HOW TO BUILD A HOME
We got the chance to sit down with TommyPAPI to discuss his newly released EP, "How to Build a Home". Stacked with a huge lineup of artists, Tommy has brought his experimental phase to the artists he has met along the journey to create a tasteful, new addition to his discography.
"So last time we spoke, you had just dropped your first EP. What have you been up to since then?"
"Well... *widens eyes and inhales sharply* its been a journey! *laughs* I mean there's so much to say, I've been trying to perfect my craft everyday. I've been grinding out a lot of features, to spread my audience out. I've been marketing, taking pictures for the social media presence, making my own website... *pauses for a second* oh wait I wasn't supposed to announce that yet. *silent for a second* anyway... *laughs uncontrollably* It's okay we can keep it up. ANYWAY... released a hip-hop song exclusive to Soundcloud, and just been putting finishing touches on my EP. I think that covers most of it."
"Well, that's a lot to digest! There's two things that pop up to me from what you said but let's stick to one at a time. Do you do this all yourself?"
"Yeah man its exhausting. I do have a wonderfully supportive mom and also an amazing girlfriend who do help lessen the load. My mom helps find contacts and CONSTANTLY posts on her social media. Like if you follow her on social media, you will probably see what I post on Instagram like 15 times in the next two days. That's stories, posts, whatever. My girlfriend captures my best angles and I'm appreciative of her along with her photography skills. Everything else, all me though. Songwriting, promotion, beat selection, social media presence, ideas for visualizers, etc. It really can take its toll, but the hard work is worth it."
"Wow, that is impressive. You've come a long way and hard work shows. Going back to your earlier statement. Can you tell me a bit more about your hip-hop song that released?"
"Of course! I mean 'WRONG ALLEYWAY' was a lot of fun. My thought process was 'okay I just released this first EP mostly solo, so I've gotta start collaborating with people.' I wrote the hook and my verse while leaving space open for another artist, who became to be FLOWERZ. I was a bit worried about the song release cause, like we talked about previously, it was a complete switch of sound from the EP. But this time I felt a bit more confident cause I wasn't the only one who was doing an experimental new sound. FLOWERZ is normally a singer, but is a huge hip-hop enthusiast. I showed him the open I had and he was immediately ready to lay a verse down. It came out and did pretty big numbers on its first run but it was when I released the remix with another artist, Breaking Temptations, was when it hit over 1,000 plays on SoundCloud. Also, I'm not sure hip-hop is the right word for 'WRONG ALLEYWAY''s genre, but let's just say that it is for now."
"Super dope! You must of been really proud to have hit that 1,000 plays again. Moving closer to the second EP, how long after you released 'In Case God Doesn't Show', did you start this recent one? "
Honestly, I just stopped making music so I could focus on my press run for those two weeks. And then I took a week hiatus to rest. And then I made my first step into the 'How to Build a Home' EP with 'INTERNET WEIRDO'. I'm pretty sure next was 'shelter', maybe a couple days after that. 'lonely vineyards' was a month after 'shelter'. 'LATERAL PASS' is probably my most recent of the songs that was made. 'surrender' was actually supposed to be in my first EP but I decided against it. I'm glad I did cause it fits more of the theme to this recent EP.
"Nice, nice. And how long did it take you to finish?"
"*whistles* Like four months. But the thing was, I was done within that first month or two. It was just hard finding the features that I thought would match the energy of the project. I had NO ONE in mind at all, but I just had faith I would find them along my journey. I'm really grateful that it all came together. I was fearful that the songs would be 'too old' in the thought process of like 'I made these songs months ago, are they still gonna be hot???' But I had to think back to 'INTERNET WEIRDO' I made that song 3 months ago and it's arguably my best song I've released yet."
"Speaking of 'INTERNET WEIRDO', I mean man it is catchy! The songwriting and storytelling is so compelling and that feature, WOW! It is just such a strong song overall and incredibly unique- wait don't get shy now! *laughs* But what can you tell me about the process?"
"*laughs* You absolutely humble me, man. Well, the beat just drew me in when I heard it, driving home. As I've said in our first encounter, I listen to beats while I drive anywhere and just freestyle cadence. But something was different with this melody I had. I was obsessed with it, all day. I couldn't stop writing if I wanted to, I swear to God. It honestly was the best singing I've ever had in a take, and this was before I became conscious of my singing voice. It just came so naturally. And like I said earlier, it was like the first song I wrote towards 'How to Build a Home', but it took me so long to run into HEL Marduk, I thought nothing of it or its potential. I was trying ever to find the perfect feature. First, it was FLOWERZ who was supposed to be on the song-
"FLOWERZ as in the guy who was rapping crazy flow on 'WRONG ALLEYWAY'?"
That very one! He has an amazing singing voice, so raw but beautiful. But I didn't hear back from him, he had a lot going on at the time. So I turned to another singer, Dylan Longworth, but he never sent anything back. I was getting really discouraged, so I thought, 'If I had it completely mixed instead of just a rough mix, it might persuade more people and help them see the vision.' A little context to help understand, but Marduk and I are apart of this collective of musicians called 'Range of View Music', where artists just do what artists do. Talk about music, learn how to make music, share their music, etc. So I saw that Marduk was active and he was pretty well known for his mixing ability so I came in and asked him for some advice on how to mix my vocals. He heard the song and was like, 'this song is pretty great but you know what it needs? *pauses* a feature.' And in my head I was screaming like '____ yeah it does!!! Holy ____ _____, man!!!!!' *laughing hysterically* But I played it cool and asked him to. And MAN. I was so excited about it. He harmonized with me perfectly. Made me sound amazing and filled that open verse with some heavy-hitting lyrics. I honestly think no one was more perfect for the song. I am eternally grateful to the homie. The homie has so much potential to rule the pop-punk scene.
