Feltbeats.com received the unique opportunity to discuss Tom Felton’s music in light of his upcoming new album, “In Good Hands.” To spice things up, we decided to solicit interview questions from the Tom Felton followers on Twitter.
Remember to keep an eye out for Tom’s new album, “In Good Hands,” which should be released on iTunes any day now.
In the next few weeks, Feltbeats.com will be releasing more of this exclusive interview with Tom Felton.
- Part Zero, The Twitter Interview: Snitchseeker Preview
- Part One, The Twitter Interview: New Album, “In Good Hands”
- – Wednesday, April 1 – Part Three, The Twitter Interview: Music & Acting: Tom discusses how acting relates to singing and also Twitter.
- – Friday, April 3 – Part Four, The Twitter Interview: Lyrics: Tom and Misha from Feltbeats.com get into a heated argument over the lyrics to some of Tom’s songs. Spoiler alert: He wins.
FB: Okay so let’s get started with the music part of the interview. As you know, we solicited questions from your Twitter followers, so this will be lots of fun. So, the first question is – well, I think I know the answer to this question already, but, ness171990 asks, “how long have you been playing the guitar?”
TF: I dunno, that’s a bit of a funny one, that. It’s a bit like, “How long have you been walking?” I’ve been HOLDING a guitar for maybe… well, I got my first real guitar on my nineteenth birthday, and I’ll be twenty-two this September. So, I mean, I know I had played before I got that guitar, but I had never really played seriously. So, I’m coming up on two or two and a half years, if that makes sense.
AUDIO: Tom talks about learning to play guitar.
TF: I mean, this is going to lead us into a whole list of other questions, I’m sure, but I’ve always been making music. There was a time when we were eleven or twelve years old, and I had a couple of friends that rapped and another friend that sung – Melissa – and I was really into the production side of things, making the actual beat or melody, whatever.
And that’s hence where “FeltBeats” came from… Just using half of my name and adding “beats.” And we did that for about five or six years, really. So I guess I’ve always been making music in that respect.
As far as the singing and songwriting: when I listened to Jack Johnson the first few times, I knew I wanted to play guitar. So I pretty much picked it up from there. But singing while playing the guitar seemed so foreign at first. For about a good year, I could not at all sing a note while playing. But, eventually…
FB: Yeah, it must be hard to concentrate, yeah.
TF: Yeah, you just can’t do it. It literally, like, it doesn’t make sense. I don’t know how to explain how foreign it feels. But then once it clicks, and you manage to do a few things, it does feel good. (Laughs) So, yeah, it’s all sort of flourished from there.
AUDIO: Tom talks about singing/songwriting.
And again, I know that the further question from that – as far as sharing with people, I don’t know. That’s sort of a funny one. As far as the hip-hop side of things, I never felt like that was something I’d want to share. This… this is more appealing in general, so I’m hoping… also, once you get a positive response to one song, it’s hard not to let it out.
FB: Yeah, it’s definitely a different kind of music, it’s like… When we were talking recently you said you loved the Beatles…
TF: I’ve always loved Paul McCartney… you sort of find more and more songs every day with him. My mum sort of brought me up on all that sort of stuff. When Jade and I were out in Hawaii, that’s all we had was the Beatles CD. It was the greatest… The greatest musical CD you could have. It was actually fantastic.
FB: What CD was it, the White Album?
TF: No, no, it’s like the most recent one, like, just the number ones. It’s got the rare twenty-seven number ones on it. It’s not really one of their genuine albums, but its good if you want just want every one of their hits. So, sure.
FB: Ah, because your music has got sort of that same quality, that same clean feeling… Maybe it’s just because it’s acoustic, I guess…
TF: No, I would take that as a HUGE compliment! (Laughs)
FB: So I guess that’s why I like the music so much, is because it reminds me of the Beatles and I loved the Beatles when I was younger…
TF: Yeah, but also the one thing that I’ve really tried to hold with from the Beatles – that I think is pure genius – is short songs. Like, anything that is quite catchy as a song, keep it down to two minutes, two and a half minutes. Because I think it is less tiresome. Whereas if you make it like four to five minutes, well, quite simply, you get bored a bit quicker. Whereas so many of the great Beatles songs are barely two minutes long. It seems they finish before they start, which, I think, makes you want to listen to them more.
FB: Right. Right.
