Second up in our SEV Fest Artist Series is a positive-souled veteran in the music community, Thomas Piper Jr. His genre style can best be described as “EDM Soul,” an amalgam of new tactics with classic elements. Raised in Uniondale, Long Island and now living in Brooklyn, he has taken steps to forge his own path in music and in life. As we spoke, I got a strong vibe of someone who aims to elevate and work hard for the betterment of himself, and this theme displays itself strongly in his music and performances.
Piper Jr. has been around in the music scene for a while now, signed to labels like D-Street and Universal, producing up-and-coming artist tracks. All along the way bits and pieces of his style being chiseled into what it is today, like a fine Michaelangelo sculpture. When asked how he defines his genre- EDM Soul, he replied that it wasn’t something he defined for himself. “[EDM Soul is] a genre I was put in. I don’t believe my music exemplifies a straight genre. I have EDM-like beats, but soulful feelings that come with that? Sometime it can echo that of Neo-Soul, it definitely has a controllerist movement vibe.”
For anyone unaware of the controllerist movement (myself included, before this interview), he described it as, “a more instrumental way of electronic music. It’s more like a performance than anything. When I perform, you can see exactly what I’m doing. I literally create beats in front of your eyes, unlike these popular DJ’s who don’t have their consoles facing you. It’s less tactile what DJ’s do. My stuff is all out in the open, and you can tune into what I’m doing because I truly am performing and playing my instrument, it just happens to be a digital instrument.”
He continues. “I am what comes after a DJ. I still play chords, you have to know music to do what I do. I’m playing the DJ instruments, but it’s a new instrument too. I do what Daedalus does, but I do a step next to him, because I do songs, he just does music. I can play my instrument, I can do covers with my instrument but also generate my own content.”
Piper Jr. goes onto say that just because he does the EDM thing doesn’t mean he’s exactly a band, but he definitely isn’t a DJ either. However, he does take influences from the EDM community. Citing his primary message is to uplift, much like electronic dance music can do for its fans. (As to whether it’s the music or the designer drugs that dot the scene is negotiable.) He weaves in and out of being defined, but always maintains this strong sense of “feel good music,” in a “whole-foodsy sense.”
“My sound has a little piece of everything. It’s organic, it’s digital, it’s modern, it’s spiritual– gospel-like, but in the sense of praising spirituality. At times, the gospel is in there; there’s an element of you feeling it, but you’ll also question it.”
In his undefinable sound, he also is boundless with his influences, citing Daedalus, John Mayer, MC Galaxy, Disclosure, Flosstradamus, Migos, Asap Rocky, Stromae, Steely Dan, Thundercats, and FKA Twigs as artists he’s been listening to. He also takes a lot of inspiration from African, particularly Nigerian, dance music. Being from Trinidad, he often mixes a lot of Reggae and Soca, as well as some Pop.
Currently, he works on playlists for cafe’s to hone his craft, does a lot of videowork for other artists, as well as films/edits/stars in an ongoing Youtube Series on his channel called Beat Design. Every week he posts a different beat he constructs himself in his studio or live on stage at a performance, bringing in his love of different styles and truly showcases his talent as not only an artist but a performer.
In the future for Piper Jr., he has a few upcoming shows at venues in NYC such as The Warper Party in September, and Saturn Never Sleeps, scenes that propel the controllerism vibe. You can also expect a tentative album, entitled Requiem for a Sunny Day. True to the soulful rhythm of his music, tracks follow in name to bring a message to the listener, some entitled, “Start Living,” “Resurrect Yourself,” and “Build a New You.” When asked about his theme of rebirth for this album, he states that he just wants everyone to be able to listen to his music and feel included and moved.
“I guess for me, I’m an older artist that has done enough and had to start over, and I believe that can play into it. Plus, there are some people around me who are trying to find themselves. I think [this theme] makes it palatable for middle age and young – there are a lot of records that feel young that middle-aged people can’t get into, and a lot of records that are middle-aged that young people might not be able to get into. There are people who are 30 and 40 who are still trying to define themselves, as well as people who are 18 and 20 who simply don’t know who they are, and because of that try to put themselves in a box; so this album is for those who aren’t represented and who don’t have a place to define themselves. It’s a way to understand the power of fear, that when you’re young you don’t understand, so you just run instead of letting it work for you and letting it push you; and maybe there’s a place for that, especially in this new genre of music.”
I personally can’t wait to hear it, as well as see him work his magic at SEV Fest, so I’m definitely going to make sure not to miss his predetermined-to-be amazing set.
Make sure to follow along with him if you like his vibes, and tell us what you think! Catch you at SEV Fest this coming Saturday!