“I always wanted to write a kind of nightmare music hall song of some sort, a misadventure song that is still foolish and lighthearted. I had the main acoustic part of this tune and no lyrics and we got together at the Unknown and decided on a form and recorded the whole thing almost the way it is now. All the lyrics came later, I used to sit in the bleachers of the baseball field near my apartment during the beginning of the pandemic for hours into the night and work on songs and these lyrics came from that and perhaps some wine and sleep deprivation. It’s like our version of “Sloop John B” with black mold poisoning, maybe a little inspiration from Eno’s “Backwater” too.” -Brian Noyes
Tomten are a baroque pop quartet based out of Seattle, Washington. Brian Noyes (vocals, keys, guitar) and Lena Simon (bass, vocals) (Kairos Creature Club, formerly of La Luz) met in 2008 and began demoing each other’s songs at Cornish College of The Arts.
Tomten started playing shows and rearranging their sound and lineup by 2010, after Gregg Belisle-Chi (guitar) and Jake Brady (drums) joined the band. Tomten‘s debut, Wednesday’s Children arrived in Summer of 2012 shortly before Belisle-Chi left the band. Tomten recorded their sophomore record The Farewell Party (2014) with Jason Quever of Papercuts in San Francisco and Sacramento, CA. Dillon Sturtevant (bass) joined the band as Lena departed.
The Unknown recording studio in Anacortes, WA started by Nicholas Wilbur and Phil Elverum (Mt. Eerie) has become the go to spot for the band’s more recent recordings – the lush piano driven Cremation Songs (2017), and Synth Pop informed Viva Draconia (2018). Tomten‘s newest album Artichoke (out April 28) is a collaborative foray into psych folk, power-pop, and glam country, a balance between songs by Noyes, Sturtevant, and two co-written with Brady. Artichoke is a warm pastoral daydream, with inspirations drawn from the Madcap folk rock of the Incredible String Band, to the syrup soul of The Delfonics, the country tinge of Happy End or Gene Clark, with the gentle guitar picking of John Martyn or Bridget St. John.
Press photos by Nicholas Wilbur
Street Date: April 28, 2023