Music interview: Tom Odell

Tom Odell.
Tom Odell.
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The first time most people will have seen Tom Odell was at the Brits earlier this year.

“I’ve never had anything like that before,” he says now, looking back at his baptism of fire.

“It was actually a lot of fun, but having 60 photographers taking your photo, yelling your name and trying to get your attention is an odd experience. I was a bit dazzled.”

Now his debut album, Long Way Down, is being released, there’s every chance he’ll be back at the awards next year, nominated in another category.

Life today is a far cry from his days spent lugging a keyboard around bars and clubs in Brighton.

Now just 22, Odell was originally destined to go to York University before he decided to focus on music. He grew up in Chichester listening to classic songwriters such as Bob Dylan, Randy Newman, David Bowie and, above all, Elton John.

He’d learned piano and played to Grade 7 standard, and began to play London gigs.

It was around this time he caught the eye of Lily Allen. She was setting up her own label, In The Name Of, under the Sony umbrella, and Odell is her first signing.

Over the following nine months, he wrote the rest of Long Way Down, inspired by a relationship that went wrong, leaving him heartbroken.

He says writing the songs helped him draw a line under the upset, although locking himself in the room the label had rented to write and record made him go “completely insane”.

“That was 10am to 6pm every day, not going outside or talking to anyone. No one should spend that much time on their own, writing about their feelings. It’s not good for you.”

Odell’s album was initially meant to be released just after the Brits, taking full advantage of the exposure he got from winning the award.

For whatever reason, it wasn’t but has finally been released this week.

Since postponing the release, Odell has toured non-stop – here, all over Europe and in the US.

He says a live show of his isn’t merely a trot through the album, note for note, either.

“Obviously they’re the same songs, but I play with a full band, so the arrangements are bigger.

“People are always doing other things when they’re listening to music, but if they come to see you, you have their full attention.

“I want people to leave each show feeling like they’ve been on a journey with me.”

* Tour date: October 15 - Leeds O2 Academy.

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