2015 Artist Survey: Teleman | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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2015 Artist Survey: Teleman

Thomas Sanders on Music Streaming, Mainstream Pop, the Presidential Election, and Childhood Memories

Jan 22, 2016 Teleman
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For Under the Radar’s 13th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2015. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2015 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.

Check out our Best of 2015 print and digital issues for answers from Arcade Fire’s Will Butler, Julien Baker, Blanck Mass, CHVRCHES, Dan Deacon, The Dears, Dutch Uncles, EL VY, Everything Everything, Father John Misty, Field Music, The Flaming Lips, How to Dress Well, Sondre Lerche, Low, Luna, Mew, NZCA Lines, Cullen Omori, Natalie Prass, Small Black, Surfer Blood, Tamaryn, Telekinesis, Vampire Weekend’s Chris Baio, The Walkmen, Youth Lagoon, and others.

Here are some answers from Thomas Sanders of Teleman, whose sophomore album, Brilliant Sanity, is out April 8 via Moshi Moshi.

Top 4 Albums of 2015

1. Micachu and The Shapes: Good Sad Happy Bad
2. Björk: Vulnicura
3. Jamie xx: In Colour
4. Tame Impala: Currents

What was the highlight of 2015, for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point?

For sure, the highlight was recording our album. We worked with producer Dan Carey and it was a three-week period of intense creativity; things happened quickly and spontaneously and we really thrived in that atmosphere. We spent two weeks mixing the record with Dan after the recording and it was amazing to hear what we’d been working on start to come alive and develop its own kind of “feel” and identity, as a body of work. When the process was over I think we all felt at loose ends and wanted to do it all again!

What are your hopes and plans for 2016?

Well, at the start of the year we will release our album. We haven’t toured for a long time so we are all pretty keen to get on the road and to play these new songs to people. Having only had one album to date, it’s going to be great to suddenly have double the amount of songs in our arsenal. Writing set lists is going to be easier!

With the launch of TIDAL and Apple Music in 2015, there are more streaming music options, but the same issues of adequate artist compensation persist. What are your current thoughts on streaming and which service would you most like to have your music on?

They’re all much of a muchness from where I’m sitting. Whichever way you look at it, and whichever streaming service you use, the artist typically will get pennies. Literally. It’s a model which is fantastic for the customer and the streaming company, but which exploits the artist to a degree which is really staggering. It all happened so quickly and without precedent and now it’s just so big and so established that it’s very difficult to do anything about. Music is treated like some kind of raw material that can be gathered up and sold en masse without any assessment of what it’s worth and how to fairly reimburse the person who worked so hard to create it. Now the artist is made to feel like he or she is missing out if they don’t have their music up on Spotify; they might miss out on someone’s “best of the year” playlist! So I guess most artists feel quite conflicted about the issue, but end up capitulating, allowing themselves to be exploited. Happy that so many people will have access to their music, but left with an enduring bitter taste.

What are your thoughts on Friday being the new global release day for albums? Is it helping or hurting album sales?

What album sales?

Mainstream pop music is increasingly embraced by indie rock musicians and listeners, as well as serious music critics. At this point, do you draw any distinctions between Top 40 pop and indie rock/pop? Are you comfortable with this shift?

Yes, totally comfortable. There is lots of great pop music being made, and I think a lot of “commercial” music is becoming braver and more left-field. You might as well bundle it all together: it’s all just music. People can make their own decisions and vote with their feet. I can’t speak for other musicians but when we make music there is no notion of stylistic labeling and the Top 40 is about as relevant as a lobster.

What are your thoughts on how the 2016 U.S. Presidential election is shaping up?

I don’t know much about American politics but the fact that a man like Donald Trump can simply buy himself a realistic opportunity to become President is bizarre and horrifying. It’s amazing to hear Bernie Sanders talk. He speaks such sense and is like a David standing up to Goliath. It’s unusual to hear politicians, especially in the U.S. speak out against capitalism. I would love to seem him as president.

Ryan Adams covered Taylor Swift’s 1989 (and then Father John Misty covered Adams covering Swift). If you were to cover another artist’s album in its entirety, which would you pick and why?

It’s probably quite a popular choice among musicians but I’d love to record Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush. The melodies are so pure and simple. I’d love to change some of the instrumentation and take them in another direction, but mainly they would be so enjoyable to sing and play.

Have you ever been fired from a job (be it a day job or musical one)? Why were you fired?


What’s your earliest music-related childhood memory?

I would relentlessly play my Dad’s vinyl of Ride This Train by Johnny Cash. Each track is separated by a piece of spoken word as Johnny Cash tells fragments of stories as the train he rides passes through a young America. We grew up with no television so this was pure entertainment and I knew each story and song word for word. It’s a great album too!

What outrageous request would you most like to put in your tour rider as a joke?

A guided tour of the city by Segway.

What’s the most disastrous date you’ve ever been on?

Don’t go on dates.

Where do you see yourself in five beers?

Singing song ideas into my phone on the night bus home.

What’s been your best ever Halloween costume? What were you for Halloween this year?

I traditionally dress as a blood-splattered surgeon. Just ‘cause I happened to have a pair of scrubs at home.

Which corporation would you never, under any circumstances, allow to use one of your songs in one of their ads?

Exxon Mobil for one. They knew about man-made climate change long before most people did but spent hundreds of millions of dollars trying to convince people it didn’t exist. It’s so warped and hard to fathom.

If your house were on fire, what would you grab as you were running out?

My daughter!



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