NEXT UP: Thomie
Origin: San Antonio, Texas
Formerly known as 'Parallelephants,' the duo now goes by 'Thomie.' Why the change? Read for yourself and don't forget to check out a snippet of the interview on our IGTV / Youtube or read the full interview below. All we can say is that we're excited about their new EP!
Who is Thomie and what do you do? Well, I'm a musician. I play drums, I sing, I write songs. Previously known as parallelephants but we're treating Thomie still as a band cause it's me and a guy that goes by the name of Educacion. He and I are producing my EP together. That's who Thomie is. It's kinda like two people really. I had seen on your Instagram the other day that you said that you were going from Parallelephants to Thomie. Was there a reason that you've guys decided to do that or were it just something that you guys knew was coming? It was on my mind for a while and we started parallelephants when I was in senior year of high school and it was just one of those things. It felt like I outgrew the name. Also, it was hard to tell people what the name was and have them write it down. And you know, we've always lived in a world where if people can't remember your name or can't spell your name really fast and they're kind of just going to forget about it. So, I didn't want to put up an extra barrier for people to find the music that we work so hard on. It makes sense to kind of shorten the name to something more simple so it's easier to access. Where did this all kind of start for you? When did you realize that you kind of had a connection with art and music and wanted to pursue that? I would say maybe when I was 7-8 years old. My parents were wanting to put me in sports and stuff like that cause I didn't really show interest in anything and except for music. So, I was the kid who was bringing out pots and pans and creating a little drum set and they were still trying to take me to soccer practice and I wasn't showing any interest in it. Actually, I would run away from the ball so I can keep my uniform clean cause I like my uniform the way it looked. All I wanted to do was play music and looking at album covers specifically Prince album covers and how striking they were. I knew that I wanted to have control from how I was coming off as an artist to how everything was looking. I know you incorporate a lot of colors into your work. Do you find when making music and creating you match colors with certain sounds or ideas? I think for me it's like a left-foot-right-foot type of thing. For example, what I mean by that is I could be making a song and then think of a color or a specific palette that song would fit. So I'll kinda like base the song direction off of what I'm seeing in my head. If the visual idea comes first, then I'll do the opposite. And that one takes the lead. It's just more of which one comes first. I love looking through the stuff that you release and the visuals that you released for them. Cause it's always different. It's always kind of out of the box. I know a lot of your stuff incorporates a lot of bright colors, a lot of soft colors. Is that something you always knew you wanted to do? Is that something that you kind of fell into? Was that just experimenting on Photoshop and you were like, "I like this, this feels good"? I think it's more of the last one just being like a complete amateur on visual programs and then seeing what works, seeing what didn't, seeing what matched the music and then just kind of going from there. I can't really pinpoint anyone that I would really look up to. I do my research. I spend most of my time doing research for music and for like visual arts, so I can't really pinpoint it to one place, but I would say that it's a pretty huge list of people that really inspired me. But as far as what works for my music and what doesn't, it's just a matter of going on Photoshop and seeing like, "Oh, that looks cool" or "Oh no, that wouldn't fit at all". Sometimes I'll make stuff on there and if it doesn't fit right now, but I still think it's cool I'll save it for later.
What do you seek in making music? Is it self-fulfillment for yourself? Is it for those you love for people like your fans? a new sound that you're trying to bring? At first, I thought, I came into it with idealistic thinking. I did it for the people and want to make other people happy and that's cool and everything. That's still a facet of it but at the same time, I think it's 99% for myself. It's this unattainable thing. I could write something I think is amazing, but it's almost some type of addiction. It's never enough. I keep wanting to push it and keep wanting to explore.
Is there anything different that you're trying to bring to the plate or do you find yourself when you make music it falls together and you don't really worry about that kind of stuff? No, I'm very conscious of it. I don't think I'm necessarily trying to do something big in the sense of trying to change anything, anything that's bigger than myself at least. I think I realized that I only have the power to change people's opinions of what they think about my music or to change my own opinion of that. But I don't think I'm trying to do anything bigger than just trying to be a great artist at the end of the day.
So one of the projects that I love that you did was the Nowness Episode. You had recently done work for them for an episode that involves the Lechner house in Los Angeles. What was the creative process behind that score? Emotionally, was there a message that you were trying to convey? So Emily Oberg, the director, reached out to me and she was saying "Hey, I have this commission for Nowness. I wanted to get you involved in it, have you do some music for it". And she kind of sent me a couple of examples and they were very piano heavy. She gave me as much freedom as I needed and she would be saying try to incorporate piano somehow. And for me, even if someone gives me a really simple task, I don't know what it is, but I want to make it difficult. I want to find any little reason to challenge myself. She was just like "yeah, it doesn't have to be very long. It doesn't have to be this or that. But I kind of wanted to challenge myself. So I was like, okay, I'll follow her first parameter, I'll add piano. And then nothing was really like doing much for me. So then I went to Danny, Educacion. I went to his house and then we started working on the song and we got it done within two hours. And he was playing synth. And the whole mood of it was just trying to make something kind of ominous but have some type of luxurious feel. I always find that sounds impact you emotionally. And I remember we had talked to Danny a few weeks ago with Nite X and his whole setup is so crazy and how he was talking about how he does his work and everything. He's much more like technically savvy than I am. I'm more of the idea guy and I'll come to him and I'll be like, okay, I have this idea and it won't even make any sense. It'll be the most abstract ridiculous idea. He and I have known each other since early high school, so we know how to communicate in that way. So that's how you met? You were bandmates through high school and stuff? Well, through other high school friends, we didn't go to the same school, but we met through mutual friends.
