Life On The Road / 25 April 2022

Tom Ford talks going solo, songwriting, and ideal future collaborations

Tom Seminar Ford, who hails from Birmingham, UK, is one to keep an eye on. After spending his youth playing across the UK, he went to Boston to study jazz composition at Berklee College of Music.

Tom Ford has been busy in both the UK and US jazz scene as a live performer as well as writing and recording for many of the UK’s most promising artists. He fuses neo-soul, pop, jazz, and electroacoustic compositional techniques to create that signature Tom Ford sound.

Watch Tom’s guitar work on Chris Dave And The Drumhedz’s Tiny Desk Concert

We catch up with him about his debut album – The Tennis Champions – and the journey he is embarking on as a solo artist.

Tom Ford – The Tennis Champions EP

When did you realize that being a solo artist was something you needed or wanted to do?

I actually was pushed in the right direction by a good friend I write with and play for called Reuben James. After years of being a sideman, writer, and producer, he turned around one day and said “When’s the Tom Ford record gonna come out then?”. So I went home that day and wrote some music for myself and have never looked back! 

What is your approach to guitar and songwriting?

I just want to be as true to myself as possible.

The guitar is an amazing instrument that’s capable of so many different sounds and techniques that for me, it was always about exploring as much as I could to get closer to whatever it is my inner voice is trying to sound like.

As for songwriting I just like to go with the first idea I have be that melody, chords, or lyrics. I think the first idea you have is always the most honest even if it might not seem great at the time. The trick is to stick with it and work at it till you’re happy with it and not to just move on quickly to something else. 

How do you reconcile your identity as a solo artist and the sessionist that people know and love?

I feel there’s no real difference as luckily, I am only really ever booked to be myself. I wouldn’t say I’m best at troping and emulating other players which is a must for certain session-type gigs. I tend to get hired specifically to sound like myself which is nice and gives me a lot of freedom.

Of course, on my own shows, I have the most freedom, but ultimately I just want to do what will make the music sound best – whether that’s on my gig or someone else’s.

What are some of your proudest works, and why?

I’d say releasing my debut EP was my proudest work to date as I really feel good finally having my own music out there that’s a good representation of where I’m at currently.

I also have to mention the NPR Tiny Desk I did with my good friend and collaborator Chris ‘Daddy’ Dave. That was a real high point for me getting to play with him and the other amazing musicians in his band in such an amazing and iconic setting. 

Name three artists you would most like to collaborate with

I have always wanted to work with Björk, I heard she doesn’t really like guitar, but I’m determined to make that happen one day haha!

I’d also love to do something with Frank Ocean one day as he’s been a favorite of mine since ‘channel ORANGE’ came out.

Lastly, I’d have to say Mac Demarco. I can’t think of another artist that I’ve been as consistently into since first hearing them. I love his songwriting and sound so much!

What can we expect from Tom Ford, moving forward into your new venture as your own artist/producer?

So I have a second EP coming out later in the year, plus a load of songs I’ve written and produced with other people and a few fun collabs along the way!

Lastly, what’s in your MONO case? 

I have whatever guitar I’m using at the time in the guitar bag, which is great as it accommodates all sizes and shapes quite well and keeps them safe when I’m flying around (it fits in an overhead luggage compartment perfectly!).

I also make full use of all the extra pockets and storage for strings, laptops, hard drives, leads, etc, etc. I also have a couple of pedalboards full of fun things!

Listen to The Tennis Champions here:

Check out all our other artist features here.

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