Tommy? Tommy! Tommy Genesis is born again, back with “peppermint”, her first single after two years since the release of her self-titled debut Tommy Genesis and some remixes and one-offs with the likes of Charli XCX, Deb Never, and Jozzy. “peppermint”, out today via Downtown Records, is Tommy’s re-emergence, showing us how her self-described “fetish rap” is done. Tweeting just last week, “singles first ... it’s been 2 years ... the label told me singles first ... but the album is comin,” Genesis teases what’s to come.
Until then, Genesis will tide hungry fans over with the self-directed and edited video for new single “peppermint” which sees the artist crucified on a Lamborghini in the vastness of the desert. From the desert to a bed of host stand peppermints, Genesis reminds us with the track that she’s still “underground and mainstream,” something only someone on Rihanna’s radar yet continues to work with up and coming talent can say.
Flaunt caught up with Tommy leading up to the release of “peppermint” to talk evolution since her self-titled album, directing her own videos, the next Tommy Genesis era, and claiming “fetish rap” once and for all. Check it out below and move along to the video for the thrumming track below.
The single and video for “peppermint” are out now!
How did the new music come about? It's been 2 years—were you intending on waiting this long? Or was it delayed?
It's been so delayed. For a while there, I didn't really have a team to put music out. That's a huge reason why for 2 years I couldn’t bring new music out. I was, for the past year, working on finishing this project. In the beginning, I was just making music to make music, and then at a certain point I pivoted and was like: okay I need to finish this. So it’s crazy how it all came together, ‘cause it's really like my favorite piece of work I've made. I’m really excited. I’m really excited. Looking back—I’m the type of person where I spend a lot of time with one song, and I'll redo it as many times as I need to to get it to where I like it. But then it was also kind of learning when to step back and be like okay, it's done.
Did “peppermint” go through those multiple iterations you’re talking about?
Actually “peppermint” didn't. “peppermint” is like the one song that I just made and I was like: okay I made this. And I actually didn't even touch it once I made it, which is kinda funny.
And what about the video?
I come up with the concept, and I'll direct it while I'm there, and I edit it. So that's how I did “peppermint”. “peppermint” was kind of a struggle. I didn't have my regular team with me, like my DP and everything. So I got it to a place where I love it, but it wasn't the original concept, and I feel like sometimes that happens when you're shooting. The way I shoot videos is like, if the scene was shot within the concept but doesn't look good or like the lighting was weird, I don't use it. And I feel like a lot of directors will just use it anyway for a cohesive story or they will do like a pickup shot or something. I just unfortunately didn't have the time to do that. But I actually think it turned out.
You always direct and edit your videos?
How important is taking control of your artistry?
Oh my god, it's the most.
In your lyrics, you’ll talk about how this vision is yours.
Yeah, it's the most important. I'm such a visual artist. To me, the music is one thing that I'm so proud of, but it just doesn't end there. If you don’t take control, not only of that but your image and visually what people are ingesting, you are missing out on half of it. You don’t want it to be half of it, but sometimes it is. For me, especially because I'm such a visual artist, once the music is done, I pivot and I'm like: okay I need to make sure everything else hits. It needs to hit. I care. I like editing too, ‘cause it's almost like a composition. It’s like painting, like: okay where do I take it from to where? What shots look good, but also like what’s the feeling, you know? And I tend to use a lot of things like raw, BTS kind of. I'll use footage that isn't necessarily done right. I'll use footage even if the cameras are shaking and I like the footage. It doesn't have to look like anything, I just want it to feel like itself and look like itself. Like, okay this video looks like itself and whatever I'm giving you looks like itself and you are not just sitting there being like: oh, I love the concept, but I wish you did it like this. I don't want that thought to come in your head. I just want you to sit down and look at it and be like, it is exactly what it is and it fits.
And talking about the camera shaking—
In the “peppermint” video, there's this moment where the camera just kinda swings to your face from above.
Yeah towards the end.
Yeah and that was like “Oh, hell yeah that’s awesome”.
They tried to get me to edit that out. They were like, “This looks like a mistake.” And I was like, “It's not a mistake.”
No, I love that. That's what I love in videos is that movement, even if it wasn't intended.
