tom walker

EXCLUSIVE: Tom Walker talks debut album ‘What A Time To Be Alive’

Tom Walker is truly living his best life.

The singer-songwriter made his debut in 2016 however, rose to global fame last year thanks to his sensational single ‘Leave A Light On’. The track, which peaked at number seven on the UK Singles Chart, was an international smash and became the sixth most Shazammed song in the world.

‘Leave A Light On’ went platinum in ten countries and was performed by Tom on shows including Top Of The Pops and the X Factor UK (twice!). The track was also nominated for Best British Single at the BRIT Awards 2019, where Tom picked up his very first BRIT for British Breakthrough Act.

Since then, Tom has continued to wow the world with his heartfelt and passionate music. His latest single, ‘Just You And I’ recently peaked at number three on the UK Singles Chart, his highest charting track to date.

However, arguably his biggest success story to date is his phenomenal debut album What A Time To Be Alive. The aptly titled album debuted at number one in the UK and has remained in the top five since its release. In fact, it is the highest selling debut album of the year so far, and 2019’s sixth biggest record overall.

If that wasn’t enough, Tom is currently embarking on a huge world tour spanning the UK, Europe, the US and Australia. The singer-songwriter is growing from strength to strength and shows absolutely no signs of slowing down any time soon.

Amidst his busy schedule, we recently had the chance to ask Tom about What A Time To Be Alive, the impact of his songs on others, winning a BRIT Award, making his gran proud and much more.

Welcome to CelebMix, Tom! Where do we start? You’ve had the most sensational 12+ months and now you’ve just released your debut album What A Time To Be Alive. How do you feel about finally sharing your album with the world?

It’s been amazing… I never thought I would get the chance to create an album the way I did in my lifetime, let alone release it and have it go number one.

What was the creative process like on the album? How long did it take to put all the songs together?

The album was recorded over a number of years through different points in my career. Some of the tracks were never meant for the album but have shaped my career so much and been such fan favourites I had to include them. I worked with Jim Abbiss, Mike Spencer and Steve Mac across the album which is an absolute dream line up of producers for my debut album. Each one brought something unique to the table and made the album super special. 

We hear that some of the songs were written at a time when you were house sharing with 12 other people, which we can imagine was rather chaotic. What was the most important thing you learnt during that time?

Enjoy the little things – none of us had any money, but we made the most of what we had and the times we spent together. 

We appreciate that every song on the album is special to you, but is there one in particular which you’re most excited for people to hear?

‘The Show’ – I wrote this song a few years ago, just after I first moved to London on a night out. There was a massive queue for a night club and I really didn’t fancy it so I just went off on a walk and the song kind of documents that. London is an amazing city, but you forget it when you spend so much time there and sometimes it’s good to just take a moment and take it all in.

We love the album and we particularly like ‘Now You’re Gone’ featuring Zara Larsson. Can you tell us how that collaboration came about?

It’s such a sick track. I wrote that track with Steve Mac and we originally just had one of the co-writers singing on it but Steve was working with Zara on something else and he played her the track. She loved it so much she just did a vocal for it there and then. Steve then sent it over and I was buzzing about it! 

The album features the gargantuan hit ‘Leave A Light On’. The track was inspired by some incredibly personal experiences of yours, so how does it feel that so many people over the world also resonate with it?

It’s so surreal…I never thought the track would have that effect globally, but I get so many messages day in day out about how the song has helped someone through a really tough time and it means the world to me. I do try to get back to everyone but sometimes I just can’t keep up. 

The album also includes your latest single ‘Just You And I’, which many people have chosen as their first dance song for their weddings. It must feel incredible that your music has had such an impact on other people?

Again, I get so many requests to play people’s weddings but I haven’t even got time to have my own wedding let alone go to someone else’s. It’s still absolutely next level that people want to get married to a song I wrote about me and my fiancée a few years ago.

Your album title is so appropriate as you are definitely living your best life right now. However, what inspired you to choose What A Time To Be Alive as the title?

It’s just a bit of a mad time to be alive right now whether that be for good or for bad. There are so many amazing things happening every day that get overlooked but then at the same time we have these confusing problems like Brexit. It’s just a very surreal time. 

What kind of message do you hope that fans and music lovers will take away from the album?

I just hope they like it…it’s my life telling my story. I don’t think there’s any over whelming message behind the entire album other than be grateful for what you have and be there for the people around you when they need you. 

Amongst your many achievements over the past 12 months, you’ve just won your very first BRIT Award – congratulations! Has it sunk in yet? How does it feel to be 2019’s British Breakthrough Act?

It’s still pretty mental. I’ve got the award in my flat and it’s a bit crazy that the likes of Adele and Ed Sheeran should be winning these awards and then I’ve got one sat on the mantelpiece??

We adore that you gave a shout out to your gran on stage, and you also dedicated your TRNSMT performance to her last year as she attended her first festival. You’ve even written a song about her – she must be the proudest gran on the planet?!

Yeah, she’s so proud, she comes to every show in Scotland and tells all her mates to listen to my music, she’s just amazing. She’s 80 years old and she still gives me a run for my money. I hope I’m half the person she is at her age!

You’ve got a string of live performances coming up, including a sold out UK tour in April. What can fans expect from your forthcoming live shows?

It’s going to be epic. We’ve expanded the team massively and have a whole next production and lighting set up which is looking amazing. We’ve worked really hard on these shows and we’re really not messing around. I want people going away feeling like they’ve just witnessed one of the sickest shows they’ve ever been to. 

As we’ve already mentioned, you’ve had an incredible year including winning awards, TV performances and smashing the charts. What has been your personal highlight?

Ah I always get asked this and I think it changes depending on when you ask me. I don’t think I could ever just pick one but there was a day where we had a full orchestra in the studio in London to record some of the bits for the album. My parents came down for it and it was such a crazy moment, everyone was super emotional and it was just one of those days where I had a second to look around and think of how lucky I was. 

What are your plans for the rest of 2019?

There are all sorts…two UK tours, two EU tours, two US tours, an Australian tour and we even hit part of Asia. I’m constantly thinking of what’s next so I think I’d love to get back into the studio to write at some point.. There’s also a ton of festivals amongst all the other madness going on. So yeah.. It’s quite a busy one!

Thank you to Tom Walker for his time. What A Time To Be Alive is available to download and stream now.

Let us know your thoughts on Tom Walker and his debut album on Twitter @CelebMix

Written by Katrina Rees

I'm Katrina, or Kat to pretty much everyone. I'm an editor for CelebMix, a content writer, a boyband lover and an all round music fanatic.
Twitter: @lifeofkatrina