Tom Walker is set to play his first headline show on September 20 at The Waiting Room after what has been a whirlwind year for the Scotland-born, Manchester-raised multi-instrumentalist.
Walker, who cites influences ranging from Ray Charles to Muddy Waters and even-up-and-coming London artist Ray BLK, signed to Relentless Records about a year ago, not long after securing management interest from Covert Talent Management.
“I wasn’t really looking for [a record deal] at the time, to be honest,” he explains. “I’d only just found management nine months before and I was working for a photo booth company at the time. I was a bit down after uni and didn’t really know what to do with myself.”
Walker is a self-taught drummer, guitarist, pianist and bass player and studied songwriting at the London College Of Contemporary Music.
“I didn’t even know such a thing existed,” he says. “One of my mates who was in London doing a drama course said, You should try London, there’s load of good music stuff going on there.
“I was like, I’m not really sure about London, big city and all that. I came down and went for the audition and loved it. The facilities were great. Before that I just taught myself. I sat in my room until I could play my instruments basically, sounding terrible for years, but eventually getting there.”
The singer-songwriter tells Music Week that he used to live in a house with 10 musicians, including a member of Island Records’ signing Whilk & Misky. “It had a huge back garden and it was kind of a mansion, really. Still to this day we don’t really know how we got it and my mates are still living there.
We had a full drum kit and a live PA set-up, a little studio and a little desk running from upstairs to downstairs to a live room and a recording room.”
Walker says that he wrote a song with Whilk & Misky member Nima, which got sent to a couple of people.
“Eventually management got in touch with me and said, Do you need representation? At first I was like, I don’t know what you’re talking about, but then after a while they put me in some writing sessions. Then it just all went mad from there.”
“My manager is Simon King. They’ve been amazing. They’ve been really hard working and they’ve done a lot for me over the last year and a bit. It’s been a bit of a mad journey, but I’m still loving it which is good.”
His label deal came about after they went to see him perform in “a tiny rehearsal room” where he played a short acoustic set. “They didn’t say they were interested, they just wanted to come down and see me play,” he explains.
“So I did like a little four-song set for them and then we went out for a couple of beers afterwards and I got talking to Shabs [Jobanputra] who is the head of Relentless.
“I just got a really good vibe off him. He really knows his stuff about music. And they’ve had some great artists as well over the years. Recently, they’ve signed Alan Walker and Professor Green.
They’ve got a wicked roster and it’s quite diverse as well.”
With two singles out at the moment, Walker says that he’s not thinking about releasing an EP any time soon, but is enjoying the traction his most recent track, Fly Away With Me is gaining on Spotify. “It’s got about 800,000 plays which, to me, is mad.
It’s nothing in the grand scheme of things, but Spotify has totally changed the game for that kind of stuff,” he muses. The track follows Sun Goes Down, which was released “to test the water”, he says.
“To our surprise it ended up getting on Annie Mac’s show and also Mista Jam played it on Radio 1.
“It was the first thing we put out. It was a finding our feet kind of thing.
It just got a really good response. And then we put out Fly Away… as a follow up, not even thinking about an EP yet, but just to have a another track out and that’s done really well on Spotify.”