That was literally the cameraman being like, “okay the shot is done. Like alright, I wanna go home.”
Thinking about the next Tommy Genesis era, how would you say that it's different from the self-titled album? Are you experimenting more?
I feel like I don't even remember the self-titled album, ‘cause it's been so long. ‘Cause even once it came out, I had been working on it for a year. This project, I mean it’s all recent—it's all shit I’ve made in the now. For me, this project just feels so fresh. Like, it just feels like more of my immediate taste and response to my life. And, of course, when I listen to the project, it's kind of what I've gone through, and not really the state of mind that I'm in. I feel like that's what happens when you make music. Like you make it to therapeutically go through something, and then even you look back on it a month later and are like: whoa I'm in a different place in my life.
You said you’d hit a creative sweet spot. What did it take to get to that sweet spot?
It’s very experimental. So there's not one genre, there's not one type of song. It's like a punk song, there's a pop song, there's so much rap on it, but it all fits. To me the whole new era—I didn't try very hard, but that's why it's good. It didn't have to be anything, it just was.
Sort of vision board for all of your tastes.
I didn't have any rules for myself. I wasn't like, it has to be this, it has to be that. It was just whatever wants to come today, I'll make you. You know? I was like, whatever I'm feeling, whatever comes today, is what we're gonna do. I have a really amazing executive producer, artist Lil Rich, and we just sit in the studio and like bounce off each other, and he definitely was such a huge—I don't know I didn't really have any other creative collaborator other than him in the studio.
I was gonna ask about that, if there was any sort of collaboration, ‘cause I know you've done a lot of work with Charlie Heat.
Yeah he is definitely on the project. He has four tracks on it. And like the way me and Charlie work, we just get in the studio and just make shit. I think we were in the studio for 2 days and made those 4 songs, like, that's literally how we work. And then some songs I redo like 20 times, and then other songs I'll make it, and it's good right away.
Is there any sort of dream collaboration, whether it be another performer or producer or anything?
Yes please tell M.I.A. to hit me. Tell her to check her DMs [laughs].
We need that.
I actually wrote one of the songs inspired by her, for sure. The only feature on the project is a friend of mine, Ganna. She didn't make music before that feature. I don't really chase features. It was Halloween, we were at a party in the hills, and we were driving home, she was rapping along to all this Russian rap in the car. And I'm like squished in the backseat with all my friends. And I was like “Fuck, Ganna you can rap.” And she's like, “No I can't.” And I'm like, “Yes you can, you have to come to the studio.” And we're all like drunk or whatever. And then she comes into the studio and literally spits that, and I was like: you're crazy. And now she's fully an artist making music, making an album. So I kind of love that she's the only feature, ‘cause it's like so raw and so punk.
Your name and your work has religious connotations all over it. Like on the cover of “peppermint” you’re on the Lamborghini like a crucifix, and you're “the bitch that's born again”. How do you approach that interplay between that and the fetish rap?
The cover of “peppermint” is a nod to this performance artist Chris Burden. He's from the 70’s. He's the one that shot himself in the gallery. He crucified and nailed himself to a Volkswagen Beetle. Like, he actually nailed himself to the car. It definitely has a biblical reference for me. For me it's like, the artist, the person, you really have to self sacrifice for your art to do this job. Like me, Genesis has to be sacrificed for Tommy. Even if Genesis is still here, when I've put my shit out, I have to give a part of me to the general public. It's like taking a part of you, and dropping it. I don't know what that cover means to me, but at the same time—like, my parents named me Genesis. I just can't get away from it. I just reference it without even thinking about it. I have this line where it's like, “they call me Adam, Eve, and Genesis.” It's like, I'm human. That's all I'm saying. I'm whatever you want to call me, but I'm human.
Any final words?
My favorite part of the song is “I can bleach my hair, but I can’t escape my roots,” and like “I can walk away, but can’t escape my shoes,” and that's how I feel about this album. I can't escape it. Like fetish rap is a term I literally made up in my bedroom, and it became a term, but I never really claimed it. ‘Cause I kind of thought it was cute to not claim it and be subtle. But I just was like, “Fuck it, I’m gonna claim it on this song.”
Credit where credit is due.