We sat down with North London vocalist and producer Tom Tripp ahead of his new genre-defying EP ‘FLAG’ to talk the intensity of being a Scorpio and finding good love for a change.
Whether it be the electro-laced funk track “TAM” or his latest confessional and soul-baring ballad, Grammy-Award nominated Tom Tripp is more energised than ever before. After releasing the tastemaker favourite ‘Aurelia’ which caught the attention of singer NAO, the track was released via her record label Little Tokyo Recordings and before he knew it, he landed himself a collaboration with producer Mura Masa. As a result, he collected over 6 million streams with his independent debut EP ‘Red’ and bagged himself a major label deal.
The original idea for his second EP was scrapped after Tom was involved in a car accident and suffered from depression. As a result, Tom believed that it would be more authentic to rise from the ashes with a brand new collection which he believed encompassed what he represents artistically and to articulate what he had recently been through. In his first-ever music video, the visuals for the EP’s lead single “TAM” saw Tom extend his artistry further than ever before. With a background in acting and known for being a visual junkie, he admits that he sometimes hoards books and records just because he loves the cover art.
Known for being a bedroom producer, Tom confesses that he initially remained stationary on stage until his star-studded Coachella performance with Mura Masa in 2017. This new-found confidence and expression shine through on his latest tracks and their accompanying visuals, with his demonstrative movement articulating each song’s intense emotion. His latest release, ‘Ring’, reflects on the sour end of a relationship in which Tom finally takes accountability for his own mistakes. With minimal production and his raw vocals at the forefront, the track sees Tom at his most self-reflective and sees him delivering a song which effortlessly demonstrates his pop sensibilities, ambition and vocal range. Talking about the track, he said: “I was in a very bad mental state last year and it affected everything from my social life, relationships and my music,” Tom explains. “I would overthink everything to a point where I just wouldn’t do anything. I ended a relationship with someone in a bad way and it’s something I still regret, so this song is basically about me admitting my faults and taking responsibility.”
The making of the new EP ‘FLAG’ has, according to Tom, proved to be a healing process: “My favourite part of being an artist is getting out exactly what I’m going through in my head on a microphone,” he says. “I’ve clearly got my thoughts on track, on record for the world to hear and people can relate to that how they want. It’s a release for me. It’s kind of selfish actually; it’s not for you, you can enjoy it, but this is for me.”
If he’s not already on your radar, then he probably should be. Ahead of his highly anticipated EP — we caught up with the artist himself and discussed everything from toxic relationships to being hit in the chest by Travis Scott’s grills.
So, how did you first begin your journey into the music industry?
I’ve been producing music since I was 12 years old and been making beats all my life. When I was 17/18, I started working in Shoreditch and I came across Sampha, The XX and I went to those kinds of events and knew I wanted to be apart of that scene. I’d email managers music I had on Soundcloud and I got ignored for like three years but they were definitely aware of me because I kept sending them music.
It took me a long time to get their attention but I just hustled my way through. You have to keep going and there’s no lucky way — I believe that if you just put music out and it’s good then people will naturally share it. You can have a two-year-old song that nobody has heard and suddenly one person posts it on their Instagram and you’ve got a record deal the next week. I remember hearing about Lizzo when I was younger and look now, she’s about to go number one in the US — how does that work? Music can explode now or in five years time, thanks to the internet.
What’s your creative process when it comes to producing and writing?
When it comes to writing music I’ve learnt that it’s just about self-expression. There has to be something going on at the time in my life for me to be inspired to write something. A lot of my music is based on relationships that I’m going through and it’s like my diary. When something’s up, some people go to a therapist but for me, I go to the studio. I’ll try to make a drum pattern or an idea and once I get a basic idea I’ll just start recording ideas about what I’m going through and that will form the song. The chorus always comes first for me — once it’s out of my head and on a piece of paper or as a note on my computer, it’s like I’ve released whatever I was holding on to.
Is ‘Glow’ a taster of sound for everything else to come?
In terms of the album, that’s where the direction will be musically. ‘Glow’ came about when I met someone but it was so toxic. I would say good morning in capital letters and she’d be like “That seems a bit rude” — I was going through depression late last year and she caught me in that zone and just made it worse. My idea for the album is actually good pain because whatever experience I had whether it’s been bad or good, I’ve always ended up learning from it. I’m like a cocoon, I’ve always been flourishing musically but now I’m focused, ready and got clarity. I can stand on my own now but before I just needed something to latch onto. It’s been a journey of self-discovery.
What’s been one of the highlights of your year so far?
Filming my first music videos. I’ve got one coming out soon and it’s quite sad actually but I love it. I almost cried on set because hearing one of the actresses sing it was so beautiful. I still feel the emotions that I’ve written when watching or listening back to my songs, but I don’t re-live those feelings. Once they’re out of my system, that’s it.
Did you find when you were younger you were seeking out these toxic relationships as they were inspiring your work?
Yeah. My therapist told me I did that because I want to feel something. I didn’t think I was doing that but then I realised every person I dated it ended up being toxic. It’s a love-hate thing. I’m scared to have a girlfriend and be happy because I’m scared that it’ll work.
What is some of the best advice you’ve been given?
I was working in LA with one of Frank Ocean’s producers called Malay and we didn’t actually get much done in two days but he said to me: “I’m not better than you in any way — if you consistently do good enough work for a long time you will get bigger and bigger. I’m not your golden ticket, you’re just a year into this.” He knew that sometimes artists get put into big studio sessions with massive producers and they get pressured to make a hit. He told me to keep going and I’ve never let that go.
What’s one album that defined your teenage years?
Kanye’s ‘Dark Fantasy’ or Gorillaz’s ‘Plastic Beach’. Maybe Lana Del Rey’s ‘Born To Die’, but the production on Dark Fantasy sounded like a theatre production and I came from acting so I was like “How did Kanye make an album sound like a theatrical performance?”
What’s been one of the best gigs you’ve ever been to?
There’s two. I was 17 and I got into A$AP Rocky’s second-ever show in London in Camden. His Rolex got robbed after he put his hand in the crowd and they turned the lights on, beat up the guy and the watch got passed down to the front. He was like: “I fuck with London” and I was right there which is probably why it still is one of my most immense experiences. Also, at Travis Scott’s first show in London at The Supper Club, his grills fell out of his mouth and hit me on the chest. He stopped the music and was like “I’m not doing any more songs until someone finds my grills.” It was mental.
If you could choose two people to collaborate with in the future, who would you say?
I’m gonna have to say Kid Cudi and M.I.A.
If we were to sit down this time next year — what do you want to have achieved?
A nomination for some type of award. Whether it be for the visuals or the song itself, I want to be recognised for my album.