Tommi Waring is obsessed with the '80s. Even though the singer and music producer was born in 1995, he lets the bygone decade permeate every ounce of his music. "I didn't want to sound like everyone else out there right now," he tells New Times from his North Miami home. Waring says he's influenced by artists from 30 years ago, such as Tears for Fears, David Bowie, and Prince. "I love the epic sound from back then of reverb drums and synthesizers. But I look at fashion trends and culture from the '80s for inspiration more than bands. I do a lot of culture research to get in the mode of making music. I'll watch shows [set in that era] like Narcos and Stranger Things to get in the mode."
Waring grew up in Hollywood, Florida, as part of a musical family. "My grandmother [Rachelle Waring] was a songwriter. She had a Grammy-nominated album of children's music in the '70s. My grandfather [Fred Waring Jr.] played jazz trombone on The Joey Bishop Show. His dad, Fred Waring, had a show on NBC." Waring also found some musical influences on his mother's side of the family. "My mother was an immigrant from Colombia," That heritage, he says, is another reason he's obsessed with the '80s. "The '80s was the height of Colombia's prominence in Miami."
But a career in music wasn't just in his genes. The younger Waring picked up a guitar when he was 14 and hasn't stopped creating music since. He spent some time at Berklee College of Music in Boston, about which he has mixed feelings. "It was a competitive environment," he says. "I thought going in studying music was just playing. I didn't realize how much of it was theory and ear training."
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It was a recent trip to London that had a huge impact on his two newest songs. First came "Miami." "It was supposed to be a two-month trip, but I met someone and I ended up staying a year for this person. London gave me a new perspective on my hometown that I didn't have before... the joy of the city, the culture, the people. I didn't realize I had those feelings when I lived there. I wrote a song that would bring me back home."
His most recent release, "Dangerous," is about the consequences of that yearlong relationship in London. "I drifted away from someone I could bounce ideas off of," he says. "London was still a new city. I wanted to be as honest as I could so people can relate to the song whether they like my music or voice or not."
Waring did all the production for both songs on his laptop. "I have a dual studio thing at home where I sit for hours running through ideas like chord progressions and work on production." Then, with the assistance of an engineer and vocal producer, he goes into the studio, where they spend weeks mixing it and cleaning everything up.
Back in the city of his inspiration, Waring is putting a live band together so he can go on tour in the spring of 2019 with his two released singles, along with other original compositions. If all goes according to plan, he'll transport audiences back to the '80s without the help of a DeLorean.