Who exactly is Meanwhile?
Previously described as ‘a new Prince,’ a quick background search delivered images of a tall, stern looking character clutching a box of popcorn whilst gazing to the side as if to avoid the cameras. The fervent tracks ‘Icarus’ and ‘All For The Taking’, with their distinct, stirring and experimental melodies, left me questioning what sort of individual lay behind the smokescreen of bold sounds and bright colours.
Whilst Meanwhile was supporting La Roux on tour, I got a chance to sit down and chat with the rising talent who’s managed to gather the attention of so many onlookers. The mind behind this extravagantly decorated screen is none other than Tom Andrews, seeking to deliver something “emotionally evocative, bombastic and designed to be self indulgent.” These aspirations have produced an array of vibrant songs, which left me interested in learning more about the sources of inspiration and meaning which fed into the creative process.
“I like to write to visuals.” Tom explains, “What I’m trying to do is evoke the same emotion in the listener that I feel when I’m making the track; whether I’m responding to a visual element or singing about my ex-girlfriend I want them to feel the same thing I feel.” Tom’s charismatic product consistently delivers right through to the colourful and eccentric mood portrayed within the video clips for ‘All for the Taking’ and ‘Bigger City’. “A pop song is an agreeable mid-ground to that – something with a verse chorus verse chorus is something everyone can relate to in a way.”
When asked if times arose when there were any concerns or self-doubt as to whether the new music he produced would be too experimental, and whether it mattered to him how others perceived his sound, Tom responds confidently. “Yeah, I’m aware of it being translatable, but you have to be free at the same time. I don’t care too much about someone else or you lose sight of the artistry of it. You have to be ignorant to it sometimes.” His powerful onstage presence engrossed the room, demanding attention – an interesting contrast to the artist’s more modest and composed side that had surfaced earlier in our conversation.
A lot of people seem to be under the impression that being raised in a small town can put you at a disadvantage when pursuing a career within the entertainment industries, and in particular the music business. Tom, raised in a small town himself, refutes this.”There’s actually an incredible music scene in the town that I grew up in. Absolutely amazing. A lot of the people who are bubbling up now are from this tiny little town. We all kind of knew each other, so it was like friendly competition.” He emphasises how it was nice to have others passionate about music around him, mentioning how listening to each other and sharing knowledge in the field really helped him distinguish his type of sound.
Recalling his early experiences, Tom details his best advice for others attempting to get discovered. “Icarus was the first thing I wrote by myself and I popped it online and it just got passed from one person to the next person. There’s always a certain amount of luck involved; you’ve got to be at the right place at the right time.” Despite this he reiterated “You need to provide potential to create that luck.” Tom’s online presence had been a definite factor on the path to getting signed to his label ‘Fiction Records’, home to many renowned artists including Elbow and the Kaiser Chiefs.
Finally I couldn’t help but ask Tom something off-topic, specifically which member of the X men he would like to be – “The dude with the visors,” he answers swiftly. However, he offers an amendment: “Who was the guy who had the cards? This is going to bug me now, I’m going to find that out.” We have now uncovered that his name is Gambit and he’s making an appearance in his own film due sometime around 2016.
Fortunately you won’t have to wait that long to hear more music from Meanwhile. The Element Yes EP is available to download from iTunes right now. Tom’s showmanship and pride in his work are both clear indicators that we can look forward to many more distinctive additions to Meanwhile’s track list.