Having found himself stacked with songs unsuitable for his band, Tom Sanders, frontman of London pop outfit Teleman has launched his brand new solo project.
The debut solo album from said project, Only Magic is set for release in December on Moshi Moshi Records, and finds Sanders in a much more personal, stripped back setting than his work with Teleman.
Caught up in the delicate emotion of the latest single to be shared from the album, Most Of The Time, we spoke to Tom about the inspiration behind these new songs, what he’s learned from his time in the music industry and what Only Magic has in store for us.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your journey into a career in music?
I was lucky enough to grow up in a house with an old honky tonk piano and an acoustic guitar. Computer games and TV were banned from our childhood house and so I spent most of my time smashing away on the piano and teaching myself how to play guitar. Me and my bother Jonny (who had started learning drums) would Jam together with various friends in my bedroom. I bought a little 4 track tape machine and so started a love of writing and recording music. One of our projects became a band called ‘Pete and the Pirates’ who actually started getting a following after being picked up by Stolen Recordings in London. We toured loads but never really took it very seriously. When it ended, Teleman emerged from the ashes.
You’re best known as the frontman of Teleman, where did the inspiration for a solo project come from?
I find it difficult to turn off the song writing tap; there is always an unmanageable pile of songs floating around in my head, on my phone, and in my computer. So there was (and still is) a great surplus of songs which I’d put a lot of work into and which I felt were good songs, but not right for Teleman. That’s where the idea came from to put out a solo record.
Tell us a bit about your new single ‘Most of the Time’, how did the writing experience differ from what you’re used to?
I don’t know if a song can be uplifting and melancholic at the same time, but this song feels that way to me. It’s a song about surrender, and about growing up. Production wise I wanted it to feel like it existed outside of a particular musical genre. That way, the focus is drawn more to the vocal and melody rather than attention grabbing instruments. I tried to make everything blend into a supportive watercolour of sound.
Your debut solo album ‘Only Magic’ is on the way as well, how are you feeling about putting it out into the world?
Can’t wait. I wasn’t imagining that it would grow into such a significant thing- I’d kind of assumed I’d be quietly releasing something online. But now there are beautifully designed records and CDs, gigs, interviews, videos, radio play.… I’m just happy that it’ll find its way into people’s homes somehow or another. It’s quite an honour.
And talk us through the album a little, what’s to be expected from it?
The longer I write songs, the more I realise I come from the school of classic songwriting. The songs are simple, so is the production. I think it leaves more space for the lyric to get through. Its a strange mixture of uplifting yet generally quite introspective and downbeat songs. I think what marks it out most is the lack of musical clutter which often finds its way into (my) songs. I went through with a machete and just hacked away at anything that wasn’t really serving the songs. Hopefully the result is a kind of breathing space where the songs can be enjoyed in a more pure way. I tend to write about what I’m feeling, and what I’ve experienced in life, and more recently I find I’m writing about generally what its all about being on this planet. Simple stuff, obvious stuff but something that’s universal.
Is there anything you’ve learned about yourself since starting out as a solo artist?
It can be really hard working on your own and not having another set of ears around. I get bogged down with decision making, whether it’s a lyric or whether it’s to use a keyboard or a guitar. I think I’m still learning to trust my gut instinct and to stop analysing every bloody thing so much. Then I’d get so much more done! I’ve always considered quality to be more important than quantity, but this can lead to perfectionism which might be the most dangerous ism in making music. I constantly need to remind myself that nothing will ever be perfect, and the notion of perfect would probably be really boring anyway. Every recording is only ever a snap shot in time of that song.
What would a dream tour look like for you? What would you have on the rider?
I’d just be chuffed to get out on the road in any capacity at the moment! It’s a truly bleak time for live music at the moment. Musicians, sound engineers, venues, they are all desperate to be able to work again and many have already gone under. I’d love to tour the UK with my new album and play some really small, intimate shows. The kind where you really feel connected to the audience. That’s when there’s real electricity in the room and what gigs are all about for me. I’d also love to take it to Europe: sausages and beer in Germany, cycling round in Holland, admiring the architecture in Italy. I never get tired of travelling around Europe, I feel really lucky to have done it so many times and always look forward to going back.
If your music was to soundtrack any TV series or film, which would it be?
I was really enjoying Ozark on Netflix. It has a great soundtrack and I discovered some good music through it. So I’d love for my music to find it’s way into that show!
Same goes for the Patriot on Amazon- really great series with such good music.
What’s the plan for 2021 looking like?
I think most musicians are asking themselves that question at this moment in time… it’s hard to make plans at the moment. I’m going to keep writing music and hopefully will be able to play gigs again soon, as Tom Sanders and also with Teleman.
Tom Sanders has also announced an intimate one-off show in London at Paper Dress Vintage which will be live streamed on 12th November. Purchase your tickets here.