Rhumba Club has opened up to Express about his musical roots and the true meanings behind his tracks.
The “colourful, poppy and provocative” music of Tom Falle's Rhumba Club has made quite the impact - so much that it caught the eye of the British edition of GQ magazine, which gave Tom as number 2 in its list of ’35 new musicians to make 2020 better’.
Talking about this recent success, Tom said it was not only artistic, but also personal, bringing him a “sense of satisfaction” because he stuck to a concept he believed in.
“I don’t want to be thinking like I could have gone further,” he said. “I would not want to feel like I didn’t give it my all. I didn’t compromise.
“It’s hard at first because you want to please. But then you develop a kind of rhino hide and it just washes over you, you just get used to it.
“I would not think I have made it but I think it’s nice that people are clicking on and acknowledging you. I wanted to make music that people can dance to and that provoke thoughts with the lyrics, it’s nice that’s being acknowledged.”
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Tom’s ‘Rhumba Club’ journey started just around three years ago. Prior to that, he had spent nearly a decade in a band with his friend, Eddy. Having formed Teddy in school at the age of 14 to sing covers of the Beatles, the pair then moved to London but eventually went their separate ways due to “artistic differences”.
“It gave me the opportunity to start from scratch and do what I wanted to do,” Tom said.
While his parents didn’t play instruments, Tom says his mum’s music tastes influenced his own love for synthetisers, keyboards and 80s music.
“I am big on 80s things,” he said. “A lot of music at that time was directly or indirectly for gay people at a time when you needed a lot of coded messages, they were speaking to a particular audience.
“My mum played a lot of 70s music, a lot of ABBA; for better or for worse that rubbed off on me. I think ABBA are amazing!
“Pop music is sometimes perceived as low brow, but some pop songs are beautifully constructed and have an amazing musicality. There’s good and bad in everything.”
Pictured: Tom's 'Rhumba Club' journey started just over three years ago.
'Rhumba Club’ was originally a club night Tom played with a band at a Hackney working men’s club converted into a space for young people. The ‘Rhumba Club’ nights were meant to be very inclusive - as are Tom’s songs today.
Contrary to what the upbeat songs and the “fun and kooky” name may lead you to believe, the Rhumba Club has a message.
‘The Rhumba Club Is Waiting For Me’, for example, was inspired by the feelings of insecurity Tom experienced as a gay teenager living in a small island like Jersey, an experience similar to that of many young gay people living in small communities.
“They need some kind of outlet,” Tom said. “My music was my outlet and I wanted to recreate the feeling that I have when I did escape.”
‘Guilty’, one of his latest releases, was written while the UK was in lockdown. “It’s basically about the feeling of thinking the wrong thing whether that is politics, or with regards to sexuality,” Tom explained.
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“It’s about feeling like the only one in this room who is like this and the toxicity of how we discuss things now. I do not think we are as open as we think we are. When you talk about Brexit, for example, there is not a lot of empathy on either side.”
Having planned his next five releases and prepared his album, Tom is itching to get back on stage. While the live streams are all that musicians can do in the era of coronavirus, they are nothing like the real thing.
“It’s so weird doing live streams,” he said. “I do it with monitors in my ears, and during a recent live stream I was really getting into it, and my ears fell out and there was complete silence, it was so weird.
“I would love to do a show in Jersey, hopefully I will be able to do one of the festivals.”
Following a string of high energy tracks, Tom's latest offering, ‘(I’m Gonna Construct) An Image', delivers a new vocal register and style.
Filmed from his childhood home, the accompanying video shows the nostalgia of Tom’s upbringing as he ponders on the artifice in and around his life.
“An image is concerned with the construction of my identity, both personally and artistically,” Tom said.
“In my view, it’s part of the human experience to try and fit normative moulds - whether that’s through displaying the attributes of gender, meeting the expectations of your parents, or meticulously curating your lifestyle on Instagram. The track is about both the pressure to conform to certain ideas of success and masculinity whilst growing up, as well as a reflection on the image I have constructed as Rhumba Club.”
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