Tomtsu grows as a band and develops a unique sound

Rachel Lee, Arts Editor

The beat begins, slow and subtle at first, and then it grows, becoming louder and filling the room, then a bass kicks in, and then finally a guitar and then vocals. Improvised guitar riffs, Tuesday practices and 63,000 plays on Spotify all make up Tomtsu, a band of four juniors whose music falls somewhere between a mix of jazz and indie rock.

As Tomtsu grows, the band focuses on finding their own personal sound and sharing their music with more people. They approach their music in a free-form and open way with no restrictions on how they make or practice their music.

According to junior and guitarist Zach Fischer, the band originally started with him and two of the other current members, junior and drummer Max Grossman and junior and bassist Jackson Payne. While they were volunteering at the Brookline Teen Center to help teach music students how to record live, they played and recorded together for the first time.

“We immediately started vibing and it just kind of worked which is really surprising,” Fischer said. “Usually when you jam out with someone for the first time, it’s not that good, but it had a flow which was pretty cool.”

The fourth member of Tomtsu, junior and singer Chuka Stergios, joined the band last summer, changing the band’s status from an exclusively instrumental group to one that incorporated vocals.

“It was definitely difficult because it was mainly an instrumental band before I joined, so coming in and having to write lyrics was a bit difficult, and our first few songs were just all four of us sitting together and joining ideas,” Stergios said.

Fischer said that for Tomtsu, the creative process of making original songs is very open-ended and changes depending on each new piece of work.

“Someone will bring the chords and then we’ll just jam for 45 minutes and throughout that we’ll come up with a form,” said Zach Fischer. “We do a lot of experimentation when we write songs.”

Payne mentioned that Tomtsu’s method in creating music differs from that of other bands’, but that their songs still are shaped and affected by other musicians.

Evan Suk

“Usually a lot of bands write the lyrics and then they write the song, but we focus on instrumentals,” Payne said. “Our inspiration musically is the bands Chon, Hiatus Kaiyote, and Vulfpeck. Those are the three main bands that influences our sound.”

Additionally, Stergios described the process of creating their first Spotify song, “128,” and the collaborative efforts of all the members that went into making it.

“I really like the song. I think each person brings a different side to it so lyric-wise, someone would throw out some ideas and then we would play the song and write down things that we thought of,” Stergios said. “It was a bit of a mess, but it worked.”

According to Fischer, Tomtsu has been trying to get their music noticed by working on a website and creating flyers. In addition, Grossman said that they managed to get over 80,000 listeners on Spotify after senior Ben Gordon helped them get their song on a playlist for new artists.

“No one really knew us when we started and it was hard to find other people to play with. Even finding Chuka was a little bit of a challenge,” Fischer said. “The main thing is finding places to play and finding times and to get people at BHS to know about who we are.”

Stergios also said that performing live initially was a nerve-wracking and challenging obstacle, but with time, she has seen improvement in their ability to be more comfortable playing in front of others.

“It’s very reassuring to have three people right next to you,” Stergios said. “In general, how we look and fit as a band, connecting with the music, and getting over the nerves was a big part.”

According to Grossman, looking forward, the band hopes to meet some of their goals as they produce new music and try to play more shows.

“A big upcoming goal is to hopefully release this new album because we have a bunch of songs that we already recorded, but we haven’t exactly mixed them so we’re working on that, and it will hopefully come out really soon,” Grossman said.

Stergios highlighted that Tomtsu hopes to not only work on releasing their album on Spotify and gain new listeners through that, but develop their skills and evolve musically.

“We’re all playing music that we have come to realize that we like,” Stergios said. “After a long period of just working and making music, you continue to find your sound and you grow with each song.”