Each week we ask music lovers to share seven songs that have shaped their life. This week it's Kiwi pop artist Thomston, aka Thomas Stoneman, who releases his double EP London and Los Angeles today.
Retrograde – James Blake
I was doing a YouTube deep dive, just watching random videos and clicking recommended, and it led me to this song. It was the first song I'd heard pull off minimalism in a really interesting way, production-wise. From the minute I heard that kick [drum] and snare and the hymn-like humming I was pretty much blown away. From the moment I heard it, I immediately thought if I made music I'd want it to be like this. I remember hearing it with the video and it just felt like this definitive moment for me, realising what music could be.
Ultralight Beam – Kanye West
This song is by a controversial figure so I felt a bit iffy about whether to include it. My song Acid Rain I don't think would exist without this song. I remember hearing the gospel choir in the song with modern production, and it wasn't used as some throwback to gospel music, I felt it took that gospel sound and was framing it in a new context, which I thought was really cool. Growing up in a church where we sang a cappella, I instantly thought, "Oh that's something I'd love to try" because I feel it's relevant to my life.
Jasmine – Jai Paul
I was shown the song by Josh Fountain, who I made my first EP and my first album with. He was like, "Have you heard of Jai Paul?" He very excitedly pulled up a link and played it. It genuinely blew my mind. I'd never had a song give me full-body chills for the entire duration of the song. After Josh Fountain showed it to me, I felt like it was a gospel that I needed to share. I would play it in my car and most of my friends were like, "Okay, I guess it's cool." For anyone that was into production that I played it for, I would take my dad's car because it had better speakers and I would play it to them and drive around Titirangi listening to it.
Royals – Lorde
I remember being sent it by one of my friends, and it was on SoundCloud and it had a few thousand plays. I didn't really think anything of it and then I heard more and more about this mysterious girl who apparently went to Takapuna Grammar. I tried to thank her at an after-party at the NZ Music Awards. I hate going to parties, I hate going to award shows, and I'm just an antisocial person. I'm this dog that feels very out of place. I went up to her and I tried to say, "Thank you for your success and how it's changed my life." But all I managed to get out was, "Thanks…" and she was like, "Have a good night!"
Self Control - Frank Ocean
When [his second album] Blonde came out, I got in my car and turned it on and listened to it in its entirety twice. This song just made me stop in my tracks. It is really special to me. It's one that I consider to be a gold standard in songwriting. Frank Ocean showed me that you can say things that are really collapsing, that kind of go for the jugular but make them beautiful and make them poetry.
I Want You Back – The Jackson 5
This is a song I cried to in public after he died. He's a literal child that performed his whole life. He never got to be a kid. It's a tragedy. Obviously, Michael Jackson becoming even more of a controversial figure, I also wondered whether to include this song. I think that no matter what the truth is behind what happened in his life, it's undeniable that he was thrown into a very dark industry at a very dark time. He was like, 10 and he's singing with conviction a song about losing the love of his life, and you know he's never felt that.
Come Away With Me – Norah Jones
My mum loves Norah Jones' debut album, as I think every mum in the world did. She'd play it in the house after dinner, and there'd be a fire going in the lounge. I've listened to the album a lot. It used to be the only album I could ever fall asleep to. It just captures to me the feeling of being at home with my family. I just like that lyric, "I want to wake up with the rain falling on a tin roof" – that's a golden line.
- As told to Lydia Burgham