London-based musician Tourist converts GIGsoup’s Tal Imagor with stunning XOYO set
On the surface, it seems like an electronic music gig is just a glorified DJ set. Surely for the traditional pop-rock fan, who’s used to catchy guitar riffs and emotional vocals, it’s hard to accept computerised sounds and manufactured beats as an actual concert. Such was the case with the writer of these lines, entering the world of writer/producer William Phillips, aka Tourist. The expectations were very low coming into stuffy XOYO on 11th May, but the outcome was beyond satisfying. It was almost life-changing.
Let us start with a bit of background. The 29-year-old, London-based, electronic musician who uses the alias Tourist, had a very early start in music. He began playing the old family piano when he was just 3 and started writing music when he was 10. The interest in dance music came when he was 12, listening to pirate radio stations on the internet in Cornwall. Fast forward to present-day, and Tourist now has three electronic EPs under his belt and one album which debuted earlier this month, simply titled U. But still, at the mention of his name, most people would instantly think of a Grammy winner – one who co-wrote Sam Smith’s gospel inspired track Stay with Me. This is a fair mention, as the song did get Phillips’ name out there, but it’s definitely not what Tourist is about; not at all.
It’s easiest to understand Tourist’s vision when entering XOYO. The small space is cramped with people from all across the human spectrum – a young hipster couple making out on one side, while two older women drink beer on the other. One man on his own wearing a dress shirt and trousers, standing next to a guy in dreadlocks. And let’s not forget that young woman straight in from work, who’s never been to an electronic gig. Such is Tourist’s music itself, a bit of something for everyone in that eclectic room. It masks itself under the genre of “Electronica”, but it has some pop, some disco, house, R&B, few vocals, lots of hooks and mostly, an abundance of soul.
In several interviews promoting U, Phillips revealed that he wrote the album during a very difficult time in his life. “It’s an album that I started as I broke up with someone,” he told Daltonist.co.uk. “So I don’t know if that means it’s a breakup album. It’s not like it’s a downer of a record. The lyrical themes are definitely related to loss.” So no, the gig was decidedly not a downer, evident by the the sweaty, dancing crowd. But it was undeniably full of heart – every single track that night, shot right from Phillips’ fingers and into the audience’s gut. From the poppy, joyful (and ironic) hooks of Separate Ways, through the soulful, irregular beats of Foolish, the incredible build-up during Wait and the moving slow-down during To Have You Back, Tourist took his audience on an emotional rollercoaster. But one that they’d gladly line up for hours to ride, over and over again.
This Tourist article was written by Tal Imagor, a GIGsoup contributor