A few years ago I got asked to style a young Australian rapper, Allday, real name Tomas Gaynor, for a photoshoot for the fantastic UK menswear magazine HERO. I’d never really heard of Allday before but thought there must be something pretty great about him for HERO to want to feature him.
As you do, I went straight to instagram to check him out and was struck by two things. Firstly, he was definitely pretty famous — he had more Instagram followers than any other up-and-coming artist I’d worked with previously (currently over 200K!). And his followers seemed super engaged — I later learned that there’s an Allday fan club on Facebook, and that he’d built his unique career through social media and word of mouth. No small feat for a rapper from Adelaide. Secondly, I learned that he wasn’t much the image that comes to mind when you hear “Australian Rapper.” He looked famous in the classic sense — like a Hollywood actor from the 80s or 90s, or a Smash Hits centrefold, even a young Mick Jagger.
Allday’s music wasn’t what I expected either. It’s dreamy, relaxed, and honest, and transportative. His bio describes it as ‘more like the backdrop for a synth-pop band than the sparse beats of the commercial hip-hop on the radio’. In person, he was full of surprises too. He was and still is disarmingly genuine. You kind of instantly want to be his best friend!
Tom worked from Melbourne for a few years, eventually relocating to LA to focus on making music full-time. He’s been there two years now and in that time has made a brilliant new album, “Starry Night On the Phone”. He’s currently back in Australia for a sold out tour, off the back of this newly released 3rd album. We caught up between shows, where I asked him some embarrassing questions I found on the internet from old issues of Smash Hits.
Merz B top & ACNE jeans both from INCU
What’s your Star sign?
Pisces sun, Taurus double - rising & moon signs
I’ve never been able to make up my mind about that, maybe a daisy right now.
That’s hard…hmmm…The Castle
Right now? Hmm what have I been listening to…I want to try to answer this without looking at my Spotify…
Well, maybe who’s your favourite artists/musicians right now?
I’m loving Alex G or Big Thief, I’m just on like a folky tip at the moment, like kind of carefree folk. I think Alex G is like someone who makes his songs super quickly, or it seems like he does. Its very ‘jammy’ and he writes about weird stuff. And Big Thief just put out a really good album.
What’s your most treasured possession? Do you even care about possessions?
That’s a good question. I’m a bit of a hoarder, for certain things, but because I move around I haven’t taken so much stuff to America. I’ve got a bunch of stuff sitting at my mum’s house in Adelaide, boxes & boxes of stuff from my childhood, photos and photo albums. I guess it’s the photos & photo albums that I treasure the most. I hope my mum doesn’t get rid of them one day when she’s fed up with it. Oh and I’ve got a little crucifix necklace from my nana. That’s probably the thing I treasure the most.
SASQUATCHFABRIX top & ACNE jeans both from INCU
Is there anything that you collected as a kid?
I collected basketball cards and I’ve got all my trophies from when I played basketball as a kid. Who would you like to be stuck in a lift with? The Dalai Lama, I’ve just heard that he’s a pretty nice guy.
What would you ask him?
I’d probably just ask him to tell me what its like being the chosen one
What do you think the secret of the universe is?
I don’t know that theres a point to any of it but try not to do too much harm. Try to make things comfortable for those around you. Be as kind as you can possibly be. Extract as much joy as possible while enacting as little evil as possible.
What’s your favourite sandwich?
This will be disgusting to most people but Promite and Avocado on toast, I haven’t really eaten
What sort of car do you have?
I have an old Lexus, its ugly, its silver. I just wanted to get a car that day so I bought the first one I saw.
What is your dream car?
I want to get a Mercedes 560SL, I like the white ones with beige interior. You don’t see them here in Australia very often but you see them everywhere in LA. Two door or four door? Two door so I don’t have to help anyone move house Ha ha
Where do you live?
Currently Los Angeles
Who was your first celebrity crush?
Who would play you in a film about your life?
Who would it be or who would I want it to be? Ha ha
I’d want it to be Timothée Chalamet but who it would be, is probably Jonah Hill. Actually I think I would want it to be Jonah Hill. Jonah Hill is just good.
Sum yourself up in one word…
Trying? What do you mean by that?
I’m just trying, just fucking trying. I’m just putting in an effort. I’m happy, I’m just trying to get better at life.
Saturdays NYC top and ACNE jeans from INCU
Is your home full of knick-knacks?
YESSS I’m a knick knack guy. I’ve got crystals and weird rocks and fossils. And lots of books that I’ve been meaning to read or have read.
What’s the last book that you read?
Way’s of Seeing by John Berger, it was great.
Do you read a lot?
I try to read everyday if I have enough energy. Which I don’t always, sometimes I just go home and watch youtube or some crud or Gordon Ramsay or Beetlejuice. After a long day at the studio you just got to watch some youtube.
