INTERVIEW: TOMMYY chats dissing his high school on a track and his brand-new single ‘HOW MUCH'
We spoke with Gold Coast artist TOMMYY about getting into music after writing a diss track about his high school and the story behind his new single ‘HOW MUCH’ featuring Trashboy Caesar. He also tells us more about his highly anticipated album ‘NOIR’ and the mini album he plans to release in the meantime.
Gold Coast artist TOMMYY is introducing new flavours of sound to the Australian music scene. The talented young musician envisions his music as an artwork seeping into every part of his lifestyle, however as he admits, his music career didn’t begin this way. “When I was growing up, music wasn’t really a big thing in my household. I listened to Michael Jackson but that was it because I wanted to be a film director.”
When TOMMYY was in year eight, his close friend Chrissy was recording himself rapping lyrics over Drake beats in his bedroom. “He was putting them on Facebook and I thought that was sick. He was getting all this traction and all the girls were like, ‘Yo this is so cool!’. I wanted to try it, so I started writing and never really took it seriously until later on.”
TOMMYY got into some trouble at school with one of his teachers. “At this time I had made and recorded a few songs myself, but nothing too serious. I got into a verbal altercation with this teacher and as a kid, I was just so fed up, so I went home and I actually released a song about my school, a full diss track. Everyone was sharing it, everyone was tagging the school. It got 10,000 listens on SoundCloud in two weeks and for me, I was thinking, oh my god, I’m famous, I’m doing it. So, I chased that high and started to take music more seriously, which, after a whole lot of trial and error, morphed into what I am now. Shoutout Chrissy, that’s my boy, I wouldn’t be here without him.”
TOMMYY has released three albums in the past but has since removed them all from public streaming apps, saying, “It’s such a crazy experience from what I’ve already made versus what I’m able to make.” He says his biggest musical inspirations in no particular order are The Weeknd, Travis Scott, Kanye West and Trashboy Caesar.
Last week, the Gold Coast artist dropped his new single ‘HOW MUCH’. “This is the most excited I’ve been for a single. I got Trashboy Caesar on it, that’s my big bro, he was one of my mentors you could say when I was growing up. He would send me five songs a night and be like, “Put a verse on this, put a verse on this”. He didn’t need to do that, that’s love for the bro. It’s funny because I think we only have one song properly released together so this is a special one. I knew as soon as I made it, this needs Caesar on it for sure and he bodied it, he fucking went crazy.”
The track is rather dynamic, possessing a unique yet pleasing sound that tests the boundaries of contemporary Australian hip-hop and R&B. “It’s an interesting song, it’s a very psychedelic sort of sound. It’ll take you on a journey if you’re in the right place. There’s definitely an element for everyone in there.”
TOMMYY says when he writes music, he focuses on the melody and the feeling of a song rather than the lyricism. “There’s a Playboi Carti line where he said, “I bought my mum a house off this mumbling shit” and that kind of stuck with me, if you listen to a Carti song, a lot of the time he’s not saying anything too crazy, but the energy is there. That always resonated with me. When I first started working on ‘HOW MUCH’ I was really focusing on the flow and the effects. I wanted to bring that feeling that I could be saying absolutely nothing, but it’s resonating. I think that was the good contrast between me and Caesar, he’s an incredible lyricist so when he came on the song, he really brought his A game.”
The beat of the song was produced by eastern European producer Kid Joey (@joeymfb). “He absolutely killed it. The chorus is actually a Drake sample from a track off ‘Certified Lover Boy’ and says, “How much better can I show my love for you”. I actually found Kid Joey on YouTube, I found his beats and was like wow, this is it. Now I work with him more personally. I feel like with YouTube beats, it’s very hard to find something that’ll stick, but I’ve met so many great producers that way. That’s a little gem for other artists, don’t be afraid to go on YouTube to find producers.”
TOMMYY says a pivotal thing he would encourage other artists to do is to look into producing themselves. “You’ll be surprised how quickly you find out what you like and there’s nothing more satisfying than making a beat and then recording on it straight away and now you’ve made this complete song. It feels more personal because you’ve done everything. My song ‘TOP FLOOR’ I produced, and it felt very special, like this is really mine, I built the foundation. Shoutout to all my producers out there.”
Over the years TOMMYY has been making music, he’s dropped little hints about his album currently in the works called ‘NOIR’. “In November 2019, I don’t know where I was, but I came across this old Chanel book talking about the brand’s history. Sidenote, my phone had died, and you know when your phone is dead and you’re out somewhere and you just start taking in everything a little bit more because you’re not on Instagram or anything, which sounds bad but it’s the truth, everyone does it. So, I picked up this random book to have a look and it contained all these photos and I don’t know what happened, but I just fell in love with it. I knew that I wanted to make an album that sounds like the feeling I got from looking at those photos. What would this photo sound like if it was an album? They were all hard, black and white, classy. I went home and looked up ‘noir’ and what it meant and did a bit of research on Chanel too. That’s where it started rolling and I started working on the album and it’s been in the works ever since.”
TOMMYY says the album is incredibly close to his heart and he has held onto the vision of ‘NOIR’ for so long because he wants the build up to its release to be worthwhile. “I don’t want to release it until I can do it on a big enough scale where it will be appreciated. I wouldn’t want to drop it just for each song to get 200 listens and then it’s on to the next thing. I’ve been holding on to it as my magnum opus pretty much. I actually already shot the promo video, the album cover with photographer Zane River (@butterzane) and my partner Madeline Riley (@pxndraa), and pretty much had the album finished. Then I said, “Nope, this isn’t good enough” and went back to the drawing board.”
TOMMYY says he completed the first version of ‘NOIR’ halfway through 2020. “I let it sit there because if I knew if I keep pushing and pushing it, I’m just going to get frustrated. Coming back to it, I see the music I’m making now is what I was trying to do back then. It brings that real confidence and ‘NOIR’ really coming together. It’s more than just an album. Even in my song ‘TOP FLOOR’, I say, “Going noir”. I associate noir as a doing thing, like you can be noir. It’s not just, “Here’s the title of my album, it looks cool, it sounds cool”, it’s more of a lifestyle in a sense. That might sound a bit weird, but it’s just me and it’s taken up this whole section of my life. I’m happy I haven’t put ‘NOIR’ out yet. It’s a big thing for me.”
‘NOIR’ is promised to us for some time within the next two years, but in the meantime TOMMYY is planning to drop a separate lead-in project. “It’s like a mini album called ‘Take Me To NOIR’. I haven’t really announced it yet, but that’s coming.”
TOMMYY says creating an album requires the artist to be clever, each song included or selected after careful consideration. “These days a lot of albums are oversaturated so when I approach an album, every song should be able to be released on its own and stand by itself. I hate when I’m listening to an album, and I can tell it’s just a filler song they threw in there just to beef up the album. I cannot stand it. You need to ask, does this song compliment the album? A lot of the time the listener can tell, but that’s okay. Sometimes it’s a good song, I can’t hate. I’m not a music god or the best in the world but that’s just my point of view.”
Give TOMMYY’s single ‘HOW MUCH’ a listen and keep an eye out for more news about his ‘Take Me To NOIR’ project expected to drop this year.
Photo 1 & 2 by @pxndraa
'HOW MUCH' cover art by @christianjvicencio owner of @amor___clothing
'TOP FLOOR' teaser video by @butterzane
'NOIR' cover art by @butterzane featuring @pxndraa
Photo 8 by @butterzane
Words by @livdaangel