July 9, 2019

Interview: Thomas Coppola

Thomas Coppola Interview

Thomas Coppola Interview

AirdriftSignals: Hi Thomas, how are you feeling today? What are your overall feelings this year in 2019?

I'm feeling good these days. 2019 has been a great year for me so far... it's been a year of new beginnings with the name change, a new day job, and new music!

AirSig: Regarding the name change to the one you have now, what made you decide to go through with it?

I was getting confused a bunch with Christian rapper Odd Thomas, so I decided to change my name officially to Thomas Coppola. I felt like it fit since I come from an Italian family and like Francis Ford Coppola I came up making movies and videos. I think I decided to go through with it when I started getting mistaken for the Christian rapper and then started getting hate mail for not being him... it was a confusing scenario regardless so the name change is for the best.

AirSig: Dusty is your latest full-length album, but it appears that it's not your first major release. It seems that in the past few years you have had a great outpouring of material.

I've been dumping dude. I used to release multiple projects a year but I've recently started to slow the output and be more focused. When you're just spitting bars you tend to record a lot but recently I've been trying to be more thoughtful in my lyrics and the songwriting process has slowed down a bit.

AirSig: You have had some repeated collaborations with a mutual associate of ours, B. Dvine, but as far as Dusty is concerned, you have a lot of productions that you can call your own. Can you elaborate on how your sound in terms of music has developed over the past few years?

Absolutely... it's funny because Dvine actually taught me how to make beats. He showed me how to sample and everything so my style started out with that dusty NY sound he is known for. I've grown production-wise in the last couple years and really made the sound my own. I love to experiment with sounds and samples and I don't really like to box myself in too much, but for Dusty I wanted to keep that Raw NY sounds so I kept it lofi/boom bap focused.

AirSig: Is there any equipment you prefer to use when making your beats? Any you are looking forward to trying out in the future?

I make all my beats on Ableton Live 9. I'm in the works of building a new computer from scratch though and I'm going to upgrade to Ableton Live 10. I'm also probably gonna end up purchasing Serato sample which I have had my eye on. But right now I work with a Korg midi controller and an Akai MPD. My next major release is going to be very weird production-wise, I've been playing around with a lot of sounds.

AirSig: When listening to Dusty, I got the sense that this record you put together sounds like a pure product of New York, and more specifically, Long Island. Is this where you grew up most of your life?

Yes, I grew up on Long Island, NY and Dusty is absolutely a raw expression of that sound. It really was an ode to the classic sound, I wanted to make a dope NY album that I can brag about in my catalogue on par with some of the dusty gutter rappers of today like Roc Marciano, Meyhem Lauren, DJ Muggs, Mach Hommy and the Griselda gang.

AirSig: Speaking of influences, with your productions taking a page out of the genres of smooth jazz and early 20th-century music, are there any other influences outside of the genre you’re in that have also made you who you are today? Is there anything in these other artists’ sound that you’ve appreciated and wanted to put back into your music, whether past or contemporary?

A big influence for me outside of hip-hop would definitely be Father John Misty. I think he is one of the best songwriters of our generation and I love his sardonic voice. I was raised on classic rock so everything from Tom Petty to Aerosmith to the Rolling Stones have been an influence on the way I create music, write songs and look for sounds. I've always been drawn to piano pieces so I have to also give props to Billy Joel (Long Island, what's good!) and Elton John for being a big influence on my ear for production.

AirSig: Tracks of yours such as Emily (Interlude), Sonnets In The Rain, and Sarah, all have a sentimental quality to them. I was thinking of a live performance in a late-night jazz club in the city, where you were suited up performing these songs with a live band. This imagery comes across very strong in the music and with your deep vocal delivery. Would you like to explain your choices that went into the creation of these tracks?

I'll start with Sonnets in the Rain. This track was originally going to have Daniel Son on it, he was fucking with the track but we never made it happen, unfortunately. I like to get deep in my bars sometimes and Sonnets is a great overall example of that. Songs like Emily show I can get deep with just the music. I made that beat while thinking about an old girlfriend and all the good times we had, and when I went to write to it I felt like the song was already complete without my lyrics....the beat is so powerful I didn't need to add anything else. I recorded Sarah drunk. It was the intention of it to sound incomplete and full of mistakes. I don't think I successfully recorded the hook correct once lol. That song is a heavy one as it is about wanting a second chance with a lover but not being deserving of one.

AirSig: In several other songs on the album, you got the opportunity to work with some pretty prominent figures, including our associate B. Dvine, Tragedy Khadafi, Goretex, and Fly Anakin. Can you describe what that was like?

Working with these artists was amazing. I've looked up to each of them at a certain point in my career so it was a true honor to have them on the record. I've known B Dvine for a decade. That dude is like my brother so when we get in the lab together it's always going to be something hot cooking. Dvine actually brought the Tragedy verse to me, Trag has been real good to us in the past and I really wanted him on the record. The original song he had the verse on was a trap beat but I flipped it into Mafia Flicks and me and B did our things after him. I been a fan of Fly Anakin for a minute and I been watching him make moves recently so I reached out. He liked the beat for Keep It a Buck and blessed me with a legendary verse for that one. Gore was the last person to hop on the project... that record was originally supposed to have my man D-Rugz on it but the stars never aligned properly. Gore's engineer is boys with Dvine so it was an easy connection to link up. I'm glad he hopped on, he really helped round out the album.

AirSig: On your BandCamp page, it says that you are a producer, rapper, singer, and engineer. You also created the album artwork for Dusty, so clearly you have a lot of talents lined up. Is there anything else that you're working on that you would like to tease for fans?

Yes, I have a new mixtape dropping late summer/early fall called Cold Cuts which is no features, all outside production from a bunch of dope artists. B Dvine on it, Mike Martinez, Cha$e Paydro, John Cotton and Gekko, my man DJ BABYHANDS has a joint on there. It's gonna be a fun tape. I also got my man Blunt Prophet executive producing my new album Townie which is coming after Cold Cuts. Also Digital Gas 2 is still coming!

Dusty is available now on all music platforms. You can read my full review of the album here. Support Thomas Coppola's music on thomascoppola.bandcamp.com