some background, by Bill Binkelman
Tom Eaton could most accurately be called "the man behind the curtain" in the field of contemporary instrumental music. That idea is doubly apt—as a producer, engineer, mixer and mastering engineer, Eaton's skills are viewed as "wizardly" by many of the artists with whom he has worked. In addition, also like the Wizard of Oz, Eaton has finally stepped out from behind said curtain and revealed a whole new "him." Eaton, the composer and performer, is now front and center and he hopes that his own music will reveal "... that I am more than an engineer behind the board... there is another very active layer of thinking going on in my head beyond the ones and zeroes that I am in charge of. It feels good to have something musical to say on my own terms. It feels right, and it feels like the right time."
Born in Exeter, New Hampshire in 1971, Tom Eaton's father dealt in antiques and his mother worked in education. Music entered his life at various childhood points (sax lessons in 4th grade, piano in the 9th, and synthesizers in 11th grade), but his childhood dream was seemingly unconnected to any of that. "I thought I would drive a camper across the country and paint landscapes for a living." But it was the electronic landscapes created by the synthesizers he discovered in Phillips Andover's Electronic Music Lab which served as the catalyst for Tom to pursue music on a serious level. All the same, he felt less drawn to releasing his own music and found his niche helping others record their music. He opened his first recording studio in 1993 and has not looked back, being involved as a full-time producer and engineer ever since.
While deeply immersed in the folk music scene centered around Boston and Cambridge, MA for the next 17 years, a pivotal moment occurred when he met Grammy-winner Will Ackerman (founder of the pioneering music label, Windham Hill). The two soon developed a musical sense of simpatico that blossomed into what it is today: their status as one of the top producing/engineering tandems in recorded music. The two have collaborated on more than 50 records in the past six years. Eaton says of Ackerman "Will is brilliant at getting to the genuine emotion. Brilliant at coaxing amazing performances out of people... he and I, as a team, have become incredibly tight and efficient...with a genuine understanding that we have that same goal in mind: to reveal the best of the art of each artist."
Besides co-producing, engineering, mixing and mastering recordings at Ackerman's Imaginary Road Studios, Eaton also occasionally performs as a guest on albums recorded there, playing bass or keyboards, although Tom can play a variety of instruments (in his own words, though, when asked about this, he answers " 'Play' is a relative term, but I can make sounds that are relatively tolerable using many percussion instruments, guitars and things that are keyboard-interfaced like vibes, accordions, etc."
Tom currently resides in Newburyport, Massachusetts, although he spends "... at least a third of the year in Windham County, Vermont, at Imaginary Road." He loves living where he does. "I live in a coastal town and love being near the ocean." Like many other artists, Eaton has aspirations about what would give his work meaning "... hearing from people that the music I make, or we make, moves them, or brings them peace or solace... the business can be a challenge for the artists [Will and I] work with and it's good for me to experience it myself. I'm learning, and I like learning." When asked about the state of the music industry, Eaton's views reveal his wishes for a brighter future. "I am always glad when people listen to albums... when they take the time to allow a musical experience to draw them in, engross them. I wish that was more normal... the availability of time to soak in a record, the willingness of listeners to let go into an album. My favorite albums are all about mood, and I love diving into the world of a record. Long-form listening has so many rewards but for so many people I think there just isn't time to give to art." So, why release his own music now? "abendromen was written out of a very turbulent moment in my life, started and finished in about four weeks. It represents where I was in that time, and it's honest and not trying to be anything for anyone. indesterren was the recovery from the moment that inspired the first album, the circling back to balance and to myself. I do hope people like the music, and that it resonates with some, but that won't change how I value it. I've made a LOT of records for other people in my life, and by now I think I know what a record feels like. These sets of songs nearly demanded to be assembled into records, and they feel like me... they SOUND like me. The music continues to pour out and at last I don't feel the need to stop it."