Thomas Oliver & Louis Baker

- On the little things that make music more magical -

We caught up with musicians Thomas Oliver and Louis Baker, to talk about the elevating properties of music, the support of loved ones, the magic of coffee, and making a difference.

The morning ritual… I had a bit of a ritual for a while which was that I’d get up and make coffee, sit in a chair and listen to a whole album. It grounded me for the day, but it would also kind of elevate me and take me away from the normal day. Especially in conjunction with coffee! The coffee would hit me, and I would feel such a sense of elevation when the music was good. So much so that often I would only get halfway through an album, and be so inspired that I would stop the album and go and write or play or record or create. - TO

Words of appreciation… [Music] is a difficult path. It has its drawbacks and perplexing moments. Times that test your passion or your commitment. You have to stay on top, and stay dedicated to the craft for the right reasons. But all the little things that happen along the way help you do that. You might get a message from a fan that just says, ‘Hey, I love what you’re doing.’ Or, ‘Hey, your music has been getting me through tough times.’ People don’t always realise just how much impact that has. Often I think it comes at just the right time. - TO

Support crew… My family are endlessly supportive. I don’t think I’d be doing what I’m doing now, if it hadn’t been for my mum and dad giving me that feeling of support when I was younger. Also, Cushla [Aston, manager to both Louis and Thomas], she is an amazing person – so supportive and so honest. Sometimes you need honesty. You need that other pair of eyes or that other knowledge. It’s the real shit. It’s those people in your life that are prepared to take the hard knocks with you, but also not sugarcoat anything. It’s your friends, your musical peers, and the people around you. - LB

Making a difference to someone… There was an interpretive dance that was posted online and sent to me by someone from the States. She had just lost her mum and her brother in quite close succession. She was dancing to one of my songs, ‘Back On My Feet’, and she sent me a message saying how the song had helped her get through this time of adversity. I was so overwhelmed. It was beautiful that she had been affected in a positive way by it, because that is what I had always envisioned for that song, that idea of getting back on your feet and rising above whatever pain or suffering you’re going through. - LB

A gesture of gratitude… When I started putting up YouTube videos of myself playing the Weissenborn guitar, a guy called Cam got in touch from Australia to say he loved what I was doing. He asked me for some advice on strings and tuning and all sorts, because he was a player himself. We got chatting and he became a friend. He came over to New Zealand a couple of times to come to my gigs. Recently, he got in touch to say that he wanted to express his gratitude for the way that I had given him my time. He commissioned [Wellington guitar-maker] Tony Francis to make me a teardrop Weissenborn. This was someone who started as a fan and became a friend, and then made this great act of generosity, which still blows my mind to think about. - TO

Interview by Pat Shepherd. Edited by Esther McLaren

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