Discovery: Thomas Jack

Published October 29, 2013

ABOVE: THOMAS JACK (LEFT) AND A PAL

Hailing from Bemboka, Australia, Thomas Jack is an emerging star with a sound and style like a perfect summer’s day: it’s warm, full of good vibes, and shamelessly appealing. His signature sound is a blend of many live instruments: saxophone, flutes, trumpets, violins, you name it; Thomas finds some unique and organic ways to incorporate the smorgasbord of sounds into his productions.

Having been discovered a little less than three months ago, Jack has quickly taken the Internet by storm: he’s already landed in the number-one position on The Hype Machine charts four times. His breakthrough production “Final Speech” led him a viral tear on the esteemed platform, and he has continued the successful run with follow-up tracks, like his much-talked-about remix for Of Monsters and Men’s “Little Talks” and the extra smooth remix for Adrian Lux’s hit “Teenage Crime.”

Interview had a chance to catch up with Jack, who is currently touring around North America until the beginning of the year. Jack also provided us with the premiere of his single “Symphony,” which once again displays the young talent’s knack for live instrumentation, original composition, and an uncontrollably addictive take on electronic music. 

REAL NAME: Tom Johnston

AGE: 20

HOMETOWN: Bemboka, NSW, Australia 

CURRENT CITY: Homeless. I don’t really have a home at the moment, but at this point, it looks like I am moving to L.A. around the end of February next year. But at the moment, I have been living in Miami and Orlando, bouncing back and forth from place to place. I love Florida; it’s still really nice and warm here, even though it’s going into winter. I’m not a huge fan of the cold. 

BEGINNINGS: I started to make some form of music when I was 15. The school I went to had a compulsory music class, which was pretty boring the majority of the time. However, for about four weeks, we used a program called “eJay,” which has thousands of different samples, from drums to synths to vocals. I ended up really getting into the program and actually ended up purchasing it and playing around with it for about a few months. Then I realized that’s not how you make music, so from there I moved on the well-known program Ableton Live and started of doing a bunch of mash-ups and edits; but it has only been a year and a half since I have been producing tracks completely myself. I’m still learning a lot and have a lot more to learn, but I love the live aspect of electronic music such as the saxophone and the flute.

ON INSPIRATION: It’s hard to pinpoint where exactly I find inspiration, but I must say I find a lot of stimulation from my home back in Australia. My three housemates and I have lived together for the majority of this year, and each and every day they continue to influence me in one way or the other. In a sense, they are pretty weird people, but have really helped me create the sort of sound I am making today. They have mostly helped to introduce me and turn me onto some cool styles of music. 

ON INFLUENCES: Jazz and exotic tropical instruments influence me in the musical realm. I find them both unique and interesting and really enjoy incorporating unusual sounds into my music. In a sense I am crafting a new style that I can call my own. Artists such as Pleasurkaft, Bakermat, Amine Edge & Dance, and Kolombo are all productions I admire for their work and production levels. 

BEARING IT IN MIND: I don’t really have anyone in mind when I am making a track; it is more on the lines of the environment in which the track would fit best. For example, near a pool or beach, on a nice sunny day, having a few beers, that’s what I have in mind. I am really trying to push the happy summer tropical vibe into my music at the moment.

SOUNDING BOARD: At the moment, I am really focusing on this tropical house vibe, with the saxophone and the flutes. I am starting to experience with other live instruments and working on a few tracks now which include harmonicas, Spanish guitars, violins, and also was able to track down some weird exotic instruments, like a koto and a harp. Now it’s all down to working out what works and what doesn’t. I still want to keep the same house/deep vibe but also try to embrace as many live aspects as possible.   

SPEECH PATTERNS: I love speeches in tracks. I feel like they tell a story, and the aim is to fit the emotion of the track to the speech, so they just blend. It makes the track more emotional, I think.  My favorite speech, hands-down, is Charlie Chaplin’s “Greatest Speech Ever Made” from the Great Dictator. I am playing around with a lot of ’90s and early 2000s hip-hop and R&B samples and trying to somehow fit them in a few of my tracks. I find little samples add to the track and can change the vibe of how everything is going. 

SPIRIT ANIMAL: Probably some sort of super bright and colorful bird!

BEST PIECE OF ADVICE?: “When a sound becomes trendy, everyone starts producing it. Nothing really comes of the copycats.”

UNEXPECTED TALENT: I actually worked on my parents’ dairy farm in Australia when I wasn’t as school or at university. So over the past years, I have acquired a wide array of farming talents, from milking a cow to driving the tractor.  

PERFECT FUTURE:  To travel around the world, experiencing different cultures and experimenting with their styles of music and their native instruments. Also to be able to continue on this path of making people feel good with my music and being able to perform for them. 

FOR MORE ON THOMAS JACK, VISIT HIS SOUNDCLOUD AND FACEBOOK PAGES.