Photo Connor Charles/Yossarian Projects Studios
"To draw an analogy, if I were a painter I would be the painter that throws handfuls of paint at an empty canvas, and when he's done decides if it's good," says New England solo artist Able Thought.
Though he means it as a description of his songwriting process, the above statement also goes a long way toward explaining Thought's outlook on more than just making music; in some ways, he's shaped his whole career around a freewheeling style and a "go with the flow" attitude.
His solo endeavor began in 2010, after discovering the potential of incorporating a loop station into his traditionally organic, blues-influenced sound.
"I picked it [the loop station] up just to try it, and from the get-go, it just made sense to me," he says. I was making music on the fly and really figured out what kind of artist I was: one that doesn't plan things out too much, but instead just kind of goes with how I feel in that moment. I credit that day as my first Able Thought performance." Since then, Thought has written and recorded several albums of hip-hop influenced blues and funk, the latest of which, Keep it Weird, features his 100th recorded song.
"I knew where I wanted to go with the record, but getting there was completely trial and error," he reflects. "Probably the biggest challenge to overcome, though, was not doing too much. Sometimes when your role changes from musician to producer, you just want to produce the hell out of your material and you really don't have to. Learning that was huge."
He continues, "If I hear a sound I like, I run with it. My first record I was playing with the folk guitar. My second I had some of that, but I also had some cool sounds I was getting out of my [Gibson] 335. My newest record... I got a cool sound running my strat through a Moog Filtatron. So it evolves constantly. The way I see it, as long as the ideas keep coming, I've got to run with them no matter what they are. That's what this is all about."
Eventually, Thought's goal is to get his music into the hands of as many people as possible. To further that end, he posts all of his material on his Facebook page for free. If fans wish, they can donate money to support future recordings, but doing so is not required. Thought just asks that if someone likes what they hear, that they pass it on to someone else.
"Able Thought is an idea that has the potential to grow infinitely," he says. "Able, as in capable. Thought, as in an idea. When you do it all yourself, you work off of your own clock. I'm just going to go with the flow and keep an open mind. In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm not much of a planner."
Able Thought performs June 5, Theodores' Blues, Brews and BBQ, 201 Worthington St., Springfield, (413) 736-6000, www.theobbq.com. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/ablethought.