When you first hear the words ‘Fizzy Milk’, it creates a slightly uncomfortable feeling of unease - they’re two things that you don’t imagine working together. It’s also the title for Gareth Thomas’ upcoming sophomore album (due out on June 17th), however the initial feeling of uncertainty in the title does not carry through to its contents - the 11 track album is a cohesive set of songs.
The album is the brainchild of Gareth’s thoughts from the last two years, and combines thoughtful ideas with exciting and unique instrumentation.
Coup De Main spoke to Gareth about his upcoming album ‘Fizzy Milk’, his musical process, and more…
COUP DE MAIN: You designed the cover-art for ‘Fizzy Milk’, and it’s so cool! Do you find it important to be creative in all facets of your life, not just music?
GARETH THOMAS: Thank you, I started drawing the cover pixel by pixel and then I got on a roll. I got quite obsessed with it actually and couldn’t stop. I found out all about 8-Bit art, Photoshop, and how the inside of my mind works. Very satisfying. I think it’s hugely important to follow your own creative urges, whatever they may be. Intuition is a wonderful thing, and people often don’t give it the credit it deserves.
CDM: ‘I’d Like’ seems to have a sense of nostalgia to it - letters are something that are considered so old-school nowadays. Do you think that the modern age has made romanticised ideas like letter-writing somewhat redundant?
GARETH: Yes, though there will always be a time and place for a hand-written letter. Maybe there will be a hand-written letter revival - like what we’re seeing with vinyl.
CDM: I love the music video too! How did the concept for that come about?
GARETH: Thanks! The video was based on a spaceman dream I had when I was five. I drew some images that I remembered from the dream and the director thought it would create the perfect mood for the video. He did some clever time-lapse stuff to make the cars and the sky move all dreamily at different speeds. We’re really happy with how it turned out.
CDM: ‘Fizzy Milk’ is a reflection of a “generally happy headspace” for you - I know some artists find music a therapeutic outlet for dealing with difficult problems in their lives, but how did you find the writing experience for the new album?
GARETH: Songwriting is absolutely therapeutic. My songs have become an an abstract diary of my life. The more upbeat nature of this album is an indication that things are going well! I found that if you write songs about bad times you gotta be careful, because you may end up having to play them for the rest of your life.
CDM: I particularly love the horns on ‘Fizzy Milk’, and ‘All Eyes In The Room’ has a super funky vibe with the horn. What made you decide to have horns throughout the record?
GARETH: Cheers, I jumped in the deep end with the horn arrangements. My girlfriend (Amelia from Fazerdaze) was arranging horns for a project at the KMC School Of Music and I got all inspired to give it a go too.
CDM: What other New Zealand artists are you loving at the moment?
GARETH: Seriously, all my favourite bands are New Zealand bands; Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Silicon, SJD, Voom, Fazerdaze, I could go on.
CDM: If you were to curate your own music festival, who would you want to play and what would the festival be called?
GARETH: It would include all those New Zealand bands above, plus I’d bring in Beck, Air and The Flaming Lips - and I’d call it Sasquatch.
YOU WILL LIKE MY MUSIC, IF YOU LIKE… songs.
IF YOU ONLY LISTEN TO ONE OF MY SONGS, YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO… ‘All Eyes In The Room’.
WATCH THIS VIDEO, BECAUSE… it gets weird.
MY TOP FIVE MUSICAL CRUSHES ARE… Bowie, Prince, Kim Deal, Nina Simone, Fazerdaze.
YOU KNOW YOU'VE MADE IT WHEN…the audience sings louder than you.
CDM: What's the most despicable thing you've ever done?
GARETH: I don’t usually steal stuff, but the Pick ’n’ Mix at Countdown is just asking for it.
CDM: If you could pick any five people (living or dead) to be in your entourage, who would you choose?
GARETH: Stephen Fry, David Byrne, Tavi Gevinson, Ellen DeGeneres, Winnie the Pooh.
CDM: Who is your most famous fan?
GARETH: Neil Finn gave me some really encouraging words and so did Chris Knox, I flipped out because they totally inspired my music - and Jason Mraz apparently does a good cover of 'Sophie'.
CDM: Do you believe in magic?
GARETH: “The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.” W.B. Yeats said that and I totally agree with him.
CDM: What is your spirit animal?
GARETH: A capybara because they just are, and they don’t mind what anyone else thinks.
CDM: How long could you go without talking?
GARETH: For so much longer than I could talk for.
CDM: If you could steal one thing without consequence what would it be?
GARETH: Roasted unsalted almonds from the Pick ’n’ Mix.
CDM: What is the most heroic thing that you've ever done?
GARETH: I carried my girlfriend who was in anaphylactic shock, down 20 flights of stairs to an ambulance when the lift was broken.
CDM: Have you ever written a love letter?
CDM: What is your first proper memory, ever?
GARETH: Letting go of my little brother’s pushchair on a hill.
CDM: If you were a country, what would be your national anthem?
GARETH: ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
CDM: Have you ever had an out-of-body experience? If so, tell us about it.
GARETH: It happens when I’m deeply indulged in something creative. I have these patches of heightened perceptive awareness, when I can see more deeply into things, and who I am doesn’t matter. I think being creative is more about discovery than it is about invention. It’s not about you, it’s about finding stuff that is already there and bringing it into being. You’ve just got to look really carefully for it.
CDM: Stretch your right arm out as far as you can reach, what can you touch?
GARETH: My microphone stand.
Watch the ‘All Eyes In The Room’ music video…