Theo Tams collects experiences that shape his music. While on a tour of Denmark, the singer-songwriter made a pitstop in Copenhagen where he met the up-and-coming producer, Mahrow. They put their creative minds together and conjured up Theo’s “Parallel Universe,” a seductive little number asking questions about soulmates and the existence of parallel universes. “Another time, another place / And I’d be undressing you for days / And memorizing every inch of your face,” sings Theo, his voice never sounding so striking.
“Parallel Universe” finds Theo branching off with Mahrow’s special production elixirs. “They use different sounds, different samples. I knew, sonically, it was already kind of living in a different world than I had currently kind of been in,” says Theo. “Around that time is kind of when my partner and I really started to do the beginning planning stages of our wedding. The song visits that question of soulmates and whether that's a thing – and whether or not I subscribe to that.”
The slickly-dressed track is only the beginning of Theo’s next chapter. Trilogy V is slated for release later this year and promises to see the performer soaring higher than he ever has before. With the brooding “Learn My Lesson,” he gets raw and honest about self-sabotage. “It dives into that whole – when are we gonna finally grow up and make more responsible choices…” he says.
Rounding out the new trilogy, “Lean In” bubbles with sensuality. Written for his husband, the song contains one of Theo’s most magnetic vocals. “Lean into me baby, when life gets you down,” he sings over a pulsing rhythm. Nestled beneath its silky-smooth exterior lies a strong, driving emotional core – as Theo exposes his struggle with vulnerability.
“I've always struggled with allowing myself to be held, supported, and protected. Just saying that makes me put my guard up a little bit. I'm so terrible at that. We've been together for over a decade, and we've definitely had our ups and downs. The song is the main message of what I want my wedding vows to be. It's kind of a throwback to my single ‘Therapy,’ where it lives in this R&B/urban vibe. I feel like I can always trust my artistic instincts when I find a song that really writes itself. I love it when the universe just gives me that stream-of-consciousness a little bit, and I don't have to think too much.”
Since the release of Trilogy IV last fall, Theo has issued two covers trilogies, Uncovered (Volume 1) and (Volume 2). Not only have they allowed him to stretch his vocal abilities through such classics as The Chicks’ “Cowboy Take Me Away” and R.E.M.’s “Losing My Religion” – but given him ample time to write and focus his intention on the new original project.
“Every four or five months, I was dropping another collection of original music, and I just felt I was getting a bit burnt out. I felt like a machine rather than an artist,” he says of the break between trilogies. “So, I just needed to take the time to step back and find my artistic voice. I would like to say that there's an evolution, but I think the biggest thing is… the further I get in my career, grow as an individual, and get into my sobriety, I just feel more and more settled in who I am. As a queer person, that can sometimes take so long to get there.”
A Canadian Idol winner, Theo Tams has finally found his place in the world. Out of Coaldale, a small town nestled in southern Alberta, Tams grew up in a fairly strict reformed Christian household. “I had a great childhood,” he says. “I’m still really close with my family.” However, the surrounding community never quite felt like home. Anyone perceived as slightly different was pushed to the fringes, left feeling alone and isolated.
Tams naturally turned to music, and the church was the beginning of it all. “I had to go to church twice a Sunday, and that's kind of when I was introduced to music.” His family was highly musical with both parents fully steeped in music and singing. “Music was always kind of a big part of the family and a big part of our holidays.”
He didn’t start actively writing – mostly poetry and creative pieces – until he was 14 or 15. Pulling from such influences as Jewel, Alanis Morissette, and Sarah McLachlan, as well as Canadian storytellers Sarah Harmer and Sarah Slean, his ache to express himself soon spilled over into exploring songwriting.
Toward the end of the 2000s, Tam’s life took a hard left in many ways. First, he came out to his family, a decision that would open up his whole world. He went through a rough patch with his parents, but they have long since mended those fences. Meanwhile, his tenure on Canadian Idol came soon after, and he was tossed into a whirlwind of superstardom.
On the show’s sixth season (2008), Tams dazzled with performances of such songs as OneRepublic’s “Apologize,” Joss Stone’s “You Had Me,” and Gavin DeGraw’s “Chariot.” Through several weeks of strenuous competition, he eventually rose victorious as that year’s winner and signed a major label record deal.
Tams issued his debut album, Give It All Away, in 2009 on Sony Music Canada. In the coming years, he released several EPs, including 2014’s Back Pocket and Call the Doctor (2018).
With Trilogy V, Tams demonstrates his growth as a songwriter, vocalist, and human being. He commands attention, unafraid to venture to even more exciting places. In working with Mahrow, he darts through the sky and reaches new heights in his work. As evidenced by the lead-off single “Parallel Universe,” he proves he’s in a masterclass of his own through a superstar vocal performance. Each word penetrates the heart, and Tams’ voice has never sounded better. There’s really no stopping him – and why would you ever want to?