Tristram Woods is a songwriter and music producer based in the United Kingdom. Few people are as dedicated to mastering their craft as him.
Tristram Woods has seen more than his fair share of hard times and speaks candidly about his experiences thus far.
1. Talk to me about yourself personally and as the artist Tristram Woods.
As an individual, I am very laid back and easy going, and quite reserved. I always prefer being at home with my family or in the gym rather than out on the lash or socialising (I got that out of my system being part of the rugby team at uni in my 20’s). Family always comes first for me.
I’m not one of these guys that has loads of friends as I’ve always kept the circle quite small, but those that I have mean the world to me and I’d do anything for them. It’s the same as me an artist I guess, I’ll only really say things that I feel need to be said.
The song we’re releasing now was written when I was struggling with alcohol addiction and my dad had been diagnosed with cancer, so the lyrics were pretty powerful and dark. And at that point in my life I had the sudden realisation of people’s mortality, which made me realise that the world won’t wait for anyone, even though as a kid you’ve grown up thinking your family will live forever.
Being sober a year now, I can reflect on that time with clarity and see what was wrong in my life. But the song was written at a time when I was really suffering and couldn’t open up any other way, so music really was therapy for me! That’s why you will hear so many different themes in my music, from elated and upbeat to melancholy and sombre. As writers, this really is such a powerful tool. I just finished a collaboration with Tachii and again, the lyrics were focused on one of my mates who have struggled through the lockdown with various addiction and mental health issues – it’s about trying to be there for them and get them through it.
2. Having heard a number of your work in progresses, you have a very melodic approach to creating a record. Do these highly memorable melodies come naturally to you?
It’s strange (as I’m sure every artist experiences), the music either comes really naturally and effortlessly, to the extent I will write 4 or 5 melodies at one time (opened in different windows in my computer). Or, it wont come at all, and I will be sat at the piano or holding the guitar just trying every single chord progression I can for about an hour before I just give up.
I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s always best not to force it, and that has worked well for me over lockdown. But, as part of that conclusion, I also now write as soon as an idea comes in to my head. I do my wife’s head in as we could be in bed or having dinner, and I will suddenly just get up and run to the workstation to get the ideas down. I’d say it’s one of my worst (yet productive) habits.
3. Given your music is so melodic, is this the main factor that you
pursue when writing vocal melodies and instrumental sections?
I think it depends on the mood I am in and the type of track I am writing. If I’m in a really good place mentally and I am working on something that’s more progressive house or dance pop, where the key thing is the rise and drop and the synth lead melody (and bass line), then I tend to focus a lot more on the structure and the melody.
But when I am writing things that are more along the lines of pop/singer songwriter genres, I think the lyrical content is as important for me. I send my music out to a close circle of friends and family who will be brutally honest with their feedback & critiques, and it’s funny the ones that come back and focus on lyrics, and those that focus on the tune and melody. I guess you have to remember that there is an audience out there that appreciates lyrics more than melody.
There are artists that I listen to where I am in total awe of their lyrics, Eminem being the main one! What he does is just mastery!
Then there are producers and writers who have absolutely nailed the musical side of things. It’s funny as a kid I got ripped into as my favourite band was Westlife & I loved Backstreet Boys and Ronan Keating (bear in mind I was probably the biggest kid in my year). But when you actually look at the detail behind the artists, it was really Steve Mac, Wayne Hector and Max Martin who I was appreciating. Those are probably the biggest names in pop production around.
I started going on to appreciate other genres like rock & metal a lot later on when I was at uni, but Ian Watkins ruined Lostprophets for me!
4. Looking at your social media, it appears you play rugby as well – can you tell me a bit about that?
As with most lads (and girls) from Wales, rugby is almost a part of our DNA. I went to boarding school on a rugby and music scholarship which was amazing as we played every Wednesday & Saturday and trained every day of the week. It’s a teenager’s dream. Plus I met some of my best mates down there. Then at uni it was similar as I played for both the uni side and the local men’s side & again met some phenomenal people. I don’t play too much anymore as my body has given up in that respect. I had a series of hamstring tears in one season and it never fully recovered, all from one game in Brecon where I didn’t warm up properly. During my 20s I had a few stints with decent clubs and managed to play semi-professionally. But as is always the way, there are always people bigger, faster & stronger people that are that next level above.
I also love the NFL (and watching my team get beaten week in week out).
My life now really centres on my family and keeping them happy. The gym is my coping mechanism for the stresses of everyday life! We are expecting the arrival of our second child next month so I won’t get masses of time to do much else. It won’t be long before I am the taxi, taking them to dance classes or music lessons or rugby training or whatever it might be they are into. I have a fresh appreciation for the countless hours my parents put in to taxi me everywhere when I was a kid. It was always either a violin lesson, orchestra or rugby training. Or the 3 hour trip down to visit me when I was away at school.
One thing I do enjoy is trading in the stock market. Argo Blockchain have made me a bit of money this year already! That started out as a hobby and a lot of reading and research but it’s starting to pay off. The best advice I was given was to act as a ‘retirement trader’ – what would you come out of retirement for? Only open positions in stocks that you are dead certain about & make sure it’s worth it!
5. Once Covid-19 is over and the world is a safer place, what’s at the top of your bucket list of things you’d want to do?
I would love to take the family away to a Greek island for a 2-week break. Just to completely rest and refresh.
I also want to get back to the Principality stadium to watch Wales play or the Arms for a Friday night Cardiff Blues game! Or a gig! I’ve seen Coldplay in the stadium and that was pretty amazing!
There are loads of artists and gigs on my bucket list. I’ve always wanted to go to Country 2 Country. I love Luke Combs, Dan + Shay, Keith Urban, Chris Stapleton, the list goes on.
But the guys that are at the top of it: Chainsmokers (I was set to go to their London gig last October!) & One Republic! Ryan Tedder is probably the best writer in pop in my opinion. He has an incredible sound and whenever he teams up with Alesso, it’s pretty much destined to be a hit! If I could get the tones of these that would be pretty epic! (I don’t think I could get the permission slip signed for Tomorrowland)!