight is a prodigious songwriter who has written beautiful songs and sings them with his potent voice. After releasing six EPs between 2016 and 2017, he is back in the music scene and the best is yet to come. Tom is ready to share his first studio album, “Collide”, with the world and the release date is the 12th of April. We had the chance to chat with him about lots of things, including the new album, his music, why did he decided to be a musician and much more.

Question: Let´s start from the beginning…. What does Tom Speight’s music sound like? How would you describe your music?

Answer: I would say my music is like acoustic pop. My influences are [bands such as] The Beattles, Oasis, Coldplay, Ryan Adams. I think I kind of wear my influences on my sleeve so you can hear those bands kind of seeping through my songs. I would describe it as acoustic pop indie folk.

Q: When did you start playing the guitar and why?

A: I started probably when I was about 10 years old. I played around with the guitar and soon started writing songs. I think initially my sister introduced me to a couple of bands like Oasis and Blur and Radio Head and bands of that nature. I was very excited when I heard that kind of music and my other sister had a guitar lying around in her bedroom so I picked it up and just started kind of playing around on it. Working out a few things. It started from there really, then I had a few guitar lessons and I kind of never stopped. I don’t think I ever really doubted that I would be playing music because I really never had a plan B or any other ideas of what I wanted to do. That made me excited because that was my passion.

Q: So I understand there was a lot of music around you when you were growing up with your family?

A: Yes, I have three sisters and my parents also have a great record collection. So I suppose that initially that inspired my taste of music. My mum was big into The Beattles, Simon and Garfunkel, Rolling Stones, Elton John and I also love all those artists. I don’t really think my musical taste has really changed too much since I was a kid.

Foto: Tom Speight
Foto: Tom Speight

Q: What is your typical song-writing process?

A: I normally write songs at night which is weird. You know when people normally are going to sleep? I don’t know, I just feel a little bit more creative around that time. I normally just pick up the guitar, play some chords and then start singing. There’s not really a master plan or master mind thing going on, it’s just very organic, I see what comes out, really.

Q: And do you usually go first for lyrics or music?

A: I would say music and then maybe a phrase will come along. If I can get a good first line to a verse or a chorus, I’m normally okay, that usually sets up the song pretty well and it’s quite easy to write from that moment. I don’t think I have a process. I think if I did have a process it would get a bit samey, a bit boring. But I would say every song is kind of different. You know there are many different ways of working, it’s not necessarily always the same.

Q: Where do you usually find the inspiration to write new songs?

A: All my songs are kind of written about my personal life really. So it depends on whether I’m in a relationship or if I’m not in one. You know, whatever is going on in my life, I write about. That is completely what inspires my songs.

Q: When did you decide you wanted to be a musician? What made you make up your mind about it?

A: I think it was more the reality of maybe I can do this as a job. It was when I left university and a band called, ‘Keane’ kind of took me under their wing and recorded my first tracks. I was a big fan of theirs and their music and it kind of made think I could do this as a job. Because, you know, they are a very influential band and that was kind of encouraging.

Q: What did you study at university?

A: Music in Liverpool. I went to Paul McCarney’s university, so my love for The Beattles didn’t end in just listening to their music. I met him and we sang some songs together! He is apparently fan of my songs now. It’s good experience, university was cool.

Q: You released your first EP, “Little Love”, in 2016. How did it feel like to put some of your music out for the world to listen to it?

A: That was exciting and the great thing about it is that I didn’t have great expectations of what was going to happen with the songs or how people were going to react. I was just excited to put it out there and then it was amazing that there was quite a quick reaction. I think “Little Love” had something like a million streams within the first month. So it was a very organic process. People would just hear the song and they liked it, so they would share it. So I didn’t have any expectations but I am very pleased that we chose that song as a first song to go with.

Q: Which was the first song you ever wrote and play to another person?

A: That’s interesting… I was probably like 11 years old so I can’t really remember. I wrote a lot of songs back then. I was writing like 5 or 6 a day and I can’t remember exactly which one it would be. But I can tell you the first song I was proud of, it was a song called “Willow Tree”. I would say that was when I thought I can write songs. It was the moment when I thought they are getting good now and they are not awful. It was like okay, I can write a song.

