Unique and multi-faceted Gold Coast artist Tomi Gray has dropped some breathless alchemy recently in the form of a poetic, reflective EP and its lead single, both titled ‘Asthma’. Today he’s released an emotive video to accompany the single, and we’ve got your first look right here.
As far as process goes, the quirky Palm Beach multi-instrumentalist locks himself away for weeks at a time in his home studio, a steam train of running thought and countless hours of solitude resulting in a collection of songs. With Tomi’s whole EP – but especially leading track ‘Asthma’ and its video – reflecting his loss of a sense of identity during these chaotic times, we are curious about how the last eighteen months has affected his output.
“The general feedback on this collection of songs is, it’s a more concentrated offering of the usual chaos I toss at the vacuum,” he says.
“During that first lockdown, I threw two bedroom EPs online that are fairly… ‘confused’, is maybe the word… I think when you have the freedom to reach, you’ll reach far and sometimes you come back with handfuls of shiny dirt. Like, ingredients that maybe don’t fit together, but now you have these new flavors to play with in the future.
I think the ‘Asthma’ EP is me refining my recipe a little.
And keeping with the idea that from shiny dirt comes solid gold, single ‘Asthma’ explores the fear and uncertainty, yes, but also the hopefulness and self-awareness that arises when someone is suddenly unable to do the thing that they thought made them who they are.
Tomi expands on that concept to us.
“We have a somewhat embryonic value for the arts in this country. We take her for granted that she’ll be there, if and when we decide she’s essential,” he says.
“Meanwhile, venues are closing, gigs are being canceled, bands are giving up… It’s easy to get distraught when everything you rely on to be predictable is yanked away. People are running out of ideas and the pressure is building, causing a lot of spillover.
“BUT… if we can just try and ride this out, watch it for what (whatever) it is, there’s a lot that can be taken for having lived through periods of change and discomfort. We’ll be alright.”
With all tracks on the EP laid down by the Tomi himself, (except for a huge “YEAAAH” by producer Matt Cook, a synth solo by Josh Paul and a chorus of drunken voices – see if you can spot them), ‘Asthma’ is the real deal; warm and thoughtful, it’s a slickly recorded one-man-band experience with no shortage of layers, psych-folk vibes and a dash of drama to round it all out. It was also mastered by Gold Coast superstar Paul Blakey, and for free, no less.
“He knew musos were feeling it on the wallet during lockdowns,” Tomi explains.
“I hope he’s ok with me bringing that up, coz he’s a pretty big wheel in the GC music game. He’s worked with Amy Shark, who it’s my understanding, is the actual shark from that baby shark song that went viral.”
Well at least Tomi hasn’t lost his sense of humour along with his touring slots. (How cool would it be if the baby shark really was Amy tho…)
Getting back to today’s premiere – the vid – it was conceptualised and shot by Tomi and good pal Corey Mark Fisher in Tomi’s garage, actually his first home on the Gold Coast and the home studio where the EP was born, giving it that extra touch of personal significance.
The facepaint he wears in the clip is akin to putting on a character for Tomi: “Even a thin stripe is enough to trick me into thinking I have a full mask on then can excuse myself for going deeper in the performance.”
Given how much of himself he is offering up with this musical project, we ask Tomi how he wants people to feel when they listen to or watch his tunes. His response runs deep.
“Ideally, stoned. If you can get your hands on some mushies, that’s even better.”
Not that we’re condoning that of course. But your first look at the official video for ‘Asthma’ is just below, soooo whatever gets the party started, peeps. We won’t tell.
If everything goes to plan, Tomi will be playing at the Gold Coast Show on Sunday 29 August at about 1pm on the main stage at Broadwater Parklands. The official EP launch date is set for 5 September at Cambus Wallace in Nobbys, so be sure to hit that up for some good vibes.
His final message on the matter: “I’m in no way qualified to give advice, but here’s some anyway. Things are weird at the moment, they may get worse. We’ll all get through this, just try as hard as you can, not to be a c**t. That’s it. And obviously, listen to the EP. But if you only have time for one, do the first.”
Wise words. Follow @tomigraymusic for more.