Unsigned Wolverhampton singer Tom Aspaul writes for Kylie
Born in Wolverhampton, singer/songwriter Tom Aspaul is now living in the bright lights of London. He’s already tracks for artists such as Kylie Minogue, Little Boots, AlunaGeorge and Snakehips.
He’s also released his own singles, including his recent LEFT EP on BLK&WHT Records. Tom’s most recent release was with dance act Viceroy on a song he wrote called Improvise, which was released through Dim Mak Records on June 9.
Tom has attracted support from BBC Introducing WM and BBC London from Huw Stephens and Zane Lowe, during his time a BBC Radio One.
After graduating from Central Saint Martin’s College in London, Tom began his musical career writing for other artists before signing to electro pop star Little Boots’ label On Repeat Records. His only release on the label was the MNEK-produced Indiana, with the song being covered and renamed as Feels So Good by Kylie Minogue for her 12th studio album Kiss Me Once.
Tom co-wrote and featured on XYconstant’s single Do It Well which was featured on several Best of 2015 lists and was eventually nominated for the £20 Music Prize, an annual prize awarded by music website Pop Justice, recognising the best British pop single from that year.
In November 2015, Tom was chosen by BBC Radio Two DJ Jo Whiley as one of the three acts from the West Midlands to perform at her BBC Introducing showcase, preceding the BBC Music Awards in Brum.
He lso does a weekly pop music podcast called Bottle Pop With Tom Aspaul that’s seen guests such as MNEK, Claire Maguire, KStewart and Leo Kalyan. The podcast was the second most popular music podcast in the UK and sees Tom talking a lot about his experiences growing up in Wolverhampton and trying to break into the music industry.
Tom continues to write for other artists, co-writing upcoming releases for British singer songwriter Charlotte OC amongst others.
The Ticket’s Dan Earl caught up with Tom for a quick chat.
What first drew you to music, how did you learn and who inspired you?
I was brought up in a house always full of music. My mum would wake us up every morning, blasting something by Chaka Khan or Michael Jackson, so music was unavoidable and just part of life from a very young age.
I never formally learnt ‘music’ in any capacity, I had a few keyboard lessons here and there and did a few school productions and musicals, but more than anything it was self-taught by ear – just listening to lots and lots of music.
My favourite artist of all time has to be Janet Jackson. I was introduced to her by my next door neighbour growing up in Wednesfield – she used to play her songs in the back garden. I loved her vocal harmonies and melodies and the fact that she managed to carve her own career out of her brother’s shadow. I also loved Mariah Carey growing up, and still do, the way she mixed R‘n’B with hip-hop in particular. I really admire and respect Benny and Björn from ABBA for their incredible songwriting (I visited the ABBA museum this year in Stockholm) and Rodney Jerkins (aka Darkchild) is probably my favourite producer.
Was the move to London essential for your career rather than staying in Wolverhampton?
Yes – and although I didn’t really have a plan when I moved to London, I knew I wasn’t going to get anywhere, doing what I wanted to do, staying in Wolverhampton unfortunately.
However, I think if you’re in a band, Wolverhampton is great and has lots of venues and opportunities and Birmingham isn’t far at all – and that’s definitely a good route into the industry, but I was never part of a band or anything like that – I just wanted to make pop music, and there just doesn’t seem to be much of that going on.
There’s a really great hip hop producer called S-X who lives and works in Wolverhampton and he does really well, so it’s not impossible, but I just think for me, I had to make the move.
What are some of the highlights of your career up to this point?
Hearing my song Good Together, on BBC Radio One prime time, for the first time was incredible, a massive buzz – it was amazing to hear Zane Lowe so supportive. Being nominated for the Popjustice Prize was another personal highlight -–it’s nice to have some validation in what can be quite a thankless industry. I also love when a song I co-wrote gets tens of millions of plays on Spotify, just the idea that something I created is being heard by that many people blows my mind.
Do you prefer writing for other people or performing as an artist in your own right?
When I write, most of the time I don’t even think about where the end product is going, I just try and write a good song. The bottom line is, writing songs is what I love to do and sometimes, a lyric or a concept will just feel like it belongs to me, so I can keep it for myself. In the long term I see myself moving more into writing for other people, but while I’m still able to perform and release my own stuff, I’ll try and do both as long as I can.
What artists would you recommend that readers check out?
I’ve been working a lot with a girl called Hannah Jane Lewis, who I think is great, it’s pure pop, intelligent writing and really well produced – she’s great. I also really like this band called Sälen – they’re a bit weird and left of centre, but have massive potential to break into the mainstream. Also really into a couple of Canadian artists at the moment, a girl called Ralph and a girl called Allie X - both make super cool, clever pop music.
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