April 13, 2007
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SJP


Tomi Swick builds momentum
By -- For JAM! Music


Tomi Swick's profile was significantly raised when he won best new artist at this month's Juno Awards and began his acceptance speech with "Holy Crap!" one of the most sincere and enthusiastic responses of the night.

And that was just icing to a weekend which found the rising singer-songwriter from Hamilton, ON in the spotlight with higher profile artists. While walking the red carpet, signing autographs for throngs of screaming fans and all the media attention might be old hat for the musicians in Billy Talent, Alexisonfire and Hedley at these events, Swick experienced that kind of adulation for the first time.

"I think that everybody in the industry certainly knows who Tomi Swick is now," says Steve Blair, vice-president of A&R, at Warner Music Canada, which released "Stalled Out At The Doorway" last year with sales to date of about 9500 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan Canada.

"I feel that we had a big breakthrough on Juno weekend. It wasn't necessarily because he won the award, although that helps. But I think he endeared a lot of people. I think everybody realized that this guy is a really talented kid, but also somebody who is very personable, has a story, has something to talk about, is entertaining, is funny. They really kind of got into his personality."

Some of his entertaining talk was about getting into a brawl the week before with about eight guys who refused to move from a parking spot he was trying to drive into. A fistfight broke out and Swick, a former high school football player, ended up with a mild concussion and swollen hand. Some record label execs would ask an artist to stay quiet about such a thing, but Blair says he doesn't care.

"I don't care about it. It's part of who he is and I think it's helping us to find who he is too because that's so hard to do these days," Blair says. "I just think that all of that stuff just makes him more endearing. He's this guy who sings these songs that sound absolutely stunning. His voice is this beautiful instrument, but he's not necessarily that guy and the mental image of that kind of voice is not him. And I sort of like that dichotomy."

Swick, who performs with a band, was initially given a demo deal from Warner Music Canada, after wowing the office with some acoustic songs. After hearing the resulting demo made with producer Ron Lopata, he signed a full-blown deal. To get his name out there, the classic "Let It Snow" was serviced to radio for the 2005 Christmas season. An original song, "A Night Like This," from Warner's male singer-songwriter collection, "From The Heart," which eventually went platinum (100,000 units sold), was serviced to radio next and also came with a bonus Swick EP.

"A Night Like This" became a top 5 radio hit in Canada and was followed in the summer of 2006 with the release of Swick's full-length "Stalled Out In the Doorway." The album has since spawned two more radio hits, "Everything Is Alright" and "Sorry Again."

The past year, Swick, who is booked by Jack Ross at Toronto-based The Agency Group, has been busy supporting the album on the road. His first national tour was in clubs with Stabilo, then came a theatre tour with Goo Goo Dolls and this past February he played in arenas opening for Barenaked Ladies.

Following his Juno win, Swick went to Los Angeles to showcase for sound supervisors, film companies and record companies, says Blair. He is now back in Canada for an 11-date stint coast-to-coast with BC-based musician Jeremy Fisher, which ends on April 22 in Kingston, ON.

At the end of the month, Hamilton rock station Y108 is taking Swick and his guitarist Andrew Mactaggart to the Dominican Republic as part of a holiday contest for 40 winners. The pair will perform acoustically. Then, from the luxury resort, Swick will join World Vision in Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, on an information visit.

"We're shooting for a May 5 departure, though we're awaiting confirmation on logistics from our partner office in Nicaragua," says Mike Bowman, manager of artist associates program at World Vision. "These trips we do with artists are for orientation. The artists usually drill the local staff with many questions, and we see work such as health clinics, counselling, education programs, music classes, water projects and micro enterprise development. If time permits, we also take the artists sight-seeing so they come back promoting tourism in the country."

After he returns, Swick will then take a brief break to lay down some new songs. "I've got tons," says Swick. "I'm going to go into Justin Koop's studio in Burlington [Ontario] for a week. He's a good friend of mine. I've worked with him tons. We're just going to throw down my stuff live off the floor. As for the proper album, I don't know what I'm going to do, where I'm going to record. It depends on my budget."

Blair says a new album should be out by the top of 2008.

"As quick as we can get the next record out I think would be the smart thing to do. We've spent the last year and a bit trying to get the momentum we have right now and I don't really want to lose that momentum," says Blair. "What we're going to do is release another single, probably 'Wait Until Morning,' and we will probably release another song after that as well, and try to keep this as alive as we can, and keep him as visible as we can, and at the same time prepare for the next record."
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