An Interview With Tom Tripp
23-year-old North Londoner and Caledonian Road native Tom Tripp burst onto the scene in 2017 with his masterfully created standout brand of intricate and electronically driven alternative R&B. The singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist of Nigerian descent taught himself to make beats at the early age of twelve and hasn't stopped since. Tripp has impressively managed to cause major waves in the past few years with his first-ever SoundCloud upload 'Aurelia' catching the attention of wonky funk songstress Nao, as-well-as collaborating with and performing at Coachella alongside Mura Masa. Tripp's fast and continual evolution from his roots as a bedroom producer is a sure sign that he is only at the very forefront of his success. Following the release of the second single from his upcoming 'FLAG' EP, I caught up with Tom shortly after landing in LA to talk about the inspiration behind the new single 'Glow' and all things music-related.
So, you’ve just landed in LA, what are you up to while you are there?
TT: I'm out here writing for my album. Got a bunch of sessions for two weeks. Hope I leave with some bangers! It’s a different type of inspiration when I’m out here. Everyone is creating something.
You released your newest single ‘Glow’ including visuals at the beginning of the month, can you tell us where the inspiration behind it came from?
TT: The inspiration behind Glow is a bad experience I had with a girl I met. I was going through a bad phase mentally late last year and I met this girl who made me feel even worse. Every chance she got she would show me mad love and then in a blink of an eye flip on me. She was super insecure and because of that, she projected negativity. She broke me in a matter of weeks. But she knew how to get me back. So Glow is about me getting out of that situation.
Stylistically the visuals in the video and throughout your releases seem very sophisticated, clean and modern, arguably less ostentatious in comparison to some of your musical peers. How important is your image to you?
TT: When it comes to visuals I don’t want to overdo it because the music is so deep. If the visuals were too complex, people wouldn’t pay attention to the actual song. There has to be a balance. Having sophisticated visuals gives the listener space to actually LISTEN to the music and appreciate the video as an asset.
You previously mentioned your first EP ‘RED’ released two years ago was about your relationships and what you were going through at the time, how does your upcoming 'FLAG' EP compare in subject matter and musical style?
TT: The music is more refined now. I’m more aware of what I’m talking about. My production is more deliberate. The songwriting has evolved. I’ve matured in how I express myself and you can hear it. Glow is an example of that from the very first line. My storytelling is getting better and better. I’ve got so much more mental clarity with what I’m saying on this new EP in comparison to RED.
You were of course on the 2017 grammy nominated eponymously named 'Mura Masa' album featured on the track ‘Helpline’, what was it like collaborating with Alex and being featured alongside huge names such as A$AP Rocky, Charli XCX and Desiigner at such an early point in your career?
TT: When I wrote Helpline (which was originally called Gina) I didn’t think it was that good. Funnily enough, Alex was in LA when my now manager sent Alex the demo. I got an immediate response that he loved it and that it was going on the album. I didn’t seem real, like it was too easy. But a few months later I was performing it in front of 10,000 people with A$AP Rocky behind me watching. It happened all so fast I never really processed it all to be honest. It was a blur because I just didn’t know if I was good enough at the time.
What’s one song you wish you had written?
TT: I wish I wrote Lana Del Rey’s ‘Born to Die’ because that song is a masterpiece. I wish I produced it too. Shout out Emile Haynie though.
Speaking of production, you write, record and produce your music, creative control is certainly at the core of what you do, what challenges and advantages have the DIY approach entailed?
TT: The main challenge is that my perfectionism gets in the way of the creative process. I have bad ADD and I overthink every part of the song. Sometimes I will spend hours touching the drums when I should be focusing on the songwriting. But I guess its that attention to detail that makes me come out with good music. I won’t let myself get away with a cheesy lyric or shitty production. The advantage is that the result is always pure and different from what is already out there. I don’t have a chronological approach to making music. I write about whatever I'm feeling. The outcome of that is always something new.
As you have developed as an artist, have you ever felt pressure to become more commercial or do you still see creating music as a cathartic emotional response to what’s happening around you, a more 'left-field' and unedited approach so to say?
TT: Yeah I’ve felt that pressure but it was pressure I placed on myself. Somehow I thought last year to try and make more commercially appealing music. But I went through hell with that. I’m back where I need to be mentally. And creating music now is for mental release. It’s my therapy.
If you could change one thing about the music industry what would it be?
TT: Less focus on numbers. All that should matter is the music. Is it good or is it not. Let's stop determining what’s good by the number of streams it has. Or else we might as well let the robotics take over.
What’s something you want to achieve in the next five years?
TT: I want to win a grammy or work on a song that goes on to win one. I’ve been nominated already so I’m already halfway there.
Finally, what can we expect to see next from you Tom?
TT: Expect more releases from my FLAG EP and more visuals to go along with it.