TF: Unless you’ve got something epic to sing about. I think like, “Hey Jude,” that’s like a seven-minute song. I mean, they go on and on on that one. So I think if you find something good, you’ve got to roll with it.
AUDIO: Tom talks about The Beatles.
FB: Yeah, it’s almost got a plot to it.
TF: Yeah, oh yeah, definitely.
FB: So, TheBellWitch wants to know how many instruments you can play.
TF: Well, that depends on your definition of “play.” (Laughs) I mean, I can blow wind through a lot of trumpets and such… I doubt I could make music from it. But seriously, the first instrument I ever learned was the piano. I learned it in Grade Two, but I dropped it for like, eight or ten years. I’ve only just recently started reacquainting myself with chord formations and things like that. So I consider myself barely able, really, on the piano.
I learned the violin, believe it or not, for like three years when I was a child. And again, I haven’t played that for the last five years.
As far as recent music, I orchestrate the acoustic guitar. The bass – I played the bass on some of the tunes, fairly unsuccessfully, but I do play. And the harmonica, obviously, I do a bit on that. The ukulele – I do enjoy playing the ukulele from time to time. When I was out in Hawaii, it was always nice.
And I’d like to say the drums – I have a drum kit, but I’m not, I’m just not good enough. And actually, in Track Two of the new album, there are a few drums on there. I’d like to say that was me, but it wasn’t. (Laughs)
TF: No, unfortunately not. It was a friend of mine who is far more capable on the drum kit than I am.
AUDIO: Tom talks about the instruments he can play.
FB: Oh, that’s so funny you mentioned that, because after the last interview we did I was kicking myself for not asking more details when you said that you played all the instruments on the songs, like the drums. And I was like, “Hey, there aren’t drums on any of those songs.”
TF: Actually, two of the tracks on the next album have drums on them. The second song actually has genuine drums, as in, a man on a drum kit. And the Track Six is basically like – this is going to sound weird – but it’s a bit of a hip hop, R & B song. It’s not really… although it’s guitar – and it’s a bit different. I’ll be intrigued to see what people think of it, so I thought I’d put it out there. I won’t lie, I recorded it a couple of years ago, but I thought I’d put it out there and see what people think. Everything was just done on the day, so there are things I might want to do better, but that I don’t think I could do again, so I’m happy to sort of put it out there. There are parts that I think are just… quite special. I don’t know. I’m interested to see if people connect with it.
FB: Yeah, I’m so excited to hear it.
TF: And yeah again, a funny story… the track was finished, and he was just messing around with the drum kit and I just put my headphones on, and I just said, “Play along if you can.” He’d never heard the song before in his life. And I recorded what he played – he had no idea I was recording it, and those were the drums I used on the track. So, he’d never heard the song before – it was genuinely our first time playing it together. So it’s got quite a natural feel to the drums.
FB: Do you want to put his name out there?
TF: I definitely do. Just put him down as “RC.” He’s definitely a musical protégé; he’s an idol of mine. Certainly, I learned a lot from him.
TF: Yeah, a few of my friends – again, RC – and my friend SC; they’re brothers I’ve known for a while. They’re both really expert musicians. I mean, they exceed my skills tenfold. But they’re the sort of people who are… they don’t ever really record anything; they just sort of master their skills at home. But, a lot of my inspiration comes from what they’re playing, definitely.
FB: jmo23 asks if there is any song that you can cover really well.
TF: Yeah, that’s a really interesting question – I like that. I’m thinking the Beatles – but that’s sort of obvious. There are a couple of soundtrack songs that are really good that I like to do. I don’t know.
FB: JoyJoy2009 wants to know your favorite songs? Do you have a
favorite song from the Beatles and Jack Johnson?
TF: Yeah, sure. Beatles song – man, there isn’t a favorite song. But, off the top of my head, “Let it Be,” or “8 Days A Week.” Either of those, really. Whichever.
Jack Johnson, that’s a tough one. There are so many good tunes for him. I don’t know… “While We Wait” I think is a really beautiful tune; it is underrated and doesn’t get enough attention. It’s like a one-minute forty song, but I think it’s a really beautiful song.
FB: How about your favorite song of all time, ever?
TF: Oh, man, you can’t ask me that! I like a really eclectic mix. I like some of the softest acoustic down to some of the hardest core hip-hop there is. I don’t know. That’s a tough one. I have to go with something from the Beatles – I’d have to say “Let It Be.” Those are the songs I can see myself listening to in sixty years. There are some songs that will last the test of time. Those are the songs that will last you a lifetime.
