We Talk with Global Soul Icon Tomás Doncker
New York City global soul icon, producer/singer-songwriter, guitarist Tomás Doncker just signed an exclusive global distribution and licensing deal with The Orchard for his True Groove Label. Founded in 2011 True Groove was born out of what Tomás saw as a need for a forward thinking artist-oriented brand where “music comes first.” True Groove and The Orchard’s partnership will begin immediately with the release of 12 new projects from the label’s elite roster of artists within the first quarter of 2014. I had the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Doncker to discuss his music, his company and all things music.
The ethos of Global Soul Icon is not being genre specific, but in fact being “genre inclusive” can you explain this distinction?
When I was a kid you could turn on the radio and hear Stevie Wonder, and then The Doors, then Earth Wind & Fire, Eric Clapton, Al Green, The Stones, Cat Stevens, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, and Barry White. The first 2 albums I owned were The Beatles Sgt. Pepper and the Jackson Five’s Get it Together. I never thought there was any difference. To me, it was all just great music – exciting and inviting. True Groove is all about that kind of aesthetic.
Based out of NYC as you are, how is that an advantage…and disadvantage ?
Well, New York is not what it used to be…that being said, it’s where we live. It’s a good base. One of the gateways to the world. Certainly a place where different cultures can join together and share ideas.
And following from this, how has living in NYC informed your art?
To live in New York City as an artist, a true working artist, well you must get your grind on. Grind, grind, grind! 24/7. No joke. It certainly focuses you beyond your wildest dreams. It also weeds out those who are not sincere and serious about doing this. I once overheard someone say, “Art without commerce is vanity.” Well, this may or may not be true, but one thing is for sure: Art without commerce is certainly poverty.
That’s a great quote…and one that’s certainly true! And speaking of commerce these days, with digital slicing across/into the record business how are you planning the Orchard connection keeping you economically viable?
We stay pretty busy. We subscribe to the four C’s concept of this new music business. Creating Compelling Content Constantly! I mean, let’s face it. The audience is pretty jaded. They’ve been burned time and time again. In order for a true music fan to feel an artist is authentic they must see the artist producing, creating, and promoting consistently, and the level of quality in the work cannot suffer. It has to be brilliant. The Orchard gives us reach. A global presence with access to all the new digital music media revenue streams.
Tell us about your artists; Kevin Jenkins, Lael Summer, Marla Mase.
In a word – Amazing! Different styles, different sensibilities, different vibes. Each one a vibrant and compelling voice. Extremely engaging and articulate storytellers, true artists.
Marla (Mase) is real. Fearless in terms of what she wants to say-what she feels needs to be said. Some would call her “edgy,” but I just think she’s honest. She uses her background as a poet & playwright to create a new and interesting lyrical landscape for Rock & Roll.
Kevin (Jenkins) is the consummate musician. An “A list” cat, but he is always in service to the song. He is “Musical Humility” personified…he’s also a helluva singer!
And Lael (Summer)…truly gifted from birth but wise beyond her years. She has the makings of a true soul singer. Every note, every word has blood & guts on it. She is a force to be reckoned with.
Can you tell us about your music, your approach to songwriting and producing?
I write all the time. Different styles, different vibes, different grooves. The core of the True Groove sound begins with the songwriting process – that being said, there is no one specific way to write a song. I believe that songs are in the air. They surround us. We just have to be open to receiving them. It’s kind of like a daily ritual for me. The production process I feel should only be used to enhance and support that. The hardest thing to do as a producer is to not get in the way of the song.
Do you prefer playing, writing or producing or love all three equally.
I love all three equally but I must admit, songwriting is my bread-and-butter. Kevin and I were writing yesterday and we started talking about what it must be like to be Randy Newman. You know, just a guy who sits around writing amazing songs, seemingly whenever the phone rings. That must be really cool. We’re also huge Jimmy Webb fans.
Dude, please…Jimmy Webb is the man, as far as I’m concerned! Beyond the releases coming up, what’s your plans for 2014?
Multiple touring scenarios are being worked out right now. We plan on being everywhere in 2014. True Groove on the move!
Look for True Groove, Mr. Doncker and his stable of groovin’ artists right here: http://truegrooverecords.com/.