Tom Odell loves kimonos – he told us so. For a singer who says he ‘despises’ shopping, he knows how to rock that whole Brit singer-songwriter look. But enough about style, we caught up with Tom ahead of the release of his second album, Wrong Crowd, to talk Burberry, tour disasters and why he’ll always have love for Britney Spears…
Shall we start by talking about kimonos?
We shall begin with kimonos. Kimonos are so great. I got three when I was in South Africa and they’re the coolest thing.
Aside from South Africa, where do you go clothes shopping?
I don’t massively love shopping. I tend to do it in one sitting. The last time I went was to an English dandy guy in Camden Lock, where I got a lot of jackets. I tend to find things and just keep buying them over and over again.
So you’re not a big shopper?
I don’t feel the need to buy new clothes; there are so many clothes that have already been made. I like to not have that much stuff in my wardrobe, and the other day I bagged up loads of clothes for my local charity shop. When I went to a coffee shop a week later, I realised a guy I speak to in there was wearing my shirt. I really like recycling my clothes like that.
But you were involved with Burberry's AW15 campaign...
Christopher Bailey used my songs in his show, and we sort of became friends. He’s been very supportive, they’re very creative people and they invest a lot in music. If you want a string orchestra and a choir, they just sort it.
Is there a big difference between playing a Burberry show and your own gig?
It’s very different. As long as you don’t go into it expecting the kind of the level of attention that you get at your own gig, it’s fine. I love doing the Burberry thing because Christopher and team Burberry make it beautiful. It really is a nice way to perform music, and I’ve always been in awe at how much detail they go into. I’d like to do more with them. If I’d known when I was 15 that I was going to end up doing Burberry, I never would have believed anyone.
What were you like when you were 15?
I was a complete misfit and I had terrible hair - I still have terrible hair - and baggy jeans, I was very passionate about music and songwriting, I loved girls but I was very unsuccessful.
You’re too harsh!
No, you didn’t know me then…
Well we don’t think your hair is terrible. What shampoo are you using right now?
I’m not that specific. At the moment we’re in a lot of hotels and I just tend to use whatever they’ve got. What even is the difference between shampoo and shower gel?
Surely shampoo is made for your hair…
I think there’s very little difference. I’m all about speed.
So you’re quite low-key when it comes to going on tour?
Just a couple of trucks of make-up and clothing, I don’t want to go over the top. No more than 50 hair stylists and make-up artists. Anything more I think would just be a bit too much…
Do you prefer playing bigger stadium shows, or more intimate venues?
This tour we just did was all 300 capacity venues across Europe and America, we played the whole new album. The crowd were right on top of the piano, it was a really nice experience to play the songs for the first time in that setting and have a shared experience.
Have you ever had any tour disasters?
We were in Colorado once and my piano had been in the back of a truck. I got out and it was completely broken, we were trying to fix it 20 minutes before we went on stage…
You studied at the Brighton Institute of Modern Music, did you gig a lot there?
I never stopped doing gigs, I gigged like every night, I think the city was sick of me at one point.
Where would you go out in Brighton?
It’s been like 5 or 6 years, I don’t think it’s there anymore but I used to live on the same road as this club called Audio. I used to do a lot of Jagermeister. It’s weird, I’ve grown out of doing that sort of thing I don’t really go to clubs anymore.
So what do you do when you come off stage?
We’re travelling so much, either straight after the gig or the next morning, so quite often we’ll be listening to music at the back at the bus and everyone will put a song on and have a few drinks.
What are you listening to right now?
I really like the new M83 record, the new James Blake record’s good, I love this band called Dawes and this guy John Fullbright.
Is there anyone you’d love to tour with?
I love Lorde, I’m really excited to hear her next album.
A lot of people might know you from soundtracking the 2014 John Lewis advert with Real Love – what was the last thing you bought from John Lewis?
Some Christmas lights that my cat Louie ate.
Are you a big cat fan?
Yeah I love my cat, he’s great. I’d like Louie to have his own Instagram, he doesn’t have any opposable thumbs so it would be difficult for him to log in.
Do you think he’d have more followers than you?
Possibly, he’s been doing a few interviews recently, he’s got an album on the way. He’s a bit moody sometimes, he’s not very chatty. Quite catty.
What’s the weirdest headline or rumour you’ve ever heard about yourself?
After we did Glastonbury, there was this headline that this singer I vaguely know claimed she broke into my teepee with a load of friends. But I don’t remember having a teepee at Glastonbury.
Is that because you don’t remember or because it didn’t happen?
I’m pretty sure it didn’t happen, it was bizarre. Maybe she was just confused.
What was the first expensive thing you bought with your own money?
When I signed my record deal, I bought an old classic Mini, it was British racing green with stripes. It was the day I signed my record deal, and three weeks later it was stolen. It felt like a curse. I have bought a few nice guitars and a piano.
What was the first gig you ever went to?
I’m so bad at remembering specific memories, like ‘what was your first kiss’…
What was your first kiss?
I can’t remember my first kiss, that’s awful.
Well what was the last gig you went to?
The Mystery Jets in London, their new album Curve Of The Earth is amazing.
What about the first album you ever bought?
Either Hunky Dory by David Bowie, or Britney Spears. I think I remember being 10 or 11 and going to HMV and buying Oops I Did It Again. My love is unwavering, it stands strong.
Back to your new album, Wrong Crowd, what can we expect from it?
It’s slightly different from Long Way Down, it’s richer in musicality. I’m genuinely so excited for people to hear this new album, I’m really proud of it.
What inspired you for this album?
It’s difficult to specify one thing, but I think me growing up and becoming a man.
What does it mean to become a man?
Well I’m still working that out, the goalposts keep changing.
Buy Wrong Crowd on iTunes from Friday, June 10th