Sandi Thom

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"Sandy Thom" redirects here. For the Scottish engineer, see Alexander Thom.
Sandi Thom
Sandi Thom 4698.jpeg
Thom performing live in 2011
Background information
Birth name Alexandria Thom
Born (1981-08-11) 11 August 1981 (age 33)
Banff, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Origin Macduff, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Genres Pop, folk, R&B, rock, blues
Years active 2004–present
Labels RCA, Sony (2006-2009), Guardian Angels (2010-present)
Website www.sandithom.com

Alexandria "Sandi" Thom (born 11 August 1981, Banff, Aberdeenshire) is a Scottish singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. She was one of the first artists along with Arctic Monkeys a few months before to come to the mainstream thanks to the Internet. She became widely known in 2006 after a series of webcasts and the success of the UK number one single "I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker (With Flowers in My Hair)". Thom has released five studio albums: Smile... It Confuses People (2006), The Pink & The Lily (2008), Merchants and Thieves (2010) "Flesh And Blood" (2012) & "Covers Collection" (2013)

Life and career[edit]

1984–2004: Early life[edit]

Thom was born in Banff, Aberdeenshire.[1] She attended Robert Gordon's College in Aberdeen where she studied to become a doctor.

Thom spent 3 years playing piano and signing in the local band 'The Residents'. At a pub in Gourdon on the North East Coast of Scotland a small plaque and picture was mounted on the wall to mark her time there.

At the age of 17, after deciding to change her career path from medicine to music, Thom became the youngest student ever to be accepted at the prestigious Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA).[2] In 2003, Thom graduated from LIPA[3] with a BA (Hons) in Performing Arts.

At the age of 18 Thom was assaulted and beaten by a police officer which left her unconscious with broken ribs and knocked out teeth. The brutality case was brought to trial but was dismissed after no collaborative evidence was presented to support the case. Thom was forced to retake a year of University degree because of the incident.

Thom was a member of the Love and Joy Gospel Choir in Liverpool, England for several years and sang 'You'll never walk alone' to 40,000 football fans at Anfield Stadium. Thom became a born again Christian after being baptized at the Temple of Praise at the age of 19.

Thom has assisted many charity appeals for Oxfam's work in Malawi and it is believed that the song 'Sun comes crashing down' was inspired by her most recent visit to Malawi.[4][5][6]

Thom is an active patron of the Willows Animal Sanctuary in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

Thom moved to Malibu, California in 2010 where she resided for 3 years before more recently moving to West Hollywood, California. Her father and mother live separately in the North East of Scotland while her extensive family of 7 Aunts on her mothers side and 2 aunts and one uncle continue to live in various parts of Scotland. Her father, Captain Alexander 'Sandy' Thom continues to fly in the North East of Scotland while her mother Josiphine Riley is a marketing and management consultant for several shipping companies. Her brother Chistopher Thom is also a helicopter pilot and teaches English as a foreign language also. Thom's grandmother May Thom turns 100 on May 20th 2015. Thom is also related to acclaimed Astronomer and Aero Nautical engineer Alexander Thom and associates her love of the cosmos as a descendant of the professor.

Thom's mothers side of the family are originally from Killarney in Ireland while her fathers family are from the North East of Scotland.

As well as being a singer/songwriter Thom is also a keen photographer and first exhibited her work which included images taken from Japan, Australia, Russia and Malawi, at the National Trusts Norwood Hall in England.

