Tokio Myers has a problem with modern pop.
“Put on Radio 1 and it’s all the same music!” says the sleepy-voiced pianist, talking to Music Week in the frenzied run up to his debut album, Our Generation. “I think people are bored, but people live off what they’re fed. No one seems to want to change things, but here I am with something different, emotional.”
These might not be the words you’d expect from a former session muso-turned Britain’s Got Talent winner and tabloid darling, but then, Myers isn’t exactly your typical wannabe. He’s already frustrated with the media’s focus on his past, including the death of his old headteacher, Philip Lawrence, which he witnessed at his London school. On Our Generation, which racked up 10,000 preorders, Myers mixes his classical training with his love of ‘90s dance. There are cover versions - The Weeknd, Rudimental, Robert Miles - too. After years playing other people’s songs (he supported Amy Winehouse and Kanye West with Mr Hudson), he’s poised for stardom. He’s keen to discuss music, rather than the pop culture he’s often asked about (“I don’t give a crap about Love Island!”)
Back to his record, then. “This is a piano album that could chart!” he says. “That’s a big deal. I’m a pianist, not a singer or a rapper, I’m signed to a major, and I’ve written an album no one has written before. This could be a gamechanger. I’ve opened up a gaping door...” Myers, who wants to open young musicians’ eyes to the potential of classical music, says he’d have made Our Generation with or without Britain’s Got Talent. His easy patter, littered with ‘man’ and ‘dude’, paints a picture of an extremely relaxed musician, impervious to the industry around him.
“This has been a lifetime in the making,” he says. “You spend your life trying to find a way in, now it’s just me. I’ve grown to love it, in a nice way, not an egotistical way. I think I’m ready for this.” And how about the idea that a talent show put him here? “Life is what you make it, man,” he answers, before laughing and confessing to entering the show, “for a laugh” and “to try something different, I don’t really settle for the norm.”
Right now, it seems Myers doesn’t have to settle for anything other than doing exactly as he pleases. He’s playing for the Queen this week, and is enjoying life on Syco, who afford him “complete control” to hone in on the emotions that inform his songs. “There’s no one doing what I’m doing, so no one can control what I should or shouldn’t do,” he reasons. “I did what I wanted, and it worked…"