Hi Thomas, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?
I’m good, thank you for having me – I’ve been catching up on sleep the last couple of days after finishing a project to make sure I’m fresh and alive to chat to you guys!
Can you talk to us more about your latest single ‘I Will Try’?
‘I Will Try’ is the single from my new album Solace which is a project I’ve been working on the past 6 months. The concept behind the album was a collection of life stories and observations translated into what’s a fairly different aesthetic for me – Choral Music. I’ve tried to do my own take on it, so made it as Emotional and Cinematic as I can. I’ve also experimented with synths juxtaposing them with what is a very traditional and pure sound of the choir.
Did any event in particular inspire you to write this song?
This song was written actually about a few similar things that I kept seeing in the news and really moved me, that when someone confronted with a helpless situation still selflessly tried to either protect people or put other people’s needs far above their own. I think there’s something very moving about someone that’s not sure they can do something, and it may be futile even trying, but they do it anyway. So this piece was written really with that in mind and starts very spiritually, and builds until it gets to a release point where self-belief and selflessness have reached its capacity.
Any plans to release a video for the single?
Not as of yet – there’s a mood video online that’s an evolving landscape, but no official video. Something I’d love to do but judging by my team at the label’s reaction when I sketch out album cover ideas I might hand that responsibility over to someone else…
The single comes off your new album Solace – what’s the story behind the title?
Solace the title actually was the first thing that existed of the album. I came up with the title in the very early stages of the project because I wanted something that people could listen to, be it at work or home or on the train that they could take 25 minutes out there day and it would give them Solace. They could escape to a different world for half an hour, and that was one of the driving forces behind it all.
How was the recording and writing process?
The writing process is always tiring, takes up all of my concentration for a couple of months and I chuck myself into it and don’t do much else, but when the recordings come round, that’s the payoff, for me it’s the most enjoyable part of it all, hearing life breathed into the music. By the time you’re at the recording stage, the real hard work has been done so it’s usually great fun! We recorded it at AIR Lyndhurst in London with the London Voices. It’s an old church and so has a huge expanse of a room that gives the music a big sense of space and depth. I also work with the same brilliant recording engineer Adam Miller on my projects. He makes things very easy, and he makes things sound so so good!
Would you call this a departure or did you borrow from your previous musical work?
I think you have little things that run across all your works, but musical content wise I didn’t borrow from previous stuff. The way I colour things, and harmonically I think I’m always borrowing off past projects but not consciously.
Speaking of which, does the approach tends to change when you are scoring a film rather than working in your own original solo material?
Definitely – with film, collaboration is the name of the game. It’s all about collaborating with the director and translating that into musical ideas. Whereas with my own solo material no one hears it until it’s recorded, which makes it purer in a way because it hasn’t changed from the original vision. Often with film music you have to adapt and change the music as the film changes and you’re serving the picture first and foremost.
What made you want to seek for a choral driven record this time around?
I went to a Cathedral school growing up and always loved the choral sound that I was used to hearing every day there. I’m also most often writing for strings which is my comfort zone; so I wanted to mix that up and try something a bit different which is where voices came in!
From all the languages – why did you choose to have to chorus sing in Sanskrit?
It’s such a beautiful language – I had my words written for ‘I Will Try’ before I started writing. I had them translated into about 40 different languages and ended up going with Sanskrit. It just worked, and it’s so distinctive.
What aspect of perseverance and pain did you get to explore on this record?
I think for me pain is three dimensional – and that’s the aspect I try to make sure I follow with my music – you never get just happy or just sad - there’s always a mixture of the two. ‘Well Trained Smile’ is an excellent musical metaphor for what I’m trying to say. Someone can have a smile on their face yet be in pain, or someone can be dying and make a joke: it’s that aspect of emotions that fascinate and move me.
What were some of the books and films that serve as a source of inspiration for this album?
There is a William Blake poem in there, “Eternity” – I found the poem translated as well into a modern day context as it did when it was originally written. It’s all about opening yourself up to enjoy the present and not living for past memories.
Where else did you find the inspiration for the songs and lyrics?
There are only a couple with decipherable lyrics, the rest are based around sounds. I was careful when I was writing that I didn’t want the lyrics to become the feature of the album. I didn’t want them to detract from the music in a way, so a few of the pieces contain vocal sounds rather than specific words to portray a feeling rather than a message.
Any plans to hit the road?
Not as of yet – but it would be fun!
What else is happening next in Thomas Farnon’s world?
I’ve just finished writing the music for Dael Poulter’s brilliant new documentary film about David Haye called Portrait of a Fighter alongside Baba Adefuye – and I’m writing the score for Shaan Shahid’s Zarrar.