Hi Tom, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
I have been up, down and all over the place. Thanks for asking!
Can you talk to us more about your last single with Ligeti Quartet, “Baby All You’ve Got”?
Richard Jones from the quartet send me a rough arrangement of his vision for the song on strings. It sounded great even as a sketch; I could see that it had a whole new depth to it rather than just imitating the original. The song really suited this kind of adaptation, there was so much space and emotion.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song originally?
I wrote it during lockdown 1 and I think I was trying to remind myself that I was lucky to have what I had. We’re all lucky to have what we have but social media is always showing us what other people have and if we’re not careful we can get really frustrated and anxious about not having the things we want.
Any plans to release any sort of video for the track?
I hadn’t really thought about it… normally the label says ‘we need a video’… I guess there wasn’t a plan for one cos we’d made a couple of live videos of the actual recording.
The single comes off your new EP Tom Sanders Sings With The Ligeti Quarter – what’s the story behind the title? Is it as obvious as it sounds?
So I’d already recorded and released an LP called ‘Only Magic’ during lockdown. Stephen Bass from Moshi Moshi Records originally had the idea to perform and record some of the songs from this LP with a string quartet. I was well up for it, I thought it would show the songs in a really different light and give me the chance to do something I’d never normally get to do. And life is all about new experiences!
How was the recording and re-writing process?
Generally speaking I left most of the arranging to Richard. We went back and forth a few times talking about what we thought was working, but he’s an expert in that field and I’m not so I happily took a back seat. The songs were already written in terms of lyrics and melody so I just put my feet up. The recording was all done live in a little studio in South London on a cold February morning. Because we were recording the strings and vocal simultaneously, it was the only recording experience I’ve had where they were looking to me for their cue but I was also looking to them…. We managed to work it out and just follow each others’ lead.
What role does London play in your music?
Good question which I’ve never really considered. I think it keeps me busy and focused. I’m constantly reminded of how intensely competitive it is and how hard any writer/musician needs to work to keep their head above the water. It’s also inspiring having so many venues and opportunities to see music being performed.
What aspect of adulthood and other challenges did you get to explore on this record?
I’ve struggled with depression for quite a number of years. I thought I could try and work through some of these things in my lyrics, so most of them are a kind of ‘note to self’ that life isn’t perfect and it’s ok to feel whatever it is you’re feeling. The music industry isn’t a healthy place… I’m trying to make my own little corner of it a bit better.
Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
Writing songs is a form of escape for me; I can lose myself for days and weeks in the process and although it’s sometimes quite torturous, I really do like it and need it. Many of my lyrics talk about escape- I guess I’m trying to get away from something!
What else is happening next in Tom Sanders’ world?
Played a show with Teleman recently which was great. Felt really weird to be up on a stage with a real life audience. Also practicing for a solo show coming up in July at Lexington in London. Mostly I’m just doing what I always do- writing. I write songs all day everyday apart from weekends which I spend with my daughter.