Tom King has seen his plans accelerating, while everyone else has put theirs on hold. The enterprising 18 year old who was due to be sitting A-levels this spring has embraced lockdown by bringing forward the release of his stunning, second single, No Mans Land, an acoustic spine-chiller built on the bewitching vocals of the former winner of BBC Radio 2’s Chorister of the Year. The song is now also accompanied by a must-see video, made in just two days by the celebrated director Pedro Romhanyi (Pulp’s Common People, Blur’s Parklife), which captures a world in self-isolation and breathes new meaning into the break-up ballad.
Rather than wait, as planned, until after his exams to release ‘No Mans Land’, Tom posted the song on Spotify a month ago, where it caught the attention of director Pedro. “A friend sent me the song and I thought it was really strong, with touching music and a good melody and voice. I knew nothing about Tom, but I liked the emotion and the minimalism…it is tender and honest. I’d usually have been too busy to get involved but I was already in lockdown so thought it could be a good thing to do and something that we could work on remotely together. It was very much an experiment but hopefully the video has captured the disconnect between the singer and someone else” says Pedro.
With both stuck at home, the genius video was made by Tom filming himself singing in to his laptop from his bedroom in Guildford and sending the footage to Pedro in Crouch End. In discussions over FaceTime, they conceived the idea of a video that captures the current world in lockdown, desperate for connections.
“When I started talking to Pedro on FaceTime I had no idea he was such a legend; he was so friendly and unassuming and said he really connected with the song. He was super quick to come up with loads of creative ideas and really understood the song. It’s super exciting and I’m very grateful to Pedro for taking the time to work on it. It all seemed to happen very quickly but it’s come together beautifully and I’ve got something I’m very proud of” says Tom.
No Mans Land is the follow-up to Why Are You Here?, which Tom self-released on Spotify as an experiment last year and has already shot to 200,000 streams with no label involvement and no promotion. The teenager who grew up singing in Guildford Cathedral Choir won Chorister of the Year in 2014, appearing on Songs of Praise and performing live on Radio 2 and Radio 4.
Inspired by Adele and Sam Smith, Tom wrote his first pop song just two years ago for his music GCSE and was planning to go to drama school when the music mentor Harriet Starling spotted his talent and encouraged him to change tack, introducing him to co-writer Paul Aiden. The pair’s first session spawned Why Are You Here?; from their second came the spectral No Mans Land, about the emotional emptiness experienced when a relationship ends.