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Interview: 2020 Must-Know - Tom Verberne

Interview: 2020 Must-Know - Tom Verberne

“I wish I didn’t care,” Tom Verberne repeatedly sings over and over in his latest release, 'Up 4 2', a song which feels truly sincere in its delivery. Originally from Wellington, the rising musician relocated to Auckland last year and has opened for the likes of BENEE and Maxwell Young, releasing a constant output since his 2018 debut album, 'All Kinds of Red'.

Having collaborated with fellow New Zealanders like Maxwell Young, Stupid Rich Kid, and Billy La Signy, as well as his Internet pals like Postcard Boy and Harry Teardrop, Verberne's signature sound continues to evolve with each new step he takes.

And with his next single 'My Head And My Mind Teamed Up' set for release in the coming weeks, with the album to follow next, Verberne's journey looks to be just beginning.

MUST-LISTEN: 'Dreamt I Know', 'Up 4 2', 'Fall', 'Close Hurts'.
YOU WILL LIKE, IF YOU LIKE: Maxwell Young, Jack Berry, Instupendo, Zack Villere, Yeek… and building your dream studio set-up in 'Animal Crossing'.

COUP DE MAIN: In 'Up 4 2' you say, "I wish I didn't care," which is quite relatable - often it feels easier to block out a feeling instead of feeling it. Do you think that not caring can alter the way you think about emotions and processing them?
TOM VERBERNE: For sure, I think it’s unhealthier to try block emotions, but sometimes when you’re feeling something a bit too much, taking the easy way out and trying to not care looks pretty attractive. I think it’s all part of the process of coming to terms with your feelings, because it’s pretty impossible just to stop caring.

CDM: What can you tell us about what you've been working on recently?
TOM: A whole bunch of stuff; isolation has freed up a lot of time for me! I’ve got a single 'My Heart And My Mind Teamed Up' coming out in May, and my album soon after, which I am super pumped about. I’ve also been making a whole lot of songs for whatever is coming next and I’m pretty excited about them, they are pretty different for me.

CDM: How does your songwriting process work?
TOM: It kind of varies every time, to be honest. Mostly I will write a guitar or piano part with some vocal ideas, record and produce that, and then sing over the track. But half the time I’ll write half a song then take one thing like the melody or drums and make a whole new song out of it.

CDM: What was running through your mind when writing 'Dreamt I Know'?
TOM: I wrote (most) of the chorus to 'Dreamt I Know' back when I was sixteen in 2016. It was genuinely about this dream I had that I experienced a euphoria that I’ve never even come close to again, it was a weird experience, but it’s vividly stayed with me since. I also used the verse of another different song I had written (which the was actually the start of 'Didn’t Have You') so it was kind of an amalgamation of songs but they all fit really well, it felt super right making it.

CDM: Do you write your lyrics specifically for the songs, or do you write poems or prose and then evolve them into song-form?
TOM: Often I will just be jotting things down in my notes, but more like lines, ideas or concepts, rather than poems. Usually, I just write the lyrics following the melodies I’ve come up with for the songs, but it could be cool to start writing poetry.

CDM: Lyrically, what's your favourite song that you’ve written?
TOM: Hmmm, it’s probably a short song off the album called 'Eclipse Of The Mind'. It isn’t out yet so here are the lyrics:
"You eclipse the very little light I let into my life
I don’t mind it at all
What use is light, I’m invisible
What’s the point in me saying these words
I regret them all
But is love and admiration the same feeling with different names?
Or am I just wrong
At what point do I realise
That I will never make it out here all right
Cause you eclipse
You eclipse"

CDM: You have a really tight-knit musical community with people like Maxwell Young and Stupid Rich Kid. What's it like working with them and having those shared experiences?
TOM: It’s awesome. I pretty much live on the same block as Maxwell and Theo from Daffodils which is awesome - shout-out Grey Lynn. It’s great having friends to bounce ideas off. I’ve got a lot of internet music friends but it’s even better when you’re able to just hang out and go to gigs with them, it just makes working on music and sharing songs feel a lot more natural. It’s also cool because not only are they great human beings, but their music is sick too.

CDM: What do you think is the difference between a good song and a great song?
TOM: I think great songs make you feel things. What on paper might have all the ingredients of a great song might not make me feel much, but an ambient piano piece can get me really good. I’ll take that any day.

CDM: At what age did you write your very first song ever, and what was it about?
TOM: I remember writing a song for a school talent show, I must have been nine or ten. I don’t remember what It was about exactly but I remember it was called 'Rollercoaster' haha. Hope I can find footage for that one day lol.

CDM: What do you hope for people to take away from listening to your music?
TOM: Basically if you feel some kind of way while dancing to my music then I’ll be happy. I hope for people to feel emotions when they hear my songs. I do write pretty personal but relatable stories, so I hope people can use them as an emotional escape or outlet, or get lost in the instrumentals.

CDM: If T.O.M. V.E.R.B.E.R.N.E. were an acronym, what would each letter stand for?

Electronic (but)
Rock and Roll!
Blue (specifically light blue)
Red wine
'Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind' (my fave)

CDM: What’s on your bucket-list?
TOM: I need to get my first tattoo, I just don’t know what yet though.

CDM: If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be?
TOM: The love of the world <3

CDM: If you were a country, what would be your national anthem?
TOM: Maybe 'Luminous Beings' by Jon Hopkins. I feel like if everyone listened to that daily it would be a lovely country.

CDM: What are your top five necessities for isolation/quarantine/lockdown?
TOM: Facetime, minecraft, going outside, weird sleeping patterns, and making stuff.

CDM: You’re one of our 'must-know’ artist picks for 2020… who are yours?
TOM: Ecco2k, Jean Dawson, Yuki, Carwash, Billy La Signy, James Ivy, Harry Teardrop - I could go one for a very long time, so I should probably stop myself lol.

Watch the 'Didn't Have You' music video below...

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