Having been described by a fellow artist as ‘like Laura Marling crossed with Billie Holiday’, Bristol based duo Tamsyn and James, aka Toyface, are a mouth watering proposition for music fans. With a varied collection of 11 songs making up their debut album, the pair have blended an eclectic range of influences that has resulted in an album with strong jazz and cinematic leanings; both playful and plaintive. This was all possible due to receiving a significant amount of crowdfunding from a huge fan!
The pair’s songwriting process is varied: sometimes involving Tamsyn writing lyrics alongside her own simple structures on guitar; but often times working from a cappellas, which James then lays piano chords underneath. This is clearly a combination that works well and has yielded a crop of songs which are relatable to anybody who has ever found themselves working hard to find a place in the world – a situation most, if not all of us, know well.
In Tamsyn’s own words, the album ‘charts a process of experiencing, coping with, and the eventual resolution of, existential angst that I went through in my early 20s’; by way of heartbreak, physical insecurity and complex family ties’. And it’s from this well of shared stories where Toyface’s main strength lies – their ability to write with searing honesty about the common human experience, and lay those tales out across an intense, shifting musical backdrop.
The album is set to be exclusively launched in the duo’s home town of Bristol on April 24th, with the album to follow shortly after. The release marks the culmination of a journey that started with a chance meeting on the way back from the Secret Garden Party festival a number of years ago.
Trying to find a way back to Bristol at the end of the festival, Tamsyn managed to find her way onto a truck with a group of revellers heading in that direction. Not long into the journey, an incident on the road left the group stranded for 28 hours waiting for the journey to continue, during which time the group bonded.
The only two people from the group headed to Bristol were Tamsyn and James, whose chance meeting has led to a sibling-like closeness, the formation of Toyface and the debut album ‘Follow the Rules of the Trainwreck’.
The sweet story of serendipity was rounded off at last year’s Secret Garden Party, where – having written to the organisers to tell the tale of how they met – Toyface were able to wow the crowds with their own festival slot.
With a new festival season on the horizon, there will be plenty more chances to see Toyface in the very near future, starting with that album launch gig on April 24th.