Tom Pointer has been touring around universities all over the country, and Wednesday saw him arrive at our very own SU. Writer Rebecca managed to catch up with Tom after the show to ask him a couple of questions.
I understand you grew up in a family that loved music, because your dad was a DJ. When did you realise that you wanted to follow in a similar path?
I only really decided I wanted to do music 18 months ago. I always wanted to play a musical instrument, because all the people I know play music and I like musicians, I think they’re great people. I like being creative and then when you learn an instrument, it’s another way you can express yourself. It was never really a conscious choice, I guess. It was natural.
I’d have assumed if you’d been around music all your life, you’d have worked it out from there?
True. I think a lot of people do follow that kind of family thing, but my parents never tried to push me in one area. It was, if I’m happy and I enjoy it, they’re happy to let me follow that path, so that’s what happened.
So it started as a passion, not doing it with the intention of it going into something so successful. What’s that been like, then, watching it grow into this and being able to tour the country?
It’s been quite surreal. To even do interviews is quite surreal, to talk about your music. There’s lots of good things happening, people asking about your music and saying they have a favourite song, that’s a great feeling. To have people ask to write with you and things like that, it’s a really great feeling. But then also, when you go from it being something casual to something serious, you’re very vulnerable, so when you come on stage and you sing your own songs only, it’s very vulnerable. You need yourself to be judged, but I think yeah, that has to happen at some point.
How do you deal with that then, feeling so vulnerable, and the nerves that come with knowing people will be listening and forming an opinion? Because I believe this is your first UK tour?
Yeah, I think going to university, it’s been easier because I understand the environment, it’s very casual. People might not be looking, but they’re listening and I think people at university are generally fans of music. I know electronic music is huge, and house is huge, but live music is definitely making a comeback. Bands are now playing the summer balls at the end of the year and people love live music. In a casual situation like the Coffee House Sessions tour, it’s perfect- a lot less nerve wracking. People can walk to the back, eat their lunch, but they might overhear it. The tour has helped me over the last two weeks to get over the nerves a lot. It’s been great!
What’s been your favourite part of the Coffee House Sessions tour so far, then?
This is gig number 15! The first few days, I thought, ‘wow, this is going be a long tour’ but I’ve enjoyed it more and more every day. The best thing? I would say was just coming into the different Student Unions’, because I went to university in Loughborough, and you only have one experience of that university. I’ve gotten to walk around places like Bath, Queen Mary, and Liverpool, so you actually get a feeling of the place. You don’t get to walk around the town centre, but there’s all these different experiences and it’s really interesting. You get to meet lots of different people and get a feel of different places all over the country.
When you’re performing like this, or you’re writing songs, does it feel like it’s work, or does it come without conscious effort?
It doesn’t feel like working at all, no. It feels really, really good. Just getting focused before I go up, obviously you’re performing the same songs – I think it helps that I like all my own songs! I like to sing them, and I don’t mind how many times I have to sing them. I think if you were doing the same venues on a loop, it’d feel bizarre, but when you come into a new place, you have to analyse the situation very quickly and think, ‘okay, what song shall I start with, what song shall I finish with?’ Do you change your set list each time then? Only tiny bits, yeah, it’s quite a busy situation here, so I chucked in a couple of upbeat songs. It hasn’t felt like work, no… that was the question! But I am back to work on Friday.
So has this been a sort of side-project to your day-to-day job?
Yeah, this has been my passion for the last year and a half. I’m not afraid to say that I want to make it into a career anymore! I would love it to be my career. I feel proud of my songs and I think the Coffee House Sessions have been a good test, really, to see if it would be a good career. I guess if I hated every second of this, I’d have wasted my time! I have a single I would like to release in the next six months and just see how it’s received.
And are you working with someone to release this single?
Not at the moment! I have management and a producer that I’m working with regularly, but we don’t have a route to release it just yet, but we’re looking.
When you go about writing songs, do you write them for yourself, or for your audience?
That’s a really good question, do I write for other people? Uhm, I didn’t use to, but the producer I work with and well I work with a few different people, when I show them a song I always take their advice. If you don’t take advice from people on what they like, then just stay in your bedroom and write, you know? You need to take people’s advice. People have given me small pieces of advice on the tour and I’ve taken it, because if you don’t then, you’re losing out. I’d say more and more I’ve tried to write songs that I think suit me more, but people have helped me with that. And I mean, I only started writing when I left my last year of university, so really I guess I am writing for this student audience.
Do you take the influence for lyrics from past experience?
Yeah, 100%, often far in hindsight I try to write about what has happened several years ago, and not so recent, because I think that things are kind of hard to understand in the present because you’re going through them and it’s hard to understand them fully. So pretty much every song from there is, I guess, a situation from three or four years ago, and it’s nice to reflect, and it’s great that people can relate to it.
Taking advice from other people is great, but what advice would you give to yourself two weeks ago when you were about to start the tour?
I would say, don’t have any expectations. Take each place, each gig as it comes. Try to enjoy it and don’t get bogged down by someone walking past the stage or someone eating their lunch too loudly, they’re allowed to do that, you know? I’m in your space, I’ve come into your house, so yeah, don’t get bogged down by it. Enjoy it and by the end, it’ll definitely be worth it. I mean, I feel like it’s worth it already and it’s only been two weeks.
Finally, apart from working to release an EP, what are your plans for 2017?
I would love to tour again. I’m living in London at the moment but I feel like I’m doing the same venues over and over. There’s some really great people I’ve been working with, but this has been really satisfying, because I want to spread my name and music. The plans for this year are to release a single and see how it’s received. I’d also love to take advantage of the summer. I don’t know which festivals would have me, but I’d love to play a few festivals!