WE CAUGHT UP WITH TOKIO MYERS BEFORE HIS SOLD-OUT SHOW AT EDINBURGH’S QUEEN’S HALL TO DISCUSS TOKIO’S DEBUT ALBUM, SOLD-OUT TOUR, WINNING BRITAIN’S GOT TALENT AND FUTURE PLANS
1. What has been your most enjoyable piece of music to make and write? Why?
Tokio Myers: ”Oh wow, have so many tracks going through my mind. You know it must be ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ which is the last track on the album; I remember listening to a lot of Underworld at the time and one of their tracks is in Trainspotting. So yeah I was listening to a lot of 90’s music at the time and also The Prodigy: which is kind of weird as I play piano you wouldn’t expect me to listen to that kind of music. I really enjoyed making that as it was at night, we had lights and visuals on the screen, we had a couple of beers just hanging out it like having a rave when making this track. The whole thing just grew and grew in to this an amazing festival style piece so it felt right to put it at the end of the album for a farewell. And the other cool one to do is ‘Angel’, which I did here I was at the Biscuit Factory last year during the festival. We went to a studio here in Leith and I started to build the piano part here in Edinburgh. That was a very cool moment for us as it seems to be the most popular track on the album.”
2. What songs on the album speak to you the most?
T: ”I would say ‘Polaroid’ and ‘Limitless’, the two solo piano pieces: I wrote them both back in 2015 for a friend of mine about her relationship with her dad, her dad passed away when she was a little kid and I remember seeing videos and loads of photos of her and her dad growing up and I felt something magical about it even though I never got the chance to meet him and the way she talks about him. He was a traveller and he travelled the world going to places like Greece, living on yachts and boats, having that cool lifestyle. He seems like a really amazing man. I remember being in my flat writing these pieces for her and they just came out, I never had the intention to do it I just sat down and had these visions of her playing with her dad and playing in the park. These tracks were kind of the birth of the album in away. 2015 was the first time I actually started writing music properly you know sitting down and compose some music on the piano so it hasn’t been that long.”
3. What makes your music be unique and stand out?
T: “For me it is that I am a pianist first: so I am not a singer and I am not a rapper, the first place I will go to write music is here (there is a piano keyboard next to Tokio and he places his hand on it when saying this) and I have the vision so I know the drums and bass in my head and I will make really bad voice recordings on my phone and I can hear everything and I know it may sound rubbish cause you can only hear the piano. But in my head I can hear the drums and all the kind of stuff going on and the strings. Because I am coming from it from a much more musical theory based idea and I am coming from that at that angle then I think it going to sound different. I listen to so much music as well and I grow up loving electronic music and I love reggae, drum and bass and classical music, all this things I have my ears to the ground and I mould it to this (meaning his piano by pointing) so it will always be different as I am going to be moulding it around the piano. As to a vocalist or a rapper it’s been done and everyone is doing it, I am moulding the whole thing on the piano and have everyone thinking ‘wait a minute he playing the piano but he has all this other stuff happening’.”
4. What is your inspiration?
T: “My inspiration comes from the not so positive place, so you know I grew up in areas that were not so great: I live in London its very gritty and it is a hard, difficult place. Everyone thinks that this is where the money at, come down to London to work and get money. No one really sees it, it’s like a trap in a way. It’s a struggle that stuff will affect me as I know people and has people there who are still stuck in the struggle, there are the things I am drawn to there the things attach to making music there the things that gives me the vibe to perform and hopefully Inspire someone to give them strength and let them know they’re not alone. That the things we are all out here trying to survive. You know we can do this.”
5. What advice would you give anyone who wanted to pursue a career with their talent?
T: “I always go back to the enjoyment. If you don’t enjoy anything what is the point before getting in to that this is what you should do etc., you need to enjoy it. The reason I stuck at this is because it fascinates me I generally get a kick out of playing, so whatever it is you enjoy it and it makes you smile and feel positive then that is a great start cause you will go with your whole heart in to it and where it leads you is a magical place with your work. It on another level will take you to a spiritual place.”
6. How does it feel to be sold out here in Edinburgh and for most of your tour?
T: “Its mental! It’s a lovely venue here, I have just done a sound check and the sound is amazing and to think last year playing to a pub with 20 people in would be a result so this is just mind blowing. So from going from no one giving a damn to being sold out it is insane and most of the tour is sold out I believe, so I just want to thank everyone man for spending money an coming to see me because it means a lot, it really does.”
7. What can we expect for tonight’s show?
T: ”Oh have you not seen anything yet?”
Kellyanne Tobin: ”No I am saving myself for tonight’s show I wanna be surprised with everything.”
T: ”It’s bigger that everything else I have done, bigger that what I had at BGT, I am talking about the actual stuff I am playing on there so much going on. I don’t really want to say anything now as you not seen anything yet. I want you to walk in and be surprised so sorry but I am not going to say anything. What I will say is that I want to take people on a journey – there will be highs and lows, big and low. Just something like a movie, I just want you to feel like you came to just watch a movie. I build a set that will make you want to dance, want to cry you are definitely taking on a journey I hope.”
K: ”That is cool I understand I can’t wait now ha-ha!”
8. Last question for you: do you think you will ever teach music in the future?
T: “I use to teach music actually, I really enjoyed it. I used to do it when I was at university I used to teach a wide range aged from 6-7 to almost 70 years old; I would go in to this Piano shop in London and teach. I miss teaching there is something very cool watching your student going from not knowing anything to developing and seeing them grow and their progress, and you see in their eyes the enjoyment and that yes I can do this! Yes I would like to teach again one day and get back in to it again. One day I would love to open up a music school but need the money for that, I want to have this for kids to learn and just pop in to play. One day!”