Thetamancer Discusses Vulnerability, Relationships Between Fashion and Music, and New Album “The Phage”
By Carina Pray
Boston-based artist Thetamancer (he/him) released his new EP, “The Phage,” on March 14th. With creating a persona that has multiple layers to the character, “The Phage,” the artist opens up about vulnerability in music, creative processes, and the connection between fashion and music.
Thank you so much for being with me today! How did you get into music?
I've kind of been into music forever. I know that everyone says that. But I would always listen to the alternative radio station when I was a kid when my parents would put it on. And I've always had that ingrained into me; listening to a wide array of music. And then I started playing music when I was in fifth grade. I played the drums, and that was essentially my introduction to playing music. And then when I first started making music was kind of when the pandemic started, when I didn't have much else to do. So I just got on my computer and tried to f*** around and see what I could do. I also started making music with my roommate, Roland Cart (he/him), that also influenced me to explore my own sense of music more.
I love that. Ever since the pandemic, I feel like we've seen a rise of more and more people being creative, not only with what they're producing but what they're talking about. So I know that your new album, “The Phage,” was released on March 14th, aka Pi Day. What is the general concept of your album about?
It's something that I've been thinking about for a while. I kind of think of the Phage as a character, and I think I kind of come from that narrative throughout the album. It's about being over the top, really self-centered and kind of indicative, and it's also just about the overconfidence of thinking that you're someone that can get into people's heads. [A phage] is something that literally injects its DNA into cells and makes a home there. It just made me think about living in people's heads rent free, and that's the concept that I went with. I mean, it doesn't really relate to what I think in real life, but the main concept is kind of just that overconfidence and vindictiveness. And there is a layer of truth, I think, in the theme. It shows you can, like, stand up for yourself and know your worth and know that you have an effect on people, especially if they do you dirty and you cut them off. Like you'll still be living in their head rent free. But at the same time, that doesn't mean that you can't be vulnerable. And that's also extremely important. Like, you can be extremely vulnerable while also being, like, tough and standing up for yourself.
Yeah, I think that also just relates to so much of what we see in the music industry because I feel like there is this facade behind a lot of really popular musicians that we see where it's like, they're very much like above everyone else in a way. And that's a really cool connection that you make, and it kind of almost serves as, like, an alter ego type of like persona in a way that so many other musicians that are really popular have these days. And it's like, we're all human. Like, we all have emotions. Everybody has probably been through every single array of emotion there is. And it's like, sometimes in society, the majority of those emotions you just can't show because of the toxicity of society. Anywho, when did you start creating the album? And what was that moment for you that you wanted to really just start the project as a whole?
So the first song I ever started on that album, I believe, is “Do You Really Think I’m That Stupid?”, and I started that at the end of Summer 2021 so not super long before. And then I had some songs that I was starting to work on that I ended up scrapping. Everything really started to come together when Young Digital (he/him) moved back from New York, and we would just hang out pretty much all the time and just crank out a ton of songs. And then that kind of got me into a mode where I was feeling creative.
Why did you decide to release it on Pi Day? Is that date or number significant to you?
Yeah, I love Pi Day. It's my favorite holiday. I really liked the number Pi. I think it's super cool, and it just encapsulates a lot that I like to think about. I also love it because it's right before my second favorite day of the year, which is the Ides of March. Julius Caesar by Shakespeare is my favorite tragedy, and it has been for a long time, which is why I named one of the songs “Ides of March.” And yeah, it just means a lot to me. And also, March is, like, my favorite time of year because it finally gets warmer and the sun starts coming out more and it just feels like a new beginning.
Who were some of your inspirations when creating “The Phage”?
The themes were mainly inspired by JPEGMAFIA with talk about vulnerability alongside a tough facade, and also Title Fight, like, I got a good amount of lyrics from. I also think Gorillaz has always had a huge effect on me because they were my first favorite band ever. I bought the Plastic Beach CD when I was 10 and, like, pretty much everything changed for me then. Also, just some classic emo like Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) and also some classic electropop stuff because that's probably my favorite genre, like Gregory and the Hawk as well as The Postal Service. And alongside that, also Death Cab for Cutie because I really love that band.
Amazing. And I like that you have a lot of diversity and genres, because it kind of influences, like, your creative process and everything. What is your creative process like when you're creating lyrics and music?
I usually just start with the production, and sometimes I focus on the drums a lot because I am a drummer and I think that's, like, the most important part of the music for me. So I usually try to come up with some interesting drum pattern and lay a melody on top of it. And when it comes to lyrics, I used to try to write them out. But I think, like, as more time goes on, I kind of just try to let things come to me, which is easier said than done, but I don't know. I do try to keep it natural and just try to think about the things that have been subconsciously influencing my life recently and just kind of letting those come out.
And could you tell me a little bit more about how fashion has influenced you as a person in your music?
Yeah, that's a very interesting question to think about. I think for a long time, I kind of like being stuck with the same clothes. But more recently, as I think of my creative expression, music has been kind of dialed in. I think your whole aesthetic world is all interconnected. I like to picture myself wearing the kinds of clothes that align with the kind of music I make and the things that I do. So I definitely tried to combine a lot of different things, like skate culture, every now and then, just like some pieces that are really like, from vintage, to maybe more high end pieces. And also interesting colors. I just like thinking about colors. It's kind of like a collage. So I think with music, I kind of break things down in that similar way. “And in fashion, I also kind of break things down similarly into things that are the perfect balance of color or size. It’s kind of like that Lego block mentality, I guess.”
You can stream Thetamancer’s new album on Soundcloud