After being spotted by Lily Allen and winning a Brit award, Tom Odell is finally releasing his debut album, Long Way Down. Andy Welch discovers his amazing journey.
The first time most people will have seen Tom Odell was at the Brits earlier this year.
Odell had won the Critics’ Choice award, the winner of which is announced long before the actual ceremony. He was handed his statuette by the previous year’s recipient, Emeli Sande, at a swanky pre-ceremony party on the same night the rest of the nominations were announced. But he still had to face the photographers on the night of the main awards ceremony.
“I’ve never had anything like that before,” he says now, looking back at his baptism of fire. “It was actually a lot of fun, but having 60 photographers taking your photo, yelling your name and trying to get your attention is an odd experience. I was a bit dazzled.”
Now his debut album, Long Way Down, is being released, there’s every chance he’ll be back at the awards next year, nominated in another category.
“We’ll see,” he says cautiously. “It would be nice, of course, to get that recognition, but I don’t want to think too far ahead of myself.”
Life today is a far cry from his days spent lugging a keyboard around bars and clubs in Brighton where, he says, gangs of drunk lads would try to grab his microphone, or just shout over him as he was playing. Now just 22, Odell tried to get a place at the Liverpool Institute Of Performing Arts (LIPA) to study music.
He didn’t get in, so moved to Brighton to study at the BIMM music college while performing as much as possible and supporting himself with bar work.
It was around this time he caught the eye of Lily Allen. She was setting up her own label, In The Name Of, under the Sony umbrella, and Odell is her first signing.