With his perfectly coiffed hair and movie star good looks, Tourist (AKA William Phillips) looks like he should be front and center on a stage, wearing a tux and hugging an old-timey mic stand singing “Earth Angel,” but looks can be deceiving. The 28 year-old Brit is a Grammy-winning electronic musician/producer/songwriter and one of three responsible for writing Sam Smith‘s gospel-inspired ballad “Stay With Me” (alongside Jimmy Napes and Smith himself). His latest single, “Holding On” (July 24 / Polydor / Interscope) encapsulates everything that is RIGHT with electronic music today. YES, it’s got an infectious bassline but he makes you wait for it! For me, the song is all about those emotionally driven lyrics, lush (not overpowering) production , a beautiful melody and hypnotizing harmonies beautifully delivered by the song’s two featured artists—Aussie singer/songwriter Josef Salvat and American singer/songwriter Niia. The self-professed maker of “sad dance music” NAILS it with this synth-filled stunner. Check out the recently released video for “Holding On” below.
The gripping visual for “Holding On” was directed and choreographed by Holly Blakey, following a couple as they straddle that relationship line between intimacy and intensity. Read below as Blakey describes her inspiration and thought process going in:
“I wondered about these relationships we create throughout life and how our actions can be so disproportionate to what we’re trying to express or articulate, we can act in ways completely opposite to our intention. And then ultimately, if we had to pull it all down to a few basic actions what would they look like?”
Admittedly, it was William’s handsome mug and cheeky Twitter persona that drew me in but NOW it’s legitimately about his music…well, mostly. I mean, COME ON! Look at the guy! He’s a total babe! I digress (again)—back to the music. According to William:
“‘Holding On’ is the record that defines the tone of the album, both sonically and conceptually. I hadn’t heard many duets for a while and I thought it would be an interesting way to convey something that might have been slightly one-dimensional had it only been through one persons perspective. It’s the record I’m most proud of.”
If his debut record (due out later this year on Interscope) is full of CHOONS like this, just tell me where to pre-order this bad boy on vinyl. Following appearances at Coachella (Indio, CA), Sonar Festival (Barcelona) and this weekend’s Glastonbury (Somerset, UK) Tourist has a bit of time off before hitting the late summer European festival circuit in August/September, including sets at the Lowlands Festival in The Netherlands and three UK Festivals (Reading Festival, Leeds Festival, and Electric Picnic). Here’s hoping that, between finishing up his debut album and touring abroad, William finds some time to play a few gigs here in America because he’s definitely on my MUST-SEE-LIVE list.