Thomston is the solo alias of prodigious 19-year-old singer and producer Thomas Stoneman. He was born in London but largely raised in an Auckland suburb which hosts a rainforest, the bustling city-centre and black-sand beaches in surprising proximity. Growing up, music was synonymous with the enforced-tuition of classical piano by his parents, and so Thomston skipped the Top 40 in favour of whatever his shape-shifting childhood interests found their next outlet in (from acting, film-making to writing). One day, the offer to enter a nationwide songwriting competition got passed round school, and Thomston’s restless attention-span focused in on the smooth and melodic nineties-to-noughties R&B which his classical roots had once soured a love for. He won the competition, but the greater gain – the confidence and curiosity to write Pop songs – was still to come.
Thomston’s new EP, ‘Backbone’, is a vivid and brooding snapshot of suburban teenage transitions, suggesting a talent on the ascent barely a year into making music. Frequently, it feels as inspired by the sparse, intricate electronics of SOHN as the futuristic, soulful croon of Justin Timberlake: Thomston also writes mainly whilst wandering around his empty neighbourhood in the early hours, which lends a nocturnal atmosphere and lyrical openness that sit beyond his years. The crisp groove of ‘Grey’, for instance, captures a tight-knit group of friends whose individual ambitions to go places might one day push them apart (“will we pick up if we leave it off? / Can we start again once we have stopped?”) whilst the hip-hop-infused ‘To and Fro’ depicts a dead-end local romance. Friendship and questions about The Future ultimately abound throughout: ‘Second To You’ suggests a cut-and-run from those who don’t pull their weight in your life, whilst the vaguely unsettling Bon-Iver ambience of ‘Collarbones’ in fact addresses a friend developing an eating disorder (who has since pulled through).