Tom Milsom Interview, by Natasha Truman

Tom Milsom Interview, August 9th 2012, Upstairs at The Garage, London.

We got to have a quick chat with Tom Milsom, a musician who has built his fanbase on Youtube, just before the start of his biggest headline show to date, on August 9th, Upstairs at The Garage.

Hi Tom, thanks for taking the time tonight to chat with us! Are you excited for the show?

Yes, always! I’m kind of nervous, because we’ve never done it with a full band before, but we’ve been practicing and I think it’s going to be really great.

You’re most well known on the internet through Youtube, could you explain how the Youtube musician thing works to people who might not know?

Basically, Youtube musicians are people who have kind of a dual life where we make music and we make videos at the same time. There aren’t really many of us, and there are different percentages, like I would consider myself to be way more music-y than Youtube-y, whereas someone like Charlie [Mcdonnell/Charlieissocoollike, the most subscribed Youtuber in the UK] is way more Youtube-y than music-y. Really, we’re just a bunch of people who have somehow managed to garner this strange sort of intense micro-celebrity in a very specific area of the internet.

Because of the internet thing, your fan-base is really spread out across the world.
Do you think that the internet way of doing music effects the way you play shows, and the sorts of shows you play?

Yeah, definitely. Like, there are people way less famous than me who get to play much bigger shows… It’s a really weird thing that no-ones ever really done before. It’s still really new, the whole internet thing, in terms of actually having a real-world implication. It’s still really unchartered, and I have no idea really how the hell it’s going to go, so I guess it’s kind of exciting.

You got back recently from the Exceptionally Ordinary tour in America, how was that?

America was amazing. We did a whole bunch of sell-out shows all down the West Coast, and then finished in VidCon [annual online video conference in Anaheim, California] which was awesome, and everyone at VidCon was so, so nice. Yeah, it was just the best.

Your music tends to be pretty varied, how would you describe your sound on the whole?

It’s mainly psychedelic pop, I guess is kind of the genre, but tonight is going to be way louder than it is normally. I think there’s a big difference between what I want to provide people with on record, and in a live setting. On record, I want to give people a really interesting and involved complicated experience that they can sort of weave their way through, whereas live I just want to assault people and just make lots and lots of noise, and make them kind of scared. Like, I don’t want people to be scared in their own homes, I think that’s a bit too far, but then in a live setting I just want to scare people.

Sounds good, I’ll be looking forward to hearing that.

Yeah, it’s going to be really good. I used to do shows just, like, strumming a ukulele, and it was kind of nice, but yeah, I think this is going to be really good.

You always seem to be playing different instruments in your videos, how many instruments do you actually play?

That’s a really hard question, because there are a load of instruments that I’ve never played before, but because I can play certain instruments, it means I can play them as well. Like, because I can play the marimba, or the glockenspiel, it means I can also play xylophones, and that whole family is then dealt with. But I have about 25 instruments in my room that I can play proficiently, and do so, on albums.

Are we going to see any of your more interesting instruments tonight?

I’ve got an electric ukulele, which is always kind of cool, and I’ve got the piano as well, but nothing too mental… We were going to have some bongos! I don’t know where they went, but there were meant to be some bongos!

You seem to find inspiration for your songs in pretty obscure places; could you describe your song writing process a little?

Actually, when I was first starting out, I got inspired by bad songs. I’d listed to them and be like, “Wow, that’s really bad,” and then I would pick them apart and re-assemble them in a way that would be, to me, good, and a lot of my early songs were written like that. For instance, ‘Why I Shouldn’t Have Let You In’ was written because someone had a song that went “Seize the day, seize the day, you told me that I should seize the day”, and I was like, well that’s really dumb, let’s expand upon that and work in some actually complicated human emotions.

These days though, I tend to have a shape in my mind of what I want the album to sound like musically, like a contour, and I have certain kinds of emotions and points that I want to hit along the way, and then I’ll make up a story, or I’ll find a story from my life, that I can use to tie it together, and I’ll write about that.

You’ve got a few more shows in London coming up, but what else do you have planned for the future?

Yeah, more shows, really. More shows like this. I’ve got my album, Organs, which is going to be out later this year, I hope… I have no idea though. I haven’t even finished recording it yet so it may have to be held back to next year. It’s one of those really intense, complicated projects that you end up having loads and loads of little parts to, and you end up recording about twice as much as you actually end up using, and I haven’t really gotten to the stage yet where I can figure out when it’s actually going to be done, but hopefully by the end of this year.

Well, thanks very much for chatting with us; I’ll let you go finish getting ready for the show!

Oh cool, okay. Thank-you, this has been really good!