With social media playing so much significance now there is more to being a successful songwriter and performer than just the music. We talk brand handwriting, stage presence and innovative recognition with Bestivals Launch, THØSS.

A creative response to the human condition originating from Hampshires suburban nostalgic stories of youth creates one 6’6 load of highly talented songwriting.

THØSS delivers silky falsetto vocals and ‘verby electric guitar twangs to create a sound that is both distinctive and instant.

Sami Armstrong talks to THØSS about his 2017 journey in terms of brand identity and really embedding and engaging with the audience in contemporary new ways through our culture of social media reliance.

 

  1. Have you found social media has significantly helped to expose and gather new opportunities? How has the visual engagement of social media, such as Instagram, supported growth and progression?

Social media is an excellent way to connect with people, gather inspiration and discover how it can be used in creative ways.

A few years ago I was introduced to LA songwriter Allie McDonald (EXES) via social media with the idea that we’d write a song together on Skype. Though this didn’t materialise due to poor wifi, we stayed friends and eventually played music together in real life when she visited London last year.

I regularly save images on Instagram or Pinterest for inspiration. Lately I’ve been developing ideas for a new typeface this way.

 

  1. You clearly really consider how THØSS is presented both during live performance and through the representative imagery. How would you describe the identity of THØSS? What or who influences this style?

I think it’s important to make deliberate choices. As THØSS is a person (me), not a band, I use contrast to separate my onstage appearance from the band. For a long time we kept it simple with the band in black and me in something else, but now I’m developing a more colourful way of balancing visual unity and contrast as one. All black was just a little to GCSE drama…

I’ve always been drawn to the idea of the male icon, or my own idea of it at least. Figures such as James Dean, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash have been focal points. Channelling that kind of sultry swagger has been a natural part of my live performance; so to develop that in my representative imagery feels right.

My first concern is always authenticity. Taking influence from elsewhere is useful, but it’s essential to me not to project a cultivated image over a true one.

Something I’ve found challenging is maintaining a consistent brand identity on social media. The regularity of posting can make it easy to lose sight of the initial aims. I’m trying to address this by creating mood boards of key images and colours as a reminder of my intentions whilst also constructing some simple rules to guide myself.

 

  1. Earlier this summer you released ‘Work is a four letter word’ the filming and artwork behind this track plays clear significance here. Talk us through this and the relationship between music, film and imagery.

A key lyric in the song is ‘I’m an old, loose belt. I’m a Roosevelt’. The decision to use Roosevelt family’s home videos came from a YouTube browsing session and stumbling upon some magical creative commons footage of the family.

Truthfully, I don’t have strong feelings about the Roosevelts either way but to me they epitomize a wealthy American dynasty. I wanted to contrast the images of them having a happy and relaxed time with a lyric that describes how working a menial job provided me with a sense of worth.

THØSS – Work Is A Four Letter Word (click here)
  1. Have you collaborated with any other graphic designers, artists or film makers in the past? If so who and if not would you like to and who do you imagine would make an interesting collaborative project?

 I regularly work with collage artist Joe Mackenzie on single and EP artwork. I try to be vocal with a starting concept and ideas but the scissors are very much in his hands from then on. He has exciting visual ideas of his own so I don’t like to stick my oar in too much.

I’d love to make a music video with Leif Podhajsky. His video work with Foals is beautiful, expansive and vivid.

Foals- A Knike in the Ocean (click Here)
  1. You put a lot of time and thought into your music videos? Talk us through the first video you ever did ? What was a surprising success and what did you come to learn?

I work with a talented friend, Abi Sinclair, on the videos. The unifying factor of my videos is the lack of budget, so the challenge is creating something simple and engaging without spending money.

The first video we did together was for a track called IWITW. Our basic concept was for me to perform the song submerged in a bath of milk. I spent 3 hours in that bath whilst we experimented with movement and played in the water to see what worked visually. Whilst we agreed that the emotion of the performance was vital, the magic came from Abi’s editing. I think we were both surprised how effective such a simple idea could become.

I learned that it is possible to make a music video for less than £5.

  1. Creative industries influence and bounce from one another. Have you found this from a fashion context? Do you consider yourself to be influenced by fashion trends and movements?

I wouldn’t say I’m consciously influenced by fashion trends. That said, I am passionate about clothes and hold aesthetic and self-presentation in high regard when thinking about the project. I always remember hearing that ‘dressing down is an artistic choice’. Let your clothes say something about you.

 

  1. What is inspiring your current music?

Inspiration can be anything. Right now, I’m feeling particularly inspired by my newest toy – a vintage Roland TR-606 drum machine.


  1. Whats next? What should we all look out for?

New music is imminent. The current musical landscape demands a regular stream of music and social media content. At the moment my thoughts are very much on branding and developing a more distinctive visual presence to support my music.

I’ll also be playing some live shows, notably an EP launch show at Sebright Arms on the 30th September.

 

  1. If you could give just one piece of advice for emerging artists within the music industry what would it be?

Don’t wait for anyone else. If there’s something you can’t do, collaborate or learn how to do it yourself. Releasing music in the Internet age can be daunting but it’s also liberating.

 

EYES PEELED: If your heading down to Bestival this year we will expect to see you at the main stage for THØSS at 11am on Friday 8th September!

  

Charismatic songwriter THØSS reveals his single ’Two Laces’, to be released independently on September 29th. 

Live Dates This Month:

8th September – Bestival, Main Stage
26th September – Decave, King’s Head Members Club – Goat Girl/Blaenavon (solo support show)
30th September – Sebright Arms, Headline show – Guest list available on request

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