You know when you hear the first 15 seconds of a song and you know it’s gonna be good? You don’t need the first verse or the chorus, you’re instantly hooked. That is how I felt when I first listened to Tommy Down’s debut single, “Superficial.” It plays with the idea that social media can and has made some of us obsessed with ourselves and how we look on social media. The idea behind the track seems silly but it also poses some serious reflection on our use and the power of social media. All of this is going on with the most insanely catchy dance-able melody in the background.
Tommy Down is the lead vocalist from the group, Harker Moon. In addition to his group project, he is now putting out solo work. Tommy took the time to answer some of my questions about himself and his music. Check it out!
MFL: Tell me about your musical beginnings. Did you ever think you would be writing insanely catchy pop music?
Tommy Down (TD): Thanks for the kind words and I didn’t really consider what genre of music I would be writing. I just knew I wanted to write music in general and music that I liked; regardless of genre.
MFL: You are the lead vocalist for another project, Harker Moon. What inspired you to take on a solo project and how do you plan to set your solo work apart from Harker Moon?
TD: I love being in Harker Moon but there’s a finite amount of time I can spend working together on music with them in each week. I always have desire to write and record music, whether I’m with the band or not and creating a solo career means I can do this till my heart’s content.
In terms of separating solo and band material apart, I think it comes down to whether I know a particular song will sound better in a band context. I feel the band can create a larger sound and are good at building energy throughout a song that reaches a final climax. My solo stuff would naturally be slightly sparser then the bands songs; so it really depends on the song.
MFL: What is your take on how music is accessed by listeners these days? Do you think free/nearly free streaming is helping or hurting musicians?
TD: It’s probably quite hard to make a career purely from streaming due to this but I guess it brings the emphasis back towards live music; as it’s the only way to really make a living through music these days. Personally, I love performing live. If you enjoy playing live and are lucky enough to get enough exposure to get a decent amount of people to your gigs then this is ideal for you I suppose. On the other hand, if you are a musician who prefers spending all their time in the studio and the idea of performing live scares you stiff; then this new generation of music consumption probably isn’t ideal for you; unless you’re very popular that is. I guess it depends on which sort of musician you are.
MFL: I have only heard your single, “Superficial” (which has been stuck in my head for a solid 24 hours!). Are you planning to release an EP or full length this coming year?
TD: Haha, I am planning on releasing an EP or at least another Single in the near furfure. I’m also definitely releasing another single with Harker Moon in the near future, which I’m looking forward to record. I especially am because of the two new band members and how much more they have brought.
MFL: How did “Superficial” come to life and what was it like working with Decca Records on this track?
TD: Well I wrote the track with Rhys Lewis in his bedroom and he produced the song himself. We both seem to like similar artists and got on musically very easily; both being singer songwriters at heart. I showed Rhys a few chords which he wrote a bass line two and we both started thinking of lyrics while the bass riff played on a loop through the room. He’s a great musician and would happily work with him again.
MFL: Are there any musicians out there that you feel like you share a similar sound with? If so, who?
TD: I feel “Superficial” doesn’t sound dissimilar to some of the songs that HONNE has made. I love the laid back nature of their music.
MFL: What kind of music did you grow up on and has that influenced your sound today?
TD: I listened to a lot of soul musicians; like Bill Withers, Al Green, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. I’ve always really liked the Arctic Monkeys too. I feel the Arctic Monkeys made me feel it’s okay to put as many lyrics as you want in a song, as long as the amount of syllables in each bar are consistent and flow well. The Soul Musicians probably made me appreciate how important melody is; especially when it comes to singing.
MFL: Do you have an overall goal for what you want your music to do for your listeners? I know “Superficial” got myself and my roomie dancing immediately.
TD: That’s great and is definitely a good enough goal already! At the end of the day if people enjoy it and it can lift their mood in any way then that would be great. If there are certain songs that touch them and can make them feel something, then that would also be cool. I don’t think I’ve released anything like that though, yet.
MFL: Finally, give me two or three current songs that you can’t stop listening to.
TD: I was listing to this song by the Australian band Sticky Fingers recently; called “these girls”, which seemed to stick in my head.
“Japanese Denim” by Daniel Caesar was one I also had on repeat and “Teenage Fantasy Recorded at Metropolis Studios, London” by Jorja Smith is a cracker.