Tom Pino - A Retrospective
Synthronicity: Alex Westaway – Gunship, Gary Conlon – Honeybeard, David Mouatt – Von Kasier, Tyler Lyle – The Midnight, Adam McNab – Le Cassette. Shaun Phillips – Le Brock, Ollie Wride & Michael Oakley. What do they all have in common I hear you ask? Well..quite frankly they’re some of the best Male Vocalists in the Synthwave/Synthpop Genre in my humble opinion but today we give props to another fantastic voice in the Genre – Tom Pino from Neon Arcadia fame!
So much is known of Neon Arcadia and the trail they blaze on the Synth scene in fact I’d go as far as to say that you couldn’t possibly call yourself a fan of the scene if you don’t.
Enter Tom Pino, armed with not only a magnificent voice but a flare for lyricism, penning such well received tracks like the recently released ‘Chemicals’ and my personal favourites ‘No Time’ & ‘Daydreams’
I reached out to the guy to find out about what drives him and his current and future plans..take a look!
So, tell us a little about you, where you’re from and how it all started for you on the music front. At what age did you find out you could sing?
To be honest, I don’t think I ever thought of myself as a singer until I started doing it professionally. Before that, I was just singing and writing in a band. For some reason I looked at it differently. It’s a funny story. I grew up in New York City and started a band in college and only sang back up because I was too afraid to be the front man. But I wrote all of our songs and it was much easier for me to sing them then have someone else learn them, so there I was. I was terrified for a year or two. Then I dated a girl who heard a demo of mine and was like “Wait, you can actually sing?” Then, to be honest, once you get a bunch of compliments about your voice, you start to rethink things. Now I love it, and I feel like I was blessed with it because I never took a lesson or anything so I feel like I meant to do this.
Did you get much encouragement from family?
Not really. There’s definitely a generational gap there. I think they just worry about the artist lifestyle, but once I buy a house and pay off their mortgage, I’m sure they will get it. Ha ha. Your vocal is incredible and certainly helps place Neon Arcadia on the map how did you guys meet?
Wow, thank you! I really appreciate that! So we’ve known each other for a while we were in another band called Ghosts of Eden from 2009 to 2015. After that, I moved to Los Angeles to write songs for other artists which is what I’ve been doing since. I thought the Artists game was long behind me but Benny started producing some new stuff and flying by me for feedback and some writing. I would sing some demos for them to give to other people but after a while I just started making more sense for me to just do it all myself. It’s also just really nice for me to watch how far Benny and Rich have come production wise. It makes my job really fun and easy.
Ghosts of Eden - 2009 -2015
Who are your musical inspirations?
My biggest inspirations are melodic geniuses and amazing songwriters like Peter Gabriel, Kurt Cobain, Paul Westerberg, Prince and JP Saxe.
Has your music taste changed throughout the years?
100%. I’m always trying to stay fresh and stay on top of things. I really love people like Sam Hunt and Lauv. And I’m also really obsessed with the alternative R&B seem like Miguel, Frank Ocean and The Weeknd. I am also a big 80s fan too, specifically the darker stuff like The Cure and Depeche Mode.
How often would you practice your vocals or is it something that comes naturally in essence?
I’m actually really bad about taking care of my vocals as far as vocal exercises go. However, I do try to drink a lot of water and I try not to talk really loud in loud bars or at concerts and things. Also I feel like when I was in a rock band I would always try to push myself, and after that I worked with a few producers who taught me that less is more and that really changed my world as far as singing goes. If there was one thing, you’d change about the music industry what would it be and why?
This is a tough question because I am an artist AND I also write commercial music in Pop and Country with the intent of it making money and making other people successful. I would like to see more royalties coming from digital streaming. The fact that 1 million streams on a song split among three or four writers might help you pay the rent is a bit daunting.
Being the singer with Neon Arcadia what is the creative dynamic between you all like?