AUDIO: Tom talks about his favorite songs.
Except that since I’ve come back from Hawaii I seem to have lost the Beatles CD. I’m not even going to try to find it. I’m just going to wait to go back to Hawaii, since I’ve got such good memories now.
[Editor’s Note: Some may remember that immediately after this interview, Tom started looking for the CD. He even went so far as to “sing” Beatles songs on Twitter in an attempt to coax the CD out of hiding.]
FB: This one is from PureBloodx3: Have you named your guitars?
TF: I do, actually. Going back to my friend SC, he names all his guitars. I bought him a guitar once that he calls Lola. And from there we started naming. I won’t lie, the names are pretty unresourceful. Like, I’ve got a guitar from a company called Dean, and we call that one Dean. It isn’t brilliant. The guitar I play and the one I actually use in all the recordings and the videos is called a Cole Clark. So we call it Cole or Clark. Which, again, isn’t brilliant. So I guess the answer is no, because those aren’t really names.
AUDIO: Tom discusses naming his guitars.
FB: Cazling wants to know how many guitars you have.
TF: That’s a terrible question. I’m going to feel guilty about answering this one. I won’t lie, I do collect them a little bit. I probably have about fifteen. About five are on “rent.” I’ve got friends and brothers that have got them all. But I keep them all in action.
AUDIO: Tom talks about how many guitars he has.
FB: I thought this was a good question from ktqck: What was the first
time you picked up the guitar and really felt like a musician? What song was it and what inspired it?
TF: Yeah, yeah. Well, you get little bits. You don’t get like one big epiphany. Like, BANG. The track, “Under Stars” was the first ever riff that I’ve ever made up by myself, if that makes sense. It was the first riff that I didn’t look up first online. I was just purely messing around. And, admittedly, it didn’t start off quite like that, it developed over a while.
And there is a funny story behind that: When I was out in Boulder, Colorado – me and a friend of mine – there’s a charity that I help with, “There With Care.” I’ve mentioned it to you before. We wrote a song for them up there, using that riff, me and Jamie Waylett [the actor who plays Vincent Crabbe in Harry Potter] for the charity. But I came up a year later and they still hadn’t used it, so I decided to put the original lyrics to it and record it myself.
FB: Zoe asks, is there a song that took ages, or was really difficult for you to write?
TF: Yeah, I won’t lie, I get very despondent with the songs – either it happens or it doesn’t. A lot of my songs and lyrics are written about, you know, up to… they can change like ten minutes before I actually sing them. I don’t sit there with a pad and paper at night and sort of work at scriptures of lyrics. I more just jam at the guitar and whatever comes out comes out. I work at it a little bit in between. I won’t lie, I wouldn’t consider myself a like a lyricist as such. I don’t sit down there, and I don’t give it – I know that sounds terrible – but I don’t give it that much thought. More or less it is just sort of seeing what comes out.
FB: That’s so funny you said that because one thing that I actually like about the music is that it is very, sort of, down to earth. I’ve actually joked with Jade before that I think everything in your songs is actually true. Like, it all actually happened. And I think that’s something very special.
TF: It sounds like a strange thing to say about your music, but I actually wanted it to be, in a way, slightly conversational. As if, it was just sort of talking to a friend. I don’t know… (Laughs) I mean, music these days is sort of epic, with these big productions – that’s not music of the people, in a sense.
And if I can make up a quick little catchy tune that’s about, whatever, missing my girlfriend, being happy about life, or something like that, whatever – that’s all that I’m trying to achieve.
FB: That thing that’s really special about your music, though. is that when you have feelings about it, the audience can tell. Just as a little example, in “Right Place, Right Time” there is a line, “Waiting in the queue with you.”
TF: Yeah, yeah.
FB: And that’s really just a simple statement. It’s just a statement of fact, really. But it has such meaning behind it; the part “with you” says something really special. It’s very cute. It has such feeling and emotion.
TF: I’m glad you said that, yeah. You’ll see in the next album, Track Five, “Father of Mine.” It’s not a long song, but again, it’s nothing too deep. But it’s all about, not really growing up without a dad, but sort of the effects of divorce and things like that. It’s a different song. I thought that it would be good to put it out there as well.
FB: xxbluemoonxx asks if you were in choir as a child.
