Initially hailing from Somerset, UK but now based in Bristol, Tuff Bear – an alias for Theo Vernon – has shared his debut single, “Talk to You” alongside announcing details on his first EP, Tuff Bear’s Picnic which is set for release via Nashville-based label, Acrophase Records (V.V. Lightbody, PWNT, Ginger Root) this spring. The new track features guest vocals from the London-based, Hong Kong-born and raised artist, bb sway.
With a sound that draws on 70s disco, 90s dance and contemporary indie-pop, Vernon developed his sound and aesthetic over the course of the pandemic taking what had been a lifelong hobby – he started playing music from the age of five, learning the tuba, piano and cello before joining a choir – into something of a creative endeavor, writing and recording songs in his student bedroom. Work started on this first installment of the Tuff Bear project back in April of 2020 before Vernon signed to Acrophase Records and began piecing together the collection with label mate, PWNT.
Speaking about the project and this first single, Vernon says: “Essentially, Tuff Bear’s Picnic is a project centered on themes of self-reflection and optimism in the face of anxiety. Written, recorded and produced at home in the heart of a prolonged national lockdown, I felt compelled to draw on the mixed bag of emotional states that we were all subjected to for months upon months, whilst also investigating and romanticising memories of pre-covid normality. During a period in which we were all robbed of our sense of togetherness, I took comfort in (and drew inspiration from) the nostalgic disco and pop music of the 70s and 80s in which concepts such as this often take center stage as a means to encourage unity through dance. Under such a surreal set of circumstances, I found myself longing for the ease of communication between friends and loved ones that had been lost; some of the EP deals with this breakdown in communication and the yearning for human connection whilst at a distance. The project also takes more of a literal inspiration from the cultural reality of the pandemic, during which one could only commune with others in the open air and at a distance; the notion of a picnic, therefore, becomes symbolic of closeness and intimacy that was lost and is now finally returning.”