Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last year and a half or so, you’ve very likely heard about Tom Misch. The London-based multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer-songwriter has been stealthily infecting the airwaves, especially in the UK, with his jazzy disco grooves that he expertly combines with modern production to create a really cool fusion sound that strikes a great balance between the funky jazz fusion and soul of the 70s and 80s with the punch of modern RnB and hip-hop. I absolutely love his music and, if you’ll excuse me being an absolute fanboy, I’m going to explain to you why…
Tom’s debut album Geography is… well… it’s musically something else. It’s like nothing else you might hear on mainstream radio, really. It’s beautiful. It’s intelligent. It’s full of the pangs of nostalgia, fun, romance and heartache all wrapped into one jazz fusion centred package. Even though it sounds very consistent as an album, it’s a consistent sound that comes from throwing the conventions of genre out of the window, mixing a load of stuff all together and creating something new and fresh. Disco stabs sit side by side with ambient experimentalism and choppy jazz guitars sit alongside guest verses from rappers like GoldLink, Loyle Carner and De La Soul. There’s even a cheeky little low-fi stripped down cover of Stevie Wonder‘s classic “Isn’t She Lovely?” thrown in the middle, as if Tom is giving us a knowing nod to where a lot of his influences come from.
Normally I would be very dismissive of somebody who is so obviously retro with their sound, but Tom knows exactly how to bring it into the modern day without it feeling contrived and to hear him do that in an era where everyone seems to want to pretend that The Cure are some kind of new hipster thing that everyone just has to get involved with is, quite honestly, so refreshing.
Like many people probably, the first exposure I got to Tom Misch was through “Water Baby”, his collaboration with Loyle Carner. The anthem about overcoming your struggles and your situation in life to make something great quickly became one of my favourite songs and I just had to hear more. This led me down the rabbit hole and at one point I had Geography on repeat a ridiculous amount of times. In the stressful time of my life that was where I was juggling working a job in the family business (let’s call it that to cut a long story short – I promise I’m not a criminal as well, everything is nice and legit!) and working as a volunteer in a charity shop (that didn’t work out very well in the end) with trying to get my writing career started in a big way with Rockodile Reviews, it was almost a comforting presence in my life to have those beautiful groovy jazz funk stylings on in the background.
On top of all of that though, Tom always comes across as being very down to earth and laid back in his interviews or whenever he talks to anyone. He’s a proper, genuine musician, in it because he absolutely loves being creative. The fact that he produces all of his own music and plays as many of the instruments as he can is illustrative enough of that fact. He’s a completely self-made man, sitting there up in his bedroom grinding his way through whatever creative spark he’s got at the time. To me, that’s one of the most admirable traits any creative person, let alone any musician, can have.
So, basically… Tom, if you ever read this, you’re fucking awesome. Keep doing what you do, because it’s great.