NEW SINGLE "TIME TO SHARE"
TREE OF LIFE/KOBALT
In the breathtaking new video from Gemini, we’re swept across verdant moors, snow-capped mountains, sleepy villages, stately waterfalls. This isn’t an impossibly Shire-rific PSA for Scandinavia (though it very well could be). Instead, it’s a loving, lingering glimpse at the creative inspiration driving the genre-defying work of Thomas Slinger, the man behind this lush, indie-pop outfit with longstanding roots in electronic music.
“I took a director friend to come to Norway and Iceland with me. I didn’t know if this was going to be a music video or what. We even took a drone to the top of the mountain,” Slinger says. “I picked locations that were very close to my heart.” That footage became a teaser for his upcoming album, Wanderlust, accompanied by his sweeping, cinematic new track, “You’re Not Alone.” Besides being candy for the eyes, he says, “It’s a nice epic introduction into what I’m about to do.”
So how did this young Englishman get to the top of a mountain?
“It was first just me, sitting in a room for four years,” Slinger says, laughing. A dubstep overachiever beloved by influential DJs such as Annie Mac and Nick Grimshaw, Slinger realized he got more satisfaction out of challenging musical trends than following them. Buoyed by success of singles such as “Blue” (which has gotten 400K downloads) and mixes for A-listers (Ellie Goulding, Lana Del Rey), he retreated to a studio to radically rethink his sounds—and promptly got writer’s block. Undeterred, Slinger packed up his belongings, left Britain, and traveled the world for inspiration. Malaysia, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma… “98,739 miles travelled, four albums written, one I'm finally happy with,” he wrote, tellingly, on his Facebook page. Those life-changing experiences shaped the intensely personal Wanderlust.
“Gemini songs worked in a club, but they were always more than that,” he says. “It just took me those years of traveling and tinkering away in a studio to figure out who I was.” Slinger also found inspiration in the works of Sigur Rós, Caribou, musician-producer John Hopkins, and film-scorer Hans Zimmer.
Tracks such as the euphoric, levitating “Wild & Free” translate his intensely personal walkabout into a musical journey. “In Bali, we went ballooning over temples and diving 30 meters into the sea,” he says of Wanderlust’s debut single, which like his other songs, began on a piano. “It was about being brave and going out into the world.” (Or, as he sings: “Take my hand / Don’t let it go/ ’Cause this world is so so dangerous.”) Other tracks, such as second single “Time to Share,” expand on his global-citizen outlook.
But reaching this mindset was a process. “Sonically, I’ve always wanted to be pop,” says Slinger, who’s been composing music since age 7, when he got his first computer. “That led me to think, ‘Maybe I should have a band or something?’ I tried all of that and ended up writing quite a dark album. But that still didn’t feel quite right. Then I made some disco music, which was quite fun! I really have been from one end of the spectrum to another."
His breakthrough came over the course of six months in 2015, after being introduced to songwriter Max McElligott of the U.K. band Wolfgang. It was sparked when Slinger reworked McElligott’s composition “Do It for Love” and expanded into almost a full-on Wanderlust collaboration. “He came from an indie kind of pop background. It really helped bridge the electronic with the organic,” Slinger adds. “I wrote ‘Wild & Free’ by myself, but that would not have happened without Max’s influence.”
Once a tried-and-true artist, Slinger’s appreciation for collaboration runs even deeper. “I’m planning on working with filmmakers to create very powerful visuals for each track,” he says. “The way I am inspired to write is very visual. I imagine that I’m right in that place: the people I meet, the stories I hear, and the nature I see.” And he has a rich repertoire of experiences to draw from. “Like, my girlfriend and I climbed an active volcano in Asia. It was pitch black, two-and-a-half hours up a vertical slope with no equipment,” he says. “When we got to the top, the sun was rising above this beautiful landscape. I looked inside the volcano and realized how powerful nature is.”
Submitting to that power has been the boldest thing he’s ever done personally or professionally. “You have to be brave as an artist. That overrules the fear of losing fans,” he says. “I want to write meaningful music. And now, I feel like I have a sense of purpose.”