We spent some time catching up with Thomas Oliver recently ahead of his national tour dates in support of new album Floating in the Darkness. The New Zealander takes us through the process and his inspirations.
Tell us about your latest single, “Losin'”. Is there a story behind it?
It’s a song of feeling someone I love slip away, but I intentionally juxtaposed that theme against bouncy and bright melodies. This was meant to represent being so accustomed to pain that I hardly feel it anymore.
You have a new album out this week – your first full length vocal album – where was that recorded? How long did the process take? Who produced the album?
I produced it myself. I wasn’t really a producer before that, so the process was not only producing an album, but also learning to be a producer at the same time. It was about two years from start to finish. It was recorded in my home studios across three different Wellington houses, and in four different studios, including Wizard Tone Studios in Adelaide. We also recorded a nine-piece string section in a beautiful cathedral in Thorndon.
Some of your creative influences have been Ben Harper and Dave Matthews, are they still key in your inspiration? Who or what else shapes your music?
Absolutely they are. Dave Matthews would have to be my favourite songwriter in the world. Nobody writes like him. And Ben Harper is the reason I play Weissenborn. That influence will probably always shine through in my music. Other artists who had a considerable influence on this album would be Aretha Franklin, Bon Iver and James Blake.
What has been the hardest part of getting the album together?
Just time. I am rather obsessive in the studio, so I spend a long time on minute details of a song. I wouldn’t want to change that, but it means that everything takes a long time! (Laughs)
You’ve been somewhat keen to distance yourself from your time in your former band, TTOB, is there a reason for that?
I suppose an inherent challenge of having a namesake band and then going solo means that it can be confusing for your fans and followers. The music I make these days is quite a different sound, so I feel it needs to be established as its own entity, separate from anything I’ve done in the past. But I’ll always be proud of the times I spent with the lads.
You’re touring Australia soon – what can audiences expect?
A disproportionate helping of falsetto singing, Weissenborn lap slide guitar, acoustic guitar, a loop pedal, a sampler, a drum machine, and a whole lot of songs about love, loss and longing.
After the New Zealand and Australian tours, I head over to the States to do some writing and recording, and then the European leg of the tour starts after that. Most of my year is already planned out, so my plan is to be where I need to be when I need to be there, and write as much music as I can in the times between.
THOMAS OLIVER FLOATING IN THE DARKNESS ALBUM TOUR DATES
June 7th | The Grace Emily, ADELAIDE
June 9th | The Milk Factory, BRISBANE
June 10th | The Wesley Anne, MELBOURNE
June 11th | Leadbelly, SYDNEY
June 15th | Babushka, LEEDERVILLE
All tickets on sale now via www.thomasoliver.co.nz
Photo by Terry Longley.