Music

Sunset and a glimpse of Mount Fuji add to Tom Misch’s Tokyo debut

by Oscar Boyd

Staff Writer

As the sun began to set on this year’s Summer Sonic, London-born singer Tom Misch took to the Beach Stage for his first live appearance in Tokyo.

Misch, who released his debut album “Geography” in April, performs an upbeat mix of lo-fi funk and soul. It’s minimalist, feel-good music that was well-received by the Tokyo crowd.

“Today’s gig was a lot better than yesterday (in Osaka),” said the 23-year-old Misch after his performance. “My usual drummer couldn’t make the show at the last minute, which was a really big stress ’cause no one else really knew the set. Luckily the sound tech guy with our crew plays drums, so he filled in. It was a different vibe. Yesterday was the first time playing together.”

Any lack of cohesion stemming from an altered lineup didn’t show in what was ultimately a tight performance by Misch’s five-strong live band. Misch’s sister, Polly, also made an appearance as a guest vocalist for his song “Movie.”

“It’s my first time here, but my sister loves Japan, she’s been three times,” he said. “It has been amazing, so different to anywhere I’ve ever been. The etiquette and the people, it’s a different temperament to the U.S. or Europe.”

Misch started out his career as a bedroom producer who released tracks via SoundCloud. Inspired by artists such as American producer J-Dilla and guitarist John Mayer, his early work proved popular enough to allow for collaborations with the likes of Native Tongues hip-hop act De La Soul for his debut album.

“I write it all by myself, really, in my bedroom,” says Misch. “I started off as a beat maker, and then started singing on my beats and then developed the live band. (My creative process) really varies, sometimes I start with guitar, sometimes with vocals. I switch it up.”

Misch is likely to have won himself some new fans with his two performances in Japan, playing to a near capacity Beach Stage in Tokyo, and to 4,000 people in Osaka.

“It’s so nice that I haven’t had to change what I make to reach a wide audience,” he says. “I still make what I love making and it connects with people. It’s quite international, which I never had any idea about.”

Misch spent a week exploring Japan before performing his two festival sets, climbing Mount Fuji and searching for music: “I did some vinyl shopping at a great record store, Flash Disc Ranch in Shimokitazawa, and bought some disco records.”

As Misch’s set came to a close on Sunday, the audience was treated to a separate spectacle: Mount Fuji emerging from the clouds across Tokyo Bay. There couldn’t have been a better setting for the artist to make his Japan debut.

Tom Misch will spend the week touring South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines. For more information, visit www.tommisch.com.