[INTERVIEW] Thomas Oliver on APRA Silver Scroll and Moving to Mars

Soulful even answering the simplest questions, Thomas Oliver took some time to talk with us about all the stuff going on his life.

Photo credit to Terry Longley.

At the beginning of this week we got the chance to ask Thomas Oliver a few questions regarding his new acoustic version of If I Move To Mars, talk about the 2016 APRA Silver Scroll Award and get to know a bit more of this amazing, soulful artist.

Getting to Know Thomas Oliver

[WtMM] Hi there, how are you?
[Thomas Oliver] I’m doing great, thanks! I’m sitting here in Claremont, Los Angeles, having a mellow day after a recording session at Paramount Studios in Hollywood yesterday. Off to Nashville in the morning!

When did you decide on a musical career?
I was 18 when I had the realisation that, if you want to be a musician, you have to be all in. No plan B. So that’s what I did at that time.

What make you change from an all instrumental solo debut album, “Beneath the Weissenborn”, to a vocalist approach? Why wasn’t this the focus from the start of your career?
I am a singer-songwriter by nature, and I have been singing and writing songs since I was 12. In a way, it’s strange that my first full album as a soloist was an instrumental album, but it just represents where I was at at that time (2013). I was loving playing Weissenborn so much at the time that I just ended up exploring it as deeply as I could, and a whole album came out of it. I’m glad I did, and it really helped to internationalise my audience.
But I so excited to release the new (singer-songwriter) music I’ve been working on for the last two years!

2016 APRA Silver Scroll Award

Shortly after we came across Thomas Oliver and “If I Move to Mars”, you were nominated 2016 APRA Silver Scroll Award. Some days after that you actually won it! How crazy was that experience?
I actually think I’m still processing it! I jumped on a plane the day after the award ceremony, and headed to LA, so it’s been all go since I received the award. The ceremony
was beautiful and it was such a buzz to actually win it! I am honoured to hold this award, and it is something I will always be grateful for.

We heard your acceptance speech and you said there’s someone behind the lyrics of the song. Would you care to elaborate a bit?
My girlfriend at the time, Hayley Gray, and I were driving from Wellington to Hawke’s Bay (in New Zealand) and we decided to actively try to think of cool ideas for songs. Mars had been in the media a lot at the time and we were both fascinated by the concept of populating Mars, so Hayley suggested, “what about a song about Mars?” I thought that was a great idea, and I then suggested, “if I move to Mars, will you come with me?” and I went on to write the song from there. It was nice to have Hayley with me at the award ceremony, because it gave me a chance to thank her publicly and acknowledge that the song simply wouldn’t exist without her.

Sounding like Thomas Oliver

Whilst listening to the speech we actually fell a bit in love with your honesty, happy spirit and humbleness. Are these characteristics you incorporate in your process of songwriting?
Thank you! Honesty is a very important part of the songwriting process for me. I always write songs from a place that means something to me. I believe that I am honest as a writer, so any traits that you will find in my personality, I believe you will find in my music, too.

Following that, who would you point out as your main influences?
Ben Harper, Dave Matthews Band, Bon Iver, James Blake, Amos Lee, Joni Mitchell, BB King, Bob Dylan.

New Releases

We know you have an acoustic version of “If I Move to Mars” coming out on October 21st (which is now available). Is this sort of a celebration for the 2016 APRA Silver Scroll Award? Or is this version completely distinct from the original?
It is a bit of celebration, and also a chance to share what the song was when it was first born. I played the song on quite a few stages around the world as a solo acoustic song before I recorded and produced the single version, so it’s nice to go back to what it was then, and share it as new.

We know there’s new music coming out on February, next year. Is there anything you can tell us about that?
I have a full-length album called Floating In The Darkness which I recently finished. The album feels for me like the meeting point of everything I’ve ever done as a musician; the first time it has all come together. I am really looking forward to sharing it! We will be beginning to release music from it from early next year.

Touring and Collaborations

Are you collaborating with someone? If not, is there an artist you’d like to make music with?
One of the songs on Floating In The Darkness is a collaboration with composer and producer, Rhian Sheehan. Rhian has been one of my favourite musicians for quite a few years, so it really was an honour to work with him on this, and the result, I believe, is something special.

Recently, Thomas held a campaign in order to fund the production of Floating In The Darkness. In the video you get to feel his fire and passion about music. It’s through this kind of belief and preserverance that the best kind of music is born: straight from the heart.

We were wondering, do you have a tour planned?
2017 will be a busy one for me. I plan to tour the release of this album in many places across the world; New Zealand, Australia, Europe, USA, Canada etc. I certainly hope I can make it to Portugal!

Where do you see Thomas Oliver in three to five years? Any closer to Mars?
I hope so! Haha. If I were offered the opportunity to move to Mars, I would find it hard to say no!

We at Where the Music Meets would like to thank you and Cushla very much for this interview, and congratulate you for the 2016 APRA Silver Scroll Award. It’s amazing to see great artists like yourself recognized. Best of success.
Thank you for your kind words, and thank you for having me!

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