Thomas Porter is an artist whose distinct vision is finally coming to life. The Sydney based bedroom pop artist has been writing away with other artists, while also honing his craft ahead of his debut EP. ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ (out now via Dew Process) is an upbeat affair that also contrasts as an honest coming of age reflection. The eight track collection explores the impacts that romantic comedy films have on youthful minds, and the unrealistic expectations they create. It’s something that isn’t talked about as often as it should. Because I for one can definitely relate to how I have such a skewered outlook on what a healthy relationship looks like because of the media intake I had growing up.
Along with the EP is new single ‘The Things That You Are Not (Part 1)’, which is a candid reflection of a misguided relationship contrasted by an upbeat and bouncy production. The song feels like the EP’s centrepiece. And it’s treated so with a two part exploration of the theme’s by stripping it completely back on part 2 with Hannah Brewer taking lead vocals. It’s a very special moment that will have you in absolute awe.
I recently chatted to Thomas Porter about the coming of ages reflections behind his debut EP ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’, the impact of romantic comedies on his writing and personal psyche, and explored the creative process behind tracks like ‘The Things That You Are Not (Part 1)’ and ‘Wishbone’. Check it out BELOW;
THOMAS BLEACH: Your debut EP ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ is an honest coming of age reflection. Throughout the whole creative process and working on these songs so intricately, what was something you learnt about yourself and your artistry?
THOMAS PORTER: I learnt that I can really take time on things to make them what I want them to be. I think any artist is never fully satisfied with anything they release, but I am so glad I took the time to work on these songs and to really spend time trying to create the world that these songs exist in, instead of just trying to let it happen by accident.
TB: The EP explores the impacts that romantic comedy films have on youthful minds and the unrealistic expectations they create. What were some of the films you think particularly had a negative impact on you growing up?
TP: *Laughs* To be honest, I think sitcoms probably did more damage to my psyche. I love How I Met Your Mother and watched that show every single day growing up, but as an adult looking back on some of the messages and morals taught in that show, it’s the perfect example of the selfishness and narcissism I talk about in the EP.
TB: Was there any you watched you think actually gave you a real representation or understanding on the complexity of relationships?
TP: Obviously the first thing that comes to mind is 500 Days of Summer, but I think that is slightly low hanging fruit in regards to rom-coms, even though it is fantastic. Forgetting Sarah Marshall is probably my favorite example of a ‘complex’ break up, where the reality of being human is super clear. Sometimes people just aren’t right for each other, and it hurts to realize that, especially when you never tried to make something work.
TB: ’The Things That You Are Not (Part 1)’ is a song that immediately stands out with its candid reflection of a misguided relationship which is then contrasted by an upbeat and bouncy production. Can you explain the creative process behind this track?
TP: That song was the last song I wrote for the EP. Every other track had a very free-form writing approach where the story kinda developed naturally, whereas this was an occasion where I knew exactly what I wanted it to sound like, and exactly what the lyrics were going to be/feel like. I went through a few instrumentals before I settled on the one that ended up on the EP, and everything else came together pretty quickly from there.
TB: You then reprise it with a Part 2 which is completely stripped back and is performed by Hannah Brewer. What did you want to highlight through this perspective of it?
TP: Hannah absolutely nailed this moment, and I think it’s my favorite moment on the entire EP. More than anything, I want that moment to feel honest and authentic. The rest of the EP is very bright and energetic and colorful, and I think by having a moment that switches to something incredibly stripped back and raw, the reality of what everything is about comes through. It’s easy to hide meaning in over-produced pop songs, but when the only instruments are piano and voice, the reality of what the EP is about really shines through. I truly think without that moment, the entire project has a totally different meaning and impact.
TB: ’Wishbone’ has this upbeat production approach that almost has a pop-punk energy to it with your vocal delivery contrasted. When you were working on this song’s production, what was your intention with the production to particularly highlight?
TP: I think you kinda hit the nail on the head there. I wanted to do something a bit more energetic and intense. With a lot of the other songs being quite cute and laid back, I really wanted a song with some energy that just felt a bit more fun.
TB: You do have a very experimental approach to your production. What is the most random or unexpected sample or instrument you used on this EP?
TP: I am very much not experimental when I write and produce. I usually sit down knowing exactly what I want to make, and then make it. I find when I do that, I get the best results, so I guess it’s just how I write now. I think the most random sound is definitely the mouth trumpet at the end of ‘Tired’. It sounds like a kazoo, but is actually me mouth trumpeting with tooooons of distortion on it.
TB: What song went through the most versions on the EP to get it to where it is now?
TP: ‘Save Me From Myself’ went through about 15 different versions, vocals and structures. I think I just wanted it to be the most dramatic song on the project. I ended up scrapping like 5 different versions of the vocal because it never felt quite right. Eventually I wrote it over Zoom with Hannah Brewer and got something that finally felt right.
TB: You also recently produced HANNI’s new single ‘Undermine’ which is a break-up anthem all about realising you deserve better. What is a fun fact about that creative process you can tell us that people may not know?
TP: Oh man. That song went through about 30 versions. HANNI has such amazing attention to detail that once the demo was done, she always had so many ideas and knew exactly what she wanted it to feel and sound like. At the time I think she felt a little bad about how much she was texting me with notes, but I’m glad she did because it ended up being amazing.
TB: Let’s play a quick game of rapid fire questions about ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’. Are you ready?
TP: I was born ready.
TB: The emoji that best describes my debut EP ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ is…
TP: The sleeping face emoji
TB: The song that nearly didn’t make the EP was…
TP: ‘Naps’. The world wasn’t ready for me to rap.
TB: The song I’m most looking forward to performing live would be…
TP: ‘Tired’! And all my unreleased music…
TB: Another name for the EP I was playing with was…
TP: Love Goes to Die in Canada
TB: The first song from the EP I’d want you to play to your friends if they haven’t heard of me before would be…
‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ is out now!