It’s actually pretty amazing to be honest. Admittedly, back in the Ghosts of Eden days I was a bit of a control freak writing wise. So this has allowed me to mature and let go as being a part of a band.We also have years of trust between us. So they let me give them notes on what can make the production and music end of things stronger and I trust that they will give me notes if my vocal melodies and lyrics are missing something.I think it ends up working really well for this band is that we’re not actually trying to sound like anyone else; we’re just trying to write cool songs.
In terms of formulating a track, which comes first with you? The lyrics or the melody?
Back in the Ghosts of Eden days, are used to be 100% Melody first and then I fill in the lyrics later. However once I became a professional writer for other people I learned how concepts and lyrics and melody together really makes the best song. So I try to be 100% clear about what I wanna write about first and then I try to craft a melody that matches that sentiment. This way the song is as cohesive as it can be. Pop and country tend to be a little bit more straightforward so it’s nice to be a little mysterious and abstract with Neon. But at the end of the day I still want people to somewhat know what we’re talking about so that they can relate. Aside from that I have my own little secret tricks as far as writing goes but I have to keep them to myself for now
What has been your favourite memory of your music career to date?
Other than this interview you mean? ....
I’ve been writing for a lot of amazing artists and I’ve worked with some cool publishers and licensing companies, but Benny, Rich and I got to play a few really big shows with Ghosts of Eden. One was a sold out headlining show for over 600 people. Pretty amazing. It’s surreal being on stage, watching a whole crowd singing words that you wrote on your couch one night.
What is a day off for you like? I suspect with a day job and the band it can be pretty full on….
Oh my day job is writing and singing so I pretty much never have a day off ha-ha. But I wouldn’t change that for the world because I used to work a 9-to-5 job and hated my life and I only worked 40 hours a week. Now I probably work 70 hours a week but it’s not cliché at all when they say you’ll never work a day in your life when you do what you love. Today is the 4th of July and I spent seven hours writing and singing for paying clients. Life literally doesn’t get better than waking up, turning on your laptop, studio and microphone, and making a living off of your God or universe given talents. I’m incredibly grateful. Is there anyone on the current scene that you’d love to collaborate with?
The Midnight is an obvious one but their shit is just so dope that I can’t not mention them. I’m also big Gunship fan. I’m a big pop fan though too and I really would love to collaborate with artists like Lauv or Miguel or Five Seconds of Summer. Harry Styles is also crushing it and I would literally give up a finger to do something with him.
If you could open for any Synth Artist or Group who would it be and why?
Probably The Midnight because their shows are just dope and from my experience playing live shows with Rich and Benny in the past, we have a similar energy where we really love the fans getting involved & having a good time. So I think it would be a hell of a tour.
How would you describe the music you typically create?
Mostly pop. But my biggest thing is being weird. In every session I write, even the country music sessions, I always ask, “How can we make this weird? “That is my M.O. As a vocalist what do you feel has benefited you in your singing career?
Not overdoing it, not trying to impress anyone, knowing what I can and cannot do, and not being afraid to try anything. What kind of singer would you classify yourself as?
I don’t know. I like to think of myself as a bit of a chameleon. I think I’m pretty versatile. I write and sing in pretty much every genre, I like it that way. It keeps me fresh and it keeps me excited. I don’t really love talking about myself, but I do try to really capture the emotion and passion that is behind what is being said in a song. I love being in a vocal booth, or behind a microphone. And I love bringing a song to life more than anything in the world. I’m also a vocal production and harmony snob; I feel like I’m always sending Benny 20 to 30 vocal tracks ha-ha. Any news from the Neon Arcadia and/or Tom Pino world we can look forward to as 2020 finishes and we enter into 2021?
With Neon, we’re putting out more singles, collaborating with more people, and experimenting with incorporating other genres in to our repertoire. For me, I’m always writing for other amazing artists in the pop, hip-hop, country, indie, and electronic worlds and I’m also working on some new solo stuff as well. It’s kind of like JP Saxe meets The Weeknd meets Peter Gabriel. I really want to thank you for this interview!
Please consider Tom Pino via the following links:
Neon Arcadia links: