Interview: Tobias And The Lion | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Billingham’s multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and aspiring writer Tobias Halford aka ‘Tobias and the Lion’ releases his new single, Love (available now on all digital platforms) and so we caught up with him to find out more. 

Who are your biggest creative influences? 
The best way to describe my influences is diverse. I don’t really have a favourite band it’s more a combination of a variety of artists and it may be best to take you back to the beginning of my first memories of music through to my latest to understand.
Being religious (I’m a Latter-Day Saint/Mormon) I grew up with a lot of classical music, I would occasionally sing in the choirs at church and I was around a few classically trained musicians. That is still a part of my influences as I’m a fan of classical music like Chopin and The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
My dad would listen to a lot of bands like The Police, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Oasis and Crowded house which gave me a glimpse into finding out what I liked.
The first albums that I bought were Stereophonics – Word Gets Around, Ash – 1977 and Seafood – When do we start fighting. These albums really started me off on my musical journey and combined with my brother’s favourite band Radiohead, these are the artists that still influence the way I write music today.
My latest influences (that are currently on repeat on my Spotify account) are the likes of The 1975, Panic at the Disco, The National and Idlewild.  I have developed a great love for chart music which, I never thought I would and I find that I’m becoming more drawn to pop music.

How would you describe your sound?
I think I’m a lot like artists such as; Beck, The Divine Comedy and Bredon Urie (but not as talented them) I do what I want to and don’t necessarily stick to a specific genre or sound of music.
Although the label I would choose for myself is Pop, I like to make every song as distinctive as I can depending on the theme of the song. Usually, I like to mix acoustic raw sounds with modern sounds and modern recording techniques.

Tell us more about your latest single Love.
This song celebrates everything to do with Love (hence the title) and is primarily a tribute to my wife as I wanted to write a song that is for her. The song is a combination of every aspect of Love with elements of humour, sincerity and above all honesty.
I find that if I write songs that have no personal meaning to me or I just use lyrics because they sound good I end up hating the song.
I find that that there is a lot of lyrically depressing music around and I’m not degrading it (as I do love a bit of music to dampen my mood and stare into the abyss) but, that is why I wanted to release something different that was positive and slightly humorous.

Could you briefly describe the music-making process?
With this song, I worked on the parts of each instrument just here and there, although I did spend a lot of time getting the drums right.
The song consists of an acoustic guitar, bass, electric guitar, drums, keyboard and a few synthesizer tracks. I play all the instruments on the track, spending about two and a half hours to record it at Frozen Pines Studio.
It’s an exciting process as I don’t do any demos of the song beforehand and by doing so I don’t really know how the song will sound until I’m there in the studio.
It gets me anxious sometimes as I’m spending money on a song that I don’t really know how it will sound but, that’s part of the beauty of it as I like that some of the tracks become impulsive and raw.
I love working with Jack at Frozen Pines Studio, I don’t stay for the mixing process as I think DIY/ independent music is about every person doing their own thing in their own way.
I like the surprise of seeing how Jack will mix the song and I believe that by allowing people to complete a creative process independently is when you get the best work from a person.

What does 2020 have in store for you?
Eventually, I would love to do an album. I have written over 50 songs so it’s picking the right ones to do and getting the money together.
Doing a music video for ‘Love’ is on the list, being DIY I record and edit all my music videos (yes, it can be tricky at times).
I’ll be getting my website running this year with the goal of having weekly blogs and will try to build a better online presence.

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