An Interview with… Denuo

Denuo joined the Anara Publishing roster in March 2019. Here we chat to lead singer and songwriter Tom Mason about their creative process and get his thoughts on the importance of music publishing.

1.) Tell us about how you started making music or what initially got you into music? 

I got my first guitar when I was about 12 years old, and started learning to play drums shortly after. I would spend a lot of time figuring out all the parts to my favourite songs and then tried to recreate them on a little 4-track tape recorder at my cousin’s house. It was really interesting to learn how to build a song, and it inspired me to start writing my own. My friend Russ Hayes started up his studio on the North Wales coast, and I’ve been recording music with him under the name Denuo ever since.

2.) What is your typical songwriting process? Is it the same every time? Do you have any routines to get you in the creative frame of mind?

It’s mostly the same. I will usually have a beat or chord sequence in mind and build up the instrumental from there. The vocal melody is usually figured out at the start, but I’ll sing gibberish until the very end of the process. I tend to let the emotion of the music determine the lyrics, rather than the other way around.

3.) Do you find that ideas come in waves of inspiration or are you always creating? For example, do you try to stick to a writing routine?

It’s very much a case of catching those waves of inspiration and being patient when it’s not happening. I try to write a little bit each day, but the most exciting ideas seem to happen when I’m not expecting it. Usually when watching a film or walking around.

4.) Can you describe a pivotal moment in your career?

A big moment for me was when I finished my album “Scarlet Sleep”. I have been lucky enough to play some great gigs with bands over the years, but the milestones for me are the recordings. The album was a long journey and I’ll always be proud of it. I’m currently going through the process all over again, and even though there are times where I think “why am I doing this?” I know it’ll all be worth it when it’s finished.

5.) How important do you think publishing representation is for artists and composers? 

I think it’s really important, and it’s more than just an opportunity to make a living from something you love doing. The creative process can be very draining sometimes, so it’s a great confidence boost to have a team behind you who are pushing your music to help it see its full potential. It makes me want to explore my abilities as a songwriter and build a solid catalogue of music.

6.) Who would you say has been the greatest influence on your music? 

When I first started making music as Denuo, I was obsessed with Jeff Buckley. His music taught me a lot about the power of dynamics and emotion in a performance, as well as layering in the studio. I can listen to the album “Grace” and hear something new every time, and I think Andy Wallace’s production plays a big part in that. The arrangements can get so dense without feeling like anything is lost in the mix. The music I listen to these days is usually less melancholy but Jeff Buckley played a big part in my development as a songwriter.

7.) Do you have a favourite use of music in TV or Film? 

My absolute favourite soundtrack is from the film Lost In Translation. Sofia Coppola’s music choices are always perfect, and the mood of this film resonates with me so much. Everything I write is inspired by that film somehow, and my goal is always to make something that would feel at home on that OST.

8.) Do you have any advice for aspiring songwriters/composers?

This is the pep talk I give myself every now and then… Trust your instincts and keep writing! Everyone has a different approach, so don’t worry too much about what other people are doing. I think the more you write, the more you learn about yourself and what works for you as a songwriter

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