Following the hype and success of his 2019 album Starry Night over the Phone, Australian rapper Allday (Tomas Gaynor) has continued to skyrocket with the release of his latest single Void and surprised fans earlier this month with the announcement of his new album, Drinking With My Smoking Friends. The album will drop later this year with a tour to follow. Allday shares that the upcoming album is about “escaping something and finding something new, whether that’s a place, a relationship or something else”.
Drinking With My Smoking Friends sees Allday collaborate with Matthew Mason and Johnny Took from DMA’S, and reunite with Australian indie pop singer-songwriter Japanese Wallpaper. The two have previously worked together on songs including In Motion and Don’t Wanna Push You Away Anymore. The Delta Riggs’ Michael Tramonte and Elliott Hammond feature on the album.
We were lucky enough to grab some time with Allday for this weeks Savvy Seven!
What inspired you to pursue music as a career?
I guess because music is the best, so being able to do it as a job is a dream. I had an inkling I could rap fairly well, but it wasn’t until I got a little buzz around town that I realised it could be a career. Having a manager who believed in me, some radio support and fans asking after new music took it from the fantasy realm to reality.
Besides making music, what have you done to get to where you are?
I got my first start by winning a rap battle, the prize for which was a few hours of recording time in a community centre recording studio (shoutout to NSS in Elizabeth). When I wanted to make more music, I didn’t have any music gear or a laptop or anything, so I had to work a lot of different jobs to pay for a laptop and for studio time. When you’re in that position, every minute in the studio counts, and it’s hard to make quality songs in studios on minimum wage. I would advise people to buy their own gear and/or learn to produce. Also, social media has been a tool for me. I think of it as letting people in and giving them a reason to care about the music. I guess that consists of taking risks, embarrassing yourself sometimes, just offering humanness on the internet. There are a lot of other things I’ve done too, it’s a whole life affair.
How do you approach developing timelines for your career?
Timelines are something I mostly leave with my manager Jim. The main thing is that I get the music done, as soon as it’s done (or before) I start putting the pressure on him to release it all. He’s used to this and is ready to spring into action with an album campaign. Venues need booking a long way ahead: in 2019 I feel we got the timeline wrong, but the tour was booked and the album had to be out. Maybe if there wasn’t a tour booked I would have fiddled with some songs for a while longer and made the album 15% better. That would have been cool, but it can be nice to have a final end date for a piece of work, otherwise you might mess with it forever.
What will musicians discover from touring and how should they prepare for it?
Rehearse a lot, but only touring will prepare you for touring. Remember you are there to facilitate the party, but you are not there to party (maybe sometimes but take some nights off). By all means feel like a god when you play a good gig, but don’t get so high and mighty that the shit gig next week breaks your heart. Just keep it going nice and steady. I’m lucky that I’m a solo artist, because if Allday were a band, I think the rigours of touring would have broken us up 5 times over by now.
What is the most significant challenge you have conquered in your career?
The central thing is making the music that matters to people. Everything stems from making music that people want to listen to again and again. But in terms of non-creative challenges, at the start it was my financial limitations. I don’t think there are many people in my position that started with as little help as I did, and I’m proud of that. Since then, I’d say the course of time is the biggest challenge. Firstly you have to become relevant in people’s minds, then you have to stay relevant. The music industry is obsessed with the next big artist, so how do I fit in when I’ve been around a while? What am I offering that is interesting or challenging? To continue to exist as an artist I have to answer that question again and again, so it’s always fun and exciting.
How should people educate themselves on current industry issues?
You can learn everything from YouTube pretty much. Or if you have better resources around like people in the industry, ask them. I was lucky to have a knowledgeable, trustworthy team from the start but I didn’t know anything about anything. When I first got a booking agent I didn’t know what that meant. Even with the right people around you will still probably make mistakes. The more you know the better equipped you’re going to be, and hopefully you don’t wake up one day with the feeling that you signed your life away at 18 or 19.
How have you integrated modern technology into your content process?
I know we use targeted ads when we need to reach people. It’s a shame that even when someone wants to hear from an artist you have to pay to reach them on certain platforms. We try to move with the times, we’ve used different ticket selling techniques for tours like the ‘post the tour poster on social media to win backstage access’ thing. We’ve had varying degrees of success with these things, but we’ll stay open to them. I think the moment you stop evolving is when you get in trouble.
Allday’s fourth studio album Drinking With My Smoking Friends is out May 28th.