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Tom Odell interview: 'Taylor Swift is an incredible lyricist'

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The Brit Awards 2013 launch night: Emeli Sande & Tom Odell

© Pete Mariner



Fresh from picking up his Brits' Critics Choice Award last night, Tom Odell is preparing to release his debut album Long Way Down in April.

Digital Spy caught up with the singer-songwriter to talk about the accolade, as well as what advice he's picked up from label boss Lily Allen and the surprising countries in Europe where he's already a chart success.

Congratulations on winning the Brits Critics' Choice award. How has your life been since you won?
"I guess it's been quite normal. I've been busy doing lots of interviews, but it's been good. It's been weird to be involved with the Brits now, because when you hear the Brits you think of huge acts like Adele. It's weird to get one before I've released an album."

Emeli Sandé won it last year and went on to have huge success and ended up everywhere. Does that prospect excite you or are you nervous?
"I think before I even put my EP out I was nervous whether people would like it or not. I always put pressure on myself to do well in music - and it's my first time - so there's pressure anyway."

Now you've had a touch of fame, how are you finding it all?
"I don't think I've felt fame yet. At my shows I feel famous because everyone's there to see me, but a lot of people still don't know who I am. That's the nice thing about being a musician; you can hide behind the music a little bit. I've had a few people come up to me in the street and that's quite weird. If anything it's quite terrifying because I thought I was being attacked."

Do you like that side of being a musician?
"I suppose because I've won the Brit people see think I've had success already, but I've not. In two months' time I'll be putting my first album out and people might hate it."

Tom Odell


'Another Love' is quite sombre, but new single 'Hold Me' is more bouncy. Are they a good indication of what we can expect from your debut?
"'Hold Me' is definitely the most raucous. It's probably the least piano track on the album. It was just a different feeling I wanted to get across - of being in love and not wanting them to leave. 'Another Love' is on the darker side of the album which is about the end of a relationship."

You've mentioned that you want the album to be "human" and have "flaws" - what do you mean by that?
"With the flaws I'm talking about the imperfections in the music. Everything these days is so compressed and auto-tuned and it sounds very complete. With my music, I didn't want that to be the case. I wanted it to be led by the emotion and the intent, so it doesn't feel contrived. With that comes flaws. I just want people hear the humanness behind it."

You're signed to Lily Allen's record label. How much input and advice has she offered?
"What's great about Lily is she told me she's a really big fan of the music and wanted to let me do my thing. That's why it was such a great decision to sign to her. I'm going to have that creative freedom that other labels don't offer. When she hears the songs, she'll say if she likes them or not. Because she's a musician she knows it doesn't help to be pulled into a different direction by other people."

How sensitive are you over your work if someone says they don't like it? Do you accept criticism and change it?
"Yeah definitely, but I won't change it. I tend to write and record things quite quickly. You can tamper with things for years and it's artistic laziness sometimes. There was a great thing Nick Cave once said and it's along the lines of your muse as an artist is extremely sensitive, so you have to be really careful about the people you hang around with and the music you listen to. Especially when your music's been played on the radio and you've got some attention, you have to be really careful. It quite easily hurts your muse and confidence."

Now you have online critics as well. Do you ever see comments people make about your music on the Internet?
"I don't really use Facebook, because I find it a bit intrusive on your personal life. What's nice about Twitter is that you've got that point of contact with your fans that artists have never had before. I think it's good for musicians. Just as long as you don't start tweeting things about your girlfriends or boyfriends - there's got to be a line."

The Brit Awards 2013 launch night: Tom Odell performing

© Pete Mariner



Recently on Twitter, Taylor Swift said she was a fan of you - would you ever consider working with her?
"Yeah, before I covered 'I Knew You Were Trouble', I didn't know loads about her. When I was listening to the song I realised she's an incredible lyric writer. I bought her album Red after that and she writes it all herself - I didn't know that. Some of it's incredible. I'm definitely a fan."

She's everywhere at the moment, which is cool.
"I think when someone is everywhere, a bit of their integrity is lost in their art. Sometimes you've just got to take a second look. She's great, I'd love to work with her"

You've named Elton John, Leonard Cohen and Bruce Springsteen as some of your idols, but how have they affected your own music?
"Elton really inspired me to play the piano and sing. I played the piano already, but to really write songs. Bruce influenced me when I saw him live, as he's an incredible live performer. Leonard and Bob Dylan [have] inspired me with their lyrics. I don't need the music, I could just read their lyrics off a piece of paper. It's poetry."

Have you met any of your idols yet?
"Not really. I was pretty close to Leonard Cohen once because he was over here for his last album. I didn't get a chance to meet him, but he was talking in the room and it was amazing. I've met people I respect hugely."

Do you have any plans to go international yet?
"We're already starting things in America quite a bit. We've been over there for a couple of weeks. I'm going to Europe later this month, then back to the UK for a March tour. Then over to America for a bigger tour in April. I'm weirdly doing quite well in Holland and Belgium. I've had Top 10 hits in both already! It's funny, but great."

Tom Odell's new single 'Hold Me' is available to download from March 31, while his debut album Long Way Down will be released in April 15.

Watch the music video for Tom Odell's 'Hold Me' below:



Brit Awards 2013 red carpet pictures - photo gallery:

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