South East London producer Will Phillips, aka Tourist, has yet to release a full-length album, but he has already picked up a Song of the Year Grammy thanks to a co-writing credit on Sam Smith’s ubiquitous ballad, “Stay With Me.”
The prestigious accolade isn’t the only thing the 28-year-old has in common with the man labelled the male Adele. He’s also signed to the label fronted by Disclosure, the deep house revivalists who helped launch Smith’s career, while his first studio effort, U (due this summer) was inspired by a broken down relationship, a la In The Lonely Hour.
But although the title track from last year’s well-received Patterns EP shares a similar gospel vibe to his award-winning collaboration with Smith, the majority of Phillips’ own musical output is of a far more intriguing and less self-indulgent nature.
Self-described as “dance music for people who don’t like to dance,” Tourist’s sound largely deals in glitchy two-step rhythms, pitch-shifted melodies and moody synths, bridging the gap between the classic deep house of his bosses’ catalog and the brooding electronica of James Blake.
Inspired by the pirate radio stations he used to listen to as a teenager, Phillips first began exploring this melancholic musical streak under the guise of Little Loud, before independently releasing his first EP, Placid Acid, under his more familiar moniker in 2013.
The buzz that its follow-up, Tonight, created then led to remixes for the likes of CHVRCHES (“Lies”), London Grammar (“Sights”) and Haim (“The Wire”), and writing/production credits on tracks by Jessie Ware (“Pieces”) and Javeon (“Give Up”) in addition to his Grammy-winning work with Smith.
Since then, the rising star has collaborated on his own material with the likes of Mercury Prize nominee Lianne La Havas, soulful singer-songwriter Will Heard and UK chart-topping synth-pop trio Years and Years, and recently wowed the crowds with his sets at Coachella.
Named after the sense of alienation he used to feel, Tourist may once have been an outsider, but it’s unlikely he will remain one for long.