thomas-barquee Trained in classical music in his native Germany, he has led an eclectic life as a pop star, music teacher to children, and recently as a music producer. Thomas spent most of his twenties on the road, and had his albums released in over 40 countries. Recently, I sat down with Thomas in his live/work space and got to talking. He has lived in five countries, and has bounced around Los Angeles nearly as much, making Silver Lake his home for the past two and a half years. I asked him what that rich experience brings to
TB: Well, I think Silver Lake is the most European part of Los Angeles. I mean it reminds me in some ways of Paris, of Berlin, of London. It’s not as vast and huge, but it has a little bit of that.  It’s very, in some ways, honest and low key. What I really like about it is the mixture of cultures, which you find everywhere in Los Angeles, but more so here. Brentwood and Beverly Hills are a little squeaky clean, but here there is a balanced kind of cultural mixture, which I really like. This is the first place that I lived in America where I can walk. I just really like it here. I have a daughter who’s four and a half, and so I am interested in exploring the community aspect a little bit. I feel it helps her, and it helps everybody. ME: What do you think Silver Lake could add that would benefit it?
TB: I think every community shouldn’t depend on the buildings, or the visual aspect. I feel that it’s all about the people who live there. I think that’s where you’ve got to start, and that’s what’s going to put an imprint on the city. ME: What I like about this website, and the Internet in general, is the ability to give the people a voice. Especially for those who wouldn’t normally speak or who’d feel safer doing it anonymously. TB: Why would it have to be anonymous? ME: It doesn’t have to be, but I think people open up a little more. TB: I feel that I disagree with that. I think it’s a good idea, but I think that community starts with taking responsibility for what you say, and what you feel, and what your opinion is. I think if people are scared to say what they’re feeling, then there isn’t really any community. One of the best meeting points for me is if I go to Cafe Tropical, or Backdoor Bakery, there is always people to talk to. This is one thing I really like, where as in Hollywood, for instance, in my experience, I feel it’s really a much more closed up environment. They’re too busy to look at other people. They’re dealing with their laptops, and writing on their TV shows, or on their books, and want to make it big. There’s really no interest to connect with anybody. Here that’s a different aspect. People are open, and are willing to connect. I would really like to see more of that. I don’t know how that can be created, but I think Internet is really a possibility, I think events are really a possibility. Not just events where people go and entertain, but also, where there is some kind of benefit for them, that will make it interesting for them.
I’ve been in the arts for twenty years, professionally. I’ve had a lot of success in my business, and I’ve had a lot of slow times too. I think whether you are in music, or acting, or painting, it’s basically the same kind of concept that you are dealing with. Same kind of rhythm, and I think community is a great aspect. Because when we work, sometimes we get so focused and so isolated in what we do and what we want, that we think we’re the only person. Really what my experience tells me is that the basic needs of every artist are the same. They have something inside of them they want to share, and they want some love, and they want some money, and they want some friends and some food, and that’s pretty much that. ME: I think also to touch people. TB: I couldn’t agree more with you. That’s been my greatest reward in music. To see the contribution that I make actually touches people and help them in some ways. I think that that is really a huge reward. We talked some more, circling around topics. He said he felt fortunate, and wanted to give back to those less so. Ideas of working with the homeless, or possibly with children again, come to him, but he is unsure of how to use his abilities and talent most effectively.  Again, we made our way back to the topic of the neighborhood: TB: I think one thing that really would be great. To be in a place where people are not shy to connect, where people can reach out and share and find something in common. That’s a very general statement, but I think it starts as close as the next-door neighbors. You hook up and you talk; you do something and you meet. One experience I had in West LA, as well as in Hollywood, was that I didn’t talk to any one in my buildings. Here, the place I live in now, I know everybody in the house. It doesn’t happen by itself. Somebody’s got to go and break the ice. If it’s not the other person, then we got to all work on our ability to go through that big old uncomfortable moment and talk to somebody. When ever I do that, even though there is a moment of discomfort or a moment of being shy or a moment of being insecure, or whatever, I have never not been rewarded for doing that. When I go out and talk to somebody and actually start a conversation, and not wait for the other person to talk to me, something good comes out of it. Well, something good came out of our conversation. Thomas is quite easy to talk to. I encourage others to try. He says if anyone has an idea how to use him to help out, please notify him. Then again, maybe you just want to talk.