Interviews

Otis Thomas reflects on one year of his debut album Dog Dreams

Last year, when Sydney singer-songwriter Otis Thomas released his debut full-length album Dog Dreams, he emerged from seemingly out of nowhere. The album was a dreamy and sun-soaked slice of Australiana that we immediately fell in love with.

So a year removed from the album’s initial release, we caught up with the artist himself to reflect on the release and check up on any plans for the future.

Photo: Kane Lehanneur

As Otis Thomas celebrates the first anniversary of his debut album Dog Dreams, we caught up to chat about the album and what the future holds.

HAPPY: Hey man, how’s it going? What have you been up to lately?

OTIS: Hi Bill. It’s going real well! I’ve just been trying to make some money and play some shows.

HAPPY: Your debut album Dog Dreams has been out for a year now… how are you feeling about it now that it’s had some time to sit?

OTIS: I’m feeling a bit of pride and a whole lot of happiness. I spent a long time working on that album and I’m still stoked with the outcome.

HAPPY: You kind of skipped that whole single and EP phase that most acts go through… was this a conscious decision? Or was it just the way things panned out?

OTIS: It was a conscious decision to make a fully-formed body of work, not so much to skip the other stuff. I had been putting out half baked tracks online for years under different monikers and just woke up one day determined to stop the ADD releasing and actually piece together a collection of songs and sounds that I could be genuinely satisfied with.

HAPPY: A lot of people would find approaching a full-length album pretty daunting… was that ever an issue for you?

OTIS: I think if there are expectations or pressures to do it a certain way or come away from it with a certain result then it can be daunting as hell. I just set out to make music I wanted to hear myself. I wrote, recorded and produced all the parts on my own so there were no expectations or pressures other than the ones I made for myself. No deadlines, no borders, no worries.

HAPPY: When you first emerged with Dog Dreams, you arrived with this really fully formed sound. How long had the Otis Thomas project been in the works before you first released music?

OTIS: I put out kind of ambient psych-folk under the name Otis for ages, but you won’t find much evidence of that online anymore. Then I had some other garage-y post-punk based projects leading up to starting the album. I think I just threw together those sounds among others I thought would mesh well and kept trying until I had something I liked. It’s pretty much just jangly guitar music with some spacey interludes. But yeah I started calling myself Otis Thomas in early 2017.

HAPPY: It feels like there are a lot of recurring themes across the record… When you were making this album, was there a particular concept you were trying to convey?

OTIS: It’s about incoming summer, suburbia, lust, love, daydreams, nightdreams, bad habits, and self growth.

HAPPY: I really love the title Dog Dreams… because the album has this real lazy, sun-soaked, dreamy vibe to it. Was there any particular idea behind that title?

OTIS: I just reckon dogs probably have some pretty wild dreams and this album should soundtrack them.

HAPPY: Do you have anything else in the works? Can we expect new music any time soon?

OTIS: I’m slowly but surely working on an EP that you can expect to hear at some point in 2019. I’m doing the process backwards, EP after album… sue me.

HAPPY: Cheers for the chat!

OTIS: Cheers Bill!

Catch Otis Thomas live at our Happy Mag Issue 9 Launch Party on Thursday October 18th. More info here.