Meet Tom Visser. You may already be aware of the British singer-songwriter’s music without realising. He began making music as a teenager and released a series of records under the moniker of Tom The Lion, earning him hundreds of thousands of streams on Spotify. He received critical acclaim, as well as support from Rough Trade (who awarded him album of the month), Rob Da Bank on BBC Radio 1 and Simon Raymonde on XFM. Since then, he’s decided to shift to using his own name, marking a development of his sound into something he feels is more ‘honest and authentic’.
Visser has written, recorded, produced and performed in various guises, alongside a sprawling family of musical friends and collaborators which include the likes of Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes, Jack Savoretti, Lilly Moore, Alberta Cross, Feet, Birdy, Lulu James, Tom Walker, Skunk Anansie, and Albin Lee Meldau.
The new sound is perfectly encapsulated on his latest single ‘Health Scare’, which is a delicate and poignant song. “It’s inspired by a jumble of memories, like most of my songs,” he explains. “I think I was cycling with my dad, and in that moment, I felt I was somehow stronger than him. It was like a generational baton was being passed. I felt, for a brief, fleeting moment, free from the weight of any expectation or experience, and that I had the opportunity to reassemble those pieces into a different shape.”
“The health scare I’m doing my best to ignore, is the existential kind; a fear of what’s locked deep in my DNA.”
Despite its seemingly timely title, the song is not about the Coronavirus pandemic. “The health scare I’m doing my best to ignore, is the existential kind; a fear of what’s locked deep in my DNA. And that in that moment, perched precariously atop a bicycle, I somehow had autonomy over my future. It was not a lasting epiphany…”
The song is accompanied by a unique video, containing illustrations from artist, James Moore. They were originally made into a book to go with the song, but this fell apart in the post, so Tom created them into a ‘lockdown video’ instead.
‘Health Scare’ is the first track to be lifted from a new album; the first Visser will release under his own name. His songs are often a beautiful meandering journey, bound by his unique vocal style and taking inspiration from a period in his life where he needed to escape the isolation and anxiety he was experiencing following the breakdown of a relationship.
In order to spark inspiration, Visser took to exploring his hometown of London. These benign experiences of museums, parks, buses, and trains that were initially acts of distraction eventually began to inform lyrical ideas, becoming canvases on which to tackle subjects that seemed overwhelming in isolation. From this distance, and on this scale, he could find ways of reaching into the subjects of love, heartbreak, age, and friendship, accessing universal experience through the revelation of tiny, often humorous and deeply personal details.