When most people think of classical music, they probably imagine a stuffy orchestra in suits playing the same canonical pieces that were written by dead, white men. Although this body of music is a wonderful cultural heritage, it may seem to be the provenance of the wealthy, the white, and even the old. This is where THMPSN comes in. THMPSN has disrupted classical music by combining all of his favorite things: The violin, snakes, and compelling visual images.
THMPSN, a classically trained musician from Western Australia, grew up in a house full of music and animals. After attending WAAPA (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts), he found himself in America. Yet his classical music career never launched as he had imagined it. He added to his skill set at Icon College, learning more about music production and technology. Of classical music today, he says, “I believe the culture is too rigid and obeys too many rules. If you try and play something your way, you get bad reviews saying you strayed from the style the work should have been played in. There is very limited room for personal expression,” neither in the stifling world of classical music nor the rather inaccessible world of contemporary classical.
In a world of over-saturated media images, THMPSN’s works stand out in many ways. First, he creates a new aesthetic that disrupts classical music. Visually, the videos are filled with snakes, dancing girls, twerking, and the like. As THMPSN put it, “Why not embrace the culture of the music scene you’re entering?” In other words, he borrows from the visual grammar of pop music videos, but adds classical music; he has assessed his audience or market and developed his product so that it reaches a broader audience.
With his combination of interest in film, a background in music production, his immense musical talent, and his partner behind the camera, THMPSN creates content that is not what anyone would have expected. Yet, he remains humble, attributing many of the videos’ successes to his photographer/girlfriend: “my very gorgeous, loyal, hard-working love of my life, Kuyek Bassey.” One of his goals in creating the videos is acceptance and encouraging women to express themselves however they want, whether through exotic dancing with snakes or something else. Since THMPSN was raised by a single mother, he has an especial interest in women’s issues.
THMPSN’s goal is not simply to score eyeballs. THMPSN’s brand is focused on causes, as well: He will donate revenues from an upcoming video to women’s charities, and anyone who watches his Instagram knows his love of exotic animals. As a lifelong, passionate supporter of conservation and animal rescue, he hopes to reinvest earnings into a non-profit that rescues animals. His goals are to promote animal rescue, as well as to inspire viewers of his videos to take up the violin or learn to play an instrument.
What can someone take away from THMPSN if they’re building their own brand? The first lesson might be to think outside the box, or maybe to just kick the box away. Many fields emulate classical music’s stuffiness, but by disrupting the rules, it is possible to develop something that flips the script. Next, it is important to redefine the market and niche. There are not many famous violinists with huge Instagram followings, but by expanding the audience, THMPSN did something few, if any, others are doing. THMPSN recalls asking himself, “what could I mix the violin with that, superficially, makes no sense and has never been seen before?” Emerging entrepreneurs might also ask themselves how to rethink and mash-up their product. Finally, THMPSN’s brand is both visually unique and tied to a sincere passion for causes, so staying down-to-earth and focusing on a broader mission can help ensure that a brand remains authentic – no matter how it defies stereotypes and assumptions.
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