Ty Showers composes, produces, and plays jazz, R&B, fusion, neo-soul, and downtempo. A multifaceted musician, he does not want to be categorized in ways that restrict his musical exploration. If you have not heard his music, here is a sample:
Which musicians have influenced you the most? Who are the musicians you admire?
In this order: The Ohio Players, Jean Luc Ponty, Chick Corea, The Isley Brothers, Thievery Corporation, Telefon Tel Aviv, The Cinematic Orchestra, Afterlife, Desmond Williams, and Rena Jones.
Who are Desmond Williams and Rena Jones? How do they influence your music, and what about them do you admire?
Desmond Williams was Thievery Corporation’s engineer and he’s given me plenty of tips on mixing. Rena Jones is someone I stumbled upon, and her music has inspired me to add subtlety to music.
What about the music of Telefon Tel Aviv and The Cinematic Orchestra resonates with you?
The Cinematic Orchestra blends a lot styles into their music. I love that shit! Telefon Tel Aviv uses clicks and pops as percussion effects, which give the music a silvery color.
When you were growing up, what type of music did you listen to in your home? Did your parents play instruments?
Bobby “Blue” Bland and B.B. King. Neither of my parents played instruments. My mom could sing, but had no rhythm, so it was hard to play for her because you never knew where she was going.
When was the first time you realized you wanted to play an instrument, which instrument started you on your musical journey?
5 years old. My dad bought me a guitar and every morning I would sit outside my Dad’s cleaners with my guitar and amp, and play. Next thing I know, all the neighbors would surround me, and everyone wanted a turn to play. Now that I think of it, it probably wasn’t a good idea to practice playing the guitar early in the morning, outside, while everyone was trying to sleep.
Did your dad buy you the guitar to keep you busy or did he encourage you to play?
Not sure why he bought me the guitar . . . maybe I asked him and he thought it was a good idea.
Have you ever played in a band?
Yes. ThunderShowers and Marcedes.
We were equipment challenged. Talented but didn’t have the money to buy decent stage equipment. Every time we got a chance to use good stage equipment we got rave reviews.
How did the name ThunderShowers come about?
Showers is my last name and I thought ThunderShowers was a powerful name for a band.
Do you miss playing in a band?
No . . . I do miss playing live.
What is it about playing live you miss?
Blending spontaneity with what the audience expects the music to sound like. Audiences don’t like too much divergence from the original material, so there is a delicate balance you have to be cognizant of, giving the audience something new, and spontaneous but staying in the parameters of the song.
Although you do not want to be categorized as a certain type of musician. What do you say to those who contend music genre categorization helps consumers easily identify, and buy, the type of music they prefer without searching through every kind of music?
That’s what people are comfortable with, so sometimes you have to go with the flow; especially, if you want to reach people.
Michael Jackson said in a 2002 Vibe magazine interview that he didn’t categorize music. He said, “Music is music.” He stressed that great music is something we should not discriminate between one genre or another. From what you have expressed about not being categorized how does your opinion sync with Michael Jackson’s?
I completely agree with Michael, unfortunately the music business doesn’t agree, so you must segregate music.
Much of your music can be described as complex, layered, and textured. For instance, on River Dream, All That I Do Is For You, and other tracks. Where do you think the essence of the complexity that filters into your music comes from?
Solving problems is my day job. The more problems you solve, the more complexity you seek. Hence, I love complexity in music; however, the older I get I’m beginning to regress to simple. The ideal is simple but complex, such as River Dream.
Do you find people have a hard time accepting that you produce diverse music?
When creating music of different genres, I feel less constrained. I don’t understand why people can’t be diverse, it’s like you are from another planet if you do multiple things.
Music Without Borders
Bringing up Michael Jackson again because you share similar beliefs about music that he did. In the same 2002 Vibe magazine interview previously mentioned, Michael Jackson expressed his love for great music and said “…great music – it has no color, it has no boundaries.” Do you have any idea about the type of people who listen to your music? Is your audience diverse? Do you have an international audience?
I’m not sure about the type of audience I have, what I know come from the metrics on Last.fm and Facebook, which seem to be from all over the globe. Even places like Morocco, Egypt, and European cities, in addition to the States.
What does it feel like when you are composing? From where do you draw inspiration when you are composing a Rock track compared with Jazz or Downtempo?
I don’t have any inspiration. I just have a passion to create. To create music I want to hear. Hopefully, other people will want to hear it, too.
How do you think creating music you want to hear instead of thinking of pleasing others first affects the music you produce?
You’re bound to get better quality music if it’s music you like. Meaning, attention to detail, fewer mistakes, and a better eargasm.
Do you plan any part of your compositions? What do you focus on the most?
I never plan anything with music. I just play, then take the parts and craft a song.
You just play? Is there a process? Do you write music then play, or you sit at the keyboard and decide a track will be downtempo?
Lay down a groove (usually bass) and then layer instruments on top. I never write I simply press record and play. Whatever my fingers do on the first take is the foundation for the song.
When producing do you focus on one element more than others?
My overall focus is to produce an enjoyable listening experience that includes the music quality music, breadth, depth, and height of the music.
Most Powerful Expression
Do you think music is the most powerful artistic expression? No. I think music is the most qualifying expression. Meaning, it demonstrates how much diligence you put into becoming good. I would say film is the most powerful.
Why do you say film is the most powerful artistic expression?
It embodies more senses, visual as well as aural.
Music for Videos and Film
Do you create videos?
Some of your music is perfect for films. Would you consider allowing your music in films?
On a Perfect Planet
If you could create the perfect musical planet, what rules would we live by?
Freedom, respect, and (the word for consideration for all – can’t think of it).
What frustrates you?
9 times out 10 I have to repeat my last name and spell it. S-H-O-W-E-R-S. This really pisses me off! How can you misunderstand Showers?
Thanks Ty Showers for sharing your musical journey!