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The Rebirth of Tommy Genesis

We chat to the self-labeled ‘fetish rapper’ about freedom of creativity in her latest salacious drop 'Goldilocks x'.

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Tommy Genesis mounts a white Ferrari, her long hair bleach-blonde, her lips plump and red, and her stockings exclusively fishnet. She’s sexy, in control, unwavering and if you didn’t get the memo, she’s “the bitch who’s born again.”

It’s a bar and visual from her introductory track ‘peppermint’ off of her seductive and latest album Goldilocks x. A release that sets the stage for her rebirth; the genesis of Genesis.

Ultimately this is reflected in the experimental edge that peeks through on the 12 tracks. Though far from being experimental for the sake of it, each song represents a facet of her true self, “I feel like this album for me claims who I am as an artist”, she says. It’s in this notion that indeed see’s the artist reborn, traversing genres in a diverse and impressive way, differing to her more pop-inclined self-titled album of 2018 and 2015’s World Vision

There are happy songs, there are sad songs, there are outright bangers. Really, it depends on her mood, and outside of the album, it’s this free-flow between sounds that has seen her thrive in collaborations with the likes of Charlie XCX, JPEGMAFIA and Father. The last of which, through his record label Awful, acted as somewhat of a mentor and career-launcher.

With Chiweenie barking at her side and the LA sun ready to say it’s goodnights (It’s 5pm where she’s at) we sat down with Tommy to chat uncontrollable creativity, music creation, and the ultimate rebirth of Genesis.

One thing I really loved about the album is how diverse it is. ‘Woman is a God’ is such a banger, and ‘Baby’s’ a slowish R&B song…
Yeah, that’s my Drake song (laughs).

…is there a concept behind the album? Because I know with other releases you’ve said that everything’s just a reflection of your mood.
Well, the concept definitely happened post-music, but the music itself — I make a lot of music. What tends to happen is I’ll go into the studio just to make shit, and I definitely don’t have any rules or idea of what I’m going to make that day, I just go in and make it but then once I’ve made all these songs, I then decide okay I really like this one. Maybe it was finished the first day in the studio or maybe I need to go back in and cut some stuff, but I’ll definitely just pick my favourites and put them together, and I think that even though there’s a lot of different genres on this album, for me these were just my favourite songs that I’ve made in the past year, year and a half. And I was making music up until December. Then I was like, “Okay, I have all these songs, now what do I do with them?” and then I can kind of conceptualize it all after the fact.

How do you decide how to tie all of those different songs together?
I mean, I just think that whatever you want to be the album can be the album. You don’t really have to tie anything together or give an excuse for why things fit together. Like I never did but I think that they all just kind of fit together because of my taste. I like certain sounding beats. I love a jarring beat. So a lot of the beginning of the album is like that, cause that’s just where I was sitting sonically and what made me feel good at the time. I put them all together and they all fit. And I don’t care what anyone says, because they don’t have to fit according to anyone else but me. You put it out as an artist and it’s sort of like my art, this is what I did and it could be anything from a heavy metal album to like an R&B album. I’m lucky cause I do everything myself so no one really has a say, you know, it’s whatever I want to do. And then I kind of get to play after the fact, like the whole thing is played for me. 

After it’s all done and I’m like, “okay, these are my favourite songs”, then I get to sort of figure out the order and figure out what I’m going to call the project, and for me I called it Goldilocks cause I was kind of obsessed with the Goldilocks concept. It’s this thing called the Goldilocks effect, where if something’s just right it’s not too hot and not too cold and it kind of sits in this sweet spot. I felt like for me that’s how my album felt, and I was like I just can’t call it that alone, I want it to be significantly its own, so I added the X cause for me the X stands for experimental or like unknown factor, and that’s why I named it that. I also love the imagery that comes with it and the whole storytime, Goldilocks and the three bears, I think it’s just fun to play with that idea.

This is probably really naive but I thought you called it Goldilocks because of your hair.
I mean there’s so many meanings right. I definitely had blonde hair but I’ve let my hair grow out. I’ve been bleaching my hair for four years and I’m just so tired of bleaching even though I fucking love having blonde hair, cause I just love a shocking hair colour as a brown girl. Of course, I called my album Goldilocks when I decided not to bleach my hair anymore, but I was just like “fuck it”, but yeah I kind of played up the hair for the cover and stuff, but the initial concept of the album wasn’t because of my hair.

