Tom-Lee Richards talks about childhood experiences that inspired mini-LP ‘Out of the Oddness

New Zealand artist Tom-Lee Richards summons childhood nostalgia, as he recalls a childhood trauma, in his mini-LP ‘Out of the Oddness’.

He tells us about the LP, which contains songs- like ‘As Far As India‘ – that is based on his own life experiences, as well reveals more about his musical influences.

What is the inspiration behind ‘Out Of The Oddness’?

Basically, it’s the story of me starting primary school in a new city. There was this kid, who was meant to look after me, who at lunch break took me to this really high wall and I had to jump on the wall and swing on this tree. It felt like some sort of initiation process. I fell on my hand and broke it. I was in a state of not knowing what to do. I focused on that feeling of oddness – of not knowing what to make of a situation – and enduring that feeling.

Would you say that most of your music is based on personal experiences?

Not entirely. But the mini-LP I’m putting out has a lot of stuff that’s based on my childhood and my experiences. There’s song dedicated to my late father that skims over my experiences growing up with him. There’s another one, about feeling like an outsider when I was a kid. So there are a lot of things within the LP, that I experienced as a child which can be reflected in adulthood as well. 

What did you intend to capture/convey within the  ‘As Far As India’  music video?

That’s the song that’s dedicated to my father. I got fans who listen to my music to send in videos from their own childhood. It wasn’t explicitly just about my father, it just about tapping into a general sense of nostalgia.

What inspired the name ‘As Far As India’?

There’s a couple of reasons. One, dad used to train tug boat drivers in India. He was always going back and forth to India. Another reason, is that there’s always been a question whether there’s Indian blood in our family, because my grandfather’s side of the family spent a hundred years in India. And personally, my dad was a fitness freak, who used run on the spot and I tied both of these ideas together – as someone who runs as far as India.

How would you describe your sound? How has it evolved?

The easiest and broadest way to describe my sound would be experimental pop. I aim to write songs that are catchy. I don’t want my music to be tied into anything and I enjoy experimenting with different sounds and influences.

It’s definitely evolved. My music has always been cinematic, but the stuff that I’m releasing under this solo project, is full of new and weird sounds.

Who are your major music influences?

That’s always the toughest question! Off the top of my head, I’d say Bjork for her experimentation and her integrity towards the music she makes. For me it’s always about how I can make the music that’s in my head, rather than how I can make the music that I already know. And David Bowie, Leonard Cohen, Michael Jackson – which is where the pop influence in my music comes from – Nina Simone…I could go on and on.



What comes to mind when we talk about memorable moments in your career? What’s next for you?

Playing at the Edinburgh Music Festival and getting invited back to play there again. Another one is when my cousin flew over from my home New Zealand to where I live in Australia. She was really close to my dad, and there she was singing along to ‘As Far As India’, and I’m on stage struggling not to cry!

As for future ambitions, just being able to support a few of the artists – there are many – who were my inspirations growing up.

Finally, what’s one song on your personal playlist, that you’ve recently had on repeat? Why has it been on repeat?

Doomed’ by Moses Sumney. It’s a kind of got a weird vocal harmony. It’s a fast, tense song, but somehow ethereal. It draws you in and holds you there.

Listen to and stream the LP – ‘Out of The Oddness’ below:

Follow Tom-Lee Richards on his Facebook and Twitter accounts and check out his music on Youtube, SoundCloud and Spotify.

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