How do you come up with your lyrics?
I tend to make a lot of instrumentals first before I write the words. I have trouble writing the words without hearing the music. I'll make about 10 beats and out of those 10 I'll probably write to maybe one or two of them if I'm lucky. Once I've found a piece of music that works I try to write the lyrics really fast so I've got the whole song laid out, then I go back and change things here and there until it works.
How do you believe Tommy Ill fits into the NZ music industry?
I haven't really figured that out yet. Live I think I fit in better with the indie/alternative scene than I do with the rap crowd though. I kind of hope that people who don't usually like rap music might like my music maybe.
What can you never leave home without?
A sense of humour.
What is the best part of being a musician?
Hearing a finished song for the first time and being happy with it. It's a weird feeling. That, and also getting off stage after a really good show, meeting new people and things like that.
What is your most embarrassing on tour/gig moment?
I broke my tooth at a show in Auckland. I jumped into the crowd and the guy in front of me spun around, I had the microphone up to my face and he bumped it into my mouth. A big chunk of one of my front teeth came off. I kept going though and finished the show, and ACC paid for my tooth to get fixed so it was all good.
What is your favourite place in NZ to be?
Anywhere that my friends are! As long as there is friends and drinks and music it's all good with me. Wellington's good though, seeing as that's where my bed is, and I can walk home from where ever.
What inspired you to become a musician?
I think it kind of happened by accident. I didn't really know I was one until recently. I've just kind of been mucking about in my bedroom making weird music on my computer for such a long time, I didn't really think "hey I should do this" I think I was just a bit bored and didn't have much to do. I think maybe I thought if I made some music people would think I was a cool guy or something, haha.
What rumour would you like to start about yourself?
I can leap across buildings in a single bound and I never sleep. I once saved one thousand orphans from a house fire.
Three EPs in, prolific MC, Tommy Ill, is a svelte yet metaphorically obese young man – as his proverbial belt has been stretched yet again to make room for his self-titled debut LP.
Having already released 'Toast & Tea Kettles' (Empathy Recordings) in 2007, 'Matchsticks' (LOOP) in 2008 and 'Come Home Mr. Ill' (LOOP) in 2009, Tommy Ill has earned a reputation for haphazard live sets and humorous tales that document the foibles of your average, slightly awkward fellow with Dionysian-leaning tendencies.
Being piggybacked around the stage by his hype men, tackling audience members, climbing on furniture and collapsing into a sweaty heap on the floor is nothing out of the ordinary at a Tommy Ill gig.