Q: Can you play any other instrument beside the guitar?

A: I obviously sing and I can play a bit the piano but, no. I can also play a bit of bass, I played it a few times on the record but I’m not an amazing musician. My main thing is I like to write songs. The guitar is there to facilitate that, that’s what it is.

Q: When and how did you started working with the label Kobalt Music Group?

A: We had quite a few label offers and it was after about 3 EPs that labels started to take a bit more of an interest. They just seemed like the most kind of...I don’t know, the less stressful option. Like the others seemed a bit more stressful and I quite like being in control of what music I am going to put out, what the art work is, who’s going to do the videos, who will produce it. That sort of thing. You know, I found that Kobalt would just let me do what I wanted to do and they would support that. So that’s the reason why we started working with them and again they just got in contact because of the previous EPs that had come out. But we are very much like an independent artist and it’s about a kind of slow and steady journey rather than being on major label where they pump lots of money into you and things like that.

Q: Your debut album, “Collide”, which is set to be released the 12th of April. For now, all we basically know is that it’s going to have 13 songs, what can you tell us about it?

A: Nothing. Just that there are 13 songs.

Q: Which artists do you think inspired this upcoming album the most?

A: I would say it’s just one artist, I’d say the biggest influence on the record is probably Chris, the producer. Chris Bond, who did Ben Howard’s records. I’d say the record is 50% his as well as 50% mine. He has a major influence on the songs so if I was going to say one big influence, I would say it was him because he has influenced the record.

Q: Two songs from the album, “Collide” and “Strangers now”, have already been released and you just announced that there is a third one being released soon too. Are you happy with the audience reaction to them?

A: Yes, very much. They’ve been playlisted on the radio and people seem to be welcoming them into their lives. A few people have already been engaged and married to “Collide”, and that’s only been out for nearly two months maybe. So I am very happy and I think that it’s still in the very early days. The record will take a while longer for you to see the bigger reaction.

I’ve done lots of EPs and I think that with an album you a get bigger picture about who the artist is and I’m just excited for people to hear the songs. There are lots of songs that feel really special to me and I am excited to share them.

Q: Which song would you say is the most personal one for you?

A: The most personal one is a song called “Alice”. It’s pretty raw, I’ll just live it at that.

Q: And you are going on a headline tour around the UK and Ireland in April and May. Excited about it?

A: I am yes and I am also announcing some European dates as well. So I’ll be coming to Germany, Holland, France, Belgium, Norway. Not Spain, but we will eventually come. I really want to go there, maybe we can come in the summer… And I am also going to Brasil in March.

Q: But before that you are also touring East Europe as a support act for Tom Odell in his “Jubilee Road Tour”. How did that come up?

A: I did a UK tour with Tom in October, but I initially met him during his second album. I supported him for one gig and he was a fan of the song “Willow Tree” and it started from there really. It came from me playing one gig, him hearing the songs and then him being an incredibly nice and supportive artist and asking me along really. He is a really great guy.

Q: And do you have any further plans for after the tour?

A: I’ll just maybe see how the record is going, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I think festivals in the summer. Honestly, I think I would have done a lot of touring, maybe about 100 gigs by that point. So I don’t know, we’ll see how it works out.

Favourite song: “Yellow Sky” by John Lennon
Favourite artist: The Beattles
Dream venue to play: Royal Albert Hall
Hobbies: Photography, travelling, collecting vinyls, art galleries
Favourite sport: Skateboarding
Favourite colour: Blue
Favourite book: Bob Dylan: A Year and a Day
Favourite movie: Garden State
Favourite city: New York
Place you would love to visit one day: Japan
Favourite quote: “All I can do is be me, whoever that is” by Bob Dylan
Guiltiest pleasure: English show “Eastenders”
Your most treasured item: My Martin guitar
Best concert you've ever been to: Coldplay in 2002 at The Forum

LINK to pre-order Tom Speight's debut album, "Collide"

Complete tracklist from "Collide":

  1. Waiting
  2. Little Love
  3. Strangers Now
  4. Collide
  5. Heartshaker
  6. Lost To Me
  7. Want You
  8. Willow Tree
  9. Closer
  10. Alice
  11. My Name
  12. Into The Night
  13. Evermore