Where are you currently based?
I’m based in Melbourne, Australia.
How did you first start playing music?
When I was 10 I started learning the piano. To be honest I found it a bit boring at first but then I started composing my own music on our first [out of tune] piano. So that motivated me to keep learning and I wrote my first song titled ‘Raindrops’ (instrumental) at the age of 10. My brother is an amazing guitarist and my sister a triple-threat, so I knew piano would be my way of being able to match my siblings musically.
What’s been happening recently?
At the beginning of lockdown 1.0 I decided I would teach myself how to record (because of gigs stopping and music teaching moving online). I was missing gigs so I decided to jump on the #Elisecollab with Elise Trouw. My first recording jamming along to her drum sample was favourited and reposted on her page, so that inspired me to improve my home set-up and record a collection of originals.
What influenced the sound and songwriting for your new single ‘Breaking Waves’?
The songwriting process for ‘Breaking Waves’ started just before the beginning of lockdown 1.0. I was down on the Great Ocean Road swimming in the ocean when I was reminded of the action and metaphor, which I have coined ‘Breaking Waves’ as a form of ‘earthing’. The action that leads to the metaphor is: if you stand motionless a wave could crush you, whereas if you break it by diving under the wave you can move onto the next wave. So I wrote the chorus based on this symbol. It was 75% done when I added the bridge at home alluding to the end of the second verse, “sometimes I wish I could just fall in love”. I then demoed the song until I got it to the point where I felt it was ready.
In terms of the sonic influences, I grew up with an older brother who could play everything from Van Halen to Dream Theater, so I started teaching myself how to play classic songs outside of my piano lessons. More recently, the renaissance of retrowave synth sounds in Grammy Award winning albums from the War on Drugs; soundtracks to Netflix series like GLOW and Stranger Things; or even the dreampop being played on Triple J – I decided I would take it a step further and really put the synthwave sound all the way in it. I guess for me lockdown feels like an 80s Sci-Fi flick so I thought I would let those cinematic elements shine through to create a certain nostalgia for my audience.
How did you go about writing Breaking Waves?
I wrote the song on my piano at my home studio, then made some adjustments as I was recording it at the beginning of lockdown 1.
Where and when did you record and who with?
I wrote, recorded and produced the song at home. I then sent it to my producer Harts for mixing/mastering.
How did you approach the recording process?
I started by getting a good home set-up, then I spent some time honing in on the levels to get the best sound.
What programs/instruments did you use to record?
I used Logic Pro X to track. Learning how to use Logic was an upskill for me in lockdown as it was the first time I was able to devote myself entirely to it. I actually didn’t realise how much I had picked up from Harts. So I invested in a great interface and hit the ground running. I used my Nords/Juno to track a swirling Rhodes, some retro synths, and a good microphone to record a single vocal track. It is the first song in which I played & recorded all the parts myself.
Please tell us about the collaborations that you’ve been working on during COVID19 Lockdown:
As I said earlier, one of the positives to come out of lockdown for musicians is that we have the gift of music and the ability to jam (virtually) with artists from all over the world. So whether it’s collaborating with Elise Trouw in the US, recording keys parts for artists in Melbourne or connecting with filmmakers from New York; I have loved creating online, but have also enjoyed having plenty of time to think creatively between sessions (especially as we enter lockdown 2.0 phase 4 in Melbourne, Australia).
What do you like to do away from music?
I love spending time with my cats, going for walks with a good cup of coffee, meditating and watching a good comedy.
Who are you listening to at the moment?
PJ Morton, Jonathon McReynolds, Hayley William’s solo album, HAIM’s new album, Anna of the North, Tori Kelly and a new album produced by Aaron Dessner which some of you might know.
What’s planned for the remainder of 2020?
At this stage I will be releasing something every second month before the end of the year. I can’t reveal too much, but let’s just say I’m going to take y’all on an emotional rollercoaster.
Favourite food and place to hangout?
Would have to say the B.East was my og ‘reggie’ (regular) where I would debrief over a sour beer with one of my best mates. I love the music they play, the burgers they make and just the overall vibe.
Pre-order here: https://distrokid.com/hyperfollow/thomasbyrne/breaking-waves
Official Teaser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVx0m8G4OMU
Socials Website: https://linktr.ee/thomasbyrnemusic