• Class of 2017: Tommy Genesis

    With eyes ahead to the new year, we brought together the fresh new faces that are challenging the status quo. Artists, activists, and musicians, our Class of 2017 is forging the path ahead with hope and optimism.

    Rapper and artist Tommy Genesis tells us the story behind her forthcoming album, her writing process that fluctuates from freestyle to meticulous song craft, and why it’s important to keep your friends close. 

    Age: Old Enough to Party
    Occupation: Rapper, Artist 
    Sign: Leo, Cancer Moon, Aquarius Rising
    Senior Superlative: Most Freaky 

    Who is Tommy Genesis? 
    I'm just a girl, I'm just myself. I really just make things. I draw and I make music. I think that I am someone because I put myself online and you adopt a persona that starts to pick up speed. It's like, aw, Tommy Genesis now, but my real name's Genesis. People call me Tommy now. It's cool. I really think that anyone can make art and that anyone can reinvent themselves as an artist. It kinda happened organically but I'm really just myself.

    Most people probably know you as a musician, but can you tell us about your drawing?
    Yeah, I draw, I kind of do sculpture. Lately I’ve just been making music, but I love to paint. I have to set up a studio soon. 

    What’s the first thing you ever made? 
    I did so many crafts as a kid. Probably like elaborate puppets. I was really into animals. I would put on puppet shows when I was a kid. 

    When did you start making music?
    I started making music seriously a year ago. I've always been a kid that played piano and I always wanted to make music but I really didn't think I could. When you're creative as a kid, you don't really think you're creative. I always wanted to make music but my concept of music when I was young was, “You have to have have a really good voice and you have to be able to play guitar, and you have to be able to play in a band.” So I would be in bands and then when I was older I was like, “Wait a minute, instead of sing, I can rap.” I was in a few bands, nothing that I took seriously. That was a few years ago, and then I put some music online and then my last album was when I started to take music seriously. 

    Had you always rapped? 
    I started rapping when I was... well, I used to always rap poetry but I started rapping when I was so young, like actually. I was in this band called God's Girls, me and two other girls. We were ten. We all met at church. 

    Can you walk us through the process of creating a new song? 
    At this point I have a lot of tracks that I'll sit down and just fully write and it'll be done that day, kind of just come out at me like I'll feel like I need to write a song. I have other tracks that I'll build over months. A lot of my tracks that are my bigger tracks are ones that I've built up. My track "Execute" and "Shepherd," those I remade, remade, and remade until the point that I liked them. On my album coming out soon, I have a few tracks like that where I've really built them up. I have a lot of tracks that are literally freestyles and they just exist almost as a first take that I've ever recorded because I like them. They're more guttural. 

    It's like when you're painting, I throw the paint and and it’s this abstract thought. Other ones are more like, “Okay well let's build it and make it conceptual and what's happening here?” I really want to be able to stand behind my music and feel comfortable with what I'm saying. That’s the hard part when you’re putting out songs that are free-form as opposed to building a song that has a more direct strategy and purpose. 

    There’s honesty in either of those approaches. 
    Yeah, they’re just different. 

    Photo by Logan Jackson

    When is your album coming out? 
    It’s supposed to be out in February. My album was supposed to come out before, but I got signed and they were like, “Let’s make it bigger.” My album is huge, it's so many songs now, and there are so many that are done and I really am excited for it to come out. 

    Are there any new ideas that you’ve really been engaging with lately? 
    I feel like I've been internally through it, the past year. It's always strange to put yourself out there and kind of deal with the negative and positive things that come at you. I've never really been that self-conscious. I get weird feedback sometimes 'cause there's so many haters but there's also so many people who send love your way. It's been a really humbling experience. I think sometimes for you to just sit down and be like well this is how some people perceive me, and this is how this came across, or you do an interview and you're like I don't really like what I said there. I don't know if that really reflects where I'm at right now because six months ago it's still floating around and it's stuck in space forever.

    It’s like, when you put something out into the world, it’s crystallized there in time. 
    When you put something out in the world, you realize that you're so vulnerable. It makes you realize that other people who put their work out are also just as vulnerable, and you have to treat other people with respect and love because everyone's out there, and everyone has feelings, and it matters. This year I've really been trying to not be judgmental and just be open to everyone and try to come at it like that 'cause that's not really something I ever thought about. We're really all just humans. 

    What will bring people together in the next year? 
    I am really against girl on girl bullying online. When I see that, it just makes me kind of sad. We all deserve to be comfortable with our sexuality, we all deserve to be comfortable with our ideas. I think it starts day to day. I think it's important to treat people with respect regardless of who they are, even if you've never met them before, and that goes online too. I think we're all creating this new era, a new generation where we decide what the next few years is going to be like by how we treat each other. 

    What do you hope for yourself in 2017? That your album crushes it? 
    I don't know. I really want to get a dog, but I don't think that's realistic because I travel too much. I'm pretty easygoing, I don't really get excited, I kind of just go through the motions, but this past year, I moved to L.A. and I can be around my friends more. That is the most important thing to me, the people in my life. I just hope to spend time with them and make things. I don't really think about, it's not that I don't have goals in life, I just really don't think about it.

    What do you hope for the world in 2017? 
    I don't even know. At this point that's something that you can't control and I have no power over it, I think the only thing you can do is day to day, for the people you do meet, that's your reality. If you can do something about something you're passionate about, that's what I hope for everyone.

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