After being based in Brooklyn New York for the last three years, Australian singer/songwriter Tom West is back on home soil. Tom is known for his songwriting and storytelling skills as well as his husky vocals. He’s supported some big names in the industry like Newton Faulkner, played at Philadelphia Folk Fest in 2018, Porchland Fest in 2019 and made a name for himself when he toured around the States and UK. After releasing his second album Antarctica last year, he’s is back with a brand new album I’m Livin’ that’s out this Friday! The album features his latest singles Gimme What You Got, Exile and Can You Hear The Birds Calling?
Tom joins us this week for a Savvy Seven! Take it away Tom.
What inspired you to pursue music as a career?
I was playing and composing music with my friends since high school, and I idolised a few songwriters for a while around that time. I kept playing and writing music without really thinking about it until eventually I found myself, essentially, working two jobs at the same time – a full time professional role working 9-5 and my work as an independent writer / touring musician, but was pulling off neither properly. So that was kind of the deciding moment, since then I have just been pulling on threads to see where they take me.
Besides making music, what have you done to get to where you are?
Lots of learning from mistakes, taking risks (sometimes not as calculated as they should be!). Learning lots of skills ancillary to the job of playing and writing music: video editing, travel logistics, grant writing, social media advertising, managing people and relationships, compromising with others and myself, putting myself out of my comfort zone.
How do you approach developing timelines for your career?
With extreme flexibility! Nothing ever goes to plan – the current COVID-19 scenario is pretty much the ultimate example of that. I focus on not getting defeated if things don’t go my way.
What will musicians discover from touring and how should they prepare for it?
You’ll discover the limits of your tolerance for this job and probably go way past them. I don’t know if you really can prepare for it. I guess maybe when you’re out there slogging it out try and keep the big picture in mind.
What is the most significant challenge you have conquered in your career?
I don’t feel like I’ve truly conquered any challenges yet, and I’m not sure that you ever do. I feel like it’s more of a process of trying to conquer an ever changing and evolving landscape of challenges. For me, being comfortable holding myself out is a challenge I wrangle with on a daily basis, feeling confident around people at events. Also, just learning that the world and industry is much bigger than it looks from inside Australia.
How should people educate themselves on current industry issues?
Read lots I guess, listen to and elevate marginalised voices – there is a lot to learn from listening. The music industry exists in a much wider context – issues faced within the industry, generally speaking, I think would be reflective of wider situations across society. Learning about issues of equality, justice, sustainability in a local, national, and worldwide context will help you navigate issues within the industry, I think.
How have you integrated modern technology into your content process?
I’ve attempted streaming, felt like I was pulling my teeth out at times, but I think I’ve stumbled across a way that I can do simple performances online that sound half decent.
I’m Livin’ is out this Friday the 18th of June!