We catch up with French singer- songwriter Tom Leeb, who has been in the music scene for nearly 9 years, as he talks to us about musical influences, acting, real tough heartbreaks and his soft spot for John Mayer’s music (he’s not alone there). All of this plus more all before his one-off gig in Paris at La Boule Noire.
What inspired you to get into the music industry?
I grew up in a creative household, my dad is a musician and a jazz lover. I had a very musical childhood; so to say, I was always listening to music- my dad always played records from back then. There was never a moment without music in my house. I think it started working on me when I was really little I’d say maybe even in my mother’s belly. When I was in New York, I went to New York for acting because I wanted to be an actor I had no idea I was gonna pick up a guitar one day but then I did. I think I fell in love with folky pop music, I started listening to artists like John Mayer, Bon Iver, Ben Howard and Justin Nozuka, all these guys started working as my influences. When I picked up a guitar, I was like; “Okay, right this is what I wanna do, this is what makes me feel good – this is where I find my emotions!”
How long have you been a singer-songwriter?
I think I wrote my first song, when I was 19 or 20 years old. It’s been nearly 8 or 9 years since I started writing music but I really took it to the next level when I was like “this is not a hobby anymore, I really want this to work!” I want people to listen to my music, you know I want it to spread out and get out there. I think it’s been 5 years maybe 6 tops that I’ve been trying to make music that makes sense to other people. It’s only been me and my guitar in my bedroom. I’m brand new at this, I’m a new kid in the playground.
Is there a reason why you only had one Paris concert in Europe and nothing else planned like a tour?
We are trying to build an audience with not only YouTube or music but with concerts, we haven’t met a tour planner yet, hopefully at the concert tonight (25th October 2018) is the day we meet a few tour managers/tour planners and hopefully a few more audiences become interested in my music. I’ve had a couple of meetings with Live Nation and they seem to be enjoying the project, so I’m hoping I will be announcing tour dates in a few weeks and you will know that.
When you were younger what music did you grow up listening to, any bands or musicians who you couldn’t get enough of? You mentioned a couple before, can you go into detail, please?
I’ll tell you what, when I was younger until now I really can’t get enough of John Mayer. He’s a big influence on me trying real hard to not sound like him and to find my own sound by finding other influences you know like Matt Corby, even recently James Vincent McMorrow or Ben Howard, a mixture of all this. I feel like to find your own colour you need different colours, you need different influences to find your own voice. You take a little bit of blue, a little of red and a little bit of yellow and then you find your own purple- this is how I see it. I’m a huge fan of John Mayer’s work, I’m very sensitive to his songs and to what he does. His early and new work, all of it is true honest music, that’s what I like about him.
What inspired you to write your first EP, can you talk us through the story behind it?
A heart break, a heavy heart break. I’m one of those corny guys that goes through a heart break and puts words over melodies, I’m that guy. It works like that, let me tell you a quick story- I met a girl some day and I wrote a song about that girl. I had the girl listen to it. A few months after I met another girl and I wrote another song about that other girl. The girl before heard that song and she was like “Oh great, so this is what you do? You just write songs about girls?” and all I said was “yeah, that’s what I do!” Not only do I write songs about girls but I need emotions to put words in my melodies. I need an emotion while I’m a heart broken man so this is how I work. I go back to my room and cry, honest rhymes come from tears. People don’t give a shit about happiness, they don’t wanna hear how happy I am because I met a girl last night and she’s cute. They’d skip to the other songs, they wanna hear how fucking torn I am inside. If I go “that girl’s cute and she is very funny and look at her eyes when she looks at me..” that’s like ok no.. they wanna hear broken hearted music they wanna hear tears like “oh what did you do to me?!” No body gives a shit about happy songs.
What do you prefer, singing to a live crowd or recording music in a studio?
I love sharing music, I just love to just see the reactions to a song whether it’s bad and it’s my own fault- if I play a terrible song I’ll know straight away, because you’ll lose the audience’s attention. At the same time when you play a good song you can see it you see them connect with words, it’s like telling a story. You need people to hear it, people to listen to your stories this is what song writers do. If I had to pick, it would always have to be a concert over studio. You can’t cheat during a live concert, in a studio you can tune a vocal and play an instrument a thousand times to get it right and no one would know that. Live is the best way to give your full heart out.
You are also an actor, what would you say comes first, your music or acting?
I can’t can’t rate that, I don’t rate that. I don’t think I’m able to do it, I wouldn’t be able to tell you what I’m better at. I don’t know if I’m a better actor or a better singer and I don’t try to know that, I just do it because I love it. I don’t wanna know it, I don’t want people to tell me things like “oh by the way I saw your concert, I think you should just be an actor.” Either way it would be also heart breaking if someone comes to see my comedy show or one of my movies and they’re like “I saw you in that movie or comedy show, love your music dude!” You know it’s like “ok then….” I mean not everybody is gonna love you anyway, that’s how it is and it’s fine.
Would you say social media has played a big part in exceeding your career, if so how has it helped?
It’s so important to stay in touch with your fans, I don’t really like to call them fans. It’s important to stay in touch with the people that follow you, who show interest in your music or in my work as an actor. I’ll say Instagram because it’s the only social network I have, Instagram is the best opportunity to stay with them. They didn’t have that back then. Back in the 80s/70s you left a concert like “bye see you soon” how did you stay in touch with them, you’d just hope they’d come back to that city in a few years afterwards. Now it’s like constant updates, you send stories, posts- say hello to your followers all the time and when you want! I feel like that’s so important because they need it, they’re want to see you and they want to have you all the time. It’s great to be able to use that today. I hate phones, I hate apps but I know it’s part of my job to connect with my followers, that’s why I’m constantly on my phone. I respond to everybody, I’m that type of guy. Now I have like 20k followers but I mean if I get more followers I don’t know if I could commit but I’ll respond to everyone as much as I can, because that’s who I am.
What can we expect from you in the future, any tours, projects or more new music about to hit our ears?
I have an album coming out probably in Spring, not sure what date but throughout the Spring. So, I’ll be releasing my First album, other tour dates I believe and just more new music. I’ll be working on my craft, working on my instruments- improving constantly everyday. And staying in touch with my audience that’s what I’m going to do and staying honest everyday to what I believe in and do.
Photography by Leandro Marte