5 Minutes With… Toby Sebastian

Toby Sebastian. Photo: Ian Wallman
Toby Sebastian. Photo: Ian Wallman

Toby Sebastian: “I’ve always loved 60s and 70s music…I guess it’s pretty ingrained within me.” Photo: Ian Wallman

The musician and actor discusses recent single ‘Real Kicks’ and the thrill of performing his songs to a live audience

Toby Sebastian’s recent single Real Kicks was created over a period of two years. Carrying 60s/70s vibes mixed with a modern twist, it showcases his adept writing and vocal skills. Not just a singer-songwriter, his past acting credits include taking on a part in The Hollow Crown, and later roles in projects like Game Of Thrones and The Music Of Silence. Sebastian’s debut album, Into The Light, came out in 2013, and starting in 2019 he has dropped a series of singles that have amassed millions of streams. We recently spoke to Sebastian and learned about the inspiration behind his new summertime track…

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What was the process like for writing and recording Real Kicks?

“Making Real Kicks was such an exciting experience. I had the idea for a couple of years or so. Every now and then I’d come back to it and work on it a little, trying new ideas out. When it came to recording it, it was mostly live and recorded one day in December last year. The hardest part was working out what else it needed and to not just add elements for the sake of adding. For me, this always requires space and time away from the song.”

Toby Sebastian. Photo: Mike Palmer

Toby Sebastian: “Listening to your own songs being sung from the crowd is a magical thing.” Photo: Mike Palmer

What inspired you to incorporate sounds reminiscent of 60s and 70s music in the single?

“I’ve always loved 60s and 70s music. Many of my favourite artists, in my opinion, released some of their finest work within that time frame. I quite often gravitate towards the sound without even realising it. I guess it’s pretty ingrained within me.”

Which performers influenced you the most in your journey as a singer-songwriter?

“Marc Bolan and T-Rex were a big one for me – great songs and fantastic, hooky melodies. Bowie was another huge inspiration. His versatility was really quite remarkable, and I recognise his influence from the different styles I create. John Martyn influenced my fingerpicking melodically and, of course, The Beatles, who in my eyes wrote some of the greatest songs in music history.”

How did it feel to perform at Omeara in London and see the crowd having a great time listening to the track?

“Performing has been such an overwhelming experience. For the last two years, it’s been hard to really get an idea as to how my music is connecting with people. Shows like the one at Omeara just blow you away… listening to your own songs being sung from the crowd is a magical thing.”

Mike Batt at French House Party 2024

Toby Sebastian. Photo: Mike Palmer

Toby Sebastian: “Know who you are as an artist. If you don’t already, find out. Then be bold, brave and trust your instincts.” Photo: Mike Palmer

How would you compare working in the two storytelling mediums of music and film/TV?

“Well, music is mine, it’s more personal. Although making music is collaborative, for me it’s always started with me singing a melody or playing some notes on a piano or guitar wherever I am. It’s a wonderful release of emotion when I’m feeling things the most. Acting is also personal because you must find truth to whoever you’re playing. However, it’s someone else’s script, so really you’re there to fulfil their vision. It’s completely collaborative and requires a lot of communication.”

What can fans expect regarding new music from you in the future?

“I have a new single that’s out called Rock Rolling. It’s a real up-tempo summer vibe track. I’ve had the bare bones of it for a long time, so it’s very exciting to see it come to fruition.”

What’s the best advice you’ve been given about being a songwriter/artist?

“Know who you are as an artist. If you don’t already, find out. Then be bold, brave and trust your instincts. At the end of the day, it’s you that has to go out and play those songs.”

Watch the video for Real Kicks here and head to Toby Sebastian’s Facebook page for all the latest news.

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