Maxim Meyer-Horn

28 Apr 2020

Interview: Tom Misch Talks About New Album ‘What Kinda Music’ and Quarantine

The journey of Tom Misch can be summed up as remarkable. The multi-instrumentalist started out on SoundCloud in 2012 and steadily made a name for himself. His lowkey hip hop-vibes with jazz and disco influences have taken the scene by storm and his debut album ‘Geography’ became a huge success. Two years later, he’s teaming up with London’s best drummer Yussef Dayes to make a whole album, which is out today. We had a phone interview with Misch to talk about his new album ‘What Kinda Music’ and how the collaboration started.

Is releasing a new album still nerve-racking after all these years?

Yeah, but with everything going on in the world right now, I feel more relaxed about the album. I think if corona wasn’t happening, I’d feel more stressed out. I’m very excited about releasing What Kinda Music together with Yussef Dayes.

How did your path cross with Yussef Dayes?

Yussef and I grew up in the same area and I basically met him at the launch party of my debut album Geography. We said that we had to go into the studio together and we did. From the moment we were together in the studio, there was a good connection musically speaking, and we kept making stuff. The album came out quite organically.

When did you realize you were making a full project instead of just a bunch of songs?

In my headspace, I released Geography, which was commercially quite successful, and I wanted to try working with someone from the jazz-scene. I kind of wanted to collaborate and thought that not many people started projects with drummers. There are rarely true collaborations between drummers and artists, so I knew which direction I wanted to go in.

We intended to make a beat tape and I wasn’t going to sing. I would rather produce and record the drums, but it ended up being a full album. Some ideas were just too good to not further explore.

The sound of the album is a bit jazzier than before. How would you describe the album?

I think the album has a good balance of what we’re into. It has the darker elements of Yussef’s tapes and I brought different parts to it.

You aren’t shy to experiment with sounds and influences. What’s for you the best way to experiment with music?

We never expected this to be an album and just experimented with both our sounds. We went into the studio, messed around, and saw what happened. Good stuff just came out, so there’s not really a process. We get into the studio and it really depends on the day. It can be that we have a specific reference or we can just jam around.

Would you consider yourself as a songwriter that starts from jamming or do build around melodies you have in mind?

I don’t have a formula and switch all the time because I’m a beatmaker as well as a guitarist, and I write lyrics and sing. Sometimes it comes from different places and also while collaborating with Yussef, it varied. Each track came about in a very different way, but it was all experimenting and not expecting anything but just seeing what happens.

You often collaborate with other artists. What’s the most important thing in a collaboration for you?

I think collaborating brings out different things in me. Working with Yussef showed me a new side of myself as an artist and that’s by far the coolest thing that comes from joining forces with other acts. I feel that if you feel stuck as an artist and make the same album over and over again, try to collaborate because it gives you another perspective on approaching music. As a producer, I feel that I really channeled Yussef’s energy into what I would do on the record, and that brought out something new.

Your album is being released during some difficult times. What’s the power of music?

Music can heal and distract people. Since the album is quite deep, I think it’s going to have a long shelf life. Music can help people to stay sane in hard times, so it will be a nice distraction.

How are you feeling during these crazy times?

It’s kind of scary times, but there are whole politics of the situation. Most people stopped what they were doing and have to stay at home, so I think it’s quite an interesting time. People suddenly have time to focus on family or take the time to reflect, which I think can be good. For musicians, they can take the time to work on their craft. I’m playing a lot of guitar and do these quarantine sessions on YouTube. I also read a lot and stay fit. It’s all guilt-free because you can’t feel guilty about doing nothing.

Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes’ album ‘What Kinda Music’ is out now.

Photos by Joe Price



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