London-to-Melbourne-and-back-to-London-again newcomer Thomas Headon first got to grips with his music-making skills via a series of YouTube covers, before branching out into his own world of immensely likeable, quirky pop.
Words: Sam Taylor.
London-based Thomas Headon might still be fresh out of the blocks, but over 2020 he dropped two EPs full of bops that showed a promise that already sees him knocking on the door of the DIY alt-pop A-list. With a sense of humour and a willing enthusiasm, his music manages to find light in the darkness, without ever trying to paper over the cracks. Plus, you have to respect anyone who owns a life-sized Harry Styles cut out, right? Goals, right there.
Hi Thomas, how are you doing? What are you up to today?
Hello Dork, I am doing well. I had a proper day off / mental health day yesterday, was really nice. We should all take them more. I’m currently sitting in a pub replying to emails and judging people’s Halloween costumes on Instagram. What a thrilling time to be a musician, am I right?
How have you found 2020 then? Bit of a weird one, eh.
Yeah man, this one’s been kinda strange. The first lockdown, I was actually really fine, enjoyed the time inside and spent a lot of it trying new things and tbh getting a lot of work done. I have been and currently am in a lot better place mentally than a lot of people were/are, and I’m so thankful for that.
The only thing that’s really got me like “fuck this” though has been shows being rescheduled. I was meant to play my first headline show to like 100 people in April, then it got moved to September, but that was a tour to like 800-1000 people shows, then it got moved again, like damn, man. To me, it just really sucks that I can’t play live. That’s my biggest ick. Other than that though I have very thankfully been ok! Stayin’ inside, wearin’ my mask, keepin’ safe, y’know?
What first sparked your interest in music?
Damn, this is a good question, I don’t even know? When I was a kid I really wanted to be an actor… did a whole bunch of musical theatre (including being Oliver in Oliver) and then realised I couldn’t dance. As much as I still would love to get back into doing a bunch of acting, I’m really focused on making music right now. Always loved music.
Also, my sister was a fan of everyone before they were big when I was growing up too. It was really cool to see people like Ed Sheeran in front of 100 people at one point, hear twenty one pilots songs before they were huge, same with bands like The 1975. She really got me into loving music, I think.
What prompted you to start uploading your cover versions online?
I mean I was (and VERY much still am) a product of the internet. My thought process at the time was just, if I want to be a musician, I have to upload covers to YouTube. That was the time I grew up in… Troye Sivan, Dodie, Cavetown – there’s a bunch of names I can think of watching from so early on. So cool to see the way they’ve all progressed. Covers on YouTube never really did it for me, though. They got me my management who really brought me into the world of music and introduced me to everything I know now, but I think I really felt a part of it once TikTok became a thing. What an app, man.
Did that experience help you to decide what you wanted your own original music to sound like?
No, but yes. I ‘fell into’ bedroom pop, like many, by complete accident. I just made music by myself which was definitely listenable but wasn’t some completely polished production or final product. That’s my favourite thing about that whole ‘bedroom scene’ in my opinion, it’s just kids doing shit by themselves. That’s the way it should be, though. You should learn to do your own thing before someone introduces you to the entire professional world of creativity. Lately, I’ve even enjoyed just going back to the basics. Makes things so much simpler, and also I personally focus on the important things like songwriting while doing so. I think by accident because of the time we live in there has been an entire genre created around it, which is dope – I love it.
“My favourite thing about that whole ‘bedroom scene’ is that it’s just kids doing shit by themselves”Thomas Headon
Can you remember the first song you wrote? How does it compare to what you’re doing now?
Hahahaha, yeah the difference is that it sucks. It was a song about a new guitar I got called ‘Six’. It’s not even ironically bad, it’s just so horrible. I’m never playing it. You have my word on that. Not to get too deep, but I think it’s really important to note that I’ve been writing for like 6-7 years now. I grew up in a time where everything was instantaneous, so to me, it was really hard to remember that songwriting is a skill that you have to work at in order to get something good every now and then. I still write bad songs, I still give up halfway through, I still can’t be bothered, and I still write songs I absolutely hate. It’s just something you gotta keep having a go at, man. This is too spiritual, but I think my point is that I did not give up! As nobody else should, either!
Are there any topics you’re particularly drawn to writing about?