2004–2007: Signing with Sony and Smile, It Confuses People[edit]

In 2004, Thom moved to London to pursue her song-writing career, working with three co-writers: Jake Field, Duncan Thompson and Tom Gilbert.[citation needed] Thom signed to Windswept Pacific Music in 2005, an independent music publishing company, and its UK arm, P&P Songs, and received £25,000.[citation needed] She signed a record contract with the record label Viking Legacy, Where her mother was director who released her début single, "I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker (With Flowers In My Hair)" in late 2005.[citation needed] The song failed to garner major airplay or sales and release of her début was delayed.[citation needed]

21 Nights from Tooting was a "tour" consisting of twenty-one performances from the basement of her Tooting flat, from 24 February to 16 March. These were recorded and then webcast by professional hosting company Streaming Tank.[7][8] Tickets were sold, but the venue had a capacity of "six people" ("10 including the band"). The MySpace post announcing the gigs was posted in the early hours of 22 February. Thom's website states that "the idea [...] popped into her head" after her car broke down travelling from a gig in York (on the 22nd) to one in Wales (on the 23rd) and following the very first live webcast she did at a gig in Edinburgh organized by her PR manager, Paul Boyd from Polar Flame Music.[9] Thom's first ever video webcast was at the Edinburgh Left Bank venue in October 2005.[10] Prompted by a contact from Thom's manager's Ian Brown and John Black, news services noted Thom's promotion efforts. In a story first published 5 March 2006, The Sunday Times ran a piece.[11] This was quickly reported on by other news sources.[12] The audience for the first day was around 60 or 70 and at its peak rose to a claimed 70,000.[13] The 7 March Reuters story mentioned that "I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker" was being re-released the following week, with the album following in April. However, the publicity surrounding the tour led to major label interest, with music label representatives attending the gigs in question, and the release of the records was put back until a deal was signed.[14]

Thom subsequently accepted an offer by Sony. This led to the single re-release being delayed until May, when it was released on Sony's RCA label. The news of this broke on 3 April 2006, the official signing itself being webcast. The single was placed on Music Week Daily's playlist that day.[15][16][17] Paul Kelly of the Independent and others have questioned how she was able to sustain production of the webcast, and its viewership figures. Her manager, Ian Brown, in an interview with the Guardian, said the idea came from her, whilst her management and Music PR team, Quite Great Communications and Polar Flame Music UK, claim to have conducted a large publicity campaign, including a million "virtual flyers" [unsolicited emails].[18][19] Thom described Streaming Tank as "friends of my managers", since she could not have afforded commercial rates for the streaming.[20] Craig Logan, the managing director of RCA said that the label was "drawn to" Thom after hearing of the webcasting,[21] as has Thom herself.[22]

Following her online webcast concerts from her basement in Tooting, "I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker" was re-released on 22 May 2006, on RCA Records UK. The song had been gaining in airplay exposure, and on download sales it achieved #15 in the general charts (and #7 in the official downloads chart). The physical release had three formats: two CD versions (one featuring the radio mix and "A Light As Bright As Ours", another featuring the radio mix, the album version, a further remix, "May You Never" and the video), and also as a 7" vinyl record backed with "No More Heroes". In the week of 22 May, the song reached #2 in both charts. She performed on Top of the Pops on 28 May, making her major terrestrial television début, and on 4 June, the song replaced the deleted "Gnarls Barkley" single "Crazy" at #1 in the singles chart. Her début album, Smile... It Confuses People was released in the United Kingdom on Monday 5 June 2006, and débuted at number one in the chart dated 11 June, selling over 1 million copies worldwide. The song was later nominated at the Brit Awards for Best British Single. In the Republic of Ireland, "I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker" entered the singles chart at #10 (week ending 25 May 2006), and rising to #2 in the following week (ending 1 June), and then to #1 the week after, but was then knocked off the top spot by Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie". The single also enjoyed success overseas, where it reached number 1 on the Australia "ARIA Charts" for ten consecutive weeks making it Australia's highest selling single of 2006.

"I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker" was the 47th biggest selling UK single from a female artist since 2000 according to the Official Charts Company as of January 2009.[23] The follow-up single "What If I'm Right" reached the lower reaches of the charts, but "Lonely Girl", the third single from the album, failed to enter any charts.

2007–2009: The Pink & the Lily[edit]

Thom performing in 2008
Main article: The Pink & The Lily

On 26 May 2008, Thom released her second album entitled The Pink & The Lily, preceded by the first single, "The Devil's Beat", available on CD from 19 May 2008. Prior to the release, journalists were doubtful about its appeal.[24] The album and single received extensive airplay on BBC Radio 2. In the UK, the album entered the chart at 25.

