Tommy Shafer, a 16 year old singer/songwriter from New Jersey started singing when he was just a mere 12 years old. Music is Tommy’s passion, his heart and soul. Tommy has continued to write, create and perform music ever since his beginnings, adding in skill sets on instruments like the guitar, piano, and even drums. In February of 2015, Tommy released an independent album to every major internet music store in the world called “Breakthrough”. Back in 2012 he started his YouTube page, and has been uploading cover videos and live performances, gaining thousands of views everyday. We briefly spoke to Tommy about a few of his recent releases, including his single “Feelings In My Heart”, his music video for “In My Eyes”, and last but not least, his incredible performance in front of 1,600 people at New Jersey’s famous, Paramount Theatre!
Entertwine: Tell us a bit about yourself! How did you get your start in music? I am a 16 year old singer/songwriter from a small town called Waldwick in New Jersey with a population of about 10,000 people. Music is my pure passion. I sing, play guitar, play piano, and I write songs. I got my start in music when I picked up my dad’s acoustic guitar and learned songs off of YouTube that I enjoyed.
When did you know it was something you wanted to pursue? I knew that music was something that I wanted to pursue when I went to a movie theater to watch Justin Bieber’s 2011 Documentary- “Never Say Never.” I was watching him on stage performing, and watching his life on the road. I was so inspired to sing, and I wanted to be a singer from that day on.
When did you start writing songs? Do you remember the first song you ever wrote? What was it about? I started writing songs in December of 2012. The first song that I ever wrote was called “I Am Right Here”. I wrote the song on December 12, 2012. The song was about anybody who has ever gone through a period of rough times, and I wrote it to show people that someone is there for you always. Two days after I wrote the song, the horrible tragedy happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School. I dedicated the song towards the people of The Sandy Hook School.
You released your first EP last February, correct? What was the idea behind this EP? Yes, called “Breakthrough.” When I wanted to create my album, I didn’t have a lot of experience in recording at an actual studio, and I had very little money to fund for my project. I got a job at a local pizzeria working about 4 nights a week. I worked very hard on that album and my number one goal was to get it on to ITunes and of course for my fans to enjoy my music. My idea behind this EP was inspired by a singer/songwriter from Canada by the name of SayWeCanFly. His music inspired my music and my debut album. I wanted to create an album full of acoustic love songs which the album portrays exactly that. You can stream the songs on Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube, and you can purchase the album on ITunes, Amazon Music, Google Play, and many other online stores.
Where did the idea of the music video for “In My Eyes” come along? What was the process like to shoot this video? I actually shot the “In My Eyes” music video twice. The first time the video didn’t look good and I couldn’t find anybody to edit my video. So I decided to shoot a new one. The second time, I shot the video with my dad’s friend and the video turned out great. The video is a simple performance video with myself strolling and singing through my town’s park called “Borough Park.”
Shortly after, you released a new single, “Feelings In My Heart”. How did this compare to your previous releases? WOW, great question… “Feelings In My Heart” was a song that I wrote and composed by myself and when I went into the studio I was blown away with the product that I had created. I listened to it so many times after I created it, lol. I wanted to release the song right away. The song is kind of an electro-pop/rock ballad if that makes sense. It’s much different than any other song that I have created.
You state that some of your influences include pop acts like, Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran. In what ways do these artists influence you? Justin Bieber’s style and music influences me so much. Justin’s talent and the way he performs inspires me to become a better musician plus his work ethic and the way he utilizes social media so well influences me. Ed Sheeran inspires me so much because he writes all of his music and when he goes on stage, it’s just him, his guitar, and a loop-pedal. He makes the show’s so fun, as I see him performing in YouTube videos. It’s crazy how talented these two people are.
What was it like to perform at The Paramount Theatre in Asbury Park, NJ in front of 1,600 people? This show was a blast! I was performing at my Aunt and Uncle’s wedding. The wedding was much different than any other wedding because my Aunt and now Uncle are both musicians. My now Uncle, Glen Burtnik played in the band Styx and now tours with ELO (Electric Light Orchestra.) So they both wanted to have a concert as a wedding with all various love hits ranging from classic rock to pop music. I sang “Thinking Out Loud” by Ed Sheeran.
Were you super nervous for this show? Which venue would you like to play next? To be honest, I wasn’t really that nervous because I had practiced the song about 5 times a day for a month straight. I was just so excited and anxious to get on that big stage. It was an amazing experience, and hopefully I can do it all again someday. The video is on my YouTube channel also. I would love to perform at any New York City venue like Radio City Music Hall, hopefully one day.
Whats next for you in 2016? I’m working on writing new songs, performing out all the time, and hopefully getting noticed by a record label. Let’s hope for the best. Wish me luck 🙂