I just write about girls, lmao. Nah, that’s not entirely true; I also find myself writing a lot about self-awareness and questioning things. Kinda like a coping mechanism, I suppose. Mostly girls, though! Whatever’s happening with ’em and who I’m seeing or not seeing or talking to or not talking to – anything – they INSPIRE me. Hope I get heartbroken more.
Did moving back to London open up many new opportunities for you? How are you finding it over here?
I definitely think so. I moved here because the only ‘industry contact’ I had when I was like 18 was my management, who are based in Europe, and the fact I have a British passport was perfect for that. My original plan was just ‘move to London for a year, if it doesn’t work, then go back home and go to university’. I think it definitely helps me that I feel like I’m in a very global, important city. A place in the world in which everyone in any industry does come and go quite often. I’ve now been introduced to a lot of the Australian scene which is great, but I definitely wouldn’t have been unless I didn’t make this move in the first place. Happy to call this place my home base for the foreseeable future.
Is being a musician living up to the hype so far?
Feel like it would be if I was playing shows. I guess so. I mean, I’m not gonna sit here and be like ‘hahaha yeah what I don’t even care lmaoooo’. Like yeah, bro, it’s better to be sad with ‘an audience / career’ for the moment than it was without it, but life is still very normal for me. I feel like my idea of properly being a very successful musician is being in LA with a huge house and partying non-stop, but right now I’m just living my life as I would before. I live with people with normal jobs, I see friends at the pub, I’m still young, so I spend money on useless shit like clothes. I dunno. It’s so great to be able to do what I want all the time and have this be my ‘full-time job’, but I feel absolutely no different. It’s cool. Like it’s not, but it is. Weird man.
What are you working on at the moment?
It’s a very obvious answer, but right now just music. That’s all I wanna do, and thankfully it’s all I am doing. I’m writing as many songs as I can and just working with as many people as possible. I got very lost with music videos, branding, design and merch the whole lot lately, but now I’m just finally working on creating music and only music. I’m not sure if that means a third EP or just singles for a while yet… but it just feels so good to make and write music by myself that I’m happy with. Honestly feels like I’m back in Australia completely on my own again, just with a tight group of people I can bounce things off of. Creatively I’m so happy to be where I am. It’s great. The short answer is nothing! Nothing besides music.
Are you creative in non-musical ways too?
I mean, look, I try lmao. I directed all my music videos. This is said as a bit of a joke now, but I’m actually so proud that I fully storyboarded and really had full control creative of those videos, they made my vision of that second EP a lot stronger. I’d love to say I’m doing lots of design work for like a clothing line or writing my own screenplay, but I’m super happy right now to literally only be creating music at the moment. It’s what I’m best at right now, and the only thing I wanna focus on.
In future, I wanna act a whole lot more, write for other people, design clothing, create podcasts and write TV and literally do anything, man… but right now I’m just so happy to only be making music. Doing the music videos and having the entirety of the ‘creative control’ for the second EP was great as I said, but it took my focus away from what I really wanted to do for the moment. Made me a lot busier than I needed to be, etc. Was so much fun and again I’m glad I did it, but I think I’ll stick to writing songs for a little while.
What do you do for fun?
I love seeing friends. I go to the pub very often with friends and we just kinda hang out. Other than that dude, I’m such a nerd. I play a lot of games… Steam is my best friend, and I’ve just bought a beefy new computer to fuel that. I’m also such a history nut, so my entire Netflix list is just old war documentaries. So fascinated by that stuff, especially seeing it in person. Idk what else other than that. I’d say surfing, but I live nowhere near a beach now, so I guess I don’t really do that.
Do you have much in the diary for 2021?
I have a whole ass UK tour planned. I really hope it goes ahead. I’m gonna be gutted if it gets rescheduled again. Other than that, not really right now, no… I wanna make a bunch of music with a bunch of people, hopefully, see a lot more of the planet, make new friends. Idk! Excited for this year to be over, who knows what 2021 will be like though.
If a genie popped up and offered you three wishes for the next 12 months, what would you go for?
Damn man, I don’t know. Three wishes. Ok well, number one is definitely that the tour goes ahead, without a doubt. Number two, probably better vision. I got glasses the other day. Now I like have to actually wear them otherwise everything’s blurry. So that’d be good to have better eyes. Other than that… I’m not sure. I’d like a glass of water right now, maybe that. I’m just gonna go get one instead.
Taken from the December 2020 / January 2021 issue of Dork, out now.