Thomas Jack takes breakfast very seriously. A few hours before his set at W Hollywood’s Wake Up Call Festival, he’s lounging around a luxury suite for an breakfast in bed-themed photo shoot. It’s going well, so he decides to kick things up a notch, doing a flip on the bed, cracking a mile-wide smile and then pouring an entire box of Fruit Loops into his mouth. After all, breakfast isn’t just the most important meal of the day. It literally changed Jack’s life.
When he was young, he got a copy of the eJay music-making software for free from a box of cereal and immediately went to work. “That’s how I started playing with music. It had this sampler thing, and then you put all the samples together and make a song out of it,” he remembers. “And that’s when I was like, ‘Whoa, this is cool,’ and from there I started making more music.”
Jack grew up on a dairy farm in Bemboka, Australia. “We used to have cattle and milked them twice a day, and I would just make music after I finished work.” After he finished school he moved to Sydney to attend school and also upgraded to the Ableton music-making software, eventually posting his summer-soaked songs to SoundCloud.
Those tracks and others earned him gigs at clubs and festivals around the world and the opportunity to remix everyone from modern rock mainstays Of Monsters & Men to house music legend Adrian Lux. While some artists are content to let critics categorize and label their work, Jack got out ahead and dubbed his music “trop house.” With his preference for breezy tempos, snappy beats and lilting guitars and strings, Jack’s music all but demands that you lounge around in warm weather.
“I’m pretty chill,” Jack reckons, and adds that his personality just naturally flowed into the music he was making. “That’s just what felt natural, that’s just what resonated with me. I kinda was just like, ‘I like this vibe,’ and kept with that.”
Thomas Jack on the decks at Wake Up Call Hollywood
While many dance-music producers compete to see who can drop the biggest beat or offer up the fast tempos, Jack tends to go in the opposite direction. He’s always trying to find ways to make his music as sumptuous and all-encompassing as possible, adding in layers of flutes, finely plucked acoustic guitars, saxophones and piano. His fondness for exquisitely deployed instrumentation, which is fairly rare in dance music circles, comes from his appreciation for jam-band culture, particularly the long-running college favorite The String Cheese Incident, as well as his time spent attending Burning Man. When asked how jam band music inspires the songs he makes, he rubs his beard for a second and replies “I think the constant flow, and how it’s kind of just in the moment.” He then adds “I’ve always loved jamming with people, which evokes different vibes and different melodies and everything, because you are going off the energy of the crowd. That’s what I find is so special about it.”
His tendency to pull from unexpected sources isn’t limited to the music he makes, as he also cites an unexpected source for his penchant for long hair and billowy shirts. “I just love pirates, and I love the pirate aesthetic, and that’s where I get a lot of my inspiration from,” he says. “That’s the vibe, just really flowy shirts and a lot of jewelry as well.”
While Jack’s music feels like the soundtrack to endless summer days of max. relaxation, all those good vibes take a lot of work. He’s stayed busy with a steady string of singles and touring, but recently took a bit of a break to figure out his next move, which will include a full-length album and an evolved sound. “I’ve kind of just kept it pretty chill,” he notes, “because I was always trying to figure it out. After I did the tropical house stuff, I was kind of like, ‘OK, cool, what’s next?’ So, it took me a little bit to find that, but I’ve been working on a body of work at the moment with a whole new sound and show and everything. So, it’s been good, ’cause this year I haven’t toured as much, which has been nice, so I’ve just been in the studio. It’s been great.”
Pool parties everywhere are standing by for the next drop from dance music’s favorite pirate.