So kind of getting into that, when I listen to music along with many others, there's quite an imagery or emotional response. For you when creating music. Is that something that you seek out for the final product? I don't want to be ever too literal about it. I don't think I could be at the end of the day. I don't think I'm one of those songwriters that can in any way be that director that literal. I just haven't been that person thus far. I think more of the stuff I write is kind of able to fit many different situations. I want people to kind of imagine a bit of what I'm feeling. When I'm writing the songs, I mainly want to have people feel what I'm feeling when I'm writing the song. I'm more not trying to write anything that's gonna be any other past musician's. I'm just really trying to do something that's going to invoke a feeling. I think I write mainly with feeling. I don't really write with the intention of "Oh, this has to be better than like this artist". I'm just trying to write something and I'm just trying to communicate a feeling really.
Do you enjoy doing instrumentals more? Did you always know that you could sing or was that something that you started making music and then realized? Yea, I was always a drummer. I was in a band in high school and everyone's getting ready to go to college. I'm just like well, I don't want to go to college. I need to figure something out. So I was just all right, senior year I'm gonna learn how to write songs. So I put that challenge on myself and now that I think about it is such a cocky challenge like "I'm gonna learn how to write songs within a year"... It's a lifetime thing. And then at the end of that school year, I ended up starting parallelephants with my friends. And then from there, I needed to have somebody sing all the songs, you know? I think that's the good thing about growing up in San Antonio is there's not a lot of musicians, so just by the power of the internet, you're gonna find those people. I was lucky enough to find people that were like like-minded and like similar music to me and kind of understood where I was trying to go. I think putting that challenge on myself and in my senior year, it was really healthy.
What's your songwriting process? Do people influence you, the place that you live in or emotions you feel? I think it's more thus far has been a fantasy base. I read this quote somewhere, I think it's from Paul McCartney, and he talks about how he always hears songwriters saying you have to write about what you know. And he was saying like, no, I think that's complete bullshit. You can write about anything you want. You could kind of fabricate anything and see your own experience of what you would think it would be. And I think ever since I heard that I would just be like it's limitless now. I don't have to specifically go through something in order to write about that thing or two, in fact, it might even be more interesting cause it's someone else's perspective of what they think it would be. The band Phoenix sings in French and then English and then sometimes they also sing in Italian and stuff like that. I think my songwriting is similar to that in a sense of when they sing in English, it doesn't even make sense at all. But the thing is it's their take on what English is and that's what makes it so interesting. It's their own perspective of what they think English is.
I get that 100%. I know there was a post on your Instagram once, I think it was one of the first bodies' work and you wrote something about it and how years ago you were sitting in your room making this and seeing where it is now. What does music mean to you and how has it impacted your life? I think it changes over time... that meaning of what it is to me... I think before it was, I'm just going to see if I can do this because I really enjoy it. And then it turned into, "holy shit, I'm really enjoying this and other people are enjoying this as well". Then the whole vision of it becomes bigger than yourself and just that is enough to keep going. It's enough to be like, "okay, I've reached this benchmark". I want to see how much further I could push it. So that's kind of where I am right now. I've done stuff within this year. Last year, I would have been like, there's no way I can reach that this fast. As far as the Nowness stuff or shooting stuff with Emily Oberg, that's someone I've always look up to and the fact that she reached out to me, it's still crazy. I'll never get over that. And then the fact that we're almost done with this EP and it sounds like way more mature than anything else I've ever put out. It sounds way more consistent. Danny and I are just becoming better mixers... We're becoming better songwriters together. I think everything's just kind of becoming more fine-tuned and it's really exciting to see. At this point in my life, I'm just trying to see how tight can we get everything.. how big can we make everything sound...how easily can we translate those feelings to other people through music.
What is something that people don't know about you? I think that's kinda intentional. That's super intentional for a lot of reasons. The biggest reason is that anonymity is as like currency these days. No one's anonymous especially people who are clearly famous and stuff. So I'm always conscious of that. Many people don't know that I like economics. I don't know if that's weird. I like economics a lot. I try to go on hikes as much as possible basically like an old man really in a young dudes body. What are you currently listening to? Do you have any music or art that you find the most inspiration or currently finding the most inspiration? There are countless Instagram accounts that I'll find and I'll follow them through the Auction Sound account. So anybody that I follow on that account is awesome. Braulio Amado, I followed him like for years. His graphic design work is crazy. As far as music goes, I'm stuck listening to my own stuff for a while until we could put that out then I'll never listen to it until I have to perform it. That's where we're at with listening to music. I'm so sensitive to music to the point where if I hear someone do something great it kinda makes me mad like I wanted to have a part in that. I feel like I have to kind of stay away from other people's music for a little while. So is that usually your process when you make music? You like to stay away from that and kind of cut yourself off? It's very cyclical. I'll be consuming all forms of pop culture, low and high. I think it's gonna affect your music somehow. Your art somehow. So my theory has always been that if you don't listen to music that you don't like, for example, if you hate trap music or something, you should still listen to it because you could otherwise fall into that category or you could fall into that genre if you don't pay attention and if you don't study it like a student. If you're ignorant of something, you can easily become that something. That's a cool thing about it is how we can kind of dissect things for what they are. So speaking of, since you have your EP coming out soon, what is next for you? Like what are you able to kind of talk about? Are you planning on touring with this? Are you planning on just doing small shows or festivals? Definitely both. I think what Danny and I want to do is really get the show and the EP down in Austin, which we're both living in right now. We want to get the performances down. We'll probably do some small shows here and then take it on the road. Maybe do LA and New York since they show the music the most love. That's the goal right now. Next year, that's really what it's all about is just performing that EP as much as possible and then, of course, putting it out.
Don't forget to check out Thomie on Instagram!
Interview by Madison Everett. Photos by Katherine Martinez.