I learned a few things while watching Tom Misch perform at the Tiny Desk that should've been obvious to a longtime fan like me: He produces beats with a live audience in mind. As much as his drums slap, guitar is the foundation for most of his songs and he showcases a burgeoning talent on the instrument throughout his set.
I first caught wind of this UK wunderkind in 2014. Crafting his own instrumental projects and remixing tracks by artists ranging from Busta Rhymes to Lianne La Havas, Misch steadily garnered a dedicated following on SoundCloud. From there, he collaborated with other London artists and released EPs of original music on the platform. Misch's style doesn't revel in what's going on in pop music today; like a handful of other artists from the UK, his interpretation of hip-hop and R&B is a continuation of what the greats who came before him started. A healthy dose of that inspiration is drawn from the late J. Dilla, while Misch's up-tempo dance numbers align him with the Kaytranadas of the world. In 2016, Misch — still just 21 years old at the time — decided to dabble more in songwriting and explore that soothing timbre of his voice on Reverie, and all of a sudden, his potential rose exponentially.
Misch and the band arrived bright and early to get situated behind the Tiny Desk and rehearse. Misch has said before that he isn't a jazz purist intrinsically, but the way he opens up a guitar solo or jams with saxophonist Braxton Cook, jazz music certainly runs through him.
If you haven't heard of Tom Misch before this performance, now's a good time to catch up. Check out his breakthrough album, Geography, as well as his earlier collaborations, then come back and watch his Tiny Desk again for a true appreciation of his growth as an artist.
- "It Runs Through Me"
- "I Wish"
Tom Misch (guitar/vocals), Tobias Tripp (guitar/violin/vocals), James Creswick (bass), Jamie Houghton (drums), Joseph Price (keys), Braxton Cook (saxophone)
Producers: Sidney Madden, Morgan Noelle Smith; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, CJ Riculan, Beck Harlan; Production Assistant: Stefanie Fernández; Photo: Claire Harbage/NPR.