Thomas Harpole Shines His Bright "Headlights (The 1916 Funk)"



The Colorado native, producer, singer-songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Thomas Harpole releases food for the soul with his latest swinging single, "Headlights (The 1916 Funk)."


Growing up captivated by a variety of artists who mastered world rhythm and the sound of the human soul, Thomas Harpole later went on to form the band Thomas Harpole & Company, who donates all live proceeds to various non-profit organizations in Denver. Having accumulated over 75k+ streams through his recent single, "Fifteen Steps," Thomas Harpole is truly turning heads with his unique sound.


Getting to the goods, Thomas Harpole's most recent release, "Headlights (The 1916 Funk)," offers a brilliant blend of funk, Cuban, Latin, and jazz at a swinging 17/8 time signature. Also, fueling the song with passionate and heartfelt lyricism, it's without a doubt that listeners will take something away from Thomas Harpole's recent hit.


Hitting play on the groovy single, "Headlights (The 1916 Funk)," the journey begins with tight drum arrangements, a funky brass section, sweet piano melodies, and an accompanying acoustic guitar. As Thomas Harpole makes his bright vocal appearance, he delves into lyrics of being swooned by someone's beautiful and bold eyes that captivate his every being.


Reaching the one-minute mark, Thomas Harpole melts our speakers with a brilliant and cinematic instrumental arrangement, dousing our ears in the liveliness of funk blended with the soul and rhythm of jazz. Taking a deeper listen to Thomas Harpole's lyricism, he later realizes that he was merely blinded by someone's beauty and disregarded the red flags they held up from time to time. With another beaming instrumental breakdown, the song comes to a heated close.


Get your groove on with Thomas Harpole's recent single, "Headlights (The 1916 Funk)," now available on all digital streaming platforms.



Welcome to BuzzMusic, Thomas Harpole. We're genuinely captivated by the broad and bright atmosphere within your recent single, "Headlights (The 1916 Funk)." What inspired the creation of this dynamic single?


Well, thanks! I was inspired to write the song after spending time traveling in Latin America and listening to Cuban and Brazillian music that really moved me. I was walking through the streets of Trinidad, Cuba in early 2020 and was inspired by the nighttime energy, the red, gold, blue lights, and being there with my brother and friend. It felt like a dreamy place, we were off the grid but we were alive. I wanted to capture this drunken, nighttime feeling in a song. And while I had played the song with my band before, I didn't really understand the production or sound I was after until going on this trip. From there, I set out to write a song that would push me further than an acoustic song.

How did you create the instrumentals for "Headlights (The 1916 Funk)" to complement and amplify the song's mysterious lyrical theme? What sort of vibe did you want to deliver?


I knew I wanted the song to start in standard funky rock, move into a fusion in the middle, and then twist and turn into a Cuban climax in the end. The first half of the song was driven by the acoustic line I wrote for the verse in 2015. It was a strange line but catchy and chromatic. I knew it was either missing or had too many beats. I would try to count how many times I would tap my foot per pass of the riff. I kept landing on 19. I called the song "1916 Funk" for a while which had a nice ring to it. I thought I was a fancypants because I had used a different time signature. hen my drummer came along and told me I wasn't counting the song correctly at all...HA! I was humbled on the spot to learn the song is in 17/8 time for the hooky verse lines. It keeps the listener guessing and the horns really drive that cut-time feel. I had two guitarists cut some complex, Santana-like solos on top of compressed funk strums on the guitar. My friend Ryan also brought this fantastic nightclub piano player-in-Havana vibe on the piano and started playing a Montuno as the song pushes toward the climax. A Montuno is basically a Latin chord progression on the piano that makes you move your hips and want to start yelling about how good it is to be alive. That's where the "buh-buh" lyrics came out of: simply from playing it live and celebrating it all for a moment. And of course, the sax and trumpet really sweep you into this dreamy, fast-moving, colorful world... much like being in love and the general point of the song.

Could you expand on your creative process when formulating the instrumentals for "Headlights (The 1916 Funk)"? Did you work solo on this process?


I self-produced the song along with my friend Matt Legge who is an audio engineer at Third and James Studios. He played the role of a co-producer and the "why don't you calm down a little" guy in the studio. I got so enthusiastic and tracked so many bits for this song (over 300) that one day Matt said that we maxed out the processing power on ProTools and couldn't possibly add any more tracks. t that point, I was beating a dead horse, and we finished the song that evening. Most of the song was recorded remotely by musicians during the pandemic! I used video calls and recordings to explain to them what I was after, and it worked out pretty darn well. The one thing that made this song come alive was the female background vocals (Lauren Frihauf, Pamelagrace Okeke). Matt and I kept adding all kinds of delays and reverb to these sounds to give them different colors and depths in the song. We automated tracks hundreds of times during mixing, in order to make certain things shine as you listen. I feel like every section of the tune is pushing what's possible with an instrument plus melting genres together, and there's nothing more fun than producing that.

Since the pandemic hit and artists were stripped of the opportunity to perform live, how have you kept your audience engaged? Have you hosted any social distanced shows or played any concerts online?


I've had a blast interacting with people on Instagram during this time and sharing my writing process as I formulated these songs. Last year, we did a backyard show in Denver and were expecting a couple of dozen close friends to come out and hang. Something like 140 people showed up, along with the police. They even let us finish our set. It was awesome! But this pandemic has forced me to focus on writing this album and creating something long-lasting and ambitious. Anyone that is musical had to sit down and really examine their art and passion again, outside of performing live. I've enjoyed it, and now it's time to bring this energy to a crowd!

What is your mission statement as an artist?


To write stories that give you, the listener, permission to feel every emotion in life and to see life through the lens of melodies and deeper meaning. To celebrate the complex, colorful, and wild moments that enter our lives, and to find meaning in the tremendous pain and difficulty that we all have to endure. My goal is to write music that becomes the soundtrack to one person's life. That's enough for me. Just one person. I don't make money from this, nor do I want to; all leftover funds from shows or streams are donated to music nonprofits for children. I've never wanted to be paid for something I feel is a spiritual obligation, and simply a fun part of being alive. As long as I'm making it [my art], I feel that I've made it.



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