Student cohesively blends genres to make fluid self-produced music
Third-year economics student Thomas Crowley will perform at the Fowler Museum on Wednesday. He said his style ranges from R&B, hip-hop, electric and pop, which he said provides him with opportunities to be open to collaborating with a number of other artists. (Courtesy of Nate Watters)
"Fowler Out Loud: Thomas Crowley"
The Fowler Museum
Jan. 27, 2020 10:52 p.m.
The sounds of many instruments come together to create Thomas Crowley’s live spectacle – but he takes the stage alone.
The third-year economics student said his music style drifts between R&B, hip-hop, electric and pop on each track. The instrumentals and vocals in these songs are produced all on his own, and Crowley said he plays them as backing tracks on his computer when he performs them live. For his upcoming show at the Fowler Museum on Wednesday, Crowley said in addition to relying on his original music, he will also try to engage with the crowd to entertain them.
“Where my music is at right now, it really does make the most sense to just have my tracks playing in the background and then really focusing on crowd interaction and my voice,” he said. “I’m kind of always open to the idea of shifting around, but right now I have my computer and it’s kind of like that’s my band.”
Working on his own, Crowley said he has been able to be flexible in changing the genre of his music. Many of his tracks merge several different styles, but he said he tries to keep his mind open to any spontaneous changes to his sound. As a musician – especially when surrounded by many other college-aged artists – Crowley said it is important to keep his genre fluid so he can be open to collaborations with other artists.
Crowley said he is inspired by artists who play with bands, although he does not currently have one of his own. Artists such as James Blake, he said, mix live keyboard performance with a drummer who plays while using an array of preloaded sounds and heavy synths. While working to balance live instrument performance with computer-generated instrumentals, Crowley said he will primarily focus on creating a live performance that utilizes computer backing tracks to emphasize his vocals.
Outside of fine-tuning his stage presence, the singer is also working to build up a team to help him grow his career. Will Mingrone, who helps manage Crowley’s music career, said although the artist hopes to broaden his range in the future, it is his ability to make music on his own that makes him stand out. Crowley’s style has evolved with each release, Mingrone said, and does not let small details – such as a song not being pop enough – sway his creative process. In this way, creating songs on his own has helped Crowley have agency over each release, Mingrone said.
“(Crowley) is a do-it-yourself kind of dude, and I think right now, especially in our world, with media and social media, the do-it-yourself kind of attitude is so possible,” Mingrone said. “He’s not afraid to be himself, and that’s what he does each and every day.”
While Crowley’s musical style may be hard to nail down, his marketing aesthetic is something his team is working hard to establish. Bami Aleshe, a fourth-year human biology and society student who assists in marketing and guiding Crowley’s creative direction, said the singer’s Pacific Northwestern roots aid in creating these visuals. Playing off the feel of Washington, where Crowley is from, Aleshe said they mix natural and modern imagery in the singer’s album artwork to establish a cohesive look.
“Without (Crowley) saying anything, he screams Pacific Northwest,” Aleshe said. “Whether it’s the way he dresses or his laid-back attitude, I think we try to incorporate that kind of vibe within the visuals.”
Alongside establishing a cohesive look is ensuring Crowley’s marketing is in order. The artist has new music coming and he and his team are trying to plan for its release, Aleshe said. In preparation for the release, Mingrone said he is focusing on solidifying the singer’s brand and pushing for more of an established marketing image across all social media platforms.
Crowley, however, said his main emphasis is on consistency. Honing in on a reliable team of people to help him grow his career – along with a large pool of collaborators to choose from – will help him find success, he said. But even if he sees positive results from what he is making now, Crowley said he will remain open to all options musically and businesswise.
“A theme is just being being really open to every kind of realm,” Crowley said. “I have found some success, … and I don’t want to get caught up with ‘OK, I found a little bit of success, … that’s the only thing I’m going to do.’ … That’s not really where I’m at right now.”