And it was your first song to hit 1,000 plays on Spotify as well. Can you tell us a little bit about how you made that come to be?
Well, honestly... it was a bit of a cluster____. I actually dropped my phone in the sink while I was washing dishes, I think it was the day I dropped the song. And when I say everything, I mean EVERYTHING, is on my phone when it comes to music. All the pictures for my social media presence, all the passwords, etc. I was FREAKING out man cause I saw huge potential for the song. But I really think te music spoke for itself and was passed through word of mouth. THANK GOD. I think I released it on a Monday and didn't get my phone fixed until Thursday of the same week. And that is like crucial in Self-Promotion Land, like you need to make sure everyone sees your release or you might not get that listen that can change everything. I'm really grateful that the song did the numbers it has done, and I hope it continues to increase.
"Wait you're telling me you basically didn't even promote?"
"No, no there was still some promotion on my Instagram, but I really just said to my supporters, 'my phone broke, stream it a little extra for me until I get things figured out.' I guess they had my back, might have to break my phone every time I release or something, its seems like good luck *laughs*"
"Well, don't do that *chuckles*.
"Hey, man, if that's the ritual to get my song to get exposed then Ima do what I have to do! *cackling*"
A month after "INTERNET WEIRDO" released, Tommy continued to release more of a pop-punk sound within his features.
"We're gonna talk about features at the end, but I did want to ask this before we continue. Just from knowing your sound and what you have portrayed as your music taste, I would have never guessed you would jump to pop-punk. What was that inspiration?"
"Actually, I've never listened to pop-punk in my life before doing the features. It is nothing against the genre, but I primarily enjoy listening to old-school hip-hop and RnB. It wasn't until people like Scorp!o, BDr!ppyy, and HEL Marduk whom introduced me to the sound of pop-punk, that I began to make music in the genre. All that being said, it slaps. It reminds me of the high school, coming-of-age movies that always inspired me when I was younger. I loved that raw look into how ______ but also how amazing it can be to grow up. I'm just surprised that I was accepted into the genre after 'INTERNET WEIRDO' came out. But, I'm happily surprised that the results have come out well with the features and hope to experiment more with it next summer."
"So now you've dropped 'shelter', another complete 360 from what you released recently, with its lo-fi beat but sensual lyrics. People seemed to nod in agreement with this is a great direction for you to be heading. What inspired you to take this path?"
"Well, earlier I talked about how much I love old school RnB (along with hip-hop), but it really extends to all RnB. I think love is a language understood to all peoples. I aspire to be an RnB singer but who can rap as well. There so much emotion in just love and so much inspiration I receive from love. I wish I had the voice of Giveon or Drake or Khalid, or really any fa- wait no the Weeknd for sure as well. Honestly, I wish I had trained my vocal cords earlier in my life, but I just never pushed myself. I regret waiting so long to pursue my dreams so I tell like everyone I hear has a slight want to do music, 'Do it!' Don't drop out of school and go all out if you're not sure. But seriously, just sing. Just play the instrument. Dance! ____ it, just make sure that you are having fun and expressing yourself in your own artist vision. Make your music for YOU. That's all that matters.
"Wow, that was really inspiring. You obviously very passionate about your music and music in general."
"It's what has gotten me through the rough times. I used to not care about what happened in life. In any face of hardship, I would just run whether it was distracting myself with friends, substances, relationships, etc. But music has driven me to a better life where I finally feel confident in my ability. Where I actually love myself in a way I never thought was possible. Self-love is so important but it can be discouraging as well. There's more days where I feel absolutely worthless in this world than not. Where I wanted to just give up and rot in my own self-pity. There will probably STILL be more of those days. But to pursue self-love is to say, 'its completely normal that I feel this way'. To love yourself, in my opinion, is to allow these bad feelings to be completely felt so you can learn yourself on a deeper level. *sits up a bit* To love yourself, is to understand, there is no big banner with the words 'congratulations you made it to the finish line, you are now HAPPY' *laughs* no, self-love is a journey, not a destination, with all the bends and curves we have to keep moving. Music is what makes me keep moving. Once someone finds their reason, nothing can stop them. *pauses* In my opinion *grins*"
"Well I think a lot of people would agree with you. You've inspired me today! Well on the topic of your EP, its in its week before release, what is going on in your brain?"
"I did go a bit off-topic, didn't I? *laughs* Well, I can't listen to my songs after I submit them for release or else I'm gonna find something wrong with them. So I spent my time designing merch and reaching out to my contacts in press. It can be very draining but the work is worth it. Spent a lot of time thinking, 'no one is gonna like it, you've reached your limit as an artist already', just constantly. But that's with every single drop. You'd think for someone who preaches a lot for music, he wouldn't have such a negative thought loop on release week. But I push through it, only cause I have to stick to my gut. Just cause I've heard the song 289383 times, doesn't mean its lost value to the ear of someone who hasn't even heard it yet. It's something I still have to work on as an artist."
TommyPAPI released his EP, 'How to Build a Home', August 2nd, 2021 on all streaming platforms.