Tokio Myers changed the way we look at classical music. He trained at Royal College of Music, grew up in west London and won Britain’s Got Talent 2017. Now, he’s taking his sound global
Photography: Joel Anderson
Tokio Myers has reinvented the classical piano, showing the world just how cool classical music is. He might be a graduate of the Royal College of Music, but his west London upbringing lends grit to his glorious melodies, and Myers wowed audiences on Britain’s Got Talent 2017 with his impressive piano and drum mash ups.
‘It’s been a rollercoaster of a year since winning Britain’s Got Talent, and it has been amazing,’ grins Myers. ‘I’ve been writing and playing music pretty much all of my life. I’ve been saying to people that the stage that I’m at now wasn’t actually something that I planned to do as a soloist. You know, I play the piano and I sing or rap, and it’s difficult to be a musician on this platform and do well.
‘The turning point happened four years ago, after having played in bands and been a session player. I decided to leave the circuit and experiment with what I could do to make it more appealing. I got a lot of gear and equipment and experimented. It has been a lifetime in the making.’
‘I work incredibly hard and I’ve got that from watching people who I’ve toured with like Kanye West working really hard, and seeing them in the flesh at the peak of their career almost,’ says Myers.
‘They literally do a two-hour set and then go off to work with artists straight after. They have the passion to keep working so who the hell am I to stop and think I’ve made it.’
Myers, whose real name is Torville Jones, released his debut album, Our Generation, in November 2017 with Syco Music label and, perhaps unsurprisingly after his success on Britain’s Got Talent, it reached number four in the album charts.
‘I’ve got the album out now, and I’ve been working hard preparing for the tour,’ says Myers. ‘It’s very exciting, but daunting at the same time. The album is so big and rich, it’s a big sound but a small sound at the same time, there is an element of weight behind it that I’ve got to make feel as alive and genuine as possible.
It’s not just about me and my career. There’s another generation sat there looking up at me and finding it in them to write to me and create music
‘I’m really happy with how things are going. A lot has changed and improved including the set up, visuals and what I’m doing live since the show,’ says Myers. ‘I’m working with visual designer guys to get content so I like to think people will turn up and think that it is better than they expected!’
I ask him how it feels to be inspiring children to view classical music in a different way: ‘Every single day, and I mean that, every day I get a ton of messages from kids all around the world who tell me that I’m their inspiration or that they are learning piano now,’ smiles Myers.
‘Every time I read that message I get really emotional, it’s bigger than anything. It’s not just about me and my career. There’s another generation sat there looking up at me and finding it in them to write to me and create music.’
Myers, who was a pupil at the Maida Vale school, says that growing up in west London inspired him. He even co-produced the charity single Bridge Over Troubled Water in the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy.
‘I’ve got fond memories of my childhood, though the area has changed a lot,’ he says. ‘It’s where I learnt a lot about myself, so I’ll forever love north west London. I grew up with a lot of people in Maida Vale, so that’s probably my favourite spot – it’s the place that shaped me in my teens and late teens the most.’
So what’s next? ‘I’m going to the States to do some promo out there and then I’ve got some festivals for the summer,’ he says. ‘In the midst of that, I’m recording my second album straight after the tour. Then hopefully we will do some bigger venues like the Albert Hall and Brixton Academy. It’s going to be no rest until Christmas. It’s going to be great!
Watch Tokio Myers on the Grand Final of Britain’s Got Talent 2017