SW Sounds: Carly Thomas

London's Carly Thomas reveals the inspiration behind her latest single, "Front Row."

For her latest single, the London artist found inspiration in the audience

Carly Thomas released her latest single, Front Row, in January 2020. (Submitted by Carly Thomas)

SW Sounds is a weekly feature that profiles a southwestern Ontario artist and their new music. Listen for it Mondays on Afternoon Drive between 4:30 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. on CBC Radio One.

After years of gigging, recording and promoting, Carly Thomas was starting to grow weary of the indie artist lifestyle.

In need of some rejuvenation, she looked for inspiration in the only way she knew how. She chose to spend more time around music...not as an artist, but as a fan.

Her latest single, "Front Row," is partly inspired by her time spent attending various music festivals.

How do you describe your sound?

I usually write moody folk rock, but I think my newer stuff is more upbeat - kind of a moody rock style.

How did 'Front Row' come about?

It started as sort of a running joke, to be honest. I was at a party and a friend of mine, who had been coming to a lot of my shows, said 'you need to write a happy song!' So I said 'I'll write a song about you and it'll be called I'll Meet You In The Front Row.'

That line just kind of stuck in my head for a bit. And it became a fun song to work on for me. It got me out of my usual bubble of very introspective writing.

The cover art for Carly Thomas' single, 'Front Row' (Supplied by Carly Thomas)

What's that song trying to say?

I wanted to capture that moment the connection that happens when people come together through music. I'm really interested in the way we all feel things differently when we hear a song. But in the same sense, we all realize that we're not alone through music. I've definitely felt connections with people that I didn't even say any words to - just by being at the same concert and you share this look and you know you're all in the same wave. You're all moving to the same rhythm.

I was reading a Facebook post of yours where you're writing about how you didn't play a lot of shows in 2019 and you spent a lot of your time being in the audience at different concerts and festivals. Did that play a role in what this song turned out to be?

I think so. I had been putting a lot of pressure on playing live and figuring out what the next gig was...just trying to be a working musician. I wanted to breathe again. I started going out to places and being influenced and inspired again, because I think it sort of turned into a bit of a grind for me. That's not necessarily bad, but I think balance is super important.

"Front Row" really has kind of a 'west coast' vibe. You mention the west coast in the lyrics, there's palm trees on the on the cover art, and as we speak, you're in San Francisco! I mean what does that part of the world do for you and your creativity? 

It's landscape has always been a big part of what's influenced me. I've realized how much I've missed the ocean, so I made it possible for myself to spend a good chunk of my time out here in the Bay Area. I also used to live in Vancouver, so being influenced by the ocean has always been a big part of my life. I'm dreaming of the West Coast!

This interview was edited and condensed. Have a listen to 'Front Row' as part of Carly Thomas' SW Sounds profile:


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