9/20 Featured Creative: Thollem

Friends, we’ve got a special #FeaturedCreative for you this week… while Jane Kim is still working in Ogden, this week we’re happy to announce the return of a genre-busting artist and musician who performed for us at Alleged back in April of 2016. Thollem McDonas is swinging back through town, with a performance in SLC next week… so check him out… below, AND on stage!

Thollem McDonas  attributes his start to both of his parents being musicians, his mom a classical musician and teacher and his dad played in piano bars.
He often says that he started his music lessons from birth and will continue until the day he dies. He says, “I was fortunate to have had such a musical-centered childhood and most of my deepest experiences throughout my life have been a result of that. I grew up in San José and graduated from SJSU. Since then I’ve been on the road where I continue to constantly learn and integrate new experiences into my work.”

He is inspired by everything, he gushes. Patterns and dynamics of life are infinitely interesting and inspiring to him and he absorbs information from life experiences, science, politics, war, beauty and the life and work of his fellow artists.

He describes himself as an eclectic musician and a serial collaborator. “I work in response and in relationship with the world in all its multitudes of possibilities and dynamics. I have worked with some of the greatest classical, jazz and rock musicians in the world as well as many under known artists.”

Being a very artistic person, though his favorite medium is sound, he realized that he could work in any medium and find satisfaction. He has also worked editing film and also used to draw and paint. He also loves writing poetry and lyrics for songs. He muses, “Imagination and the world of ideas has no boundaries based on medium, for the most part, and I love the challenge of setting something in action and riding the adventure it brings.”

Thollem believes, as we do, that arts are a necessary component to creating a healthier society. “I definitely see #O1ARTS doing great work bringing the art to the people, creating a community and encouraging the support of each other,” he says. He enjoys the Ogden community and was inspired to experience the outdoor gallery of Ogden First (#O1PLATFORMS) and the variety of ways to engage with the public in public settings. He says, “I think this is increasingly an important way for artists to engage with the public. Not just by enticing audiences into our spaces, but by bringing art into the public sphere! I’m looking forward to coming back in the near future and developing my relationship with Ogden!”

Thollem just had several albums released, most recently an LP on a new label out of Detroit. This exciting album is a recording of a solo piano concert where he played four different pianos (one after the other) that were each uniquely and radically tuned. He attributes this tuning to “a musical genius friend of mine in Detroit.” The album can be seen, heard and downloaded here: www.thollemclemfortuna.bandcamp.com Thollem’s full discography is here: www.thollem.com/albums

Though he’s not playing in Ogden this time around, he will be coming through Utah on a 7-date tour playing his Greatest Hits Vol. 1, which are radically new arrangements of songs of his through the years from bands and projects like his Italian band Tsigoti and the album Always Put On Your Sincere Face, that was a collaboration through a series of dreams with Andy Kaufman. He will be playing in SLC at Diabolical Records along with Lube, CK and John le Bob Dylan on Oct 4 and in Provo at Bills Garage along with Lube, CK and John le Delphic Quorum on Oct 5.

Follow Thollem on Facebook and Instagram,, at www.thollem.com/albums, and on bandcamp at www.thollemclemfortuna.bandcamp.com

Photo Credit: Larva Live! mural by Scott Summers / photo by ACVilla