Whether he’s shredding guitar in the Providence progressive rock act The Morgana Phase or spitting rhymes with the hip hop band Toad & The Stooligans that’s based in the same city, Coventry native Dan Pomfret definitely has a knack for versatility. On vocals he can sing with a distinct melody at one point, and then he’ll start creating rhythmic lyrics in an instant. It’s an artistic quality that makes him fun to watch and listen to regardless of who he’s making music with. This might come off as obvious, but the best representation of his unique talent is the music he puts out under his own name. Pomfret’s latest release is the Time Machine EP he unveiled on Dec. 18, which follows up his full-length debut, Rosemary Bathwater, that came out back in May.
We recently had a talk about what he did differently this time around with the new record, making his voice sound like an instrument, rapping in a deli he used to work at and working on getting his music heard by more people.
Rob Duguay: With the Time Machine EP, what did you aim to do differently than what you did with Rosemary Bathwater?
Dan Pomfret: Rosemary Bathwater was kind of about getting my first real project out there. It was certainly very personal for me, but I think Time Machine is a little bit more about mixing dials. For example, the main predominant style that runs through the four songs is ‘60s and ‘70s rock, funk and soul. It’s the kind of stuff I heard from my dad when he would play records when I was a kid, while my mom would listen to James Taylor and stuff like that. There’s a little bit of rock that I felt comfortable with fitting into things, so I figured that I would give it a try.
RD: What inspired that approach with the funk, soul and R&B vintage vibe that you convey with the EP?
DP: I don’t know how exactly that came to be what I was writing at first. I wrote the title track first and I initially had it under a different name in Pro Tools when I was making it. I felt that it was transporting me into the past, which is why it’s called “Time Machine.”
RD: I can totally see how you got that feeling from listening to the record. My favorite track on the EP is “Two Weeks” with your Toad & The Stooligans comrade Mike Jencks who raps under the name Toadstool. How would you describe the artistic chemistry you two have together?
DP: Mike and I first started rapping together when we both worked at a deli in Cranston, and that’s how we became friends. I would rap a little bit to my friends and stuff but I never wrote any complete songs or anything like that. We started doing that together there, and funny enough, he actually quit that job without giving two weeks’ notice. That’s a cool little tidbit, but we make music together every single week at least once with Toad & The Stooligans and we also collaborate on our own projects. Mike was also involved in the making of Rosemary Bathwater and we’re basically like brothers.
We actually have something we both have been working on that’ll be out later this year. I can’t say what it is yet, but it’s a full-length album and I’m very excited about it. It’s going to be really fun.
RD: That’s awesome, I’m looking forward to hearing it when it comes out. Do you personally take a different approach when it comes to making your solo material versus the music you make with the bands you’re in?
DP: Yeah, totally. Toad & The Stooligans has this really organic approach where someone will come into practice with an idea and we’ll start jamming on it. Our keyboardist Daniel Hill will give us a couple of chords and it’ll have a little progression to it because he’s just a master of sorts. Then we’ll play off of that as a group thing. For my solo stuff, a lot of it is written at six or seven in the morning before I go to work.
A lot of Time Machine was me waking up at six and making songs using my software. The organ sample in the title track is actually a sample of my voice that I mixed into an organ synth through modulation and plug-ins. I made it sound like an organ and I sampled it that way.
DP: I would say that I’ve spent more time producing this EP than anything I’ve ever done before. Being the producer and handling the production as a whole makes it different for me than how the band functions.
RD: That’s incredible, how you’re able to mix and master your voice into an instrument. What does 2021 have in store for you? Do you plan on playing the year by ear or do you have any specific goals in mind?
DP: One of my goals this year is to try to reach more people with my music. I have such an amazing audience of people who like what I make and they let me know; they’re really good to me. I want to expand that more because I feel like I have more to offer. My main goal is to make music for new people that’ll make them want to come back.