If you have already taken a dive into Roulette, the new single from Tommy Clifas, stop what you’re doing and go listen to it now. The track is a dynamic rock n’ roll track that, as Tommy notes in this interview, is grounded in darker themes, creating a really interesting sonic duality.
So, fresh off the song’s release, we caught up with Tommy to chat all about these themes, musical influences, and what the future holds.
With a huge new single—Roulette—fresh under his belt, we caught up with Melbourne-based artist Tommy Clifas to chat all about it.
HAPPY: Hey, how’s it going? What are you up to at the moment?
TOMMY: It’s going fantastically. At the moment I’m standing above a heater trying to warm up with this freezing cold weather while simultaneously holding a bass and working on a new track to be recorded and finished in July.
HAPPY: We’re loving the new single! How does it feel having out there in the world?
TOMMY: I wrote Roulette as a tune that people could have a boogie too, and I’m receiving some pretty amazing feedback. Initially, I was anxious to release Roulette given it’s slightly different to the darker slower songs I’ve written and released in the past. But I’m chuffed people are taking to it well.
HAPPY: Could you tell us a bit about the song?
TOMMY: Most will perceive it as an uplifting fast-paced energetic track. But if you listen closely Roulette is quite dark in meaning, and it takes us through the phases of a toxic relationship. Thus the phrase “let’s play roulette with a loaded gun”. So I hope Roulette has a unique meaning for each and every individual, but for myself, it’s about previously toxic relationships.
HAPPY: There are so many different genres incorporated in your music… do you feel like your sound is always evolving? Or do you feel like you’ve settled on something concrete?
TOMMY: My main influences are 50s and 60s music, and pop in the 80s. So the sound tends to stay firmly grounded given those influences. For example, the new song I’m’ working on (called Punk) sounds like New York disco, and is a tribute to David Bowie. The instrumentals and reverb on the vocals are 50s influenced however ala Gene Vincent, whom I have always idolised.
HAPPY: You’ve released a few singles over the past year… did you approach the writing/recording of these tracks differently at all to past material?
TOMMY: I tend to approach writing and recording the same way for all my music. An idea or riff will pop into my head, I’ll record that as a voice memo on my phone. I then put the instrumentals down first, I then write the lyrics, and finally take it to the studio. By the time I’m in the studio I know exactly what I have to do 100%. This means first I record all the instruments to a click track, then I record my vocals, then finally I fine-tune it all and mix it.
HAPPY: Are these singles a taste of something bigger to come? An album perhaps?
TOMMY: At the moment, I am working solely on singles all of which will have a different sound, but will still be heavily retro influenced. My next single Punk will be available in July.
HAPPY: Are there any other artists that you’re really digging at the moment?
TOMMY: I’m loving Dony Benet’s 80s sound, but I revisit my classics on vinyl as well (Little Richard, The Beatles, and Black Sabbath).
HAPPY: What’s next for Tommy Clifas? Any other exciting plans in the works?
TOMMY: The biggest focus for me is my next single Punk. Watch out for this in July! I am additionally looking to perform my music with a band, this is a long-term goal.
HAPPY: Cheers for the chat!
Roulette is out now. Listen above.