“The record is a whole bunch of people, experiences, and places that I’ve left behind, either by choice or not by choice. People who have been stolen out of my life. I’ve had to abandon certain paths in my life to save myself [and to] save other people.” Tom Krell is explaining the meaning of Total Loss, his new album that aims to touch listeners with songs about love, suffering, and pain. If you follow Krell’s blog, you know that the project's earliest releases— “Ocean Floor For Everything,” “Cold Nites,” and “& It Was U”— were keen examples of how he weaves his deepest emotions about loss. True to those records, loss remains a defining theme on his sophomore effort.
Recording under the name How To Dress Well, his ethereal, contemporary sound is a reflection of varied influences, from Janet Jackson to experimental pianist György Ligeti. The 27-year-old’s style has developed dramatically since 2009, when he released seven EPs and several tracks of his bedroom recordings. Since then, How To Dress Well has been praised by critics for his stripped-down ballads and a falsetto that feels both warm, and strange. As an R&B singer who blends impossible worlds together, the results often blur the lines between haunting and gorgeous.
On Total Loss, How To Dress Well pushes his creative boundaries further. He projects his new music as cinematic, and hopes to engage listeners with his experiences. From the tranquil scene about flying peacefully in “Say My Name or Say Whatever” to listing names followed by I miss you on “Set It Right,” the album serves as an reminder that How To Dress Well isn’t your average lo-fi R&B. That’s why we had to find out more about the enigmatic character. So, who is How To Dress Well? We talked to him about moving to Europe, how Janet Jackson’s The Velvet Rope influenced him, the term "PBR&B," and scoring feature films to find out.
As told to Eric Diep (@E_Diep)