TF: Yeah, I was. For quite a few years I was – maybe five years – in my local church. I was actually offered a place in a big cathedral choir – it is fairly hard to get into as a child. I won’t lie, I’m not saying I was a better singer then than I am now. (Laughs) I sort of left it for ten years and now I’m sort of catching up. But, again, I don’t claim to be any sort of singer at all. My music is more… I hate to use that word “conversational,” it certainly isn’t ballad-y or anything like that. I’m not trying to hit the high notes. (Laughs) I’m just trying to create something fairly catchy that makes you want to move your head up and down.
FB: LilyGinny27 asks: “Do you have a recording studio in your home?”
TF: I’d like to say yes. I’d like to say yes. And I suppose the answer is yes, in the respect that I record all my music at home. However, it’s not quite a recording studio. Basically, in my house… The people who I bought the house from, they had a young girl, and she had the largest bedroom in the house. And it’s pink.
So I have a completely pink, empty room, in which I have ten guitars, a laptop, all my wires, microphones, a drum kit, bass guitars, a keyboard, and a load of other stuff, like old laptops and stuff like that. So, in essence, it is a studio. But does it look like one? No. It looks like an empty bedroom full of used equipment.
FB: …that’s pink!
TF: That’s pink! Yeah, yeah. Truth be told, we always had the plan to get rid of it. But for some reason, for some reason, I find the pink inspirational. So I just left it.
Either that, or I just got lazy. I’m not sure; one of them.
FB: Maybe that’s the reason your songs are so emotional. If the walls had been black…
TF: I could be a completely different artist. I would be Gothic.
AUDIO: Tom talks about his pink recording studio.
FB: So you actually film your videos in that room?
TF: Yeah, in the pink room! The video would have been pink if I hadn’t put it in black and white!
FB: Maybe that’s why you did it!
TF: (Laughs) I won’t lie, I just think the whole thing was better in black and white. I don’t know why. It just doesn’t look so cheap and nasty… It just gives it a slightly more distant feeling, yet closer… I don’t know why.
FB: Yes, it’s much more artistic looking.
TF: Yes, I guess. I guess that’s what I’m going for. (Laughs)
FB: You’ve kind of spoken about this already, but ness171990 wants to
know how long it takes, on average, to write a song.
TF: Yeah, again, that’s such a funny one. Some are weeks, some are months. I’ve still got songs now that should be on the album, that they just haven’t got that last verse done, or haven’t sat down to… There are loads of songs that I’ve basically finished and that I could record. Because I’m not the sort of person – as you’ll find out from the next album because there are loads of mistakes and glitches and things like that. But I’m not claiming to be perfect. I’m not trying to be perfect. I’m just trying to be quick, easy, and happy and go with it and make some music and hope that people like it.
FB: Okay, I like how this next question is phrased, by MelissaNWalsh:
“Is there something specific that sets your muse aflight when writing songs?”
TF: Yeah, I love that question. “Sets your muse aflight.” Well, one thing that definitely makes me want to play is hearing other music. Even if it is – this sounds a bit lame – but even if it is my own music. I’ll listen to past stuff I’ve recorded and think, yeah, that wasn’t so bad. I’m going to work on that again and do it again. So that sometimes happens, which is pretty cool. I do enjoy that. And also… pink walls!
FB: Are you inspired by things, like, as you’re walking around? And you see something and think, ‘hey, I’m going to write that down.’
TF: Yeah, yeah, I guess I do… especially now that I’ve got an iPhone, I’ll write random things down. Something that tickles my head. What I more write is song names. I like the idea of song names. Like “In Good Hands” as an album name was something I thought of ages ago. This album is more like, I had these songs sitting there, and I thought, I don’t want to wait any longer, I’m just going to put them out. I wanted them out. So it is just something that I’ve liked, either “All In Good Hands” or “In Good Hands” – that’s just something I’ve liked. So I write some of that type of stuff down, definitely.
FB: Oh, this is a funny question from Rotae: “What sort of software do you use, ProTools or Audacity or what?”
TF: I don’t use any of that stuff. That stuff is like ten times more expensive than any of the stuff I use. I mean, literally, you could not record my stuff any more basically. I mean, if you had a tin can you’d have a better quality microphone than I have. It’s just a USB interface that plugs straight into your laptop. Plug your microphone into it. I guess it isn’t an expensive microphone. It’s got a lead in for the guitar. I use a program called “Cool Edit Pro.” It’s the one I used as a child for all the hip-hop producing. So I know how to use it, it just seems to make sense. As much as I’d like to get into the other stuff, for right now I just use this stuff. I mean, I’m not overly pleased with the quality of the music, but I don’t dislike it.
