Daily Discovery is a daily feature that will highlight a new or recently discovered artist that we’re excited about. See the rest of our Daily Discoveries here.
Thomas Stoneman, who releases music under the name Thomston, is already tired of being compared to Lorde, but that’s not going to end any time soon. He’s 18 years old, he’s from New Zealand, he’s making alternative pop with sparse hip-hop production elements and layered vocals, and he’s already got major labels taking notice.
Sorry, Thomston. You’re about to get a lot more Lorde comparisons.
“Any New Zealander who releases pop music is instantly the second coming of the Lorde,” he explains. “I’m a fan of her and her music, but the comparisons are growing tiresome. Plus, I haven’t got Grammys so I’m like the lame, non-famous, less cool, and not critically acclaimed version of her.”
I’m a fan of [Lorde] and her music, but the comparisons are growing tiresome. Plus, I haven’t got Grammys so I’m like the lame, non-famous, less cool, and not critically acclaimed version of her.
He doesn’t yet have the millions of SoundCloud plays that Lorde’s debut EP eventually got, but remember that these things happen quickly. It was just a little over a year ago when Lorde’s The Love Club was barely beginning to buzz. When we interviewed Lorde in May of 2013, she still hadn’t ever left New Zealand. And now… well, you know the rest. Here we go again, talking about Lorde.
But Thomston is trying to do things a little differently. He just released his School Night EP for free, and instead of working with top notch producers and putting together a plan with the label, he wants to share his own homemade music first. “I’m keen to show some people my pre-label stuff so they know I am a real person,” he says. “My EP was produced by me and a friend Samuel Brandford. The whole EP was just made in a bedroom by two teenagers with limited experience, and I didn’t intend on it going any further than to friends and family, but then it just kinda spread.”
Now he’s got a manager and a team behind him, and labels are starting to reach out. So how did this teenager making pop music in his bedroom in New Zealand get multiple labels to take notice? Well, part of it is probably thanks to all the attention on you-know-who, and the other part of it is just the nature of his hometown. “New Zealand is really small, under-crowded one might say, and I think it’s fairly simple to get noticed here in Auckland,” he explains. “We’re lucky to have a lot of platforms for our music to reach people who have influence. I just entered a bunch of song writing competitions and it really just took off.”
The timing is right. Lorde craved “a different kind of buzz” and offered an accessible alternative to pop stars like Miley Cyrus, and Thomston occupies a similar lane. His music is immediate, but his brand of pop is a far cry from, say, Justin Bieber. It draws from indie sensibility, capturing a bittersweet moodiness that doesn’t sway fully toward giddy celebration or desperate heartbreak. His songs are not the kind of pop hits that you’d hear on the radio five years ago, but with the crossover success of so many indie acts in the past years, major labels are realizing that there’s potential in pop music that isn’t made for the clubs and the dance floors.
My manager said, ‘Aim for America and everything else will have a trickle-down effect.’ It is very true. Artists that aim for New Zealand success get stuck here.
The next move? First of all, he’s going to get some professional help. “There are bunch of producers I’m interested in working with here. Obviously [Lorde’s producer] Joel Little has the midas touch—the BROODS record is so perfect—but there are also others I’d be keen to work with that aren’t super busy with winning Grammys and conquering the world.” Once that’s taken care of, he’ll set his sights on America. “My manager said, ‘Aim for America and everything else will have a trickle-down effect.’ It is very true. Artists that aim for New Zealand success get stuck here. The scene is simply not big enough to substantiate a lasting music career with a local focus.”
So, America, get to know Thomston. Just please, don’t call him the next Lorde.