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Thom Southern

Alternative // Bangor, Down // he/him

In art, as with life, journeys worth taking don’t always have one beginning. It’s something Irish singer-songwriter Thom Southern seems to grasp intuitively. After a decade of helming musical projects, Southern and MMODE with his sister, the singer-songwriter Lucy Gaffney, he’s taking a new musical desire path to embrace vulnerability, fresh collaboration, and his long-held love of lo-fidelity.

Written around the same time as his NI Music Prize-nominated 2022 solo debut, Plaza, Thom’s new material is a return to the source - a lo-fi yet luminous collection of indie gems that welcomes first takes and minor flaws. Where Plaza felt a bit like an extension of the full-blown dream- pop of MMODE, Thom’s new songs flip the script on perfectionism.

“In the past, I had a terrible ‘This isn’t finished; this isn’t finished’ mentality when it came to production,” reveals Thom. “Now I’ve just totally scrapped that. This new music is about knowing it’s almost certainly never going to be better than the demo. This was kind of the first time I let production take a bit of a backseat and go, actually, no, I’m just going to enjoy creating and putting out these records.”

When the world came to a standstill in 2021, a sense of loss doubled up as an invitation for rediscovery. After years of close-knit collaboration, rather than an ending for Thom and Lucy, the downtime prompted the headspace and freedom to create without end goals in mind. “It’s a family thing and we’re definitely still a duo, but out of the back of the pandemic we were just writing so much material separately,” reveals Thom. “In a way, it almost feels like we are starting anew.”

Much more a new chapter than a closed book, the story continues on Thom’s first single of 2023, ‘Love Hz’. Having said that the solitary experience of recording Plaza felt “a little isolating and even depressing sometimes,” the song can be traced back to a no-pressure songwriting session in lockdown with a friend, the acclaimed Irish singer-songwriter Stevie Scullion, aka Malojian. Its wistful twists and turns evoke Elliott Smith and Simon & Garfunkel, but the main inspiration was Beck’s ‘One Foot In The Grave’, a classic album that defied industry pressure.

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