Soundtrack to Your Summer: Tom Misch

Photo Courtesy of Anna Buksowicz

There are few things worth cherishing forever: perhaps the bittersweetness of a high school graduation, an anxious first kiss, or reuniting with an old childhood friend. To my personal collection of memorabilia, I now add Tom Misch’s debut gig in downtown Montreal. After a busy, sunny day of moving out of one apartment and into another on May 1st, the excitement of change echoed into the night as Misch blessed Le National with his avant-garde approach to songwriting. Without a doubt, those 90 minutes spent entangled by Misch’s dreamy soundscapes and agile fretwork will be engraved in my mind forever.

There are few things worth cherishing forever: the bittersweetness of a high school graduation, an anxious first kiss, the last cup of tea before bed, the first snowfall of the year, or reuniting with an old childhood friend.

Growing up in South London, Misch’s charming accent translates into slow ballads like “Movie” and upbeat grooves like “South of the River”. Other tracks, like “The Journey”, or a melodic, multi-layered cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely”, are purely instrumental and exist perfectly on their own. Misch’s performance exposed songs from both his past works – which are more experimental, funky, and contain shifting rhythms – as well as his new works, which are polished and blend in better with current, award-winning pop music.

The now 22-year old approaches thematic songwriting with a comfortable, DIY approach. Borrowing inspiration from jazz, disco, electronica, neo-soul, and 90’s hip-hop, Misch crafts a personal sound that is smooth, upbeat, and ever-dreamy.

Rising in the music industry solely as a 16-year-old beatmaker, the now 22-year old approaches thematic songwriting with a comfortable, DIY approach. Borrowing inspiration from jazz, disco, electronica, neo-soul, and 90’s hip-hop, Misch crafts a personal sound that is smooth, upbeat, and ever-dreamy. The ethos of his music is the redefinition of sound – largely evidenced by his nifty production and combination of classical instruments (violin and trumpet) into a largely technical set. At the same time, however, his tunes pay tribute to what made music perhaps the most popular art form in the first place; raw sounds from live instruments and, seemingly, a lack of shadowed backing tracks. By crafting adventurous sounds into an organic foundation of nostalgia-filled resonance, Misch may be able to save the modern music business: an industry in which a focus on authenticity has drifted artists away from what made music great in the first place.

Misch’s repertoire is only coloured by experimentation- while his fundamental sound pays tribute to the classics.

Photo courtesy of Anna Buksowicz

That being said, it has come to my attention that many musicians’ adoration for experimental sounds has created a new genre within the business, one that lacks truthfulness towards melody or rhythm. Artists fear repetition, so much so that they lack consistency in their repertoire. This is largely reflected in Brockhampton’s and Frank Ocean’s combination of various grooves, and consequently various moods, into single songs. While I adore both of those artists for their own reasons, Misch’s repertoire is only coloured by experimentation- while his fundamental sound pays tribute to the classics.

Seeing Misch perform live and inspecting his audience inspired another reflection: that his music is universal. I was pleasantly surprised by the diversity of Misch’s fanbase: a large portion of the crowd was composed of passionate elders, dressed in comfortable clothing and hippie jewelry, singing along to each multi-layered beat and minimalist lyric. In midst of the younger, marijuana-infused Quebecois hipsters wearing beanies and checkered trousers, it was extremely refreshing to see a new type of demographic enjoying the music just as much.

Anyone can enjoy, or at least appreciate, Tom Misch’s stellar artistry. So as you grind at your unpaid corporate internship, walk down Sherbrooke for summer courses, or lay out in the sun on a tropical island, have a taste of Tom Misch’s craftwork – you won’t be disappointed.

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