Following the release of his beautifully heartfelt and pure acoustic album Nobot, we were blessed with the opportunity to interview singer and songwriter Tommy Ocean to find our more about the music and what lead him to this moment as an artist. Here’s how it went.
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Hi Tommy – thanks for the interview, and congrats on the album. What does this project mean for you, and what does the title represent?
Hi Rebecca – thanks for having me! This is my first full album – very important to me, glad you like it!
I always wanted to do one but didn’t take the time – EP’s are faster if you want to put something out… Nobot should be as organic as possible, a bit like in the 60s, I love the sixties… Therefore, every song is a direct recording – just like playing live but without the crowd. People tend to call that raw, I know, but I like it that way: It lives and breathes!
I just added a few higher background voices in some songs which I sung myself for the lack of background singers, that’s a little modern twist in it… Nobot means no bot, no robot.
How long have you been writing and recording your own music?
I did some writing and recording before – but the last 2 and 1/2 years brought the most impact by far!
How important is live performance for you, and how do you find the reception to be for this kind of gentle acoustic sound?
Live performance is king. Very important. My drug. I love the thrill, the dynamics. Especially when it resonates with people. And the last few shows it did quite well even though the audience varied quite significantly – very cool! My sound is somewhat gentle, that’s right, but not all the time, trust me: Acoustic sounds can be very dynamic and exiting!
What’s the live scene like in general where you are?
Well, we’ve got a little live scene which is nice but I often feel the need to travel: Paris, Cologne or Berlin are my first picks as I can reach them well by car. But sometimes it definitely has to be London or NYC!
In our write-up we mentioned a little tip of the hat to the likes of Bob Dylan. Who would you say has caught your ear more recently in the music world though?
You’re absolutely right: Bobby is very important to me, but the most recent discovery I made was Joan Baez (don’t laugh) – I think she’s better than ever before!
Were there many songs that didn’t make the cut for this project, and if so – how do you decide which ones to include or not?
There were some, that’s right. They didn’t touch me in the way others did, so I sorted them out. I don’t want to fill spaces, you know, that’s why it took me so long to complete this album…
If people only have time to hear one song from the album, which would you recommend, and why?
That’s a tough question! It depends on what day you ask me, I guess… Today, I would say Tell Me because I like the positive feeling and the many layers in it.
If you could perform at any venue or event in the world, which would you choose, and why?
The Royal Albert Hall. I’m still fascinated by Bobby’s concert in 1966: How many people there were and how they listened and responded-in the beginning, he was just playing solo with his guitar and they loved it! They even disliked the full band stuff afterwards – how cool was that?
If you could sit down to lunch with anyone at all, past or present, who would you invite, and why?
William Shakespeare, not Bob! Why? Because he’s already gone and this would be the only way to meet him! I love his wit, his plays, his attitude – some unforgettable lunchtime I guess!
What’s something about you that most people don’t know?
That I’ve always wanted to make music!
What’s your personal favourite lyric from this new album, and why?
It’s Tell me where all the lilies went – I love to sing that phrase because it’s so uncommon, sounds funny and still there’s quite a lot of meaning in it…
What is it about music that draws such passion from you?
It’s the creation of something new and exiting. Sometimes, I just don’t know where these songs come from and I’m always on fire when it happens: A song like The Beggar for instance has touched me quite a lot when I first played it – and it was my own song! Pretty crazy! And then you never know where your song will go: Maybe become part of a romantic movie soundtrack?
What are your hopes or aspirations going forwards as an artist?
I would like to contribute something good to the world of arts. A song that speaks to us as human beings, that unites us in a feeling, in hope, maybe even in anger, worth to conserve it through the years or maybe even decades, worth to print it down in songbooks, to learn it and to sing at campfires where we are most united and natural as human beings.
What’s the best thing people can do to support you?
Show up at my concerts.
Is there anything else we should know?
That I liked this in-depth interview pretty much, thanks again!
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