Thom has said:

"I feel like my second album was too rushed. I felt under quite a lot of pressure when I was making it. I was out on the road and my label was really hassling me to get it finished. "I admit I was disappointed with it and now, when I look back, it was released too soon. "There were some things that were overlooked. It wasn't thought out properly. So, with my next album, I'm going to put my foot down and spend as long as it takes to make it."[25]


In February 2009, Thom announced that she would be making her third album as an independent artist, and expressed reservations over future music being released by record label RCA, who she claimed pressured her during the making of her second album (The Pink and the Lily) by demanding changes to lyrics on songs like "Saturday Night". She was also unhappy with their choice of singles.[26] Along with other positioning decisions and demands centred on their desire for her to deliver bubblegum pop that Thom claimed the record company had made, she was unwilling to carry on working with RCA.[26][27]

2009–2010: The Best of Sandi Thom[edit]

A "Best of" album was released in July 2009 without Thom's consent by the Sony/BMG label; Camden (a part of the Sony/BMG group). The 18 track collection was compiled from Thom's two previous albums and various B-sides.

2010–present: Merchants and Thieves, Flesh and Blood and Covers Collection[edit]

Main article: Merchants and Thieves
Thom performing live during here Merchants and Thieves tour in 2011

Thom's third studio album Merchants and Thieves was released independentally on 17 May 2010 with "This Ol' World" featuring Grammy Nominated Guitarist Joe Bonamassa as the lead single. The album was released by Thom on her own "Guardian Angels" label, which she formed after her split with RCA. Musically it moves from pop folk towards blues and roots influences. The album entered the I Tunes Blues Chart at No.1 in the UK and No.7 in the US I tunes Blues chart.


Thom's cover version of the classic track "House of the rising sun" was released as a download-only single and extra track on the deluxe edition of the album. It was also given away as a free download to readers of the Scottish Mail newspaper. The album was nominated for Best Album in the British Blues Awards 2011.[28]

The album was nominated for Best Jazz/Blues Recording of the Year in the Scottish Music Awards. Thom was also nominated for Artist of the Year and her label "Guardian Angel Recordings" was nominated for Record Label of the Year.[29][30]

Thom's fourth studio album entitled "Flesh and Blood" was released 16 September 2012. The Album was recorded in Nashville's 16 Tonne recording Studios and featured Black Crowes guitarist Rich Robinson as guest producer, and other musicians such as Audley Freed and the late Rolling Stones saxophonist Bobby Keys. The album features 12 songs of which Thom has said are some of her finest creations.

After a sell out show at London's Borderline Club Thom released her first Live Concert DVD which features a guest performance from former boyfriend Joe Bonamassa. The DVD was made available through an online campaign in collaboration with Pledge Music along with various other merchandise items including Lyrics sheets and personal songwriting sessions.

Her fifth studio album, Covers Collection, was released in November 2013 and is said to be an acoustic collection of songs harping back to Thom's teenaged years growing up listening to Nirvana, Guns N' Roses, Pearl Jam, Heart, Fleetwood Mac and many more. Thom plays all instruments on the record and also produced the album herself.

Thom ceased trading under the name Guardian Angel Records in May 2014 after she received her US residency and reformed under the new trading name Guardian Angels Music LLC in the United States.

In early 2014 Thom was asked to write an Open Editorial for The Daily Beast on how to make it as an independent Female Artist in today's music industry which went to print and was well received. Thom also regularly takes master classes at schools and colleges where she teaches young aspiring musicians on how to find their way in an ever changing industry.

