Tom Vaylo : interview with a brilliant artist

By 
David Charrier
 on 
Oct 4, 2019
Tom Vaylo : interview with a brilliant artist

I would like to introduce you to my friend and talented artist, Tom Vaylo. A musician who artfully blends acoustic and electronic music to take us on an incredible musical voyage of discovery. Happy reading!

Hi Tom, it’s great to be able to spend some time with you to get to know a bit more about you...

I’ll let you introduce yourself

Hello David! I’m Tom, I love cheese, I’ve been playing music since I was very young and two years ago I started my solo project ‘Handpan Electro Chillout’. Well, I say “solo”, but there are plenty of guests!

The concept is to explore and create bonds between electronic music and acoustic instruments. To find a balance between the power of electronic music and the authenticity of acoustic music. To share a mood and emotions with the listener, tell stories and take them on a musical journey.

Obviously handpan and electro are the stars for me, but I love to add many other instruments (guitar, trumpet, violin, flute...). One last thing about me, I hate to get bored when I listen to music :)

How did you first discover the handpan and can you remember how it made you feel at the time?

Of course! I was young, wandering through a harbour and came across a british guy playing the Hang. He told me he was studio-recording for big pop stars like Shakira and Madonna. He was a friendly, funny guy, and ended up handing the Hang over for me to play. Wow! I had never experienced anything like it before and I knew that this was a very special instrument. You know what happens next…sending letters to Switzerland...  😀

When did you start playing music? Do you play any other instruments?

I started playing the recorder when I was 6 ;). Even though the instrument was a bit “crappy” (don’t get me wrong, I played it for 8 years), I fell in love with music. As nobody in my family played an instrument or listened to music, that’s really how I first got into it. Since then, music has been a big part of my life and I derive great pleasure from playing.

Can you tell us about your latest album that’s just been released?  

Yes, it’s now available on Spotify (and all other platforms) !

I wanted to take the time to create an original story with many different layers to discover and take the listener on a journey from the moment they pick up the disc to the last note. Mixing arts and several different musical styles, I picked up ideas, melodies and instruments, looking for ways to extend the handpan’s dimension. 

You’ll explore your mind’s duality through this CD double album (‘Chill’ / ‘Psychedelic’). Every track is associated to a tarot major arcana, so each cd’s tracklist can be seen as a tarot spread. I used these spreads to create a story for each, told on the CD’s first tracks, that opens some comprehension and reading layers.

Why 'Earth Child'? 

The ‘Earth Child’ is the child living deep inside our hearts. Deeply rooted in the earth, nature, love and the present moment; the child has always been there, but we tend to shut him down when growing up. The album opens musical and meditative paths to rediscover the ’Earth Child’ within us.

It naturally follows on from my first album, dedicated to water (‘A Waterdrop’s Journey’), with this one being dedicated to the earth and more deeply rooted and spiritual.

What instruments feature on the album? 

For a start, many great guests! Violin, trumpet, bugle, flute, vocals and story-telling; what a huge pleasure it was to work with them! I added some recorder (yes, you heard right!), guitar (classical, folk and electric), electronic instruments and sounds and obviously some handpan (Ayasa, Godan, Koan, ESS). You’ll also hear some nature and travel sounds I recorded.

What are your influences?

I love mixing musical genres, out-of-the-box thinking and composing and people who try to push musical boundaries. 

Apart from that, I’m influenced by Trip-hop, Soul, Jazz, Ambient, Classical, Psybient/Psychill, Dub, Trance, Bass music, Folk, and well, any music that comes from the heart.

Which is your favourite track off the album and why?

I’ve never been able to choose one! Honestly, they all represent something different and special for me, and I love them all for different reasons - saying that it feels like talking about children

Do you have a particular method for creating sounds and composing?

I have many different ways, but most of the time it feels a bit ‘magical’. I just play on instruments, letting my mind flow freely, and at some point something appears and feels ‘right’ and I don’t really know how I got there. People I meet and spend time with are probably my main source of inspiration, alongside nature and mountains. And emotions are always in the centre of the process.

At MasterTheHandpan we love a good bit of kit 😅 What do you use for recording?

So do I! I recorded at the ‘Studio des Petites Ecuries’ in Paris with WarpCore Audio. We tried strange and crazy settings, like 5 different mics in a star shape.

I remember using some Neumann U87, AT 4033, and AKG C214 plugged into an SSL console, and, of course, we use our ears.

Can you tell us a bit more about your equipment and software, etc.?

Ableton Live of course, I really love this software for playing live and for the crazy creativity it brings to studio production. Hardware-wise, I use the Push2 (dedicated Live controller), a launchpad, and a master keyboard for melodies.

Where can we get a copy of your album?

Right here on my website : tomvaylo.com

Are you involved in any other projects?

Yes, two big ones!

I just launched a youtube video series, composed of short musical improvisations with several instruments (handpan, flute, guitar and saxophone in multitrack recordings). It’s called ‘Morning Coffee’, and it’s for you to share some musical coffee breaks with me. The third one will be out next week!


I’m also working on a mobile app for musicians and handpan players. It will enable you to stream backing tracks to improvise/play/practise your instruments. What’s new here is that for every carefully created track you’ll be able to choose the key and BPM. So whatever handpan (or instrument) you want to play, the backing track will fit!

MasterTheHandpan readers can get ‘Beta’ access before the official launch! Just register here.

Do you have a funny story to share from the studio or a gig? 

People getting seasick after we rocked the boat at the end of our set  😀

Tom, thank you so much for taking the time to stop by!
All the best for your future project and keep it up with your amazing music.

If you want to follow Tom :

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David Charrier

Player, Teacher, Blogger. Handpan Enthusiast.
Founder of Master The Handpan

David Charrier

Joueur. Prof. Blogueur.
Fondateur de Master The Handpan

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