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Honesty is Knell s policy
Honesty is Knell's policy

Tom Krell, aka How to Dress Well, is moving house. For some, the thought of putting all your worldly possessions into boxes and prioritising what matters most might be depressing but Krell sees the positives.

It's a surprisingly upbeat response from an artist who has won considerable critical acclaim for post-R'n'B music that is intensely emotional and, at times, deeply sad.

His 2010 debut, Love Remains, announced him as a serious talent and the follow-up, Total Loss, was regarded as one of the better albums of last year, with The Guardian and NME scoring it eight out of 10 or higher.

The New York-based singer-

producer takes such feedback to heart. "I think even if you make dumb disco music, it's personally validating when people respond to it positively," he says.

"When I put myself out there and people respond affirmatively and enthusiastically, it's pretty much the best feeling."

A quick read through the liner notes of Total Loss reveals the album was somewhat cathartic for Krell in mourning "people who have passed and - even more horrifying - mourning people still alive, still in my life".

But the philosophy PhD student writes that making the album taught him "to sustain loss as a source of creative energy".

It's this emotional honesty that resonates with his fans and he says there have been times when strangers have literally wept into his arms.

"For me, I basically try to use it as some sort of an orienting principle," he says. "The next sounds I make have to be honest vis a vis that person's honest response. It sets a bar that I have to match and I can't play around.

"If people are going to give me that much attention and focus and care then I owe them at least twice as much back."

Krell truly believes honesty is the best policy and applies it equally to his live show, which includes improvised visuals inspired by the music.

"It's kinda like this personal music which a lot of people listen to in their car or through their headphones or, at the very least, in a small setting," he explains.

"It's not often you'll be in a club with other people when my songs come on - it's a much more personal experience. So, for me, live music is a lot about translating the affected intensity of the music in that personal setting to a setting where it can be dealt with in a healthy and hopefully positive way."