Just like the crystal itself, London Topaz produces music that can connect you to a higher power.
Inducing sublime celestial sounds that have catapulted his presence into the limelight, Melbourne-based artist London Topaz is set to grace significant stages this year at For The Love and the recently announced Beyond The Valley festival.
With only a few releases to his name, London Topaz has materialised out of thin air and into the Australian electronic music scene. His success thus far has been no small feat; manifesting nothing less than top-quality pieces, which have already made waves globally with over one million Spotify streams.
To touch on a few achievements, London Topaz’s has just released his latest track ‘Stay’ featuring Blush’ko (STREAM HERE) – a multidimensional concoction of uniquely flowing layers combined with stirring angelic vocals. His tracks ‘Let You Go’ with JANEVA and ‘Midnight’ with Georgia van Etten, have respectively hit over half a million streams.
I had the pleasure of sitting down with this boy wonder to unveil some of the mystery behind London Topaz.
- As a means of introduction, who is London Topaz?
Well, I’m London Topaz, my real name is Nick. For the past two to three years I’ve been building this project from the ground up and it’s been a crazy process for me; a lot of self-expression and personal development, which is something I’m really, really big on. So two years ago I made the choice to give up everything, sacrifice a lot to pursue a career in music and do what I love, and I haven’t really looked back. I feel like it’s getting to a point now where it’s sort of like a well-oiled machine and I’m just incredibly grateful to see where the next six to twelve months take me and beyond.
- Can you touch on some of the sacrifices that you just mentioned?
I took a massive financial sacrifice; gave up working full-time. I was actually an electrician for three to four months and that was the breaking point for me; I realised that waking up every morning and doing something that I didn’t love wasn’t going to fulfil my soul. It was a matter of making those career sacrifices and actually looking within, and doing something that really made me tick – it made me really appreciate life and really appreciate myself.
- What is the significance of your stage name, how did ‘London Topaz’ come into existence?
I’d been looking for a name for a while, it’s kind of funny, I was at a family function and my cousin had a london topaz crystal ring on and it kind of just popped up out of the blue. But the significance behind it is that I’m quite a spiritual and aware human; I always wanted it to be something meaningful to me. The london topaz crystal is about looking within and finding your inner peace. For me, it felt like it worked with the sonic and visual brand that I’m trying to create. The significance is that it means so much more than just sonic expression as well; it’s an expression of who I am as a person.
- Why can’t I find any information about the person behind ‘London Topaz’?
I don’t know, I’m both an introvert and extrovert. I like to keep things to myself, but I also like to express parts of me as I grow; I like to expose the vulnerable parts that also help me to create sonically. At the moment I’m trying to be a little bit more vulnerable on a personal level with the whole London Topaz brand too. I think as things evolve and I release more music and more of the visual brand, components of that will start to come out and you’ll get to see me a little bit better.
- If London Topaz was a character option in a game, what would be his strengths and weaknesses?
This is a cool question, I love it, and it’s funny that you bring that up as I see life as a video game; in life, everybody is on different levels. Someone might be on level three and I might be on level four, so extending my hand up and bringing them up isn’t really going to help them, it’s more like a cheat for them. It’s one of those things where being on level three they have to go through the process no matter how many times they hit that brick wall.
In terms of what the character would be, I think I would be like the wise guy in the corner who somehow slowly gets things done and is well-respected. I wouldn’t be crazy strong or Hulk-like; I just envision the character being quite simply me and the brand – just a cool, calm and collected guy that helps everybody out.
- When did you start making music and what has the journey been like up until now?
I started making music when I was 15, it was just a little side-hustle for me; messing around with rhythmic beats and synths. I only really took the London Topaz brand seriously when I hit 21. I made the sacrifice to quit my job and focus on that. I spent a year completely going inward; learning and developing ways I wanted to express myself through sound, it was a long process. It’s quite hard when you make that sacrifice to focus on something that you’re deeply passionate about it also brings up a lot of fear-based emotions within yourself.
