Name: Thomas Moen Hermansen aka Prins Thomas
Occupations: Producer, DJ
Current event: Prins Thomas will be performing at Edinburgh’s Terminal V this Easter alongside, among others, Alan Fitzpatrick, Cinthie, Ida, Man Power, and Tale of Us.
Recommendations: Two records that have given me infinite joy over the years would be Arthur Verocai’s “Arthur Verocai” although I know very little Portugese … And Sun Ra And His Arkestra’s “Exotica”.
If you enjoyed this interview with Prins Thomas and would like to know more about his work and music, visit him on Instagram, Facebook, twitter, and Soundcloud.
Over the course of his career, Prins Thomas has collaborated with a variety of musicians, including Bugge Wesseltoft.
[Read our Bugge Wesseltoft interview]
[Read our Cinthie interview]
[Read our Man Power interview]
[Read our Tale of Us interview]
When did you start writing/producing/playing music and what or who were your early passions and influences? What was it about music and/or sound that drew you to it?
1984 is the year that I made the first babysteps into both DJing, having some bass guitar lessons and doing pause-button edits on cassettes.
My musical interests were wide but mostly relevant to what I still do was electro, rap and pop music at the time. Specifically the 12" mixes with names like m+m, jellybean, arthur baker, francois kevorkian, shep pettibone, latin rascals.
No idea why I for hooked on music but I do believe undiagnosed ADHD has a part in it. (laughs)
Some people experience intense emotion when listening to music, others see colours or shapes. What is your own listening experience like and how does it influence your approach to music?
I guess it differs depending on what I listen to and for what purpose. But I tend to have music playing all the time at home. Sometimes in the background but quite often to get the mood for the day. My kids walk out the door in the morning happier if we've had "pet sounds'' playing during breakfast and so do I.
For DJ preparation, I listen through loads of music of course but the real emotions for 4/4-stuff I usually reserve for a big booming system in a sweaty room.
Emotions around making music tend to come late into the process when making a track. It's usually a search for "X", "looking for the perfect beat" etc. Sometimes you get there and sometimes you don't but for me the best part is that creative process and not necessarily the result.
How would you describe your development as an artist in terms of interests and challenges, searching for a personal voice, as well as breakthroughs?
I don't really know what to answer on that one, it's such a broad question!
I've never really had a clear strategy or plan, it's mostly made up on the way through 40 years of doing this thing. Anything resembling a personal voice is by accident, but a happy one!
Tell me a bit about your sense of identity and how it influences both your preferences as a listener and your creativity as an artist, please.
Newly divorced, 47 years old … so there's been loads of Tammy Wynette, Gram Parsons and other blue country music recently. But I do not believe it has crept into my music just yet. (laughs)
I guess even the strangest influences might seep in and quite often it could be more abstract, like reading a good book, watching movies, stuff happening in my kids life, there's lots to take from that as they're 8, 18 and 27!
What, would you say, are the key ideas behind your approach to music and art?
As a maker, my approach is punching the clock and putting in the hours.
Inspiration usually shows up as long as I keep working. I don't wait around for it to show up.
How would you describe your views on topics like originality and innovation versus perfection and timelessness in music? Are you interested in a “music of the future” or “continuing a tradition”?
Like above, I don't give it much thought as I fear even pondering these questions would make me question whether this is worth doing.
I'm having too much of a good time just creating music now and when I'm dead it'll hopefully stick as part of history.
Over the course of your development, what have been your most important instruments and tools - and what are the most promising strategies for working with them?
Percussion instruments, bass guitar, synths … plug in, press record, play …
Take us through a day in your life, from a possible morning routine through to your work, please.
My kids live with me for one week, then one week with their mother. So the big difference is mostly whether I have to prepare lunch boxes and wake up at a certain time and if I'll do long or shorter days in the studio. And I've kept a nice balance of one weekend travelling, then one weekend at home for the last 18 years.
So, kids off to school, a 5 minute bike ride to the studio, work, back home to prepare dinner, read a book, watch tv, sleep and repeat …
Could you describe your creative process on the basis of a piece, live performance or album that's particularly dear to you, please?
It varies with each track or project I do. But for instance the "Principe del Norte"- album was made in 1 week and with only 1 hardware synth in a challenge to myself learning how to use Ableton and that synth.
Listening can be both a solitary and a communal activity. Likewise, creating music can be private or collaborative. Can you talk about your preferences in this regard and how these constellations influence creative results?
I mostly enjoy working alone but collaborations make for a nice break once in a while. It often depends on whether you click with the person in question.
How do your work and your creativity relate to the world and what is the role of music in society?
I don’t know how my music relates to the world, I just make it …
The role of music is to better people's lives. At least that’s what it means to me.
Art can be a way of dealing with the big topics in life: Life, loss, death, love, pain, and many more. In which way and on which occasions has music – both your own or that of others - contributed to your understanding of these questions?
Don’t we all listen to melancholy music when we’re sad, remember people by listening to their favourites and appreciate uplifting music when we’re happy?
I use music all the time to heighten the mood I’m already in. Hopefully giving me some better insight in myself as a result.
There seems to be increasing interest in a functional, “rational” and scientific approach to music. How do you see the connection between music and science and what can these two fields reveal about each other?
I’m too busy enjoying the music to even ponder the question! (laughs)
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you feel as though writing or performing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
I’d say there’s definitely a common feeling personally for me between making music and cooking a meal for others. The act of doing something you love and hopefully giving others joy as a result.
Of course feeding others gives you an even more instant response. With the music I can only guess.
Music is vibration in the air, captured by our eardrums. From your perspective as a creator and listener, do you have an explanation how it is able to transmit such diverse and potentially deep messages?
No idea, I just make music. (laughs)