On the road again 

Former Whistlerite Jeremy Thom making in-roads in New Zealand music scene

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - Making Music Former Whistlerite Jeremy Thom has been earning crowds around New Zealand since moving there last year.
  • Photo submitted
  • Making Music Former Whistlerite Jeremy Thom has been earning crowds around New Zealand since moving there last year.

Jeremy Thom wasn't sure how receptive the Kiwi crowds would be when he packed up his guitar case and made the move to New Zealand last year. But judging by the response he got from the patrons of a dingy, dimly lit heavy-metal bar one night in Wellington, chances are he's going to do just fine.

"It looked like a dungeon. You go down this dark stairway ... and the bands playing were raging loud and really heavy. I was like, 'Oh man, this could be weird,'" he recalls.

After jumping onstage, Thom pulled out his acoustic guitar and started playing his distinctly West-Coast brand of laidback rock and reggae. "They were actually really into it! The sound guy gave me a high five," Thom adds. "The metalheads were a lot nicer than they looked."

The singer-songwriter decided to take a leap of faith and relocate to New Zealand last year after spending the better part of the past two decades playing in Whistler. Since then, he's been making in-roads in the local music scene of several Kiwi tourist hotspots, landing regular gigs almost everywhere he's gone under his new stage name, Lit Sky. He started by busking on the streets of Auckland, performing to rowdy late-night crowds who paid for the privilege of singing some "Sidewalk Karaoke" with Thom accompanying on guitar. He then travelled to the surf town of Raglan, where he secured a regular performing gig almost instantly.

"I ended up getting a gig the very first day I got there," he says. "I met the owner of (a bar) and he was like, 'You want to play tomorrow night?'"

Thom noticed distinct similarities between Whistler's music scene and the New Zealand tourist towns, such as Mount Manganui, that he's visited.

"Mount Manganui is a tourist town with lots of international people and lots of music venues. It's actually quite similar. There are a lot of musicians in both places," he says. "I was surprised at how easy it was to get gigs, being from out of the country, but everyone is very supportive of live music in that area."

Another key similarity has to be the cosmopolitan makeup of New Zealand's tourist hubs, where Thom was able to connect with a number of fellow travellers that wound up lending a hand filming his latest music video.

Shot for the single, "When You Open Up," the video is a truly international affair, having been shot by a Filipino, and featuring a German, a Scot, and, of course, Thom, who is Canadian.

"I've made so many connections and it's really encouraging to have such a positive experience with my music here," he says.

With his work visa expiring in the fall (he also works on a kiwi farm—what's more New Zealand than that?), Thom says he'd like to take his roadshow to other countries—but he's not sure he'd have quite as promising an experience.

"New Zealand's a special place," he says. "Because it is a fairly small population, word gets around very fast and if you impress one person, it just sort of snowballs. I don't know that it would be the same anywhere else."

Check out more on Thom's Facebook and Instagram feeds, Lit Sky Music.

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