Photo: Louis Gilbert

George Ward
George Ward

Freelance journalist based in Bristol. Can be found at the Grain Barge, Rough Trade or in his tiny basement bedroom writing for CLUNK.

Ahead of their upcoming second album, Prisoner of Desire, East London band Tempesst drop another romantic and nostalgic single and chat with me about their new album.

Tempesst are dropping ‘Prisoner of Desire‘, the follow up to their 2020 debut, on 3rd March. Until then, we have had the pleasure of three gorgeous new singles. The newest of these is ‘Rags of Love‘, yet another patient and honest love song. The band is typically tight, Toma’s vocals are typically romantic and the production yet again has a completely classic feel to it. I had a chat with frontman Toma about Tempesst’s classic sound, their recording techniques and just what we can expect to hear from their upcoming record.

George: For those who aren’t familiar with Tempesst, can you give us a quick rundown of what the last few years have looked like for you?

Toma: I’ve spent the best part of 3 years working away in the studio like a castaway on a desert island while the real world has been imploding. ‘Must be dream’, our debut record, was released in 2020 amidst the pandemonium surrounding the initial outbreak of Covid-19. We couldn’t tour after its release so we just kept writing and demoing and now our follow up ‘Prisoner of Desire’ is coming out next March.

George: You’re playing your first shows in two years early next year. Are you excited to get back into it or is it a bit daunting?

Toma: It’s much more comfortable to just sit in the studio and write and play… but performing your work to a loving audience would have to be, in my opinion, the most rewarding part of being an artist.

George: Your second album is on its way. Would you say this would be a good entry point for those unfamiliar with the band?

Toma: It’s difficult to be objective from my position. Compared to our first record, these songs are more personal and honest. The production has more clarity and intention. I’m proud of all of our work, but we’ve definitely evolved and this record is the best representation of who we are now.

Compared to our first record, these songs are more personal and honest”

Toma – Tempesst

George: Your new singles have a grand quality to them. Was there a specific sound you were aiming for when writing and recording the new album, ‘Prisoner of Desire‘?

Toma: The two songs that we’ve released so far were embellished with some horns and strings etc but it’s not indicative of the entire record. Other tracks have much simpler, delicate arrangements. The production changes to suit the song. For example, we chose a grand and romantic arrangement for True Love’s in Decline to lean into the irony sonically.

George: Both of your newest singles felt very old-school to me, with a feeling of romantic nostalgia. As a band do you feel you look more to older music for inspiration or to contemporary music?

Toma: The songs sound like older records because we use a lot of the same recording techniques. We like to record analogue, direct to 2-inch tape, using vintage microphones and instruments. We mostly take inspiration from classic artists as opposed to modern ones.

Listen/watch ‘Rags Of Love’ here:

George: I was interested how you aimed to “start an honest conversation about what love is” with Prisoner of Desire. Can you talk a bit more about this and how ‘Prisoner of Desire‘ stands out with its view of love?

Toma: Traditional love songs follow a predictable arc that feels superficial and unrealistic to me. I set out to write a song about the range of love between pure euphoria and abject despair; real-life love that we work at day in and day out, with its doubts and rewards. ‘Prisoner of Desire‘ is about the tension between the need for companionship and the need for autonomy.

George: What do you hope your listeners get out of listening to Prisoner of Desire?

Toma: Some reflection, perhaps a little comfort.

George: Next year seems like it will be a big one for Tempesst. Obviously you must be excited about your album release, but is there one specific moment, big or small, that you are most looking forward to?

Toma: Our London show at Islington Assembly Hall, it’ll be our biggest show to date.

Rags of Love is out now. The new album Prisoner of Desire is out on 3rd March 2023 via Pony Recordings.