Criticism[edit]

Her sudden rise to stardom was scrutinized by the British press and by her fellow artists. James Frost and Robin Hawkins from The Automatic stated that "If she was a punk rocker with flowers in her hair she'd get the s*** kicked out of her by other punk rockers, for having flowers in her hair. [...]"[31] This notion that her success has been carefully orchestrated by the use of public relations was echoed by media commentator Charlie Brooker: "She is the anti-christ of music"[32]

Concert tours[edit]

Thom performing live during her 2011 tour

Prior to the 21 Nights from Tooting, Thom had been actively touring in the UK in 2005. Thom made an appearance at the Northsound Radio to 40,000 Free at the Dee festival in Aberdeen on 4 September 2005;[33] a charity gig in Edinburgh later in September 2005, and was described as "hotly-tipped" by the Daily Record.[34] Thom supported The Proclaimers on their UK tour in December 2005 and toured with Nizlopi. She and her band continued to tour, playing the Pocklington Arts Centre near York on 22 February 2006, supported by Edwina Hayes, and the Queen's Hall in Narberth in Wales on 23 February 2006.

In 2008 Thom was invited by The Who's Peter Townsend to perform for the Teenaged Cancer Trust at the Royal Albert Hall in London. Thom then went on to perform two more times at the Royal Albert Hall at the Sunflower Jam alongside musical greats such as Queens Brian May, Led Zepellin's John Paul Jones and the legendary alice Cooper.

Thom has played live in several unconventional venues. She had previously performed at the opening of the World Skiing Championships in Sweden, where the stage was set up at the top of a mountain range; she performed at the top of the BT tower in London on behalf of the DMA's (Digital Music Awards), where she was nominated, she also performed for a Children in Need auction winner who paid the charity £17,000 for Thom to play her living room. She went on to play the Main Stage at T in the Park 2006, having previously been booked for the lowest billed stage. She headlined the acoustic tent at the 2006 V festival with Kasabian. In early 2007, Thom spent 6 weeks in France performing in every city across the country alongside a French artist at a free concert called the Ricard Live Tour to crowds of approximately 35,000 a night. She has performed at festivals such as Glastonbury, Guilfest and Redbourne; and in Scotland, the Wizard festival and the Belladrum Heart festival. Other festivals further afield included the Oxegen music festival and the World Fleadh in Ireland, and the Fuji Rock Festival in Japan. Most recently Thom performed at the Narooma Blues Festival in Australia in September 2014. Thom supported George Michael on his stadium tour in Denmark in 2008. In June, Thom performed a free 50-minute acoustic gig in front of 200 people at the broadcast centre of WDR radio station in Cologne, Germany; the gig was broadcast twice during the course of the month.

Thom performed at the Blackpool illuminations lights switch on concert alongside UK's Top Gear's presenters who were taking part in a race to beat one another to Blackpool.

Thom headlined the stage at the Aberdeen's Hogmanay celebrations followed by an appearance on the BBC Hogmanay show from Edinburgh where she sang one song. Thom was transferred by citation jet from Aberdeen's Hogmanay street party to Edinburgh's Castle to make both performances possible that night. Thom has also performed "By Afton Water" at the official Burns Supper in celebration of Robert Burns's 250th birthday in front of Scotland's First Minister. The event was held in Alloway, Ayrshire, where Burns was born.[35]

Thom then went on to perform in the Library of Congress alongside Sir Sean Connery and a host of Scottish congress members in January 2009.

Thom dedicated her tour of 2009 to the Homecoming Scotland campaign.[36] The support acts for each show were local artists with special guests ranging from Phil Cunningham in Inverness, Leon Jackson in Glasgow and her original guitarist Marcus Bonfanti appearing at the final show of the English leg of the tour in Milton Keynes.

The first official date of the tour in Edinburgh was cancelled after the venue suffered significant fire damage, and tickets already purchased for the show were made valid for the second date of the tour in Dunfermline.

