Tom Stephens’ Nowhere to Roam is a haunting ode to self-reliance. Following his debut EP, Wintry West, his most recent offering Nowhere to Roam swells with a resonant voice which introspects tenderly on life and place. The composition reflects significant growth for Tom since his first release, with its strong union of cello, violin, guitar and piano. Nowhere to Roam offers a captivating melodic and lyrical experience and were lucky enough to catch up with him.
Exciting news about the release of your second EP Nowhere to Roam – We are sure a lot of hard work has gone into the production and organisation of the single, and the East Coast Tour; what has been the driving force in pursuing your passion in music?
Thank you – yeah it’s exciting times. There’s definitely been a lot of behind the scenes work that’s gone into the record. I’m over the moon that people are finally able to have a listen to it.
I’ve always felt the constant drive to create – I think that’s the principal force behind pursuing my passion for music. Music has always been around me and been a constant companion. Ever since my early days, I’ve always aspired to create music. Music holds the power to bring people together through a shared human experience. It’s a real privilege to be able to facilitate that and be a part of other people’s experiences. I’d say that I’m driven by the desire to create relevant compositions that reflect my own unique, subjective human experience.
Where were you when you wrote the first lines to Nowhere to Roam? What were the thoughts that led to the track’s creation?
The first lines came to me late one night when I was driving home. The song was originally a poem that I wrote but the chorus came to me later on and so it became Nowhere to Roam. When I wrote the song I was thinking a lot about individuality and the concept of self-reliance. I was reading a lot of Ralph Waldo Emerson at the time. He calls humanity to “trust thyself”, emphasising the need for each individual to avoid conformity and false consistency, and follow his or her own instincts and ideas.
I think that sometimes people will let us down and our hopes can’t be placed in others. Nowhere to Roam is a call to back oneself and accept that sometimes we are without others and isolated. But if we trust our self and our own judgement, things will be okay. I think there is a real strength that can be found in periods of loneliness.
What/Who inspired you to delve into folk music?
I think that I was attracted to folk music because of its raw, unaffected nature. I’ve always enjoyed writing words. I think that the folk genre provides an opportunity to pair words with music in a way that that is unique from other genres. Performing with just yourself and a guitar is really exposing and I find this liberating in a lot of ways.
I’ve always been inspired by wordsmiths from the 70s folk era. Particurly John Martyn and Nick Drake. Both these guys have really influenced my approach to song writing and in particular my approach to the guitar. I’ve also always been inspired by Leonard Cohen. His ability to generate replications of his own experiences through his songs is incredible. His lyricism is unbelievable.
Working with bassist for Angus and Julia Stone – Cameron Whipp, must be pretty exciting? How did this come about?
Yeah Cam has been playing upright bass for me for a while now. I actually met Cam while working at a Café in Cronulla. We became mates and began jamming together.
Both our styles of playing really complement each other. We try and channel the John Martyn, Danny Thompson duo vibe that was so special during John’s career. We both have a drumming background so we take a percussive approach to our instruments, Cam the upright bass and myself with the guitar. I love Cam’s playing style and it’s a real honour to have him play with me. Not only is he a happening bass player but he’s also an all-round top dude. Looking forward to hitting the road again with him on the tour.
The June 20 release of Nowhere to Roam will be followed by an East Coast tour commencing on July 10 at FBi Social.
The tour will include the following dates:
July 10 – FBi Social, Sydney
July 11 – The Aztec, Forster
July 12 – Private House Show, Forster
July 13 – Goldfish, Hunter Valley
July 18 – Byron Bay (tba)
July 19 – Taps, Sunshine Coast
July 20 – Room60, Brisbane
Tom Stephens will be joined on stage by former Angus and Julia Stone bassist Cameron Whipp who will provide support on upright bass. The duo’s brand of dynamic rhythmically focused folk delivers a powerful listening experience.
For more info check out:
His About-Blank profile: https://about-blank.co/profile/tom-stephens/
Triplej unearthed: https://www.triplejunearthed.com/artist/tom-stephens