Tourist is changing things up. From 2012 to 2014, the British songwriter and producer, real name William Phillips, has released three EPs and worked with artists such as Years & Years, Lianne La Havas and Sam Smith. After three years of EPs and working with others, Tourist has finally released his debut album, “U.”
Tourist has spent the summer at various music festivals, including the inaugural Panorama in New York City. Before preparing to embark on his North America and United Kingdom tour in September, International Business Times got to chat with him about his latest album, co-writing Smith’s “Stay With Me,” winning a 2015 Grammy for “Song of the Year” and what’s next for him.
IBT: Was there a reason for having no featured artists on your debut album?
Tourist: It’s an easy crutch to lean on the talent of others. There’s a strange trend towards features in electronic music. But for me, I think I just made a decision where I was like, if I can’t write this record by myself then I’m not a very good producer, I’m not a very good artist. I didn’t want to fall into the trap of featuring, featuring, featuring, featuring and actually it affords you a lot more, it’s a lot more riskier.
How would you describe your debut album?
It’s an album about a failed relationship. I think I just wanted to try and do something that felt it was rooted in something personal, and that was a personal story of mine, and I thought I’ll write about it… I feel like there’s value in it. I feel like there’s something interesting in that story. I felt like I hadn’t really heard an electronic album from a producer, so to speak, that was about a relationship, and I thought I might make one.
Do you like being called a “producer?”
If you think about the word, just producing, you create something, so there’s no difference to that as an artist. I think a producer can perhaps be someone who, I don’t actually know the definition. Isn’t that funny? I’m just a guy who makes music.
What was it like working with Sam Smith and how did that come about?
I was working on my third EP, called “Patterns,” and I was working with my friend Jimmy on it and Jimmy was managed by Sam Smith’s managers and they were listening to the stuff that me and Jimmy were writing and they were like, “Would you like to write with Sam?” And I was like, “Who’s Sam?” You know, Sam Smith’s not always been famous and this was at the point when he wasn’t. So, we kind of sat down and we had a session.
How did it feel to win a Grammy and did you set out to win one?
That’s never the goal. I don’t know, medals don’t really… you don’t want to sound ungracious but it’s a medal. The joy is not in the medal, it’s in the achievement of doing something that’s maybe important. I just try and do things that mean something to me and anything that might be kind of bestowed upon you afterwards is a compliment but it’s never the goal… I try not to define myself by having a Grammy.
What’s next for you?
I’m always writing, always working on stuff. I’m kind of trying to write my second album at the moment. I’m just feeling quite inspired. I’ve been traveling a lot, which is nice and inspiring.