Scotland’s latest breakout star, Dylan John Thomas, is an artist with humble roots. The now 24-year-old grew up in foster care and became enamoured with Johnny Cash’s classic ‘Ring of Fire’, which would play on a loop on the PlayStation game Tony Hawk. From that moment, the Glaswegian’s musical palette widened, and he began delving into the archives of the likes of Leonard Cohen and The Beatles. Thomas’ love for music led to the transition from listener to artist, and he honed his craft by busking in his hometown while battling the Glaswegian weather. Eventually, he would get his first big break thanks to Scottish icon Gerry Cinnamon, who invited Thomas to be his support act and, from then on, would continue to mentor the rising star as his career progressed.
Now, Thomas has traded in the chilly Glaswegian streets for festival stages – including Reading and Leeds this year – and headline tours, with his introspective indie-folk tunes resulting in a legion of loyal fans across the UK. From supporting Liam Gallagher and Sam Fender to having his tracks blasted across the radio, things have really changed for Thomas since those days spent on the PlayStation. The next step? The singer is releasing his self-titled debut album on January 29th, 2024. On Friday, Thomas released the latest single from the project, ‘Rich Boy’, a tantalising appetiser of what’s to come, showcasing his innate knack for telling visceral stories on wax alongside his charming, emotive vocals. And with a headline UK tour on the horizon this November, Thomas is steadily building up momentum, hype and anticipation for his album’s release.
Here, we sit down with Thomas to discuss his upcoming record, growing up in Scotland, and performing at Reading and Leeds…
Your debut album is set to be released in January. How long have you been working on it, and what can fans expect from the project?
I recorded it over the last year in Liverpool with Rich Turvey, similar to the two EPs – influences from Johnny Cash, Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel – the album is an expansion on that.
What do you hope people take away from your music?
For me, it’s always about the live show, and this record was made with the live set in mind. Seeing people come to the show and sing the tunes is the main reason I do it.
What was the first album you ever bought/listened to?
One of the first albums I remember is Del Shannon’s Greatest Hits – I listened to it a lot growing up. He has a lot of key changes in his music, which I now see in the way I write.
Which artist had the biggest impact on you growing up?
There were a few – Johnny Cash, Simon & Garfunkel and The Beatles. The high melody guitar picking of Simon & Garfunkel, the wandering verses from The Beatles to then pull back into the chorus, and the rhythm section of Johnny Cash – these are the sonic influences you can hear through the songs.
You performed at Reading and Leeds this summer. What was that experience like?
It was class to play, coming from Glasgow – travelling down there to play in packed tents and to have it as bouncing as it was is mental.
Is there a big difference between English and Scottish crowds?
Scottish crowds have always been dynamite from the start, but it’s been class building up the shows in England, and now they’re bouncing.
How has growing up in Scotland influenced the music you make?
I listened to a lot of Scottish folk music – Alastair McDonald and Kathleen MacInnes – and through that, the diction and vernacular is something I have kept.
What’s one movie you never get tired of watching?
The original Blade Runner – there’s just something about the opening few scenes when Harrison Ford is kicking about in the rain.