I went to a gig last month to see Ryan Parrott and The Rumours who were performing alongside a few other very talented artists. I was too late to see Ella Marie, and I had seen Rufio Summers before – he stole my heart with his cover of Kanye’s ‘All Of The Lights’ last year- and then this girl got on stage, and when she opened her mouth I was blown away. She sang reggae, she sang funk, and then her amazing Dad got on stage and killed the harmonica while she sang some blues. “ You’ve got to get her details and interview her,” said my friend, so I did, and today I want to introduce you all to Sian Thomas.
Some of you may already know Sian; she attended Brunel and used to sing at ACS events. She has performed around pubs and live music venues in the St Albans area with her Dad for a few years; she was even featured on Starboy Nathan’s first album ‘Masterpiece’ after he spotted her when she won a singing contest. For the rest of you that haven’t yet discovered the delectable Miss Thomas let me tell you some stuff about her.
In a time when every artist, rapper and band are killing themselves to be signed, and end up with a shady development deal, Sian has her own thing going on. She says “Music has always been my hobby and industry people are always telling me to take it more seriously, but I get paid to sing at parties and perform tributes as a job. When it comes to my solo career, I write all my own songs and a lot of it comes from personal experience and I rap as well as sing. I consider myself a musician and an artist, so I’m not about going to the studio and singing someone else’s song, that wouldn’t be real.”
An artist who isn’t desperate to get in the studio? One who is eschewing the industry? Career suicide surely? Not if you’re as switched on as Sian. This is a girl who despite being featured on a popular album at only 18 years old, decided that she would rather study than be swallowed up by the industry. “It wasn’t the right time” she says and instead decided to do her own thing until she felt she was ready.
She began performing more than ten years ago, getting up on stage when her father Trevor Thomas – who she quite rightly calls ‘the best blues harmonica player ever’- used to gig around pubs near their home. Sian says, “from when I was around 12 years old me and my dad would go to a pub where there were musicians and they’d recognise my dad and then they’d get me up on stage to sing and I used to get horribly nervous. When I left university, we decided to do it ourselves properly and started performing as Dynamite Blues. When we have a performance coming up, we get musicians and we don’t rehearse, so what you see on stage is normally us just jamming and creating a vibe.”
Alongside these gigs with her Dad, Sian also performs with functions band Entourage, and is currently performing a Whitney Houston tribute act up and down the country. Somehow she also manages to fit in speech and therapy lessons with children and performing arts workshops for kids too. In fact it was during a 4-month voluntary teaching trip in Ghana after graduation that actually made Sian want to pursue her solo career. “When I was in Ghana I started singing with some friends out there and putting on small shows. When I came back to London, I got involved with Entourage and started going to the studio doing my own stuff.” And it was Jessie J who actually had a big impact on Sian with her meteoric rise through the charts. “My live funk sound was inspired by Jessie J’s ‘Mama Knows Best’ which I saw on youtube before I went away, and when I came back from Ghana she had just blown up, I think she’s brilliant” says Sian who is also heavily influenced by those two dynamic queens of neo-soul Miss Badu and Miss Scott. She says, “When Jill Scott sings I can really feel her pain and she connects with her audience, which is the thing I love most about when I’m performing too, its important to me. “
With her talented father happy to be a hobbying musician it’s easy to see why Sian seems so blasé about an industry that many yearn to be a part of, but since July last year Sian has decided that she is going to go for it properly now, but on her own schedule, naturally. She says, “I’m working solo, I co-produce my own music, I loop my own samples – I haven’t got a team, I’ m working off my own back. I’ve got 4 tracks so far and its coming in my own time, July is my target for a release and I’m planning a few visuals for some of the songs too. Its fun and I’m not panicking, when its ready I will share it. Mainly this EP is to satisfy myself but if the opportunity comes where I get to express myself on a bigger scale, I’ll definitely go for it.