Much like countless others, who have decided their lives to music and to art, the New Zealand-born, Melbourne, Australia-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Tom Lee-Richards can trace the origins of his music career to noisy, childhood experimentations with pots and pans, imitating and mimicking the sounds he heard everywhere and beatboxing. By the time he was 14, he had been beatboxing and accompanying himself with the guitar, picking up gigs locally.
Drawn to complex polyrhythm, scatting and the like, Lee-Richards completed his studies in jazz bass performance, and after his studies he spent some time fronting a reggae group before relocating to Melbourne; in fact, Catch Release’s EP Achieving landed in the Top of 3 AMRAP’s Charts, thanks to regular radio airplay. But as a solo artist, Lee-Richards work has been compared to Antony Hegarty (now known as Anohni) and James Blake — and that shouldn’t be surprising as the New Zealand-born, Melbourne-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter specializes in rather idiosyncratic songwriting that expresses a unique artistic vision; in fact, his latest single “Out of the Oddness,” which recounts the true story of a very young Tom breaking his arm on the first day of elementary school with a novelistic attention to detail and cinematic sweep: you can see the jungle gym, a swing set, the young Tom playing on the schoolyard and suddenly flying and crashing to the ground with a painful thud. In the pain and confusion, he glances around, pleading and hoping that someone will help him. And as it turns out, his older brother, comes to his rescues, by sweeping the young Tom in his arms and rushing him to the hospital. Now while the song is rooted around a deeply harrowing and personal experience, there’s something universal at the core of the song: the awkwardness of school; the situations and accidents of our lives that could have us at our most vulnerable and helpless; who we turn towards when we’re at most vulnerable and helpless. And he Lee-Richards does so in an evocative and surprising fashion. Sonically speaking the song touches upon dream pop, psych pop and dub in a seamless and genre-defying fashion.