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Getting Ahead Of Laneway Singapore: An Interview With Tourist

Image: Pitchfork

William Phillips, or better known by his stage name, Tourist is an electronic musician from the United Kingdom who has graced airwaves with his eargasmic experimental tracks. Tourist is set to play at St. Jeromes Laneway Festival in Singapore on the 21st of January 2017. I first came to hear his tracks on Majestic Casual where Tourist then instantly became the soundtrack to my University commute on sunny days. Particularly:


I had the pleasure of having a chat with William over the phone where I tried to get over my fan-girl jitters but as soon as William came to the speaker, his bubbly aura instantly put me at ease.

We had a chat about his music, his unintentional Grammy Award win and what kind of vino he would’ve been in his past life.
So excited to see you perform at Laneway! Would this be the first time you’d be performing in Asia?

Thank you! That’s right, yes. My name is Tourist but I’ve definitely not travelled a lot because I’ve never been to Asia. There are so many places I’ve never been to. So it would be a privilege to.

How surreal is it for you to have realized that your music has made it’s way to our shores?

Yeah, it’s weird, you’re right! I was just thinking about it and I thought “F***! People MIGHT know who I am on that part of the world!” which is a very strange feeling for me! So yes, you’re right it’s very weird. I suppose that’s one thing about the internet isn’t it?

What are the acts you’re looking forward to seeing at Laneway?

 I hope I actually get a chance to see some music at Laneway! There’s a band I love called Whitney, I really love those guys.

How would you describe your music to those who are unfamiliar with it?

This is a good question but I don’t really know because I suppose, I’m not a singer so I can say that I don’t sing. I suppose it’s kind of electronic because I make it with sounds that were made in the last 30 years or so with synthesizers and things like that.

It would be stupid for me to say hopefully it’s emotional but that doesn’t mean anything. I don’t know what that would even mean! Some people say it’s sad, melancholy or other different things and I think that’s the real wonder of music. Sometimes you can’t describe it with words, you have to describe it with thoughts or ideas. I don’t really know how to describe my music; I write on my computer, I play the piano so maybe it has the melancholy tendency to it but I think the last thing I put out was which was ‘U’ was a story so I think that’s how I’d describe it. You know, like a narrative led electronic piece of music.

So I just found out you co-wrote ‘Stay With Me’! That song was like someone tore into my soul and wrote a song about it – What was the inspiration behind ‘Stay With Me’?

*Laughs* Well, you know, the reason you probably feel that is because its Jimmy and Sam’s lyrics and probably not because of my piano because that really is the extent of what I did! I had not worked with anyone before, but not really written a song with anyone before an it’s weird, totally weird that it’s the first song I had written with anyone which is a weird thought. Given how ridiculously popular it became- it was everywhere wasn’t it that song?!

How was it working with Sam Smith?

Great, hes a great guy! He’s a good dude. He’s thoughtful and smart and a voice that people really, really respond to. When I was working with him, he was a somebody you wouldn’t know and now everyone knows him. I think that yeah, it’s amazing to see the transition from him playing a gig for 100 people and now he cannot do that – he would struggle to NOT sell out to like 10,000. Which is a bizarre thing for me because I struggle to sell 100 tickets just as Tourist!

Oh what, really?! Surely not.

*laughs* I’m not even being sorry for myself! It’s fine, I don’t care it’s cool, it’s cool!

What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done while being on tour?

Craziest thing? I suppose it just depends what kind of picture I want to present the world of myself. Uh, I dont know. Debauchery, drunken behavior…? That’s pretty nuts.

For me, honestly, being in a tour bus for more than 5 hours , like we drove across the entire Americas. For me, I cannot believe how crazy that is. We drove across the f***ing Americas. But you know, I’ve got drunk with the best of them, so yeah that’s fun. I’ve met Madonna once, that was funny. 

How has your music evolved from when you first started to now?

I think every time I try to put out new music I try and do something that feels different to what I last did. To me, that’s interesting. I like to do things that challenge me. And I think that hopefully, what’s happening is, as I write music and new songs I’m just changing as a person because I’m 30 this year – Jesus Christ! I’m just a changing person and I think that hopefully as I change and hopefully into a better person, [that] the music changes too. I feel kinda happy in my life at the moment and maybe I’m writing bad music because of that! Maybe, who knows? I think my music is just a reflection of who I am and what I care about.

Judging from your Instagram, you seem like a massive wine lover. If you were a bottle of wine, what would you be?

*Laughs* That is a very very good question, I love that! I think I’d be a nice red, pinot noir over 10 years old. That’s what I’d be, nice and light with a bit of depth to it.

I love meals with friends #blessed

A photo posted by william (@tourist) on

Have a listen to Tourist’s latest album ‘U’:


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