A duet with the first minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond, took place at one of the shows in Banff where he is the Member of Parliament, Thom has widely made her political views known and is an avid supporter of Scottish Independence. [37]

The Glasgow leg of Homecoming 2009, which was to hold the largest concert of the tour, was held at the Clyde Auditorium. On the day of the show it was announced that X Factor winner Leon Jackson was to be the special guest.[38]

During the tour Thom released two EP's. A "Live EP" featuring recordings from the Aberdeen Castlegait Hogmanay celebrations and the "Caledonia EP" featuring a series of covers including "Patience Of Angels" (originally by Eddi Reader) and the official Homecoming Scotland 2009 song "Caledonia" written by Dougie MacLean. These recordings were only available to purchase at concerts performed on the Homecoming Tour.

Thom appeared at the SXSW festival in Texas in March 2009. [39]

In April, a sold out performance took place at the 200 capacity Crown Hotel Ballroom as part of the Nantwich Jazz Festival.

Thom was invited to play a filmed set at Switzerlands Avo Session Basel, supporting Snow Patrol.[40] This was followed by an extensive support slot for Joe Bonamassa on his UK and Irish tour dates.

Thom appeared at the Stirling Castle Hogmanay celebrations 2009. She performed alongside The MacDonald Brothers, The Shermans and Gary Mullen. Thom toured the UK in April and May 2010 to showcase new material from her album Merchants & Thieves and made a number of appearances at Festivals in the UK including The Tiree festival in Scotland and The Great British Rhythm & Blues Festival in Colne Lancashire in England. A second Merchants and Thieves tour took place in September and early October. Thom announced a tour of "Intimate" venues in the UK for early 2011 as well as details of a record to be recorded in Nashville in 2011.[41] Festival appearances, including Rhythm Festival,[42] were also added for 2011.

In 2012 Thom returned to Australia to perform a series of concerts alongside Acclaimed Blues Singer/Harmonica player Chris Wilson. Performances included Melbourne's Recital Centre. The performance was recorded but is yet to be officially released by Thom. Following the release of her 4th studio Album Sandi Thom performed an exclusive set at London's Gibson showroom and was the first artist to play the brand new 12 string Les Paul. She also made several guest appearances with Joe Bonamassa including the Usher Hall in Edinburgh.

In 2013 Thom performed a series of concerts all over the world including Australia, UK, Holland and ending in Scandinavia late December 2013. She changed her live show and went out as a solo act simultaneously playing 12 string guitar, stomp box, vocals and harmonica to create a unique sound.

In April 2014, as well as a guest performance at the Royal Albert Hall, Thom completed a UK tour and recorded her second independent DVD at a sold out concert in Aberdeen's Historic Tivoli Theatre. The DVD is due for release in the spring of 2015. Thom also performed a series of US concerts including Chicago, Nashville, NYC's BB Kings Blues club, Charlotte, LA and Portland, ME. Thom booked and promoted all the shows herself.

In the fall of 2014 Thom undertook a 6 week tour of Australia and for the first time performed a series of concerts in New Zealand, mainly on the South Island. She then went on to perform a 4 week tour of the UK including two nights at London's half moon club where she revealed the new sound for her 2015 line up which includes Calum Ingram in Cello, Mike Smith on Keys and Scott Cowie on Percussion.

Discography[edit]

Studio albums

Compilation albums

  • The Best of Sandi Thom (2009)

""DVD's""

""Singles""

