Q&A with John Tibbits
Q: How has the past year been for you? Any highlights?
TIBBITS: The past year has been great thanks. The big highlight for me has been releasing my first EP which, considering I’d only just picked back up the guitar properly about this time last year, has been a major achievement for me!
Q: Can you talk about the indie singer-songwriter scene in London?
TIBBITS: I’m not the most networked in the scene to be honest, but the variety and quantity of open mics, shows and talented individuals means London is a great place to be for an artist like me. The open mics are awash with undiscovered artists and are a fantastic place to build confidence before doing ticketed shows. I’m very lucky to live here!
Q: You’ve got your new EP, Light of the Flame out now. Could you dive into how you landed on that title and the inspiration for the project?
TIBBITS: Light of the Flame is one of the tracks on EP and happens to be my personal favourite! Besides that, I think the title captures the journey that I’m on (being guided by the flame / allure of success), but is also an important message about the rise of populist irrationalism that we’ve seen across Europe and the US. The project is totally inspired by key aspects of my life, whether that be the realities of getting older, romance, politics, and a revival in my love of music.
Q: “Our Moment” is the lead single from Light of the Flame. What about this song made you decide to have it the lead single?
TIBBITS: It’s the song that best captures who I am as a writer. The song is about a pervading love of music itself and my pursuit of this path is guided by nothing other than that love. I also think it’s the most mainstream sounding song on the EP and therefore thought it would enable a wider audience compared to other tracks.
Q: How do you think working as a white collar worker in London has influenced your songwriting?
TIBBITS: It’s been hugely influential for me personally. A lot of the newer stuff I’m writing draws on the cynicism that me and lots of other people feel about professional services and what real value we’re all supposedly creating. My writing has matured significantly away from conceptualisations of life towards the realities of life. Saying that, it’s important to say that despite my cynicism, I’m incredibly fortunate to be in my position when the majority of the country are facing a huge cost of living crisis.
Q: What was the hardest song for you to write for this EP and why?
TIBBITS: Find the Key was the hardest. It’s a love song, written for my wonderful partner Lily, and I’m not particularly good at writing love songs. There are so many meaningless love songs that drench up the same metaphors and I wanted to write something a bit different and meaningful. There’s also an instrumental section at the end of the song which we worked on for a while and couldn’t quite get right!
Q: Which song is your favorite to perform live and why?
TIBBITS: I love playing Stupid and Dumb. It’s always the last tune on the setlist and I’ve been told by several people it’s their favourite song of mine. It’s a song about growing up and expectations that surround it (having kids, getting married, etc.,) that people my age bracket seem to relate to. There’s also a good deal of variation in the song and has an outro that’s good fun to play. At some point there will be harmonica live just like in the recording!
Q: What advice would you give to your younger selves or young songwriters aspiring for a career in the music industry?
TIBBITS: 1. Be patient – success does not happen overnight despite what we’re led to believe. 2. Don’t try to force a song – the best songs are organic and take ages sometimes. 3. Don’t compare yourself to others, whether that be people on socials or those you meet at gigs. 4. Be in a financial position where you can afford to spend money on promotion – music is expensive!
Q: What does success as an artist mean to you?
TIBBITS: For me, it means being in a position where enough people want to support me that I can do music full-time. I never expect to headline Glasto or Wembley but I’d love to have a positive impact on people’s lives. As a song I’ve recently written says, “I ponder my legacy, my imprint on few but some”.
Q: What are some of your goals – whether musically or otherwise – for 2023?
TIBBITS: I plan to release two follow up singles in Autumn – I’ll be going to record these with Mercury Prize nominee Andy Ross in August. I’d also love to do more gigs across London, maybe even as a headliner!\
Reviewed & Interviewed by Katie Power
FOLLOW JOHN TIBBITS: