Month: April 2018

Interview: Tommy Down

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.

 

Thank you to Tommy for taking the time to do this and to Monika Tryburska for coordinating. You can follow Tommy on Facebook and Spotify.

New project from Thieves in the Palace’s, David Thompson: JULES DRIVE

Almost three years ago, I interviewed David Thompson about his current (at that time) musical project, Thieves in the Palace. A couple months ago, he emailed again with a new project called, Jules Drive. I listened to a couple cuts and immediately thought, “Huh, this must be a different David Thompson because this could not sound any more different than Thieves in the Palace.” Upon my second guessing, David reassured me that yes, Jules Drive is nothing like Thieves in the Palace and his new project has taken a sharp turn in the opposite direction. Jules Drive is serious retro synth wave, soundtrack style. In fact, David admits to being deeply inspired by the original Blade Runner.

 

“I think the beginning of what would become Jules Drive can be traced back to the night I re-watched Blade Runner before the sequel arrived and actually found myself paying much more attention to the soundtrack. I’d seen the film once or twice previously but for whatever reason it had registered as sort of white noise. My background with music has always been fixated on organic instruments which over the years became a real source of frustration – I wasn’t always able to physically create what I was hearing in my head. In the process of searching the soundtrack I found the “Retrowave” and “Synthwave” genres and it was really a breath of fresh air.”

 

David’s excitement about this new project is palpable in our email conversations. Following the ignition of this new inspiration, David immediately reached out to his partner in crime, Matt Hatfield. He pitched the idea of trying something out of their comfort zone, something completely new for them.

 

“Coincidentally he had already been working on a track that would eventually become our first song “Intro” which he had recorded with an old Korg synthesizer he acquired over ten years ago when we were living in Oregon and recently brought back to life in working order with a factory reset and some diligence. We painstakingly mapped out the kind of sound we were going for by taking bits of ingredients from the different sub genres; for example, we wanted a distinctly 80’s drum tone paired with a mixture of vintage synth tones and modern tones. As we continued writing songs Matt delved more deeply into the world of synth plugins and before long had accumulated a vast array of textures and tones.”

 

Their efforts have paid off and what Matt and David have created is the EP, Dusk, five tracks of dreamy, droned out goodness. I hear bits of M83, Snow in Mexico, and of course, remnants of every 80’s soundtrack ever made (and let’s admit, Drive is totally in there even though it was releasd in 2011). The record also features another friend of David’s, Gabe Vasquez, on the track, “H.U.W.L.”, who collaborates with Jules Drive from a distance. Gabe wrote that delicious piano lick that sits in the background of the track.

The project is named after the street that David grew up on in New York City and he’s been hanging on to the name, waiting for a project that best suited it. The EP is built on nostalgia. It all sounds so familiar, from another time we’ve already lived through but David is bringing it back for us, loud and clear. My favorite track on the EP that captures this the most in my opinion is the closing track, “When the Party is Gone So Are They.”

 

 

One last note from David about his new project:

 

“Nostalgia captures us all at different times in different ways. In my case seeing a grainy VHS tape with synthesizer music is an instant pull on the heart strings. I think the majority of us yearn for the feeling of being young when life was new and unknown. I hope we can bring some of those sentiments to the people who discover Jules Drive.”

 

You can follow Jules Drive on Facebook and Spotify and purchase the EP on Amazon and iTunes.

 

 

 

Playlist: Spring Vol I

I hope it’s spring where you are! Enjoy two hours of tasty tunes on me:

 

New single and music video from Montreal brothers, Maybelleen: “Hey Ruby”

MFL and Maybelleen have had a longstanding musical relationship. The brother duo (Pierre-Louise Camiré and Charles-Emile Camiré) was one of MFL’s first interviews back in 2015. Since then, they’ve consistently been producing the classic Maybelleen poprock. The brothers have nailed a genre that both represents something fresh and current but also has a classic retro rock sound to it. Upon interviewing them a few years ago, I was instantly  caught by how motivated the young brothers were. Now they’re at it again with the release of their newest single, “Hey Ruby”, which is off of their upcoming EP, Neon Lights & Magic Moments, due out May 18th.

This is what Maybelleen had to say about their new single/music video that they produced themselves:

 “It introduces you to short clips of life events, ranging from astronauts trainings to romance scenes from the 20th century. We obviously got inspired by our UK tour and all the people we’ve met through our journey. We wanted show different state of minds/emotions that we all experience when laughing, saying goodbye, being focused or having one’s head in the cloud. We played this gig in Glasgow, one of our best night, the crowd was really into it and we decided to go at the after party… There was this girl that no one really knew, standing alone, she looked mysterious. We decided to chill with her and we soon got to know each other’s names. Hers was Ruby. Everyone was just jamming with guitars and this song popped out. We pretty much jammed until the light of day.”

 

 

Stay tuned for more from Maybelleen and keep your ears peeled for Neon Lights & Magic Moments (May 18th).