Artist picture of Tom King

Tom King

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Artist's top tracks

Excuses Tom King 03:34
Hollow Tom King 03:17
No Mans Land Tom King 03:46
Honest Tom King 03:18
Freedom Tom King 03:51
Why Are You Here? Tom King 03:12
Hiding Away Tom King 03:35
Be That For Me Tom King 03:43
Fool Tom King 03:42

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Tom King may only be 19-years-old, but with his sky-scraping, soul-drenched voice paired with heart-bursting anthems to lost love, the Gen Z-er already looks set to be Britain’s next rising talent. His first low-key releases – billed by Wonderland as “changing the face of Sad-Pop” – channel the lyrical sensitivity of Adele and Sam Smith, with a dash of Florence Welsh’s theatricality, while retaining a healthy amount of teenage angst. His innate ability to connect with a wide audience was there from the start, with his independently released debut, “Why Are You Here?”, and his acoustic-leaning follow-up, “Be That For Me”,. Then came lockdown, and Tom now had the time to sit with and process some personal heartache in the form of his first break-up, which led him to pour his feelings into his music. The result is the forthcoming “Confessions of a Lonely Heart” EP, led by the retro-soul-inspired first single Honest. “I felt like it was a punchy, powerful statement,” Tom says of Honest’s horn-laced strut and brutally sharp lyrics. Tom has been grabbing people’s attention from a very young age. Growing up in Guildford, Surrey, he’d often put on shows for his family, whether they liked it or not. The performances usually involved ABBA, Lady Gaga, or the soundtrack to Fame (Tom and his mum love a musical). “I also loved Katy Perry,” he smiles. “I knew all the lyrics to Hot N Cold so – not gonna lie – I’d run around the living room singing in a princess dress I got from Lego Land! I was a little queer kid obsessed with dresses.” As he got older his mum’s love of Adele also started to have an effect: “I do love a ballad in the car. I listen to a lot of sad songs.” The freedom of these living room-based concerts soon ran parallel with a strict performance regime after Tom landed a place at the prestigious Guildford Cathedral Choir aged 7. In 2014, when he was just 13, he won BBC Radio 2’s Chorister of the Year Award, before leaving the choir when his voice started to break. As well as strengthening his vocal cords, the choir also taught him deep- rooted musicality. “I owe most of my musical knowledge to the choir,” he says proudly. “I did theory lessons, I learned how to sight read, and I also learned how to play violin, cello and then the saxophone.” Aged 14 Tom wrote his first song, “A piano ballad about heartbreak, obviously. All hypothetical of course,” he laughs. “I didn't know about love at that point. I recorded it onto my dad's 4-track recorder. I even made a music video.” From there he progressed to creating music on his computer, teaching himself how to use Logic and experimenting with production techniques. “I was doing covers on YouTube to get used to how it all works.” While he'd always been surrounded by music, the initial plan had been to get into acting, specifically on the West End, with his Saturdays spent at Guildford School for Acting. That all changed when he was 15 and he met a friend at school who introduced him to music mentor Harriet Starling. “She had a bunch of contacts and she got me into writing sessions with Paul Aiden, which was so cool. Then once I'd written a few songs with him she taught me about playlists, and uploading songs and artwork, all the streaming platform stuff. So that was “Why Are You Here?”. It’s doing well considering it was my first proper release.” More songs followed, including last year's tactile Hiding Away, before lockdown hit and Tom had time to ruminate on a break-up ‘of sorts’. “Basically, I fell for a guy at school, who I really liked - we were friends at the same time so it was awkward,” he explains. “I caught feelings, he started seeing one of my other best friends, and it all became a bit of a mess.” The EP alchemises this specific event into instantly relatable hymns. It also unfurls like the various stages of grief, with the tender Hollow (“you still don't care after all we shared”) about the immediate after-effects. “It's about how I felt when I found out. Betrayed.” The atmospheric, beat-driven Freedom, meanwhile, is written from a distance “after I'd had my hissy fit and gotten over it.” The lyric “I tried to burn our bridges down” is about trying to exit this relationship that was making me upset.” The decadent-sounding Honest, as we've discussed, is from a place of newly found confidence, looking back at a challenging situation with all the power and maturity that comes with time. Emotional clarity courses through Tom’s voice, and his debut EP channels his heartache and sends it skywards, working through his life experiences with a perspective well beyond his 19 years. While he seems new to this, singing and performing – be it as part of a choir, dressed up in his living room, or belting out songs on TikTok – has been his purpose for a lot longer. “I'd like to take my time and get everything just right,” he says of his career aspirations. “I've never released a body of work before so it's exciting for people to be able to get an idea of where I'm coming from musically and lyrically. I want these songs to help empower others”. Just as all great sad-pop should do.