‘Peppermint’ is the first song off of the album. In the lyrics you say ‘I’m the bitch who’s born again’. You’ve previously said that this album is an album of rebirth for Tommy. Do you think you could elaborate on that idea?
For sure. I said “I’m the bitch that’s born again” because it’s been two plus years since my last project, and I was one of those artists that got lost in the system of labels. It was really hard to put out music and I felt like I was shelved for a second, just with not having the power to put out my own music. Now this is my last album with a label and I just feel really empowered and I feel like I made something I love. Like I’ll put it on and be like “I fuck with this”, and for me I’m so self-critical of my own music that I always want to make edits to it. Even now when I listen to the project I’m like “oh fuck, I should have done this here and that there and this here”, but it’s like at a point you just have to step away from it, and I feel like this album for me claims who I am as an artist cause even though I have songs individually that represent who I am as an artist, I just feel like this project sits so close to my inner self. Like it just sits right in there that I’m really comfortable putting it out. It feels really comfortable to me cause I personally like it, so I think that’s just a really good feeling. I also said that cause my first name is actually Genesis, that’s what my parents named me, that’s my real name, and like I always play with the concept of rebirth, birth, the genesis, and that was another reason I said that line “I’m the bitch that’s born again”.I want to constantly be re-inventing myself and constantly be reborn again every moment, not even just with my music but everyday when I wake up. I want to wake up born again. I love that feeling and I have come to fall in love with just being alive and really feeling alive and I think it’s just exciting. There’s this unknown momentum within me and I just called it out. So that’s how I felt about that line.

If you had to pick one song off the album, which do you think fully embodies Tommy Genesis?
Oh fuck, that’s so hard because I like them all for different reasons. ‘peppermint ‘ was the first song where I was like this needs to come out, I just fuck with the song. First song on the album, you press play, and peppermint hits, so if you’ve never heard ‘peppermint’ before and you press play, you’re like “Oh shit, what the fuck is this?” Then it goes into ‘kamikaze’. ‘Kamikaze’ is almost an interlude. I have a big Russian fanbase and basically the rapper on ‘kamikaze’ is my friend who’s never rapped before, I just heard her rapping along to Russian rap in the car, her name’s GANNA, she was like “What?”, but I brought her to the studio. She is innately a rapper, she’s like so creative, and now she’s fully a rapper after that song, but that’s the first time she’s every rapped, but that moment’s really special to me because I created that moment, you know, with this person that I heard rapping in a car to music. I just fuck with a story like that. ‘Woman is a God’ was pretty much my favourite song, and it’s been a really stressful role-out because the video for that I shot, and it didn’t come out the way I wanted, but it will probably still have to come out. I don’t even know how I feel about it though, so that’s a whole thing. And then it goes into ‘manifesto’ which is low key one of my favourite songs, goes into ‘wet’ which is a turn up song, goes into ‘mmm’ which is like kind of experimental, and is like “what the fuck is this vibe?”, goes into ‘wild child’. ‘Wild child’ to me is very simple, it’s like repetition and nothing too fancy but I still love it. All the songs I just fucking love, ‘average’ I say a lot of shit. And then the end of the album is ‘baby’, ‘fuck you’ and ‘hurricane’, which is what I always want to listen to myself. So it’s a hard question, I don’t even have a favourite, it just depends on my mood and then that’ll dictate what I’m in the mood for.

Which was your favourite to bring together?
Oh that’s hard. Well ‘Women is a God’ was the most fun to write ‘cause it just happened in like 10/15 minutes and it just came out of me.

You’ve said that you go through phases with each release, and your self-titled album was your pop-phaze. What phase, if any, are you in with this album?
Maybe like, I don’t know, cause I feel like it’s more rappy than my other projects but at the same time I have no clue, maybe my experimental phase, but it’s not even that experimental, butI would say it’s more experimental.

