‘Kiss It’: Tom Aspaul is providing the pop escapism we need

Jon Ali is In The Know’s music contributor. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram for more.

Is the daily news cycle feeling a bit heavy these days? Don’t fret! Tom Aspaul is here to help you “kiss it all away” with some much-needed pop escapism from his very HOT new era.

You might not already know Tom Aspaul by name, but you’ve certainly heard his work.

For over eight years now, the English singer-songwriter-producer has consistently released a string of his very own critically adored pop gems while also writing for the likes of some of the biggest names in pop, like Kylie Minogue, AlunaGeorge, Becky Hill, Charlotte OC, Alex Newell and Mae Muller, just to name a few. 

Tom’s impressive catalog has always been there. But it wasn’t until 2020 that his star truly shined with the release of his fantastic debut effort: Black Country Disco, which, along with its 2021 remix album Black Country Discothèque, racked up over 5 million streams and sold upwards of 1,000 physical copies. Not too shabby for an independent artist, right?

The heartbreak-on-the-dance-floor record perfectly chronicled his journey through a breakup and beautifully delved into themes of acceptance and self-love, all wrapped in sleek, dance-pop beats with a disco-inspired edge. It was the pandemic music medicine we needed.

And now, Tom’s hoping to keep that momentum going with a whole new look and set of songs taken from his forthcoming second album, Life in Plastic.

That’s right — Tom wasted no time jumping right back into the studio following the release of Black Country Disco.

“I’d actually always envisioned this album coming out in 2021! So I actually slowed things down,” Tom told In The Know about recording Life in Plastic. “There was only a month or so after Black Country Disco was released before the UK was plunged back into a lockdown, so I had a lot of time on my hands again. The results of that became the remix album, but I also began writing this record toward the tail end of those restrictions. I guess I had to wait until I’d toured with the first album, too. If I’m being brutally honest, I’m 35 now. I feel like I only have a very small window to establish myself before I’m too old!”

Tom told us that the title, Life in Plastic, “was taken from a line in Aqua’s iconic ‘Barbie Girl’ single. ‘Life in plastic, it’s fantastic!’ The album had a very different working title throughout the writing process. I can tell you actually, it was gonna be called ‘Euro 96’ — because the inspiration was Europop from the ’90s, and Euro 96 was a big football/soccer tournament that happened in England around the same time all that music was on the radio. However, in the summer of 2021, England narrowly missed out on winning Euro 2020, and a lot of the fans were saying some pretty vile, racist things about some of the Black England players, so I decided to change the name. The music was also taking a bit of a new direction by then — less Euro 1996, more 1999/Y2K.”

Tom adds that Life in Plastic is an “album on [the] one hand all about escapism, but then it’s also totally about the very real experiences of a single gay man in his 30s, navigating the world. Much of it was written at the peak of Covid — very dark times for me. I wrote everything on my own first, produced the demos, then Gil Lewis (who worked with me on Black Country Disco) would come in and finesse everything. There are also a couple of songwriting collaborations with MNEK.”

“Let Them (It’s All Love),” our first taste of what’s to come from this new chapter, kicked things off at the top of the new year. As promised, the single finds Tom incorporating some glittery Europop flair into his dance-pop repertoire, all while sending an encouraging message of letting go of things that no longer serve us. Resolution anthem? I think yes.

And while “Let Them (It’s All Love)” is surely a much-needed mood on its own, Tom already has a new song out called “Kiss It,” and it’s undeniably another winner.

Produced by Tom along with Gil Lewis once more, the track continues the singer’s new sonic direction — inspired by ’00s Europop. Tom seduces from the jump with little or no vocal harmonies placed directly over hard-hitting, icy, synth-driven beats on the kiss-on throb.

“Hеre’s what we’re gonna do/ You’rе gonna forget me/ I will forget about you/ I will forget about you,” Tom declares before launching into the earworm of a chorus: “I don’t wanna make the same mistake again/ I don’t need another boyfriend’s heart to break/ I don’t have any more f****** time to wait/ So come over here and kiss it all away/ Kiss it all away.”

“‘Kiss It’ was written during that brief window between pandemic lockdowns. Everything was open, and it was slightly bacchanalian, albeit with a sense of impending doom. I wanted to explore my need for human contact after such a long time in isolation. I just needed to kiss someone — anyone,” Tom told In The Know. “At the same time, I knew any encounter would be short-lived and temporary, as Covid was closing in. As for the sonics of the track, I’ve always been a huge fan of that period in the 2000s when the Balkan pop girls were killing it. You couldn’t go anywhere in the Med without hearing one of their songs. The beats, melodies and production were so thrilling and fun. There was nothing else like it at the time — so I listened to a lot of Alexandra Stan and INNA in my home studio and tried to capture that cold, dead-behind-the-eyes energy. [I’m] super excited about the video, inspired by ‘the last days of Rome.’ I think it’s another curveball after the last video!”

The seductive, icy vibe of “Kiss It” perfectly pairs with Tom’s sleek and sexy new look as well, which is fully intentional. “First and foremost, I’m a pop music fan! A scholar, in fact,” Tom told In The Know. “For certain artists — like Janet, Madonna, George Michael — I can visualize every distinct era, every new look, every transformation. I was brought up in the 1990s/early 2000s when albums really were ‘eras,’ and it was normal for a pop star to reinvent themselves each time they came out with something new. I guess I’m paying homage to that, but also, I was a little bit sick of doing ’70s disco and all the aesthetic limitations that came with it.”

Life in Plastic is two for two already with both “Let Them (It’s All Love)” and now “Kiss It,” so there’s really no mistake in getting onboard with Tom Aspaul if you haven’t already: He’s a sure thing, and he’s only continuing to prove himself as one of pop’s exciting independent voices. 

He’s also got plenty planned for us in 2022!

“There’s a sexy video coming for ‘Kiss It’ in March. I’m hoping to release Life in Plastic toward the end of May. It’ll be preceded by a third single and perhaps a fourth!” Tom promised. “I’ve got a new label partner involved for the physical releases, so hopefully things will run a lot more smoothly this time around. I think some people waited up to nine months for their remix album vinyls! I was mortified! I’m still doing things 100% independently, so it’s a lot of trial and error. But hopefully this year, I’ll get a live agent and do a lot more shows! I’ve got a few booked already, but I want more. I love performing — and before The Revenge Body Tour last year, I wasn’t very good at it, but something snapped on that tour, and I’m much more confident now. Aside from another UK tour, I’d love to do some shows in Europe and North America this year. That’s what I’m aiming for. I think there’s gonna be an expanded version of the album, too, just working all that out as we speak. Get ready!”

Tom Aspaul’s new single “Kiss It” is available to stream everywhere now!

If you enjoyed this story, check out Jon Ali’s breakdown of Kate Stewart’s first single in years!

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