By HAZEL REID

Los Angeles based NZ musician Thomston has just released his much-anticipated album Crushed off the back of single releases Jpa989, Honeymoon and Magnolia with Zeph. We caught up with Thomston to chat the new record release, living through the pandemic and being a bit of a Swiftie.

I jumped on Zoom with Thomston to catchup from his Los Angeles base, he was in the middle of packing to move but was happy to chat about his new record which was a ‘long time coming’. He has been working on some content to unveil the process which has included going back into the voice memo vault and finding some from 2017! “The craziest part is finding all the themes that have become more prevalent in a post-pandemic world, I think of songs like The Pacific which is about homesickness and feeling really cut off from your friends and family. I say the line ‘when we don’t have to worry about a long haul flight’, at the time that was purely a financial thing… but now I literally cannot get back into New Zealand.” 

Thomston has been based a lot of the time overseas in the past few years to work on creative projects but came back home at the start of last year to play some shows and film music videos with his NZ team including Chase Madsen after getting some NZ On Air funding. Talking about the visualisers for Honeymoon and Magnolia (with Zeph), “Chase and I talked about it for weeks and we brought in my managers and we brainstormed until we had something. The visual world for this album is something that if I have the ability to expand it, I absolutely will – the process is very much collaborative which I enjoy.” 

Now that the album is out in full, Thomston shared that he’s excited to perform track two, The Pacific. “I love that song, I wrote it in Christchurch – it’s sad but fun, which I guess is my brand.” This record is pretty special as some of the songs have been waiting for their moment since 2016 – Thomston did release two EPs in 2019 but held onto these tunes for Crushed. “I’m hoping for the next record, it doesn’t need to take as long, I’ve kind of got it down now,” shared Thomston. He also said that he likes to get creative by tapping into walking, “it’s a really good way to generate some kind of mental emotion I think, when you’re sitting still on a couch the thoughts can feel stagnant so there’s something about moving that gets the mind going.” 

The challenges of the past few years because of the pandemic hasn’t just delayed the record and locked our borders (which has meant the MIQ issues have continued) but it’s also meant that Thomston has experienced isolation and loneliness especially when most of his people are in NZ. After constantly moving to new places every few months (including Mexico, Dallas, Auckland and Los Angeles) Thomston was looking to be grounded somewhere but the pandemic meant it was a bit more than he would have hoped! 

We delve into the mindset impact of the pandemic, as I know the past few years have affected people mentally in different ways. “I was forced to kind of look at how much of my self worth is tied up in what I make, I still haven’t got an answer in how to combat that as it’s not a healthy mindset, I think it’s just one of those things that propelled me to be an artist but it’s so destructive to the creative process to have your idea of yourself be married to the analytics, data and reception of something you make. I wouldn’t say it’s been good, it’s been healthy but not good.” Thomston also shared that he’s a big fan of doing a sheet mask to ‘zombie out’ plus cooking and taking his dog for a walk in Griffith Park near his house as forms of self-care. 

I asked who he had been listening to recently and he answered pretty easily – Taylor Swift. We were quickly talking about how we thought we were ‘Swifties’ pre-pandemic then after all the new music releases, admired her musical talent and her productivity being ‘unmatched’. We finished the catchup talking about what would ideally be next on the cards (even though it seems to be a bit impossible to plan ahead right now!), basically it was getting back to New Zealand asap, reconnecting with NZ (like Piha), playing some shows and writing new music. Thomston has also been producing and wants to do more of that for other artists. 

Thomston’s album Crushed is available to purchase and stream online now. 

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