It’s been a push and pull journey, but something that I really love and that I’m starting to understand now is that both the negative and positive emotions within this projects are so vital to its growth. Looking back now it’s like a self-reflection point for me now too because no one has really asked me. I’m really, really grateful to do what I do and every brick wall that I’ve hit I can look back on and go ‘that’s why it happened and that’s why you’re here now.’
- Your single ‘Stay’ featuring Blush’ko (STREAM HERE) is fresh off the press and has already received a warm welcome with over 35,000 Spotify streams. If we were to peel back the layers of the transient synths and hypnotic vocals, what is the story we would find behind ‘Stay’?
So, there are two parts to the song; there’s the instrumental and the lyrical content. In terms of the instrumental, there was a period of my life where I didn’t know whether if I wanted to continue doing the project, I just hit a massive brick wall and I was so lost with the direction and where the project was going. For me, it was just going into this simple process of production, not something that was completely out-there, but just represented where I was in my life. You hear this synth sound at 51 seconds of the track in the chorus section, it’s a really simple preset sound and just a simplistic approach to production that I wanted to implement, but I also wanted to create something that reflected those push and pull emotions that I was feeling. As I listen back now to it I can hear those aspects of it.
In terms of the lyrics, which are the second component of it all, I wanted to delve into taking ownership of your own growth. I always felt that in this period I was quick to blame others for what I was going through, so for me it was trying to express that no one is going to save you or get you out of what you’re going through, it needs to be harnessed from within yourself to open the portal into the next phase of your life. It can be viewed not only as a personal aspect, but it can also be viewed in life, relationships and anything in general.
- Can you explain what the production process of the song entailed?
For the London Topaz brand as a whole, it’s that inward journey but expressing it sonically outward. The production process for me is a lot about experimentation; it can be setting up eight-bar loops then writing synth lines over the top, it can be creating rhythm, it can be going into really slow melody-driven stuff. It’s all just the experimenting until I hit that intuitive feeling where I know that something sits well, and once one of those elements sits I can then create something over the top. It’s like building blocks and I see it as fragments and pieces of sonic development. It’s almost like art; you know you paint this big picture and you use blue for one colour and then need a little bit of this purple and combined it creates this bigger picture. That process can go on for a matter of months, it can take a week or it can literally take 24 hours. It’s a crazy process that teaches me so much about life as well.
- You’ve worked on quite a few collaborations with incredible artists such as Dena Amy on ‘Your eyes’, how do you go about composing music with other creatives; what are some of the challenges?
For me it’s actually quite difficult to create with other people, I feel like I still haven’t gotten through this process (and this is me being completely vulnerable now), I feel like I’m not worthy of collaborating with other artists at times because my creativity might not be on their level. I like to be in this introverted space when I create; have some sort of foundation down and have it sent out to other creatives and then we can bounce off that middle stage of the project. It’s a weird thing, I feel like I’m being judged when I create.
- Do you feel like the longer this goes on, the more confident you will get and you will start producing tracks maybe even from scratch with someone else?
I can see that happening, it’s just something that I need to work through. Four or five years ago when I used to do it still brings on a bit of trauma for me. There was a point when I was working with some other artists, it wasn’t bullying as such, but there were some comments that were made that created this perception in my head that I wasn’t good enough. A lot of the London Topaz project comes from that too; from being told you’re not good enough to creating something that’s being heard.
★ Can you let us in on any magical moments you’ve experienced collaborating?
Working with Blush’ko has been a really great experience for me. I feel really comfortable working with him because before the sessions I have a moment to reflect on the story I want to tell in records now. Its shifted from giving a vocalist a song and just letting them come back with something, to me wanting to tell a story, which is so much deeper than what I used to do. It’s getting into this inner sanctum of me. I literally go there and sit down with him and we have this man-to-man chat about where I’m at what I want to write about, then we sit there for half an hour and the energy intertwines and we bounce off each other. Blush’ko’s writing a lot of my stuff now and it feels really comfortable for him to be taking on that role.
- You will be playing at some very highly anticipated events this year including For The Love alongside Duke Demont and Running Touch amongst others, and of course at Beyond The Valley festival over New Years with huge acts including RÜFÜS DU SOL, Hayden James, Bag Raiders, Dom Dolla to name only a few; which acts are you most looking forward to seeing?
