His name is Thaddeus Dixon but many know him as “The Music Man.” The 32-year-old music mogul is considered one of the industries most sought after musicians, but Dixon’s rise to fame isn’t solely based on his live performances. He is also well-known behind the scenes for the incredible work he has done as both a producer and songwriter on the latest singles for Deborah Cox,Teedra Moses feat. Rick Ross and more.
The Detroit native has been blessed to work with some of the music industries biggest acts such as NeYo, Deitrick Haddon, Roy Hargrove, Talib Kweli, Sean Kingston, Bone Thugs N Harmony, Ginuwine, Cody Simpson and Adam Lambert. Dixon has also been featured on TV shows such as MTV’s “Making the Band,” the “Today” show, BET’s “106 & Park,” “Live With Kelly and Michael,” “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon,” “Late Night with Seth Myers,” “Good Morning America” and “Big Morning Buzz Live.” He has even had the pleasure of performing live at the White House, Carnegie Hall.
Most recently, he has served alongside artist Meghan Trainor as her drummer and co-wrote “Better When I’m Dancin,” which is featured in The Peanuts Movie. The hit song was nominated this year for an Oscar at the 2016 Academy Awards in the Best Original Song category. In addition to working with the pop princess, he is also the music director and drummer for RCA recording artist Bryson Tiller. Dixon is currently on the national TRAPSOUL tour and took time out of his busy schedule to speak with rolling out about how he got his start in the industry, when he learned to play the drums, and the importance of having a support system.
What life experiences inspired you to pursue a career in music?
I grew up in church and that’s how I took a liking for music. That is also how I developed my taste for music as a musician and things of that nature. I went to a performing arts high school and I did music in middle school. I went to the same high school as Aliyah. From there, I went to Michigan State University and got a bachelor’s in music, so that was my introduction into music.
Did you have any mentors helping you navigate through the industry?
No. I just have very supportive parents. Nobody in my family is in music. My parents were supporting what I was doing and pushing me, so no close mentors. I took drum lessons, so I had a drum teacher that I was close with because I was working with him but nobody pulled me in.
I’m sure with your extensive background in music you’ve tried out a variety of instruments. What was it about the drums that made you want to play them?
The drums were my first instrument just from growing up in church. I kind of just stuck with that. I think a lot of kids growing in the church, including myself gravitate to drums because it’s a lot of action. It looks fun and cool opposed to playing the keyboard and standing there using your fingers all day. People can’t really see that, but with drums you see sticks being thrown up and twirled up in the air. My parents started to get me to play the piano but I didn’t want to. I wish I had given more attention to the piano at an earlier age. I started when I got to high school, which is when I started writing songs and especially paying more attention to it when I got into college because I had courses that required me to play. The drums just had me from the beginning.
What was your first breakout performance?
Growing up in Detroit, I have always been noticeable as the next up-and-coming kid. I was playing for all the gospel artists when they came to town. Detroit has a heavy influence in gospel music. The Clark Sisters, Fred Hammond, The Winans and so many others. When people came to town like Kirk Franklin I would play for them, but after that I started to venture out into more mainstream music. When I was in college, I started playing drums for The Spinners, which was a cool gig for older people who were into that music. My parents were a little bit happier than I was because that was people they were used to listening to. After I graduated from college I started playing for Sean Kingston and then went to Ne-yo and then it just sprouted after that. I definitely had a few highlighted performances at an early age.
How you are balancing your job as a musician and a tour director?
I am kind of used to this. I would say I was built for this or I wanted this. I am 32 years old, Bryson and everybody is kind of young. I am kind of like a veteran in this camp. Don’t get me wrong, I am still young, but I have been doing it for a little while so I know the in’s and outs of what goes on. This is what I wanted so I am handling it and I am trying to figure out a way to do more than just being on the road. Other music directors that I look up to, learn from or see have multiple artists that they work with. I am definitely trying to get comfortable with one situation so I can branch out and do a couple other things.
How close have you and Bryson become since working together on the tour?
It’s great. I love working with this team. A lot of camps I have worked with before where I wasn’t the music director I felt like a pawn. This camp I feel like more of a major player having the responsibility as a leader. Working with him his great. He is hot right now. Everybody wants to work with the hottest person so I feel grateful. I am looking forward to what’s to come of this situation and working with Bryson in the future. We have a great relationship. Hopefully, we will work on some records and keep things going.
What advice would you give to a young person who aspires to work in music?
Keep on going and do what you want to do. That is just some simple advice. Whatever you want to make, your path will narrow as long as you keep pushing so you can be on the route you want to be on. Some things might happen. Some things that you thought were for you, you will find out are not.