Aussie Cult Rapper Allday Talks Stateside Breakthrough & Forthcoming Sophomore LP
"It’s weird because some people think, 'How can you be a rapper from Australia?'"
Australian cult rapper Allday -- real name: Tom Gaynor -- has been building quite a following since his debut EP Loners Are Cool back in 2013 and subsequent full-length Startup Cult two years later. But it wasn't until a recent steady stream of viral-friendly singles (see the slightly NSFW cut "Send Nudes" here) that he went spinning Stateside.
The Adelaide-bred talent has since moved from Melbourne to Los Angeles and just dropped his first release of 2017 -- a dizzying, down-tempo collaboration with fellow Aussie producer Japanese Wallpaper called “In Motion.” The clip for the single, directed by Nima Nabili Rad, finds Allday feeling reflective about his generation’s "lost capacity for love."
"I admired his music. Being from the same city, we had mutual friends, and it just came together super easily," Allday tells Billboard of the collaboration. But the song's lyrics were a bit trickier to pin down, with the MC using a surreal rainy-day drug experience as his muse. "I had a day where we were eating painkillers or whatever," he says with a laugh. "This girl I was seeing ended up vomiting. I was like, 'Oh my God, that’s the rest of the song!'"
Speaking to Billboard over the phone from Los Angeles, Allday opens up about his delayed forthcoming album, Stateside breakthrough, dream collaborations and more.
"In Motion" has an ethereal quality to it, almost dreamlike. Is that stream-of-consciousness style how you always write lyrics?
I definitely write down phrases and stuff, but they don’t always join up. Eventually, I just go through them and say, "Oh yeah, I can use that one!" I might have had it for two years or whatever, because I’m waiting. I’m a bit superstitious about it and wait for the exact right moment.
You’re now living in L.A. How has the transition been for you?
I just moved a month ago. It’s pretty similar. [Laughs] People are the same, but what’s cool about L.A. is there are so many people working towards the same goals. You can either get bummed out by it, and think everyone is here doing the same thing, or you can use it as an endless pool of resources or inspiration. It’s just the place to be. I lived in Melbourne for five years, but before that I lived in a city with a million people called Adelaide. It’s really similar. You drive around and it’s f---in’ hot, and I don’t know, in terms of feeling connected, you’re as connected as you want to be.
Who were some of your biggest hip-hop influences growing up, and who do you look up to now in the industry?
I grew up in that post-“hip hop is dead” era of “we listen to '90s rap because nothing good is coming out now.” I listened to a lot of '90s East Coast rap, and I love all of the Detroit hip-hop. Lil Wayne is probably my favorite rapper ever. Kanye, Drake, Kendrick -- these people are at the top for a reason.
You have a very active social following. How has it been to see it grow, and what advice would you give to other emerging artists?
I suppose post everything and be active all the time? [Laughs] I’ve kind of forgotten how to do that. You can’t drive down one street in L.A. without seeing someone on an Instagram shoot; it’s f---ing stupid. But it's just being open and showing what you’re up to and being a human being. People have been able to ride with that and go with my music and I’ve ended up, not really deliberately, with people who are really invested emotionally, which has been really cool.
What is the craziest fan interaction you've ever had, either online or IRL?
There was a girl who gave me this present and it was her dirty clothes and all of her dirty underpants! It was f---ing disgusting. [Laughs] She used to come to all of my shows and freak me out.
How do you think fans in America have responded to you as an Aussie rapper?
People seem to get it, but it’s weird because some people think, "How can you be a rapper from Australia?" But for someone from my generation, hip-hop was just another bit of culture that was just there for my age group. It definitely was good to move here and it’s already affecting the music that I’m making. You can kind of get inside the psyche of people a tiny bit differently. It’s not even something I can explain, but I feel it changing my music.
Growing up, was there a big hip-hop scene in Adelaide?
It was a subculture then -- shows and battles -- and there’d be the same 300 kids there. It was a f---ing small subculture that was creating the music at the shows every week. It was also very organic. Every teenager that was a scummy teenager, for lack of a better term, was doing graffiti and would freestyle at parties. I don’t know what was going on in America in 2003, but it felt like we were copying the '90s rappers, trip-hopping elements. We were almost a bit behind.
You’re releasing your new album Speeding independently next month. How does it feel to be putting out a full set after playing the singles game?
It feels pretty good. I definitely waited too long for this album. It was supposed to come out in 2014, and shit just kind of gets f---ed for three years. [Laughs] I don’t want to wait three years again; I want to be faster with it. I’m excited, but I’m more like, "Let’s get this thing out of the way and on to the next one!"
4 things: New Song: In Motion Ft. Japanese Wallpaper out now on Spotify and Apple Music and all that New Album: It's called Speeding and it's out April 21. You can pre-order with merch + vinyl right now if you want to be a bloody legend (Link in my bio) New Weird Party Thing for Australians: When you pre-order you get invited to a Speeding listening party (18+ only) in either Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney or Brisbane... It's just basically an excuse to throw a party and hang out. You'll get a +1 too New Aus Tour: On sale on the 24th of March (next week). I'm bringing some of my favourite artists, @japanesewallpaper and @nicolemillarmusic
What's your goal with this record and moving forward? Any dream collaborations in mind?
With this album, my goal was and is just to be seen as a good songwriter. I always think of myself as one, but I wanted to prove it to myself, and I hope that happens on this album. I’m seeing where the inspiration of being in a new place takes me. I would like to get Kanye on a song. I probably need to make some more music before I do that. I’d like to work with Grimes too; she’s really cool.
Your album features fellow Aussie artist Mallrat. Who are some other Oz-based newcomers we should know about?
F---, there are so many. There’s a girl called Gretta Rae from Melbourne who had been singing in Japanese Wallpaper’s band and who is getting really big in Australia at the moment. It kind of reminds me of '90s guitar-pop, but it’s really well done. In Australia there’s a really good balance of the art of it and the business of it, so that’s why there’s a disproportionate amount of great artists coming out now.
Pre-order Allday's new LP Speeding, out April 21, here.