Hailing from the Virgin Islands, brothers Theron Thomas and Timothy Thomas, a.k.a. Rock City candidly admit it was a leap of faith landing in the U.S. with just a couple of dollars (less than $75 between the two of them) and a dream. In under a decade their ROI (return on investment) has paid off with a bevy of chart topping hits and placing well over 100 songs for some of the music industry’s biggest stars.
On a typical sunny Southern California day, the pair are actually taking a break from working in the studio with super producer Dr. Luke [“Right Round” (Flo Rida) and “Wrecking Ball” (Miley Cyrus)]. “It’s been a great year for us; we even signed our own artist deal with Dr. Luke’s Kemosabe Records/RCA,” says Theron. Based out of Atlanta, the duo travel extensively creating and honing the sound and style for a who’s who list of Pop & Urban music artists, “We are all over when it comes to working in studios, but working out of L.A. always feels great,” adds Theron.
At the core of Rock City is humility. Their slow and steady approach is the method the brothers have used over the course of their career, and for good reason, “We’ve learned to be patient. We’ve wanted things even when we missed out and better things came along; it’s not good to rush,” says Theron. “We believe that pacing yourself positions you to get what belongs to you in time.” It’s in their approach that they’ve found success in their native St. Thomas. Their cultural roots are woven all throughout their music and style. “Our name Rock City is the nickname for St. Thomas. We wanted to pay homage to where we are from,” says Theron. Prior to their success stateside as writer-producers, they toured extensively as recording artists throughout the Caribbean. “We had a huge fan base and were successful in the Virgin Islands. Yet we were very popular and broke. It was right after high school when we decided to try to launch our music stateside,” says Theron reflecting on their journey.
Affiliated with TNT Explosive/Universal Music Publishing, the duo possess an impressive discography of chart toppers that include “When I Grow Up” for The Pussycat Dolls, Sean Kingston’s “I’ll Take You There,” Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop” and Rihanna’s “Pour It Up.” Gone are the days where they hoped for a return phone call; now, their phones ring constantly. “We’ve worked really hard and got turned down a lot when we first started pushing our music. Now, we literally get phone calls from artists that we are fans of who want to work with us. It’s a great feeling when music superstars want to work with us and they are asking us for our creative input and opinion,” says Theron.
With success writing and producing other artists, the duo is excited about their turn at bat recording music for their U.S. debut. “As a Caribbean Hip-Hop group, people can expect the same level of passion and penmanship that we’ve put into records for other artists. We want to tell our story about where we’ve come from and what we represent packaged into great melodies and beats,” says Theron.
Passionate about art and altruism, Rock City finds the time to mentor up-and-coming songwriters and producers. “We are working with the Co-Captains production team out of Jacksonville and Cam Wallace from Texas,” says Theron who adds, “We embrace any new songwriter and producer with potential; even we are still students learning the science of songwriting.”
In addition to the group’s humility and passion, their gratitude and dreams still shine bright. Rock City credits Ethopia Habtemariam, President of Urban Music at Universal Music Publishing for changing their lives. “Ethopia saw our vision and she signed us, she put her money where her mouth was,” says Theron. “She allowed us to have a platform and it was because of her that we were able to work with Rihanna and producer Mike Will.”
For Rock City, optimism and faith rule the day and they hope to have the opportunity to work with artists like Jay-Z and Lauryn Hill. They collectively agree that in a perfect world they’d have the opportunity to write and record a record with fellow Caribbean stars, the Fugees. As the guys prepared to head back into the studio to work on their next top Billboard hit they wrap up on the conversation on a positive note, with advice for young and aspiring music creators, they say, “For anyone chasing their dream, keep working and know that the word ‘no’ is temporary, don’t be discouraged. Don’t let anyone stop you from pursuing your dream.”
By Justin O. Cooper