Hey Dave! Who is Dave Thomas Junior?
He’s this dude who makes music all the time.
Give us the breakdown of your new album ‘Pieces.’
Pandora recently added me and they said my music has ‘folk roots, mystical qualities, a subtle use of vocal harmony, acoustic rhythm piano and mixed acoustic and electric instrumentation.’ Which is just about a good description of the new album as I could hope for.
I’m really interested in the technological singularity, so (along with love which I pretty much always write about) a lot of the songs are about the concept of time in some way or another. The idea that things are moving exponentially faster is something that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about – it seems so amazing and exciting and terrifying to me – so that always makes its way into the songs. Except ‘We Belong Together’ which is purely about Drake’s unrequited love for Rihanna. I saw the video for ‘Work’ and pretty much straight away had the idea for that song. It’s such a tragedy, he’s got it all except the one thing he wants more than anything.
As a multi-instrumentalist, writer, performer and producer, we’d love to know how you got started in music. What’s your earliest musical memory?
My next door-but-one neighbour had a piano – I think I must have been 4 or 5 and I can remember being transfixed by it. I’m still like that now, fascinated by anything to do with the process of making music – be it synth plugins or preamps or Trussart guitars, I’m all about it!
Your credentials as a songwriter are quite impressive — they include songs for The Muppets, Vampire Diaries, Revenge, EA Games — and that is just naming a few. How did you career get to this point?
Slowly and one step at a time.
You were recently featured in Dutch producer Don Diablo’s sensual deep house groove “Silence.” How did the collaboration come about and can you walk us through the recording process?
That was amazing! It came together through Kobalt in New York. The great thing about the internet is that ability to collaborate with people so far away so quickly. It was all done and released before we actually managed to meet up, when he came to play at EDC in New York. He’s got to be the nicest man in show business! I’m really proud of that song, both the dance version and the more stripped back version which is on my album. There’s a couple of YouTube videos I’ve seen of him playing it out, one at Tomorrowland and one at EDC Las Vegas which are insane. So many people!
What is your songwriting process like when writing for commercial use versus writing something very personal?
Ideally there isn’t really much difference at all – the main thing which deliniates the two is that often there’s a brief when writing commercially, the restriction of which can actually be very useful. Even then it’s about finding something that means something personally to write about. I think one of the incredible things about music is how it’s like a message in a bottle that allows you to be connected with people, and that connection isn’t going to happen if you’re not putting something in there that means something. Without that there isn’t really much point at all. Unless you get paid a lot.
What advice do you have for songwriters and composers interested in sync placements?
For me it’s been all about the representation – find a publisher that deals with sync and make yourself useful! It’s a lot to do with being fast, and on brief (or off brief in the right way if you are so inspired). Listening to and dissecting the types of songs that are getting placed a lot is also helpful. If you can find a way to say something happy in a bit of a new way, that also helps.
Thanks for being part of series! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I recently read this book called ‘Finite and Infinite Games’ by James Carse which was a very strange long read but ever since I finished it I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s like a text for some religion that doesn’t exist but really should. I’m recommending that to everyone at the moment – check it out!
Listen to Dave Thomas Junior: