15 – 02 – 2021

Interview: Tommy Boi

How do you write a global hit, advocate LGBTQ+ rights and stay true to yourself in the process? We asked a singer/songwriter who's managed all three.

Last year, singer/songwriter Tommy Boi broke over 3 million cross-platform hearts with his 2019 pop ballad, ‘You Never Called Back’. Since the single’s success, he’s grown to 100k monthly listeners and 100k Instagram followers. We spoke to him about fandom, transparency and finding success as an independent artist.

This month you released a new single, ‘Break Me’, about two ‘star-crossed lovers’. Can you tell us more about the track and what inspired it?

‘Break Me’ is really about being vulnerable and crossing that point of no return in a relationship. The phrase ‘starcrossed lovers’ comes from Romeo and Juliet. It’s really about two people falling in love with each other from different sides of the tracks, something I can relate to as a ‘gay boi’. When I wrote this song, I was at this point in my relationship where I was ready to dive all in but I was also a little afraid. I had some PTSD from the past and I feel like this song was my way of kind of deciding to dance through the fear and be all in anyway. Let go of the past and let love takeover!

Your work tends to have a very sincere, intimate quality. How do you balance a personal art form with a popular and public online presence?

Music is my way of whispering into ears and saying what I need to say. My way of cutting through the noise. I think people find me different ways whether through Instagram or Spotify or one way or another on social media and they get to know me and my life and music is a big part of me! I’ve played piano since I was seven and got my degree in classical piano. Social media is a really beautiful opportunity to connect with fans and supporters and to be there for each other as humans. My goal with all of it whether it be songs, photos or videos, is to add something beautiful and positive to the world.

Speaking of which, you’ve really connected with your listeners and have built a devoted following across social channels. What do you think goes into forming a close relationship with fans?

I think just being transparent and vulnerable is really the best way to form a bond with people. We are all desperate for some realness online and I know that is always so refreshing to me when I find someone being open and themselves online. I love to be that for people out there. Especially my LGBTQ+ fans, I want to be there for them. I’d do anything for them. I’m really grateful for all of the people that support me and listen to my songs and follow me on social media. I love the bond that we have. They always check in on me especially if I’m ever getting too quiet online. It’s really sweet. They care about me and I care about them!

You’ve found your niché as an independent artist. What is your advice to other self-releasing artists and why should artists strive for independence?

I’m really inspired by artists out there building it from the ground up. It’s not always easy that way but the payoff eventually does hit different. Independence equals freedom right? By freedom, I mean getting to make the art that you want to make and no one owns you. Knowledge is power. I’ve had to learn every single part of the process myself as an independent artist. I’ve also had to learn when to find someone who is going to do a better job than me at something like a producer or a director or photographer. I’m learning that its really all about building the right team around you as an artist, to help you facilitate your vision. It’s more responsibility, but also more power being independent!! Artists like LAUV and Kim Petras who have stayed independent but taken it all so far really inspire me.

And with all the possible distractions and obstacles in the music world, how do you retain a voice that is your own?

I think what makes an artist different from just a singer is that an artist has a perspective and a point they are trying to get across. I definitely have my viewpoint on things and I have a lot to say. I’m influenced musically by so many different incredible artists across all of the different genres. I am the biggest fan of music in general. So when I go to make music of my own it’s really fun because I have all these different artists and albums and genres that I love being mixed with my life and experiences and vibes. Every song comes out being like a new born song baby!

Moving towards the end of 2020, what’s up next for you, and are there any new releases on the horizon?

I’m really excited about the rest of 2020 for a couple of different reasons. The biggest reason is because I am about to put out an EP in December called ‘Starcrossed’. It’s a four song EP and I’ve already put out two singles from it, ‘Break Me’ and ‘Blessing In Disguise.’ I’m exciting to be releasing my EP Starcrossed and heading into what will hopefully be a happy and healthier new year ahead!

You can check out the live version of 'You Never Called Back' below:

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