With some artists their music is a reflection of their introspective inner thoughts, but you’ve said that your music isn’t that deep. What attracted you to creating anthems, rather than songs that were intrinsically linked to how you were feeling?
I probably said that when I was having a bad interview. I tend to get defensive if the person is asking invasive questions, I’ll just kind of shut it down. I probably just said it’s not that deep when they asked me something personal. I would say I like to make songs that are anthems 100%, but I also like to get in there and make a deep song here and there. And I feel like on this project you can tell which one’s are deep and which ones are me just turning up in the studio, just making it.

You know, you can kind of tell. And I love giving both. I love having that up and down emotional flow through the project and yeah, I definitely feel like I gave my real feelings, but sometimes my real feelings are just on hold cause I’m in a good mood and I want to make a song, you know, that turns up. So it really depends on my mood. So I really think that when you’re an artist that writes their own stuff, that’s all you have is your feeling and you have your thoughts. But at the same time if you’re thinking something and you’re not even feeling like making music that day, maybe those thoughts don’t become a song because I don’t really calculate it. I don’t overthink it, I just let it come to me. And that’s how I make music.

Coming out of this album, what would you say is the most important role of music for you?
I think making music for me is such a personal experience. It’s my own therapy. It’s therapeutic, you know, some people do other things to have that release and for me music is a really euphoric release. Whether I make a good song or a bad song. I’ve gotten something out and I really don’t think about it till afterwards until I’ve made it. So I would be making music whether or not anyone was listening. So like the way I make art, I write, whether or not anyone is reading it, it’s just things I do for myself ,and that’s how music has always been for me. So it’s just a lucky happening that it’s also my career now. It’s just a beautiful blessing that I get to wake up and do something I love.

When you go to record or create, how do you get yourself into a creative mentality?
I definitely will curate the space. I like being in the studio alone. If I’m collaborating with someone I’ll go in and collaborate with them. But you know, I like to have a coffee, have my water, I don’t smoke or drink when I record because I can’t control my sound as well. I don’t always wake up the next day and like the way it sounds if I’m drunk and recording. Sometimes it works but sometimes it doesn’t. Like I go into the studio and it’s fun for me, sometimes I bring my dog and he sleeps there. This album I worked with my executive producer, lil Rich, who also recorded me and we’d go in the studio, we’d chat for a bit and, then we just start making shit. Then we just get on a role, and I think everyone has their own process for how they feel good in the studio, like some people like to have a lot of people in there, some people like to smoke and drink, which is like, if that works for you that’s fire, but it just doesn’t really work for me. I think my creative mindset is always on for me. In life it’s been more difficult for me to turn it off. I’m always on creatively and I’ve had to learn — which I now disagree with — but if you’re at a meeting or something, or you’re in an uber, society teaches you that you can’t have that creative mindset on when you’re doing all these normal human things, but actually you can. But that’s something that’s like “Fuck, why am I not normal. Why can’t I turn this off?” and “Why can’t I do all these things that other people are doing so easily?”. Simple things feel hard to me but no-fuck it, I’m supposed to be the way I am and I can be the way I am in every situation. My shit is always on. It’s just really making it feel so comfortable that it can just come out really easily, and for me that’s just a quiet space, where I can hear my own thoughts with people I can feel comfortable with.

Being on would almost be better? Because there’s a constant stream of creativity and inspiration?
It feels so good. I think everyone can be that way, it’s just a lot of people are taught how to stop the flow, you know, everyone has their own power and their own interests and the things that they love that are constantly trying to flow through them all day in the form of ideas and emotions and thoughts and experiences. We’re taught that we’re not meant to have those things, cause we have to do all these other things like work a job like this, have conversations like this, and none of that is true. It’s all fake rules. I just don’t really like rules, and I wanna be happy, and I want to feel that energy moving through me.

So just one last question – but what’s to come for you? Can you feel the next project or the next album manifesting?
I told myself the minute this drops I want to get back in, but I’m taking a hiatus. Other than features and stuff. I’m just taking a little break, just to feel the full potential of this project and really be present. Then I want to get back in the studio, but I have no idea what’s next. It’s like I love just not having a plan, just to get back in and see what happens. Definitely more music, more often though, because now I can do that, I’m not tied to album releases, I can do single releases and EP releases, so that’s exciting as well.

Follow Tommy Genesis here for more and stream the new album ‘Goldilocks x’ here.

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