An interview with Tokio Myers
Tokio Myers was the winner of Britain’s Got Talent 2017, and after nearly a year since doing so, he has released an album, a version of a globally-recognisable single, and is set to go on tour. I had the pleasure of chatting to Tokio about all of these things!
Rachael: Hi Tokio! How are you?
Tokio: I’m very good! Working hard on the tour and a whole bunch of stuff at the minute, so good!
R: It’s coming up to nearly a year since you won Britain’s Got Talent, what has it been like since the day of the final?
T: I haven’t slept. It’s been an amazing exciting roller-coaster ride, and I can’t express how much has been going on since then. I feel like I’ve forgotten half of the stuff that I’ve done but I guess that the main thing has been the new album but there’s been so much stuff going on! It’s been great. And with the tour coming up next month, the album we just released, I’ve been working really hard to take everything up like 10 notches, and it’s all come together really well. I’ve had a team that’s gotten really, really big and working on this project… I’m just really, genuinely excited. I have no idea how people are going to take it, it’s a very new project and I’m just excited to see where it’s going to run. But that’s what has been going on!
R: What you’ve been working on is a huge project, and so different to a lot of the music that is out there at the moment. What has been the response to your music so far?
T: It’s been unbelievably positive. I feel like people have been waiting for something new and just want to hear something that’s different from everything out there. I seem to bring that, and people have genuinely shown a lot of love. And that’s really great because it’s given me more juice and more energy to keep going. I’m just about to start the process of recording my second album already, and I have lots of material left in me and it does just feel like the right time to be doing this sound. It makes me happy to know that I don’t have to hang around, but I can just rock up on the stage with a few bits of gear but still pack a big sound on the stage. It’s very exciting.
R: Where did the inspiration come from to combine loads of instruments on a combination of tracks?
T: My love for music. I listen to so many genres of music, and on my playlists I’ve got everything from punk-rock to jazz to pop artists, hip-hop, to trap to old school and to garage! What I assume to be good at doing is tying all these things together and then packaging it in a way that doesn’t come across as weird. So, I think just my love for music and obviously the love for the piano and right at the front of it. It’s taken me a long time to get right, it’s not like I went onto the show [Britain’s Got Talent] and just figured it out, it’s taken 4 years to really figure out how I was going to do it all and how I was going to make the sound work. When I started it was crap and no one would have ever said “that’s cool”, but 4 years later I’ve really worked hard to find out what works and what doesn’t, and I feel like I’ve got the formula to keep going with it now!
R: On average how long does it take to create one of your tracks?
T: Well firstly I have to write the song, so I normally just sit at the piano and flesh out the ideas that are in my head, the ones that no one else can hear. When I do this, I can hear the sound that I want, and I know what the drums are going to do, and what the different sounds are that are just in my head. Than I’ll play it on the piano and piece it all together. Some of the piano pits I can do in like half an hour, others take a day or a few days, or even a week. Then after that I go into production and that can take maybe 2 or 3 days and you’re always tweaking and changing stuff so that could be another week or a month. You always have an idea of what you want and then leave it and keep coming back to it, and that works for me. And that’s all before I try to figure out how I’m going to do it live! I’ll normally have like 20 different things to hit and trigger, and that can take weeks to do.
R: It does looks incredibly complex when you perform live.
T: It really is! What I like to do sometimes is bring my friends to the process, and they don’t play an instrument, or they might play a bit of guitar or something, but when I bring them into rehearsal where I am they can see what it is I have to do. It’s only in that moment that you realise that wow there is a lot of stuff to be remembering. And every track is different! So I have to remember every shape in every box… If you hit the wrong pad you can trigger a sound that’s completely different to what you want to put out. So yeah, I love seeing their faces when they realise how much goes into making a track happen!
R: You’re also set to release your version of Jerusalem in time for the Commonwealth Games! What’s it been like creating that?
T: Yes! It’s been similar to recording the album actually. We recorded the strings for my album at Abbey Road, and we went back to record the orchestra at Abbey Road for Jerusalem so it felt like home. It’s so weird to say that Abbey Road is home… It’s one of the most iconic studios! So we went back there to record the orchestra, and we recorded the choir, and we had members who were competing at the Commonwealth Games there too and were singing on the track. And everybody brought their parents along, so there were hundreds of people In Abbey Road studio we had to hire out the whole of the location! There were a lot of people there and it was a really great day and it was a lot of fun to do. And the tack is obviously Jerusalem so it makes the hairs on your arms and neck stand up, so it was really cool, I loved it.
R: Athlete Jazmine Sawyers features on the track too, what was it like to collaborate with her?
T: Yes, she is on there! She’s great and I admire her a lot. Not only is she singing on the track, but she is competing at the Commonwealth Games doing the long-jump. And how many people can say that they are competing for the event they are releasing a single for?! That’s a lot of work for her to be doing, and I know she is working twice as hard because she’s got to train for the Games and do all the promo for the Jerusalem track and I don’t know how she’s finding the time to make it all happen. But she’s having a laugh with it and she’s been great and she’s so lovely.
R: Will you be heading over to Australia to (hopefully) hear your track being played?
T: I wish! But I think it’s all happening while I’m on tour! Then as soon as I’m finished on tour I’m going to the States to record my second album. As much as I would love to I just don’t have the time. Australia seems like a really cool place to hang out though, and an amazing place for music, so one day man!
R: What are you most looking forward to on your tour that starts soon?
T: I’m looking forward to getting out there and seeing the fans and the people that are there to see me! The bit where you walk up to the stage and you begin to see the people that actually bought tickets will always be the moments that I remember. Obviously, the bit I enjoy the most is going out there and performing and putting on a big show, so I can’t wait to see it all come to life! We’ll be going into rehearsals at the end of the month so I’ll be able to see the screens and the lighting so I can’t wait. Will you be coming out to any of the shows?
R: Yes, I’ll be seeing you at the Liverpool Philharmonic date!
T: Ahh awesome, that’s a great venue. Wicked, bring it on!
You can check out Tokio‘s new single Jerusalem that will represent Team England at the Commonwealth Games next month, on the link below: