I have previously written and forced you to listen to the fantastic music by British composer Thomas Hewitt Jones. And now it’s time to dig a bit deeper into out knowledge about this man!
Where are you from? And where do you live?
I was born in Dulwich, London and my family came from Gloucestershire. Many of my relations are still there and it feels like home, in some kind of way. I currently live in Bickley, near Bromley.
How long have you been playing the piano, and do you play other instruments as well?
I have been playing the piano and cello from when I was about 4 years old. I also play the organ and keyboards in general – and odd instruments which lie around my studio.
Tell us about how you started playing music.
Many of my family are musicians, and so I grew up around it. There was also science in the family, but music won me over!
How long have you been making piano music?
I have been writing as long as I remember, and from a young age found myself interested in writing down and structuring my own music, as well as enjoying performing and communicating it to others. Without sounding overly pretentious, the ability of music to communicate that which words cannot is a lifetime’s fascination for me.
Tell us something about that moment you realized you could make songs yourself!
I was given an old tape recorder with a microphone. I initially used it to record pretend ‘radio programmes’ as a kid, but quickly became interested in recording music which I had written. My school also had a printer and binding machine, so I started printing my own schoolboy music as well!
What are your favorite artists in this “piano genre”?
I love listening to all kinds of performers and pianists. The ones which really speak to me make whichever music they are playing incredibly fresh and appealing, as if it has just been written.
Is there one song which you play over and over again as soon as you sit down by a piano?
Playing Bach at the keyboard is something I do to relax, and I absolutely love it. His music is contrapuntal as well as just vertical, and so it is a feast for ears, eyes and brain.
What rules (in making music) needs to be broken?
Music would be boring if everyone wrote in diatonic harmony all the time. That said, our musical ancestors have evolved music to the point it is at, and so to compose music today without at least being aware of the basic rules of harmony and counterpoint is not only disrespectful but limiting. This is why I believe we need to deliberately break the rules in our own ways to achieve an individual style, rather than totally disregard them. In the 1960s and 1970s musical composition went as far as it can ever go away from any sense of order, and I personally feel that human emotion can now be expressed in all kinds of creative ways through music without totally throwing out what came before.
How do you record your music?
I usually record large orchestras in central London in studios designed for the task, and smaller projects and overdubs at my home studio. I do sometimes mix myself, but tend to get mastering done elsewhere as a separate pair of ears (of a mastering engineer you trust) can help a record.
Whats your take on sampled instruments?
I use them, but usually write away from the computer first and record as many live instruments as the budget allows, because writing music straight into a sequencer to make samples sound good can be extremely limiting.
Anything else you want to share?
Every human on this earth should have access to music as it helps us communicate – cavemen knew this! It has an untold number of benefits to people’s lives, despite governments’ unwillingness to allocate enough funding for a proper musical education which should be a birthright.
I would add that writing music is an obsessive, tiring, wonderful, addictive, intense, fulfilling occupation.
The last question is asked by my 5 year old son:
Where do all your songs come from?
God knows…I don’t think any creative really knows!
Thank you very much for this interview Thomas!