073: Evan Thomas – Song Writer, Rapper & Musician

Never Let Them Tell You That You Are Too Young

Evan Thomas, known professionally as ‘TX2’, is an American rapper and producer from Fort Collins, Colorado. TX2 grew up in a small town but eventually moved to Miami, Florida in order to pursue his dreams.

Best known for his fast chopper flow and punk rock style, TX2 aims to bring true punk rock attitude into the hip-hop scene.

Evan is 19 years old and is now studying music business at the University of Miami. Today, he talks about writing lyrics, creating music, mentorship, and just putting it out there no matter what.

What We Discuss with Evan Thomas:

  • How he began writing music
  • The biggest problem most musicians have
  • Overcoming writer’s block
  • Writing for yourself and not for anyone else
  • How much of his music was influenced by his hometown
  • The writing process and the power of journaling
  • Putting restraints in the process to bring something unique
  • Finding mentors and asking questions
  • Balancing creation and output
  • The biggest blessing as a writer

[01:05] His Love of Music

Evan got drum lessons at 4 years old. He and his brother grew up playing music together. While his brother decided to pursue a more traditional route in life taking the business road, Evan went down the creative route.

Eager to pursue a solo career, he learned that hip-hop is drumming with words. He connected both drumming and hip-hop and started rapping. By his eighth grade, he started writing lyrics.

[02:40] The Writing Process

Most of hip-hop is storytelling. Evan writes about everything happening in his life. He keeps a journal with him all the time. He jots down daily stories so he can just always come back to it and potentially turn it into a song.

The hardest part of writing is releasing it and putting it out to the public. The problem that a lot of musicians have is they keep writing things but don’t ever release it. They’re so critical of themselves.

[04:30] Overcoming Writer’s Block

You can’t force yourself to make something good. You have to take brakes. Evan has these “ear brakes.” He takes a step back because he knows he can’t force himself to write sometimes. Instead, he listens to music, scouting for songs he has never heard of before. This sort of “cleans” his ears from whatever he’s been listening to over and over again.

If you want to be a writer, you have to write everyday. Evan makes sure he writes something everyday. Even if he thinks it isn’t good, he just lets his hand do the motion.

Don’t relook or reread anything until it’s written. Once written, then you can go back and edit it.

[07:00] Writing for Yourself

If you want to make true music, you have to do something different; and to do different, you have to be you.

Write for yourself. Years ago, he was writing songs for people to listen to and wrote about things he knew they wanted to hear. He later decided to make music strictly for himself and not to please anyone else.

The people that can relate and the people that accept themselves too are the people whom he wants to be listening to his music.

[08:50] Transforming Anger to Make Beautiful Music

Everything about his music comes from his early life. He went to high school where a lot of people didn’t like what he was doing. While he was releasing music, people were making fun of him. His anger fueled his music and that he had to prove people wrong.

His hometown is what pushed his drive. After two years of writing, he ended up moving to Miami for school.

Turn any negative energy into something good. When people give you negative energy, you can either take it and be sad. But that won’t get anything done. You’ve got to take it and use it as energy.

[10:55] Music or Lyrics: Which Comes First?

Everyone has their own writing process. Evan starts with the music. He meets up with his guitarist. He hears something in his head and hums it out. Then his friend finds a way to put the guitar together. Then they move to baseline and drums.

Next, they develop the song structure. They decide on how to do it differently.

Then comes the lyrical process. He opens up his journal to find something he wants to write about.

Keep a journal. Evan finds having a journal to be very useful as a writer. It helps you recall previous memories and come back to them. He then writes two sentences to describe the song.

Apply rules to your writing. People tend to write all over the place. You want to keep telling different stories and it’s so hard to stick to one topic. By creating weird restraints on yourself, you create something unique.

[15:20] How to Stand Out

You have to do something you haven’t heard before. You don’t want to put yourself in a box to be like someone else.

Take different elements from various things. Evan got inspired by the book Steal Like an Artist. Try not to be like one or two artists. First, just try to create something new. Second, borrow things from so many different backgrounds that you’re creating something new.

[17:11] Finding Mentors

Have mentor relationships. These people can also provide you with connections you’d never have received without them in your life. Ask people for advice and it can lead to a mentor-mentee relationship.

[18:50] Balance Between Creation and Output

It took six months for Evan to release his album. While it takes a month for him to release a single.

Evan is currently writing a concept album. It’s an album where every song is part of one big story. By the end of the album, you’ve told the complete story. This might take 6-12 months to go through 12 songs, connect the stories, and publish it.

[21:00] Marketing and Nurturing Fans

The best artists don’t focus on whether they’re going to be liked, but if they like what they’re doing. Evan used to focus so much on people liking him. That’s the moment your writing becomes artificial too. So he now writes from the heart and just focuses on himself.

The best feeling you can have is when people can connect to what you’re writing. People can connect to Evan because it’s raw. He doesn’t write for anyone but himself. And people can connect to that.

[29:00] Final Words of Wisdom

Just go do it. You can sit around and tell yourself you can do it. Or you can just go and do it. If you want to make it, you can’t just keep writing and tell yourself one day you will get big. You have to release it. You have to push it.

Episode Resources:

Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon

Listen to Evan’s songs on Spotify or follow him on Instagram @tx2official and YouTube.

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