Newcomer Tommy Newport discusses his musical career thus far, his debut album ‘Just To Be Ironic’, and the irony behind it.
Tommy Newport’s sound is immediately enticing. His music contains within it a subtle groove that compels listeners to nod their heads and tap their toes. Like Tame Impala or MGMT, Newport’s music has a modern, psychedelic rock sound that was meant to be heard across fields at festivals; of course, loud car speakers and record players will do just as well. While the sound alone is enough to hook a new listener, when one learns that Newport is a Manchester-based eighteen-year-old who first picked up a guitar only four years ago, he becomes irresistible. With having built such a strong foundation in such little time, he has only one way to go: Up.
His debut album, Just To Be Ironic (Nov 16, 2018 via Real Dirty Boy / Silk Ivory), is both infectious and shockingly mature. The album centers around relationships and of course, the irony within them. “Just to be ironic, do you love me? Be honest.” In this chorus from the album’s title track, Newport is illustrating that playful yet vulnerable feeling young people often get when falling in love. Love can feel like a game, but as so many of us know, it’s a game many of us can never truly win.
In “Violet Days,” Newport paints this picture of love gone wrong, though he’s stepping up the plate and admitting the one thing most people — young or old — can rarely do: the failed relationship is his fault.
I know now’ I was draggin’ my girl
pullin’ the whole world to the ground…
She wanted love
Those violet days
But I was making it rain from her face.
It’s this transparency that sets Newport apart as an artist. Couple this with his natural musical talent and you’ve got an up-and-coming indie artist who’s far from slowing down.
Atwood Magazine sat down and talk to Tommy Newport about his debut album, musical career thus far, and the future ahead of him.
What initially inspired me to make music was that feeling you get when your all-time favorite song comes on.
Stream: ‘Just to Be Ironic’ – Tommy Newport
A CONVERSATION WITH TOMMY NEWPORT
Atwood Magazine: I saw that you learned to play/create music only within the last four years. What made you decide to pick up and instrument, and how has playing music impacted your life?
Tommy Newport: I was 14 when I picked up my first guitar with the sole purpose to impress girls. Ultimately unsuccessful in that quest, I learned something more important along the way. There was much more to guitar playing and music writing than impressing others, just impressing myself felt much better.
Who/what inspires your music? What is your writing process like?
Newport: What initially inspired me to make music was that feeling you get when your all-time favourite song comes on. I often asked myself, “how did they make this?” The more I searched for my answers on how my favourite artists made those sounds, I slowly began to feel the wind of a much larger world to music than I could have ever imagined. Now I’m forever chasing that feeling again. The feeling of being so new to something but not afraid to dive right in. I want to be like my favorite artists, as good as them, create that favorite song for someone else.
Can you give me some background on your latest record? Which songs are your personal favorites?
Newport: Just To Be Ironic is the story of all kinds of relationships and the irony I found in them. I try to hint at points of irony throughout the record and in every song. My favorite track changes often, right now it’s ‘My Woman.’ This track tells a tale of irony in the title itself. I talk about someone calling a girl his woman “my woman” but only loving her for sex really. I do explore my problems in this album a lot which is ironic for me because it’s the last thing I want everyone to know about. I start the record off with all the upbeat songs to represent the start of a relationship and then at the interlude it takes a heavy dark turn and the sound of the rest of the album becomes more gloomy.
How are you balancing your life with your career? Can it be difficult?
Newport: It’s difficult to make sacrifices and to heavily rely on hope and chance that it will all work out. I left college to work on my music and try to make a career or a living doing what I love. But as cliche as it sounds I’ve learned more this year and done more this year just going out and doing it. I have been fortunate enough to get to see new places and meet a handful of amazing people so the risk and the reward tend to balance out. There are days of doubt and days of feeling on top of the world.
Do you have a group of musicians or producers you call to help when in the studio? What does that process look like?
Newport: I like to be alone making music, I will usually make something and send it to all of my musician friends and await their reactions. I worked with 4th Pyramid from scratch on a couple of the songs on this record and that was a first time for me and it went very well and I enjoyed it a lot. But for the most part I have to be alone.
What do you hope to do with your music moving forward?
Newport: I want to grow as an artist and reach as many people as I can. My main goal is to be able to hang around my inspirations, that’s my main motivation. To gain respect from the people who brought me to my first guitar, the artists that I listen to everyday. It would feel nice to be a phone call away from them or to be able to work with them.
Any other words you want to share?
Newport: To anyone out there making music, don’t let the saturation of the music industry or the idea that there are millions of people trying to make it, don’t let that ever stop you from trying. Someone is always listening.
— — — —
📸 © Real Dirty Boy / Silk Ivory