Tell us your real names, country of birth, date of birth, and childhood experience.
Thom Wicks from London, UK. I write I travel, I paint and I swim.
Tell us about your music career, your band name, musical background, experience, and skills.
Dead Seem Old was started as a solo project as I was at a point where I was in bands but was writing ten songs a week and had no output for them. I was obsessed and still am with a four-track recorder. I can record anywhere whilst I’m at home or traveling and only having four tracks really makes you only use the good ideas. I got together my best demos at that time and wrote to Producer Javier Weyler (Phil Manzanera, Stereophonics), whose solo album I loved, and we formed a musical relationship, and now we work together on all my songs. I’ve worked with a few producers in the past and Javier took the time to really understand what I was doing. That’s rare. My obsession with lean, strange production, he completely understood. Now we sit in the studio making songs out of Coca-cola cans, chest beats, lamp tappings, suitcase scratches and spend hours modulating them.
Tell us about your genre, concept, and idea behind your music video and the song.
I’ve always been drawn to minimalism in art and music; Qi Baishi, Ma Yuan, Edward Hopper. I wanted to create music that was minimalist but with energy, combining my main influences in street music from around the world that I’ve heard whilst traveling in various parts of the world like Latin America, Europe, North Africa, and the Far East. The idea was to make all the percussion from found sounds and use chants, then put on a suit and write a simple, sleek pop song. I also wanted to create a noir look for the whole project, only using black and white and muted colors, that could go across all our videos and imagery. This was inspired by a dream I had about a huge ballroom full of faceless aristocrats, like thin silhouettes. I was singing and playing guitar on a ridiculously tall thin stage. I think of this image when I write most songs as it’s fitting for this dark, minimal energy and try to incorporate bits of this image in all my videos and artwork.
Tell us everything that we need to know about you as a musician and the ups and downs you have faced in the music business.
I love finding rare songs from around the world (Colombia, Cuba, Cape Verde, Morocco), even if they are just versions of old standards. At the moment I’m pretty obsessed with Colombian Cumbia and Salsa from the ’60s. There’s an album by Jaime Simanca y sus Fandangueros from Barranquilla that’s great.
Tell us what inspires you to write, compose and sing.
I’m inspired by simplicity. Orwell said “If it’s possible to cut a word out, cut it” and I think that’s the case with music too. When you’ve found that thing that makes your song special, whether it’s a tiny melody, a bass pattern, or a handclap rhythm, if that part is being crowded out then just lose what’s around it. If those parts aren’t in some way complimenting that special part, then just lose it. There should be no ego in serving that song. If you can create a song with just a few piano notes, a vocal, and some light percussion, then just leave it there. Don’t try and make it something it doesn’t want to be.
Tell us the secret behind making a hit song.
I don’t think there are any secrets to making a song that everyone will like. I think the best songs probably won’t be to everyone’s tastes. I think people do see and hear sincerity though. You look at a recent song like Tilted by Christine and the Queens, or Makeba by Jain and even not speaking French you can hear the sincerity and artistry. These are artists that don’t try and make their songs sound like what’s currently popular, they are finding originality through experimentation and still creating what would be called pop songs. I think that’s pretty special. Songs don’t have to be deep at all but they do have to do something to someone. That’s where the genius lies.
Tell us the piece of advice you will give to an upcoming artist.
Whilst I’m in no real position to offer advice, I would say make the songs the reward in themselves. The fact that we can make things to make people feel good is still incredible.