Tom Gray fell off a piano at the age of 3. He’s still got the scar above his left eye. Undaunted by this disastrous start, he’s spent his subsequent life committed to music-making: experiments with tape machines in his teens; recording with orchestras in his 20s; over a thousand performances around the globe garnering a couple of million album sales. With nearly 20 years of professional composition behind him, a devotion to making music with character remains. As does the scar.
He is probably best known as a founding member and leading writer of the band Gomez, a band who made a trademark – and a multi-platinum career – out of their eclecticism. Tom’s open-mindedness and love of experiment were a defining factor in the development of their idiosyncratic sound: perhaps more significantly, his love of – and ability to write – melodies underpinned their work, tying together much of their musical shapeshifting.
His writing has been heard on many US and UK tv shows, films and adverts over the years, but he has only recently begun to make bespoke pieces. His own projects have ranged from sparse electronic work and contemporary piano through to pastoral folk, show-stopping songs and large ensemble arrangements. His extensive technical knowledge of aesthetic and sonics, together with his love of film, has naturally developed into composition for soundtracks – a medium that requires a broad musical palette more than any other.
Tom has recently completed his first feature score, for “You Can Tutu”: that rarest of things, a British independent children’s film. The music is based largely around piano, but Tom provided the orchestral works and the pop elements of the score too. He also wrote the theme and, with Matthew Slater, scored 52 episodes of “Tilly and Friends”, a BBC TV show that has been sold to over 20 countries worldwide. Quite distinct from the Tutu piano score, the Tilly world is folky and sweet.
Despite so much instrumental work, Tom’s devotion to writing songs hasn’t diminished: he was engaged for over a year with The Almeida Theatre in Islington to develop musicals for their audience. Since 2006, he has also written five theatrical children’s musicals with the Long Nose Puppet Theatre Company: Shoebaby, Flyaway Katie, Penguin, Arthur’s Dream Boat and Pat-a-cake Baby. Arthur’s Dream Boat was recently filmed for inclusion in the third Bridget Jones movie.
A strong sense of aesthetic, a desire for originality, an understanding of the emotional language of film-making and a committed, smart-but-approachable work ethic have seen Tom adapt comfortably to his new direction. Whether creating a wraparound musical identity for a charity or opening a documentary about life in a religious cult, Tom’s music perfectly fits the projects he’s chosen to work on: sometimes simply pretty or silly, sometimes beautifully eccentric and, on occasion, darkly profound.