As BIMM success stories go, Tom Odell is up there with the best of them.
Since leaving BIMM Brighton in 2010, the 25-year-old singer-songwriter has already achieved international success with two critically acclaimed albums, including his chart-topping debut Long Way Down, a 2013 BRITs Critics Choice Award and an Ivor Novello for songwriting.
Tom – who is currently playing a string of huge headline shows around the UK in support of his most recent album, Wrong Crowd – recently paid a visit to BIMM Brighton for one of the most highly-anticipated Masterclasses of the year.
He was joined on stage by BIMM Brighton’s College Principal, Martin Wright, and our Programme Leader for Creative Musicianship & Songwriting, Ian Sillett, who both gave an insightful glance into his time spent at BIMM
We heard about the most emotional moments of Tom’s journey to the top, including the pressures of writing his debut album. Speaking about the songwriting process, Tom opened up about wanting to tweak individual songs after learning more about them:
“I wish I could go back and rerecord the album after performing the songs 50 or so times. You learn so much about the songs, touring them,” he explained.
On the finer points of his musical journey, Tom talked about playing Glastonbury for the first time and topping the UK album charts with Long Way Down. It was also interesting to hear Tom speak about how he has become a powerful front man.
“To be honest, firstly it’s confidence from growing up a bit and experiencing a few more things. But I think secondly it’s down to doing the amount of shows. I put that down to the fact that at every performance you learn something about the songs your writing.”
The session wasn’t without its share of laughs either. We heard how his Thursday student nights out coincided with Friday morning 9 am Live Performance Workshops. (We’ll have to take a look at our timetable)! We also heard how the BIMM Songwriting Department was flooded with interview requests from the media, following Tom’s well-deserved BRIT win.
On his decision to return to Brighton to take part in the Masterclass, Tom spoke about wanting to inspire other students to achieve success post-BIMM.
“I wanted to do this because I remember being at BIMM. I remember there seemed to be this sort of wall; which was unattainable to get over and it’s sort of not. That’s the biggest thing I learnt from the whole (BIMM) process that anything is possible!” he enthused.
Before closing the Masterclass, Tom revealed that anything is possible with dedication and a keenness to learn. He shared some valuable advice for other songwriters and performers about the importance of hard work and graft:
“There’s that moment when you’ve got a good song, a good idea; you’ve been playing it for four or five hours, and all you wanna do is go out with your mates. But you stay there, until, you’ve finished the song!”
It was great welcoming Tom back to BIMM – he really is an inspiration to all of our students. They’d all been anticipating this Masterclass for a long time, including one attendee, who had been waiting since 4:30 am to secure a front row seat!