Who's This Girl Tommy?
How do you see yourself transforming as an artist?
I think that the last album I put out was me trying to figure myself out. It wasn't necessarily the final version of me trying to figure myself out, but I definitely tried a bunch of different shit just to see what I like. The last project I put out was not a caterpillar and not a butterfly—it was the bridge between the two. I love the album and where it went, but I’m definitely feeling a little more dark and a bit moody and guttural and raw.
What moves you to grow? What keeps you going?
My manager, people yelling at me to do things because otherwise I’ll just stay home and watch TV and draw. Honestly. The only reason I do things is because people are like, 'You have this coming up. You gotta do it.' I don’t have that voice in my head—it doesn’t exist. There’s only one voice in my head and it’s me. There’s no one like, 'Hey Tommy! You should do this!'
How are you shaking up the 'boys club' in the rap community?
I think the best way to do it is to not to do it and not to care. If you’re making art or music to specifically upset something or someone, it just doesn’t hit the same. Be genuine. It just gets boring. You have to make something that means something to you. As depressing as it is, at the end of your life when you look back are you going to be satisfied if everything you did was for somebody else’s opinion or to change someone else’s mind? That’s what I think about.
What is fetish rap?
Fetish rap... I remember when I first said it, years ago—that was when World Vision came out. I didn’t even say it face to face with someone. I was answering an interview that asked 'What type of genre music do you make?' and I said, 'I make fetish rap.' Then that just grew. I feel like I make rap that’s in a niche. I use that as my power. If you like it, you like it, and if you don’t, you don’t. We don’t care. It’s not for you. It could be not for you for a lot of reasons—where you are in your life or your beliefs. I’m not ever trying to convert or affect that. I know it’s not for everyone but I’ll go there. I’ll go to the place no one goes. When you go to the place no one goes, you know not everyone can go there. For me, that’s what it means.
Why do you think it’s important for you to carve out a space for yourself in music?
I don’t think it’s important for me, but I think the more I do it the more I realize that it changes the space itself, you know? I never thought about it or tried to do it but I think that, looking back from when I first started making music like this, to now the landscape of people listening, what they’re comfortable with has changed. In a way, people like me have normalized the space around us.
How do you practice self-love and self-care?
I like to take baths and I take them while listening to waterfall sounds, so it kind of feels like I’m drowning. I try not to eat meat. Sometimes I have to eat fish on tour. I don’t really like working out so I try to eat healthy.
How do you embrace your sexuality?
Whenever people ask me about sexuality, I tell them that, for me, it’s about identity. It’s about power and being comfortable with your identity. It’s actually not about sex. Even when I rap about sex, it’s not about sex, it’s about power.
How do you connect with your audience?
I’m learning how to. It’s hard because I can connect with someone one-on-one easily. If I can talk to you I’ll get to know your mannerisms. It’s so hard when you’re up there [on stage] and there [are] hundreds of people looking at you. I treat it like they’re not looking at me, instead they’re listening to me. It doesn’t matter if I look crazy when I’m screaming or if I don’t look cute on stage—you’re listening to me and I try to make it about the music. I try to connect to my own songs because if I can connect to my music, maybe you can feel that it’s genuine and connect with it, too.
What can we do to continue empowering each other?
When we’re all old none of this is going to matter. The music won’t matter, even the money won’t matter. We really have to take care of each other. It sounds so cheesy, but when I go to sleep and I’m stressed about a show I think to myself, 'At least I got to see Amrit [Tommy’s friend and DJ] today.' Even if we’re stressed, because I love her. My friends are always there for me when I’m not okay, so I think it’s important to do the same.
Listen to Tommy's most recent banger, 'I'm Yours,' here.