Wednesday, 4 April 2012


THE world of Thomas Hughes is a magical place indeed. Known to his friends as Tom, he is a multi-talented, multi-instrumentalist who combines unique compositions with fantastical animations to produce spectacular performances with his band Triops. His inspiration is deeply rooted in 1960s culture and he is particularly influenced by American and French music, films and art. Tom is 34-years-old and has lived in Dorset all his life. For the last seven years he has settled on Portland where he enjoys the island life to the full. To sample Tom’s work for yourself visit:

WHAT do you do in a nutshell?
I make alot of things. I’m a multi-instrumentalist musician and film maker. I sing and write my own songs, I produce and record them and I make films and animations to go with them. I do some stop-frame animation using models and lately I’ve been developing my own technique of making my own paintings and then animating them. I’ve recently made an animation of some of my flower paintings, which will be projected on to a person instead of a screen. I sometimes do commissions but mainly I work for the pleasure of performing with my own group Triops. 

WHAT might people expect if they go to a Triops gig?
A multi-sensory experience! We have a film for every song and we also link every song with animations that are just made especially for that gig. We only do about four gigs a year. For years I played in bands doing weddings and pubs and the odd tour as a session musician, but I realised I really wanted an outlet to do my own stuff. I have a couple of friends who felt the same so we joined up and put on shows that are not just gigs but are whole performances. Triops means three eyes, there are three of us in the band, myself, Lucy Watkins and Rick Veal. There’s also an ugly cannibalistic fish of the same name.

WHEN can we next see Triops perform?
We do have a gig coming up but it’s not until July, and it’ll be in Weymouth. We did a similar one last year, and it was called “Triops in the Incredible Panoramic Dome”. We play in the middle with the audience sitting all around us and the entire surface of the dome has panoramic projections on it. This year’s gig will coincide with the Olympics.

WHAT'S cool about Portland?
The coastline is so lovely. It’s often sunny and when the weather’s horrible it’s really dramatic. It’s also a really friendly place to live and it’s lacking in pretention. A lot of creative people live here who are all really modest. And it’s cheap too. I live in a really odd house that has bicycles attached to the ceiling and dead moths in the fridge. I love living there. 

WHAT instruments do you play?
Mostly keyboard instruments. For years I’ve played Hammond organ, piano, accordion and old electric pianos. I also play guitar and bass and I sing and play drums. I play loads of other things too but not necessarily very well.

WHAT kind of music do you make?
The songs are short, melodic and quite dramatic with emotional lyrics about magical heart-breaking situations and the sound is a bit other-worldly with lots of vocal harmonies. I wrote a whole album and sat on it for a while, then friends started saying I should put it out, and you can now hear some of that on the website.

WHO and what are you biggest influences?
Terry Gilliam is a big inspiration for my animation, as is 60s American poster art which uses lots of hand tinted Victorian photos. I also got quite obsessed with the 1967 film of the Monterey pop festival. It was similar to Woodstock but beautifully filmed with lovely saturated colours and the quality and sound is really mysterious and lovely. It really encapsulates that era. Musically, my all-time favourite group are a Brazilian band called Os Mutantes but I also like lots of 60s French musicians and producers like Serge Gainsborough, and Andr√© Popp who produced 60s French music using unusual instruments like gongs and harpsichords and recorder trios. I like the French music because I don’t speak French at all and I like not knowing what the words mean.

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