Thomas Headon is the epitome of the modern musician. Having blown up mainly through TikTok and other forms of social media, Headon has used these tools to reach a wide audience and grow a large fanbase. During our interview, Headon admitted that he views his social media fans more like friends than just fans of his music. He loves that he can Tweet, ‘Good morning,’ and they’ll Tweet it back to him. This direct artist-to-fan interaction is the product of Headon’s young age. As he said himself during our interview, Headon grew up with social media, having first downloaded Instagram at eleven years old while the app was still somewhat new. Today, Headon has used this familiarity with social media and its trends to reach the early stages of stardom, which he hopes will continue and extend to an even bigger fanbase in the future. In a true popstar fashion, Headon cracked jokes throughout our interview, leaning back with his feet on the table and a beer in his hands. Since his performance at Reading Festival, which saw dedicated fans go wild for his music, Headon has been touring the UK and released the single ‘Nobody Has To Know.’ which currently has over a million plays on Spotify.
Who are your biggest musical influences, and how did you first start making music?
I grew up a lot on Coldplay and Blur, and a lot of other really British bands. I think the early music that I started making, so sort of my earlier releases didn’t really have that influence. Now that things have changed—I’ve got a band, I play guitar, I’ve just gotten better myself—I think that’s coming through in the music. I think I just started making music because I wasn’t really good at anything else. I started playing when I was like, maybe 15 or 16 and started writing songs at that time as well. The first release was September 2019, but I was just doing stuff at home on my laptop, at the time it was sort of a bedroom pop-type thing. So it’s just grown from there, really. About to release a third EP, which is gonna be fun as well.
How do you use social media to connect with your fans?
I grew up on social media. I didn’t as much as some other artists these days, but I’ve just turned 21. When I was eleven, I was on Instagram, which back in the day had a horrible, ugly interface, and was bad and crap. And I’ve kind of grown up with it in that sense. All my teenage years I’ve had social media. Not to be egotistical, but I know how to use it and I actually enjoy using it. I’ve never looked at quote-unquote fans on social media as fans like, ‘Hey guys, what’s up. I’m releasing music, yeah, look at me go.’ It’s more just, ‘Hello. I am Thomas, I’m releasing music—if you follow me, you can see that I’m releasing music.’
I’ve made my career so far on TikTok, which I’m so lucky to have been able to do. When I was first doing it two years ago, Instagram was still huge. No offense to Instagram, but a few years later and it’s a bit of a dying platform. TikTok is killing it. But I think no one should rule out any form of social media. Like Twitch recently for me. I’d never realised, but there are just like random people on Twitch who are willing to follow you and listen to your music. I was like, ‘Wow, where’d you come from?’, and they’re like, ‘Twitch,’ and I was like ‘Ah! Cool! I don’t know how you found me, but cool!’ Minecraft, Fortnite, and Thomas Headon—the whole nine yards.
How did you spend lockdown, and did you use that time to work on new music?
I mainly blew up in lockdown. Not ‘blew up,’ but I mainly found an audience in lockdown. I released an EP, and then all the new music has been as the world’s opened up, really. So the music you’re all hearing now and that you’re about to hear, is maybe, end of the year 2020? It was kinda as the world was slowly, slowly opening up. It was a strange time. I didn’t have a great time in lockdown, same with a lot of people. But it was weird, my brain was just so work-focused because I think a time like that sometimes isn’t good for your mental health. Yeah, that was my lockdown: didn’t have a lot of fun, but I think I definitely used it well. I hope. And I’m still getting paid, so you know.
What are you doing to prepare for your upcoming American tour?
What am I doing to prepare… I don’t know, really. Trying to get a VISA? I mean America is such a different market to the UK. It’s a very business way to look at it, but I’m very excited to go to America and play America. It’s a support tour, so there’s not a lot of crazy crowd tricks I can do to woo everybody, it’s just gonna be a lot of ‘I love America,’ which I do, America’s great! I’m so excited to go. I mean, I went when I was six and nine, but I have no memory. I remember being in New York and being like ‘Wow, there’s steam everywhere.’
Where are you most excited to play?
Well, I’m doing West Coast, so I’m probably going to say L.A. I think that’s a pretty standard answer. But at the same time… Chicago? Chi-town, baby.
You can eat some Deep-dish pizza.
Yes, that’s from Chicago, sick! Oh, like good deep-dish pizza though, not like the crap you buy in Sainsbury’s. Sorry Sainsbury’s, but your pizza’s horrible.
You’re not getting sponsored by Sainsbury’s after this.
Whatever, I’m a Tesco guy anyway!
How do you prepare before a live show?