I remember a bunch of kindy stuff. Someone threw sand and in my eyes, things like that.
Has anyone ever said anything mean or hurtful to you that has stuck with you?
Yeah probably so many, a lot of bad things stick in your head but I’m definitely someone who uses those moments as fuel. I think I’m good at filtering what I need to listen to as valuable feedback and just not getting too hurt especially because when you are putting yourself out there creatively you have to have a very thick skin, and I do. Things used to really bother me, to the point where I didn’t even want to write or say anything on the Internet anymore just coz no matter what happened there was always someone that was going to hate it. But that can be a good sign that you are doing something, if people are bothered enough to say something it means that you are making an impact and as long as you believe in what you are doing that’s what’s important. It’s only when you not believing in it that it hurts. You know when you do something and someone criticises it and you don’t like that thing and you actually kind of agree with them in your heart that’s when it hurts you. That’s what I’ve learnt. Make what you want to make.
Who would you like to meet dead or alive?
I would like to meet Prince. I’m into Prince. Who isn’t into prince!
Who was your first crush?
There was a girl from school, I was in 5th grade and she was in 7th grade and she was cute and I was such a weirdo, I would do this thing where, I thought it was like a little game I would stare at her whenever I saw her, to the point where I would just stop what I was doing and just stare. And this is so bizarre hahaha, all her friends would be like “what are you doing staring at her” and I was like “ I dunno its just a game I have” and then get this eventually after doing that for like ages one day her friends came and grabbed me and like pulled me and carried me over and threw me on the ground and like held me down and then she came up and I was on the ground and she kissed me! So my insane technique worked.
So then you went out with her?
Haha no that was the end of it, so maybe don’t try that at home!! I don’t that works maybe only in primary school. I’ve grown out of it thankfully.
Who’s the best person you have met and been star struck by?
I think I saw Frank Ocean at the supermarket but he was wearing a hat…but I didn’t say anything to him. I’m not the kind of person to go up and say hi to someone, that’s a just bit beyond my social skills. Or do you mean someone I’ve actually met not just looked at? Maybe I should’ve tried out my stare method on Frank Ocean haha
Where would you most like to live in the world?
I want to try London soon, its just a bit far away but I might do that next I think.
Why do you think its far away? Do you mean its far away from your family?
Yeah and I like Australia and also just I hope that my music and income is a little more spread around the world but right now it’s mostly Australia so it becomes a thing where I have to come back to Australia a lot. Where LA is just one flight back here.
Your most embarrassing moment? Is it staring at that girl in primary school?
Haha you underestimate how many embarrassing moments I’ve had. Oh I did call this producer the wrong name once, Benny Blanco. I met him and was a bit drunk and I was just trying to be nice and said “great to meet you bro, Benny Benassi” and he was like “what did you call me?!!?” He was genuinely pretty grumpy with me.
Sasquatchfabrix top & ACNE jeans both from INCU
Because you were once going to become a comedian who is the funniest person you know?
My best friend Nelson is probably the funniest person I know. I know a lot of comedians and they are all very funny. My favourite Australian comedian at the moment is Anne Edmonds, she’s very funny.
What’s the best holiday you’ve been on?
Ummm I haven’t taken a holiday in so long. Well, where would you like to go on holiday then? I want to go to Ireland, I’ve never been. I’ve got family there and I’ve never met them so I’d like to do that.
What do you most dislike in people?
I dislike people who switch around conversations to be about them and cut people off. I dislike people who give people small unkindnesses or make people feel badly about themselves. That’s a pet hate of mine, if someone has an insecurity about themselves and someone subtly drills in to that, I hate seeing that. I mean I make fun of my friends but on the issues that I know bother them I will support them. Some people have this impulse to bring other people down and I think we need to stamp that out.
If you were an animal, what would you be?
Maybe like a dolphin, they look like they have fun.
What’s your wildest ambition?
I want to be a Baz Luhrmann movie. I want him to make another movie thats just so overly beautiful like Romeo & Juliet or Moulin Rouge and even of I played a bit part or an extra.
Hmm I’m trying to choose between broccoli and cauliflower. broccoli
Least favourite vegetable?
I don’t like Asparagus sometimes
Favourite thing about Adelaide?
Its got enough stuff that you want in a city but then it lacks some of things that annoy you about other cities. Parking, driving around in bad traffic that kind of stuff isn’t so much of a problem in Adelaide. And nature is so close to the city, the beaches are beautiful and the hills, its all right there and nobody knows about it!
Favourite thing about LA?
The fact that a lot of people who have done amazing things with their lives are just right there and that’s inspiring
Favourite thing about Melbourne?
Melbourne is my home too, I love Melbourne, I miss Melbourne. I miss the people. The people Melbourne people , the culture of being accepted for how you treat people and how you think over how much money you have or how you look. I think thats crucial to Melbourne culture
Starry Night Over the Phone is out now