FB: I mean, it’s working. You have tons of fans.
TF: Well, I’m having fun with it. I mean, I know there are glitches
and crackles and all the rest, but I’m not really one of those people
who really listens to that, to be fair.
FB: Question from TheBellWitch: “What’s the most time in one day you’ve ever played the guitar?” I mean you literally sat down and literally played for how many hours…
TF: Oh, yeah, definitely… You’d be approaching a good eight – ten hours. When we go down to the beach in the summer, when we’re all playing together. I mean, we’ll play for two hours, then we’ll put [the guitars] down and then we’ll have a drink and a bit of food. Then someone else will pick one up, and then as soon as someone picks up one up, it sort of gets the other person – well, not jealous – but like, yeah, yeah I want to join in. (Laughs) So that goes on all day, and we all end up with the nastiest blisters you’ve ever seen on our fingers, but all in good times.
FB: This one is from TheWorldiSee: “How do you write out your music? Notes on manuscript paper? By chords? Record it instead of dealing with writing it? Just try to remember it?”
TF: Yeah, not really; it’s all in my head. It’s all in my head. I write loads and loads of patterns for chords, and I hum and sing oohs and aahs, and if I don’t remember it the next day, I sort of don’t deem it as that good. So I’ll just play the same riffs for a couple of weeks and then eventually add the verse and chorus. If something sounds really nice, then I’ll remember it, and then add in something a bit more fancy afterwards.
FB: So you have the chords first and then you think of the lyrics?
TF: Yeah, typically I have the chords first, and then the lyrics, unless I have something specific to write about. Generally speaking, the mood of how the chords are played dictates the words that come out of my mouth, and not the other way around.
FB: Okay, from CathleneGriffin: “Do you ever ask anyone (friends or family) for help if you can’t get a song right, or do you prefer to wait until it’s all done to show it to anyone?”
TF: Yeah, I’ve asked Jade a few times actually. But she, we’ve never really… we’ve always wanted to write songs together, but we’ve never really knuckled down and sort of worked at it. Other than that, not really. Other than SC and back to RC… I mean, I never really asked them, but we always jam along with the beat and they’ve added thoughts to my head. So I guess they’re mentors, in a way.
FB: Do you prefer a pick or finger playing?
TF: Hmm! In the last song, “If you can be anywhere,” that’s played with a pick. Anything that’s more strummy I think sounds good with a pick. But generally speaking I don’t use a pick. I like to sort of slap it and play individual strings.
TF: Uuuuh, not really. I don’t know. I can’t really rate my songs, if that makes sense. I wouldn’t have a favorite. There are definitely songs that I enjoy to play more than others. But, do you know what’s strange? The songs that I put out on the last album – the ones that have been out for a while – I can’t really play those the same way that I used to be able to. Because I’m evolving over the years as a guitar player and a musician, it always sounds different. So I’m slightly worried that it’s not going to sound the way people learned to like. It could go the other way, really, as well. But that’s a funny one, my favorite song; I wouldn’t really know where to start.
And you might like something for the lyrics, or for the melodic content…
FB: From Cazling: “If you can come up with such great lyrics, what about poetry?”
TF: Yeah, well, as far as I’m concerned, poetry is really lyrics unsung,
just spoken, really. It’s the same thing. If I was going to write lyrics, that’s how I’d do it. I’d write poetry, or I’d ask Jade to write poetry, and then convert that into a song, or find a way of putting it into a song. So, in a sense, that’s all poetry.
AUDIO: Tom talks about poetry.
FB: Speaking of Jade, KathrynKinney asks if you’ve ever considered
asking Jade to do background vocals, or perhaps join you for a duet. I mean, can she sing?
TF: Oh, she can! It’s so funny you asked that because she can! I was saying to her the other day, she does sing well. She’s just naturally pretty shy. I think she’d be brilliant, but she’s been reluctant to join me in the recording studio. Maybe you push her into the right direction there, give her a nudge.
AUDIO: Jade can sing!
FB: I would be surprised if she couldn’t sing because she’s so good at everything else…
TF: Well, she can certainly hold a note, let’s put it that way. She’s certainly no worse than me.
That’s it for today! Thank you sooo much Tom! We’ll have more next Wednesday, where we chat about Twitter and how acting relates to music. Or not.