Today we’ve had our lovely camera-girl follow us around. We’ve kind of had to put on a little act together, like ‘Oh look, we’re all hugging, yeah, we do this all the time.’ But I don’t really prepare. I warm up. I usually have a drink or two, mainly just to calm the nerves. Today I didn’t, because my voice was feeling a bit sore. Other than that I don’t know—have a drink or two, warm-up, psych myself. The more live shows I’ve done the calmer I’ve been. The first ones I did, which were in Australia, I really had to get myself in the headspace.
Drink of choice before a show?
Usually, red wine, because it’s classy and I hear that it’s not as bad for your voice as beer. But usually, beer is all that’s available. Or people are offering you, so I have beer. And then I play like shit and I’m like, ‘why did I have beer?’
What’s it like to play at such a large festival, especially post-COVID lockdowns?
I mean, I still don’t think this will sink in for me until probably next week. Just before, as I was on the way here, I just saw The Kid LAROI. And my manager was next to me, and my photographer was taking some photos of me, and the Kid LAROI walked past me and I was like, ‘Am I imagining this?’ So I think playing at the festival doesn’t feel as crazy to me. I sound like a loser, but really, in my head, to calm myself down, I told myself it’s just like any other show I’ve done. I think that calmed me down a bit, but the experience of it—which I’m sure I’ll experience over the next few hours now—is going to blow my mind within a week. It’s going to absolutely blow my mind. I cannot wait to call my sister when she wakes up. And also, I get starstruck so easily. So even as we’re talking now, I’m looking around, I’m like ‘Oh, all the cool people at Reading!’ But it’s mad, it’s pretty mad to be here.
Who are you the most excited to see play at Reading?
Not gonna lie, I kind of missed half of them. I was super excited to see Easy Life, but they clashed with my good friend Alfie Templeman, who was on just before me as well. If I went all the way to the main stage to see them, I would’ve missed Alfie, and then I’d have to leave within five minutes to do soundcheck and whatnot. So that sucked. I was also gonna say, probably beabadoobee, but beabadoobee was on halfway through my set! I’ve seen Post Malone in concerts before… no actually, you know what, The Kid LAROI. Absolutely The Kid LAROI. He has the biggest song in the world right now, man. F*cking banger, absolute banger. Don’t know when he’s on, but you’ll see me in the mosh pit.
What’s the best memory you’ve made through music?
I’ve made so many friends. Not even just my bandmates, but also there are so many fans I would also call friends in a sense. They look out for me, and I look out for them. It’s cool! It’s so great to have an audience that will listen to you. Even if I just tweet, ‘Good morning!’ they go ‘Good morning! Have a good day!’ That’s great man, it’s so great. To not have those very simple thoughts go out to no one. So it’s not really a specific memory, but that’s probably my favourite thing I’ve done so far. To have somewhat of an audience. So thanks everyone for liking my music! I appreciate it! It’s very nice of you.
What form of art, other than music, influences you as an artist?
Looking around us now, there are some very artsy, very cool people, but I just don’t think I’m one of them! I appreciate art, but I don’t take a lot of inspiration from it. I wish I could be really cool and say, ‘Oh, I take inspiration from paintings,’ or something like that, but I don’t really. A lot of my music is really about the way I live my life, so… I guess every now and then I watch a movie or a TV show, and I’m like ‘Yeah, cool, write a song about that.’ I don’t think I ever come out with those kinds of songs and thought: ‘Oh, that’s one of the best songs I’ve done, ever.’ Yeah, not once have I done that. It’s a good question, but nothing so far, I think. Maybe in the future something will, but not at the moment. I’ve never found other forms of art really make a difference with what I do.
What do you hope that the future holds for you as an artist?
I think I just want to continue what I’m doing but on a bigger scale. I’m very lucky to have an audience at the moment that’s listening and still cares after ages of not putting music out, but, at the moment, I’d probably just like a bigger fanbase. A fanbase that will come to these kinds of festivals and shows and scream my lyrics, stream the shit out of my music, and just go really hard—which my current fanbase absolutely does. It’d just be great to keep growing that, make it bigger and bigger and bigger. I’m not fussed by awards, or chart positions, or anything like that. No band I’ve grown up with or that I really like now cares about that either, so I think that’s where that comes from. It’s just about having an audience and fans that really care.
If you had one sentence to describe yourself as a musician, what would that sentence be?
‘Thomas Headon is really lame, and his music sucks, and I would rather eat a bag of nails than listen to him.’ And I hope all your readers read that, and go: ‘You know what, surely he’s not that bad—I’m gonna go give him a listen.’ That’s my sentence, that’s what I would say.
If there was one question you wished more people asked you, what would that question be?
I really want to do one of those really deep Zane Lowe interviews, where they’re like, “Hey, so in your new song, ‘Nobody Has To Know,’ you talk about making out on your sofa. Is that true? Where did that come from?’ Probably what songs are about, in my opinion—I’d love for that to be asked. Other than that, ‘Why do you smell so great?’
Photos by Ana Oancea