I’ve joked a few times about how prolific some ambient artists are. But, Thomas Jackson Park (aka Mystified, Mister Vapor, and other names) has really proven that an artist can be prolific. With over 300 release to his credit he has set the bar for me as a collector. I don’t know that I could ever manage to acquire all of his works, much less listen to all of them. Not to mention, he has additional credits for some of his physical releases both as Mystified and Thomas Jackson.
Thomas is from Saint Louis, Missouri, but has moved around quite a bit: Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, California and Okinawa. He has been recording for 13 years, and has lost track of all the labels he has released works on. However, to list a few: First Fallen Star, Spotted Peccary, Droenhaus, Tree Trunk Records, Aural Films, Webbed Hand Records, Gears of Sand, 20kbps, Krakilsk, Dark Winter, Enough Records, Clinical Archives, Magnatune, Earth Mantra, and literally dozens more. His full discography can be found on his website: Mystified Music.
This interview was conducted over a month ago, and I offer my apologies for taking so long to publish it. There was, unfortunately, a technical mis-hap on my side that caused it to get lost in the shuffle. But, better late than never. Enjoy this insight into Thomas’s works.
Part One: General Questions
Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Hello! My name is Thomas Park. I am mainly known as the ambient/drone act, “Mystified”. I specialize in dark, often minimal music, though I have experimented quite a bit and have tried composing in many different genres.
Do you have any aliases?
Yes, Mystified and Mister Vapor. Others, as well, though they are secret.
[Ed: I could reveal a few of them…but I won’t. 🙂 I’ve never been totally certain if I’ve found all of them.]
How did you get into Netlabels / Netaudio?
Early on, I began to struggle funding physical releases. I believe it was Christopher McDill, through his netlabel, “Webbed Hand”, that got me involved at first in netlabels.
Do you focus on specific styles of music?
My music often begins as a drone. It evolves from that point into something somewhat rhythmic or more developed, even melodic.
What are you working on at the moment?
Today I did an impromptu remix of a fellow Creative Commons artist’s work.
What inspires you?
Great music. Symphonies often fill me with awe, especially by Ludwig Von Beethoven, a favorite composer of mine.
Name an artist, place, event, thing, etc. that has inspired you.
Another artist that used to inspire me was Robin Storey of Rapoon. He was able to work beyond conventional boundaries of music, in a Musique concrète style. I had the honor of collaborating with Mr. Storey, though we have fallen out of touch, unfortunately.
What drives you to create music?
I love occupying my mind during free time. I have been reading less, having burned out in college. There is something protean about creating, as well, which I enjoy.
What values do you wish your creativity to express?
Peace, a meditative quality, keeping the ear and mind open for epiphanies.
What role does community play in what you do?
My local community is only tangentially aware of my music, but the netlabel community has been very supportive. I frequently collaborate with other netlabel artists. They have helped my creativity to evolve.
Part Two: Creative Commons
When and why did you start releasing music under a Creative Commons license?
I started releasing Creative Commons music about 10 years ago. I was looking for a way to find an audience without spending large amounts of money on physical releases.
Do you release all your work under a Creative Commons license?
I also have released 2 CDs and 1 vinyl record, as well as a number of CD-R’s, tapes, and even a flash drive or two. Most of my online music is released under a Creative Commons license.
Any neat stories about releasing music under a Creative Commons license?
A PBS documentary maker picked me up to make some music for a documentary (“Diamond In The Dunes”, 2014), first finding a net release of mine online. He was able to listen to my music, and also to use that as a starting off point for his project.
[Ed: Check out the Wikipedia page for Diamond In The Dunes.]
Any negative stories about releasing music under a Creative Commons license?
No major problems. Almost all of my negative stories have happened when I have tried to make money with my music.
Part Three: The Future
What is next for you?
My music efforts have been winding down, as I got married this year and am paying more attention to my career. Those who pay attention will notice that I do still release a video, EP or net release every now and then, when I am feeling restless and have the time.
[Ed: Thomas has also been doing some artwork, which you will see on a few of his releases, and occasionally posted on various social networks. As for “winding down” his music efforts, that means he’s just producing at the level of a typical artist, instead of the super-human levels he’s done in the past. 🙂]
Do you have an upcoming event / release / etc. that you want to mention / promote?
I hope that folks will visit my website: Mystified Music, and bookmark it to keep abreast of new releases.
I joked above about Thomas’s production level being “super-human”. But there are facts to back it up. Just looking at his Discogs profile, he has over 300 releases to his credit, with 183 Albums, 31 Singles / EP’s, and 108 “other” releases… And that doesn’t even cover all the compilations he has tracks on, and other credits.
Most of Thomas’s works are generative in nature, which is to say they are based on the idea of generating tones or sequences, and creating works around them. Not exactly the kind of music that tends to find the widest audience, however for those who are interested in more experimental fields of music there is a lot to find in his work. This is a fact that has been noted in terms of systems-organized sound, as Daniel Barbiero has written about.
Thomas has created a body of work that is experimental and very interesting from many perspectives. He is someone that might not get a lot of attention, but it seems that he is somewhat comfortable with this, rather letting his works speak for themselves. It’s this kind of artistry that makes the Commons far more interesting to explore than the standard music industry channels. He is one of the artists that will keep me listening to music coming out on Netlabels for years to come, where there are no boundaries.
A short while ago he released an album with Daniel Barbiero called Numinous Transmissions that he told me he was particularly proud of. I agree that it is one of the works that should be heard from him, so here it is: