Special Interview: Thomas Oliver

theaussieword.com catches up with Australian born, New Zealand based singer/songwriter Thomas Oliver.


Tell us how it all started. What had you first interested in music?

My dad is a singer-songwriter and he used to sing songs to my brothers and me before bed. I have one particular memory of him singing Joni Mitchell’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi’. The message in the song really reached me, even as a really young boy. This really instilled a love of music in me from a young age. 

What motivates or influences you in your quest to make great music? My greatest motivation to make music is my innate desire to create in other people the amazing feelings I get when I experience good music. Obviously, there’s a selfish side to making music also, but for me I believe it comes second to the first one. 

What are your biggest goals you hope to accomplish as an artist? 

I keep my goals quite close to my chest, actually. But one of them is to create an album that has a significant cultural impact; an album that changes things. Certainly easier said than done, especially in today’s saturated music market, but I believe there will always be more to say. 

Success, what is the secret to it?

I’ve been really fortunate to have some great successes in the past year or two. When I analyse those successes, the thing that seems common to all of them is a genuine belief that it’s possible. We as humans are riddled with insecurities, myself included, but sometimes the most powerful thing you can do to help yourself is find a way to truly believe in the value of your contribution to this world. 

What has been your biggest career highlight so far? 

Last year, I won the prestigious APRA Silver Scroll Award for my song, ‘If I Move To Mars’. That was a huge honour! In terms of shows, I think my favourite gig I’ve ever done was at Sziget Festival in Budapest in 2014.


Which stars of the music industry do you find inspiring? 

There are many. But one who comes to mind is Dave Matthews. Dave and his band have created an empire which exists completely separately to the commercial music world. Dave is genuine, honest and true, quirks and all. Subsequently, he is also one of the most successful musicians in history. 

The music industry is huge, where do you see yourself a few years from now? 

I plan to really work the European market. I’m headed over there as part of this tour later this year, and I intend to spend a good amount of time there, growing my following and absorbing all of the music I can. 

The shape of the music industry has changed significantly over the years, including the use of social media, how do you feel about the industry as a whole and what does it mean to you in getting your records out into the public eye? 

I think it’s a balance. Social media is obviously a wonderful medium for reaching fans with music. But I think we can easily become too caught up in it, and feel over-validated in its significance. Sometimes I focus so much energy on “growing my socials”, and then snap out of it and realise I haven’t made any fucking music for six weeks. Haha

Name a few of your favourite Aussie artists. 

Man, there are so many good ones! I really love Ash Grunwald’s albums. I have a lot of respect for Xavier Rudd and what he has created and achieved. Crowded House (although half Kiwi, of course) have created some of the best albums one will find. But I have loved everything from Flume to Frenzal Rhomb. 

What can we expect from you in the coming months? Any plans to tour? 

I’m currently touring my new album in Australia, and I’ll be touring Europe after that. 


Tell us a bit about your latest record, how would you best describe your music?

I usually say something like…I’m a singer-songwriter; a little bit rootsy, a little bit souly. But my new album is quite a journey, both dynamically and stylistically. Some of it is stripped back and acoustic and some of it is semi-electronic. Some of it is delicate and fragile and some of it is big and cinematic. 

Do you have any new projects in the pipeline? 

After the Oz tour, I’m heading back to the States to start on some new recordings! But I won’t give to much away just yet. 

Thanks for the interview! What final message do you have for us today? 

My pleasure! I look forward to seeing some of you at the shows across Australia. Please come and say hello afterwards if you do make it down! 


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