Beyond the Valley – I’m a massive Rüfüs Du Sol fan so I’ll probably cry on New Year’s when they play.
It feels crazy, I always think back like I’m just this dude in a spare bedroom at his house and now somehow I’m on these lineups that get traction all over Australia. I feel super privileged to be able to share my sonic craft with people, especially at events like Beyond the Valley which I think sells 20,000 tickets; For the Love at Riva is like 5,000. Having my name there is an absolute privilege. I’ll probably still be like a little kid every time I see my name on a lineup like that and do little fist pumps in my studio.
- What can the crowds at these upcoming events expect to witness from London Topaz
I see my live show as an incredibly moving; I want to send out ripples of who I am into these crowds. It’s like stillness but also that chaotic; a dance act that really brings the vibe up as well. It’s those different components that can bring a point of difference, so it’s nice to have 50 minutes to take listeners on the journey of those still moments. I get to drop them and then bring them back up, it’s like I’m this magician that gets to control all these things.
- What is the strangest or most memorable occurrence that you’ve had performing?
I had an incident last year at Beyond the Valley where a power board fell and cut power to half of my show. I was literally just backing tracks and playing in sections and I was like ‘hang on, something’s not happening here’, I was looking around thinking ‘what’s going on?’ I went into stress-mode, absolutely shat myself, yeh that was the strangest moment.
Memorable moments – there’s been heaps. A big one was last year at Riva I played a show to about 4,000-5,000 people, which was crazy and I had some of my best friends there watching, which is always really comforting.
- Your music is widely described as ‘raw’, ‘emotive’ and elegantly ‘encapsulating’; where do you draw your inspiration from to form such moving pieces of work ?
To be honest, I can’t even answer that question and I ask myself that question every day because I’m not a theory-based musician. I didn’t grow up learning an instrument, it was something that I had to learn and perfect within myself. It’s amazing that people see my music in that way. I guess the rawness comes from going into that inner sanctum and parts of me that I feel ready to express in my sonic brand. The emotion comes from the process of that; it could be the production process or the process of writing lyrics. It’s nice to hear that, that raw and emotive side of things because that’s what I wanted the brand to be about from the get-go. I never wanted it to be anything that wasn’t me, so it’s great that people see it that way.
- Outside of making music, what does London Topaz get up to?
I like to stay healthy, I go to the gym quite often. Also, I’m pretty big on personal development and spiritual growth. In my time off I’m watching educational videos; watching how other entrepreneurs and creatives create, listening to left of field thoughts and directions that other people go through to be able to learn more about myself and what makes me tick. I often just like to spend time with myself whether that’s through meditation or reading, anything which is of benefit to me. I think our mental and spiritual growth is a big aspect of ourselves and projecting ourselves to the next level. It’s like the physical aspects (going to the gym, going for a run), we need to work on our internal self to build that strong muscle to take on life. Realistically, I think life can be quite difficult at times so watering that plant, that spiritual side of yourself, that mental health aspect is so f*cking essential to be able to take on life’s challenges.
- What are you reading at the moment?
‘Everything is F*cked’ the sequel to ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck’.
- Can you let the fans in on anything you’re working on at the moment, what does the rest of the year look like for London Topaz?
I’ve got another single coming out later on in the year called ‘Back to Life’ and it is my favourite song I’ve ever made. It’s got a really distinct feel and energy to it, so excited to get it out. I’m also working on my live shows for festival season, I feel with my live shows I touch on that whole journey-based aspect where I get to take people on the journey, so the shows will continue to evolve as I do within myself. I will also be doing a headline show probably in November and working on lots of new music for 2020.
Onwards and upwards seems to be the only logical direction for this musical enigma who has proved (in a very small time frame), that his production values and musical talents can bring the oxymoron of melancholic euphoria to the electronic music universe.
This article was written by Tomasina Dimopoulos. When she’s not working in communications and PR, you can find her writing poetry and having a boogie. Follow her on Insta: @tomasinadim & @taste_these_words.