You may remember the very talented Tom Peel, who performed as part of Muzikstan Midsummer Festival, June 28th at The Old Print Works. Tom is what we would call an honorary Brummie, he may not have the accent but he has chosen to perform his folk songs in Birmingham for the past 9 years, so we thought he would be a great person to have a little chat with all about #BrumSpirit.
Name: Tom Peel
Occupation: Musician & Founder of northsidestudio
From: I grew up in Kingsclere, near Newbury in Berkshire
Live: Great Barr
Tell us about your job?
I write and perform quirky abstract folk songs, mostly for guitar but also for archaic forms of analogue equipment including Reel-to-reel tape, VHS, and Cassette, it is also not uncommon for me to wear these machines during a performance.
As well as this I run northsidestudio which puts artists though a crowd funding process in order to fund a professional recording project.
How and why did you get into doing what you do?
I started writing and playing songs in my early teens, inspired by the words of Paul Simon and Bob Dylan – it was all about what they were saying – Bob can make 10mins of the same 3 or 4 chords into such phenomenal song just because of the words.
The vintage audio fascination was inspired by my University degree in Music Technology – I loved learning about the explosion of creativity that came about from the discovering sounds could be reproduced, manipulated, looped distorted etc. Its mind blowing that we’ve only been able to do this in the past 150 odd years. If you went back in time and recorded Shakespeare, playing it back to him would probably melt his brain, right after he’d said “naaa I don’t sound like that to I? Ugh I hate the sound of my own voice” *brain melt*
What is your professional highlight to date?
northsidestudio successfully crowd funded Samuel J Lawrence’s EP project, this was a great feeling to make another young artists aspirations of recording their first EP a reality and facilitate that has been amazing. Check out his Facebook page.
What do you have bubbling away creatively this year?
The Tom Peel Subscription Club has been brewing for the last few months, this is an exclusive song subscription service where members enjoy the next 24 songs I write as they are written and recorded. We’re currently on song 8 of 24 members also receive a t-shirt, membership card, the last Tom Peel album, personalised type written letters, etc. You can even go platinum and have a song written for you or whoever/whatever you like.
Also next year I will have been in Birmingham for 10 years so i’m currently recording a 10 year best of Tom Peel CD to be released around next autumn.
What is the best part about working in Birmingham?
The love! Recently I’ve felt everyone getting involved and joining in for the love of it, there is so much more awareness for independent shops and cafes etc. Inclusivity is my all-time favourite thing and I feel that in Birmingham especially this year at the Luna Festival and The Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival.
The recent reports of over burdened social workers dealing with kids is appalling, hopefully the recent media coverage will have provided the necessary kick in the preverbal to sort it out. Saying that there are other areas of social care that are amazing Autism West Midlands for one are a bunch of genius’
What is your favourite place in Birmingham?
My church in Handsworth! We meet at Hamstead Hall school on Craythorne avenue 11.30 every sunday. Its full of honest and genuine people, we are an autonomous church so there is no vicar or pastor, we just all chip in which makes it a wonderful place to learn and grow spiritually from each other. Is a worldwide church community that was established in Birmingham in the mid to late 1800’s.
More commercially – Peel & Stone, not just because of the name, but Carl Finn who runs it is an inspiring entrepreneur, putting people and good good food at the centre of everything he does, make sure you check out their blog too.
Culturally the IKON gallery – they’re on the button when it comes to contemporary art always provoking thought and discussions.
What makes you proud about living in Birmingham?
Its current sense of growth and adventure, rising up out of the concrete is a very real and flourishing creative industry with support from promoters and the public.
What one thing would you change about the city?
Bring in a Birmingham version of the Oyster card! That would be so good for getting about.
What one thing you would champion?
I would champion the recording and production of talented artists with out the budget to record professionally through crowd funding programs at northsidestudio!
Where do you take your friends when they visit you in Birmingham?
I’d start in Digbeth (free parking of course) then amble along the canals, to Brindley place and pop into the IKON gallery – its amazing I love that place! Then after a mooch about town, whisky tasting in the Whiskey Shop in the Western Arcade on a friday 4-6 – its only £12 for the year and you get to have free tastings and 10% off everything in the shop! Maybe some street food back in Digbeth. Then to Kings Heath for some music at the Hare and Hounds, or the Vic in town.
How do you see the city 20 years from now?
In 2034…I will be 47…golly…its not my habit to look that far into the future, I put my faith in God for tomorrow and the days, months and years to come that we will all still live in safety with the freedoms we enjoy now to be who we are, also in the furthering of equality, unbiased education and justice for the neglected and oppressed. That there will be no room for corruption or partiality in our councils, institutions and businesses. That ultimately this city will be granted wisdom and understanding to allow those things to flourish and be established.
If you want to catch more of Tom, you can find him playing at the Hare and Hounds supporting Kieran Leonard this Wednesday (July 16th) – find out more here. Also we highly recommend a visit to the subscription club – got #BrumSpirit written all over that!