Interview: Tom Misch On Collaborating With Yussef Dayes For 'What Kinda Music' NPR's Scott Simon talks to the British producer, guitarist and vocalist about What Kinda Music, his new album with drummer Yussef Dayes.
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Tom Misch On Making 'What Kinda Music' And Seeing Yussef Dayes At A Talent Show

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Tom Misch On Making 'What Kinda Music' And Seeing Yussef Dayes At A Talent Show

Tom Misch On Making 'What Kinda Music' And Seeing Yussef Dayes At A Talent Show

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Tom Misch and Yussef Dayes are, in the words of the latter, two very different musicians - well, aren't the best collaborators? They both grew up in Southeast London - Yussef Dayes, a jazz drummer with a flair for the experimental - Tom Misch, a producer and guitarist whose dreamy R&B melodies pushed his 2018 debut album "Geography" to go silver in Britain. And now, they've recorded a new album together, blending jazz, hip-hop and electronica. It's called "What Kinda Music."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NIGHTRIDER")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) Don't listen to what they say. You can't take it slow.

SIMON: Tom Misch joins us now from London. Thanks so much for being with us.

TOM MISCH: Hey, there. My pleasure.

SIMON: And we should explain, Yussef Dayes - we wanted him to join us, but there were missed connections in these times, which happens. So we regret that. Some other time, we hope.

Tom, when you and Yussef Dayes began to make music together and producing it - what kind of music? What did you envision?

MISCH: We were both fans of each other, and we got in the studio with no expectations. We kind of got in the studio to just experiment - it was kind of a big experiment. And before we knew it, we had three, four tracks. And we thought, why not make it an EP? And then the next thing, we had, you know, 10 tracks. And there was no pressure on the project, so it came about very organically.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I DID IT FOR YOU")

UNIDENTIFIED SINGER: (Singing) I did it for you.

SIMON: I gather you both grew up in the same part of London, just a couple of years apart.

MISCH: Yeah.

SIMON: Southeast London. How did you hear each other? How did you get to know each other?

MISCH: Well, I met Yussef two years ago in summer 2018. I met him at my "Geography" launch album party. But I'd actually known about him for a bit longer because I was a fan of his work in Yussef Kamaal. So I've kind of been a fan of his drumming - he's an amazing drummer. And I actually remember going to a talent show when I was, like, 7 or something. I remember going to go a local school in my area and seeing this guy play drums - he was about 9 at the time. I remember thinking, this guy's amazing at drums. And then, fast-forward, like, 15 years when I'm working on this record - I realized that guy was Yussef.

(SOUNDBITE OF TOM MISCH AND YUSSEF DAYES SONG, "SENSATIONAL")

MISCH: So I actually first saw him about 16 years ago in a talent show at school.

SIMON: That's a wonderful story. The kid from the talent show turns out to be your collaborator.

MISCH: Yeah.

SIMON: There's a lot of wonderful back-and-forth improvisation and playing off of each other on this album. And I gather this song, which we're going to hear now, was actually improvised. It's called "Kyiv."

(SOUNDBITE OF TOM MISCH AND YUSSEF DAYES SONG, "KYIV")

SIMON: So what was that like in the studio, listening to each other - playing off of each other?

MISCH: Yeah, I mean, it's really special. Yussef's one of the best drummers in the world, so it's really exciting to work with him. And he's very spontaneous - full of ideas. And that track features a guy called Rocco Palladino on bass.

SIMON: And why the title "Kyiv"?

MISCH: Because we went to Kyiv to shoot some videos for the album. And that track came out from us shooting another music video and we had a bit of film left on the roll. And then, they said, have a jam - they said, jam. We're going to film it. And they filmed it, and Kyiv was the outcome of that jam. So it's a fully improvised piece of music.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KYIV")

SIMON: Is this a tough time for musicians who are used to playing together? Are you playing together? Listening? Jamming?

MISCH: No, no - I mean, I'm not playing with anyone, but I'm doing a lot of playing guitar, and I'm looping stuff on my guitar. I'm doing these sessions called quarantine sessions, and I'm putting them up on YouTube.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MISCH: And I just do, like, covers. So, in that sense, I can still play - you know, I can still jam. But, yeah, I can't jam with Yussef.

SIMON: Well, that's sad. You must miss each other.

MISCH: It's all right. We spent plenty of time together over the last few years, so it's all good.

SIMON: Tom Misch - his new album with Yussef Dayes is called "What Kinda Music." Thanks so much for being with us.

MISCH: Thanks for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF TOM MISCH AND YUSSEF DAYES SONG, "FESTIVAL")

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