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sinclair, David (7 April 2006). "Sandi Thom: Bedroom superstar". Independent (London). Retrieved 10 July 2009. 
  2. ^ Meyer, Mary (25 May 2008). "Fame and Fortune: Sandi Thom". The Sunday Times (London). Retrieved 10 July 2009. 
  3. ^ Jones, Catherine (8 Dec 2007). "Thom’s tale of graft and a little luck". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 10 July 2009. 
  4. ^ "Sandi supports Oxfam Africa appeal". Metro.co.uk. 24 July 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-14. 
  5. ^ "Sandi Thom returns from Malawi to launch Oxfam World Food Crisis Appeal". Oxfam.org.uk. 15 October 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-14. 
  6. ^ "Moni Malawi". Moni Malawi. Retrieved 2009-03-14. 
  7. ^ "Sandi Thom interview". Channel 4 News. 4 April 2006. Retrieved 2009-03-30. [dead link]
  8. ^ video by Streaming Tank
  9. ^ "Sandi Thom". sandithom.com. Archived from the original on 22 May 2006. Retrieved 2006-06-07. 
  10. ^ "Laughing all the way to the bank". The Daily Record. 2 June 2006. 
  11. ^ Elliott, John (5 March 2006). "Sandi, singer in the basement, plays the World.". London: Sunday Times. Retrieved 23 May 2010. 
  12. ^ "Singer tours world from basement". BBC News. 8 March 2006. 
  13. ^ Scottish singer's Webcam concerts attracting crowds. Reuters/ZDNet News. 7 March 2006[dead link]
  14. ^ The Scotsman (2 June 2006). "On the record". 
  15. ^ Music Week Daily e-mail. 3 April 2006
  16. ^ "'World tour' webcaster is signed". BBC News. 3 April 2006. 
  17. ^ "Webcast woman scores deal". BBC 6Music News. 4 April 2006. 
  18. ^ Gibson, Owen (31 May 2006). "An internet superstar – or just another rock'n'roll swindle?". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 23 May 2010. 
  19. ^ Sherwin, Adam (31 May 2006). "Singer denies rise to fame was result of internet scam.". London: The Times. Retrieved 23 May 2010. 
  20. ^ "Sandi in flat 'con' denial". London: The Sun. 5 June 2006. [dead link]
  21. ^ Logan, Craig (10 June 2006). "Viewpoint: Correcting the myths which surround RCA's Sandi Thom". Music Week. p. 15. 
  22. ^ Setting the record straight[dead link]
  23. ^ "Biggest selling female singles of the 21st Century". Moopy.org.uk. Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  24. ^ Sullivan, Caroline (20 May 2008). "The Guardian". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  25. ^ "Exclusive: Third album will help me crack America, predicts Sandi Thom". The Daily Record. Retrieved 2009-03-14. [dead link]
  26. ^ a b Harris, Gillian (1 February 2009). "I'm a pop singer, not the SNP’s mascot". The Sunday Times (London). Retrieved 10 July 2009. 
  27. ^ Dingwall, John (21 March 2009). "Exclusive: Sandi Thom reveals the truth behind her split with Sony". Daily Record. Retrieved 10 July 2009. 
  28. ^ "Blues Album & Record Label 2011 Nominations". Sandi Thom. Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  29. ^ "Scottish music awards -awards page". Scotmusicawards.co.uk. 2 August 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  30. ^ "scottish music industry awards nominations and voting". Scotmusicawards.co.uk. 2 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  31. ^ "Top of the Pops - Daily News - Monster Stink". BBC. Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  32. ^ Brooker, Charlie (9 June 2006). "Supposing ... Sandi Thom is the musical Antichrist". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 23 May 2010. 
  33. ^ "Simply Dee-Lightful". Daily Record. 5 September 2005. 
  34. ^ "Right Note For Charity". Daily Record. 20 September 2005. 
  35. ^ McIntosh, Lindsay (25 January 2009). "Homecoming Burns supper is blend of old and new". London: Times Online. Retrieved 2009-01-25. 
  36. ^ "Sandi Thom's 2009 Homecoming Tour". Homecoming Scotland 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-14. 
  37. ^ "Edinburgh City SNP: Sandi Thom Endorses Alex Salmond for First Minister". Edinburghsnp.blogspot.com. 10 April 2007. Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  38. ^ "Exclusive: Sandi Thom lines up Leon Jackson as surprise guest at Scots gig". The Daily Record. Retrieved 2009-03-14. 
  39. ^ Hall, Tara. "SXSW Review: Sandi Thom at 18th Floor at Hilton Garden Inn". livedaily. Retrieved 2009-03-24. 
  40. ^ Hug, Christian. "Young & wild". avo.ch. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  41. ^ "Get To the Front interview". Get To The Front. Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  42. ^ "Sandi Thom at Rhythm Festival 2011". Rhythm Festival 2011. Retrieved 2011-02-16. 

External links[edit]