With “How to Dress Well”, Tom Krell applies an experimental filter to R&B and pop elements, creating music that is both affecting and eerie. Krell, who was raised in Colorado, received a B.A. from Cornell College and an M.A. in Philosophy from The New School.
Using layers of his voice that he looped while living in Brooklyn, Krell created live experimental music under the moniker How to Dress Well. After relocating to Berlin, he started making records under that name. The alt-R&B movement, one of the key musical movements of 2010, was influenced by Krell’s music, yet How to Dress Well’s erratic approach resisted easy categorization.
He offered The Eternal Love, the first How to Dress Well EP, as a free download via his blog in October 2009, and other EPs followed through April 2010. Ready for the World, Krell’s debut official song from Lefse Records, was released in July 2010.
His critically lauded debut album, Love Remains, which assembled songs from Krell’s EPs, was released in October. The Just Once EP, a limited-edition collection of songs about one of his friends who passed away, came after it in 2011. One dollar from the sale of each vinyl copy of the EP was donated to a charity that promotes mental health awareness.
Love Remains, Krell’s 2011 first album, explored nostalgia and recollections while encasing tunes reminiscent of R&B from the late 1980s and early 1990s. Krell released the cleaner-recorded Total Loss in 2012; it was co-produced by Rodaidh McDonald and Forest Swords and was inspired by the idea of attempting to remain optimistic in the midst of hardship.
From there, How to Dress Well’s albums alternated between emphasizing Krell’s avant-garde tendencies (2018’s Anteroom featured spoken word passages along with hints of noise and industrial music) and sometimes prioritizing hooks and melodies (2016’s Care featured production by Jack Antonoff of Bleachers).