As I’m sure most of you know, this was a tough month for me. When Chicago artist Tom Moore hit my inbox just a few days ago, he gave me the courage to keep pushing on these last few days He recently dropped a new EP titled Discontent, speaking on a friend’s death and his personal trials and tribulations. Much of it is about mental illness and addiction.
He painted the picture of that time in his life beautifully. A few months ago when I posted my piece about mental illness, I wrote about how I hoped the mini memoir helped others feel less alone. So many people reached out to me afterwards and when I announced my quick break from the site to work on my overall health.
It’s become clearer and clearer that I was put on this earth to help others that struggle with addiction, pain, and confusion. This interview with Tom meant a lot to me, and hopefully to him. I hope it helps others see the beauty of art and how it gets us through dark periods in life. Tom was very honest and I appreciate every question he answered.
Hey Tom! Thanks for sitting down with us!
Hey Julie! Absolutely, thank you for having me.
I want to get right into the music as there is a lot I’d like to dig into. You just dropped an EP titled Discontent and said it was “inspired by the death of a close friend of mine a few years back as well as just me facing my personal demons in general and trying to put them to rest for good.” Before I even listened I was completely mesmerized by that honesty. Is it easy for you to be honest in this project?
To be honest (no pun intended), I’ve gotten pretty comfortable over the years to just be forthright and open about my life when I’m writing. For me, that’s the whole point of it. I treat it like a therapy session almost. It’s a little weird knowing my friends and family are going to hear it and sometimes hear that I’m struggling or whatever, but I need to get certain thoughts and stories out to analyze them for the betterment of myself. Also if I’m open about what I’m going through, maybe someone else will hear a song of mine and relate to it and that’ll cheer them up to know they’re not alone.
The EP tells the story of what happened, but is there anything else you’d like to add or describe a little more?
It’s hard for me to summarize but overall, an extremely close friend of mine who I’d known since I was 8 years old overdosed from heroin a little over 7 years ago. I was with him when he finally got clean but eventually he relapsed and ultimately overdosed. I’ve written about it before and I honestly thought I was done writing about it, but it just came back up so I felt the need to address it. It’s just a vivid thing that happened and will probably always creep its way into whatever I’m working on.
But also, the EP is about where I’m at currently, as a rapper, person, etc. It’s called Discontent because I’m just not where I’d like to be mentally, artistically, financially, but I’m working on it daily and that’s all I can really do. Just doing the best I can with what I have.
You told me that you heard some beats by Banksthegenius and felt an immediate urge to tackle some personal issues as best as you possibly could. Set the scene on this event. Was there anything specifically about the instrumentals that spoke to you? Do you think you did a good job?
The first beat I heard was for the song “Discontent” and it was actually off an instrumental project that Banks put up on his Soundcloud. I listen to all of his music whenever he drops something so I heard that beat and started writing to it right away. After I finished writing to it, I sent him a text and asked if anybody was using it and he said it was open. After that, I went to his studio, recorded the song and we decided we should make a project out of it. From there on, I would come out to the studio, he’d start making a beat and I’d start writing to it and we would just build on each song, one at a time until we both felt they were finished. The environment was real organic and just comfortable all around. His beats are just kinda spacey, dark, and pretty at the same time. They brought me to a place where it felt right to talk about some heavy topics and I’m grateful that he let me vibe with him like that. Banks is really is just a good dude and it was great to finally work with him on a project.
And I think I did a good job? I mean, I’m happy with how it turned out. I put my all into every line and I think the beats are great and the mix is proper, so I’m definitely proud of it and happy we were able to do it.
How did you first link with Banks?
I’ve known Banks for about 5 years or so now. I met him through Nick Arcade. Nick produced a song for Banks right about the same time I started working with Nick. We’ve played a few shows together too. Just always kept in touch, mutual respect, that sort of thing. Like I said, good dude lol.
Let’s get into the meat of the project. You have a very unconventional flow – and I mean that as a compliment. Has anyone ever told you that?
Actually, I don’t think anyone has ever told me that before. I appreciate it though. I really just write to the beat that’s in front of me and try to tackle it as best as I can. I try not to think about it too much and just let the beat kind of dictate where I’m gonna go with the cadence and all that. I’m glad you said unconventional though instead of shitty, cause unconventional is way better than shitty, so thank you.
When did you first start making music; and did this rapping style come naturally?
I started making music about 10 years ago. And no, I was terrible for a solid 5 years. I was always decent with writing lyrics because I’ve been jotting down thoughts and rhymes and things like that for most of my life but when it came to recording, I was awful until about 5 years ago. It took a long time for it to click for me in that regard, but luckily it did. I think that’s just part of it though, you try something, you suck at it for a long time, and then eventually if you keep at it, you get at least decent at it. I’d like to think I’m at least decent these days. I don’t know, whether I suck or not, I love writing rap songs, so I’m gonna do this for as long as I possibly can and continue to try to get better at it.
I find your bars to be more poetry than raps as you paint very vivid pictures and use abstract words to describe feelings and certain situations. Have you ever written poetry before?
Thank you so much for that. I really do appreciate it. I used to write poetry when I was in high school but didn’t really tell anybody about it or show it to anybody. I just did it to get my thoughts on paper. I still do from time to time but overall, I stopped writing poems when I started to take music and rapping more seriously. I spend all my extra time combing over lyrics for songs, so the poetry took a back seat to that. I’m sure I’ll get back into it again at some point.
You’ve dropped 2 albums and a short EP before Discontent. What’s different about this project?
The obvious difference is the production. Nick Arcade is one of my best friends and has been my go to collaborator for quite some time now so stepping out and working with Banks The Genius on this Discontent EP just brought another sound to the table for me. But as far as the writing goes, I tried to make the songs and lyrics a little less dense and little bit easier to understand.
The production on each album is very different from the last. Your debut Awake Now was full of ambient lo-fi cuts produced exclusively by Nick Arcade. Is there a reason you switch things up with each body of work?
No reason really, except just working with different producers will automatically bring about a different sound and style to the songs. I like making whole projects with one producer whether it be an album or an EP. I think doing that brings a cohesiveness to it all.
Did recording and putting out Discontent help you come to terms with the death of your friend and your own struggles? What did you feel throughout the process?
I think it did, yeah. Like I said, it’ll always be there, but writing about it and putting it out there is helpful for me. It was just a cathartic experience overall to get those feelings out there.
Did you learn anything?
I learned that being yourself on record is good and that Banks The Genius is extremely talented.
What can we expect in the coming year for Tom Moore?
My third album produced by Nick Arcade is basically done so that will come out for sure this year at some point. I’m definitely excited for that. I’m also gonna get more videos out there this year cause I’m slacking in that department. Other than that just gonna keep writing and putting out projects as we finish them. Honestly, can’t get enough.
Do you have any words of advice for anyone struggling with mental illness or addiction?
I would say just try to focus on the good things in your life. Write rap songs, make music with your friends, watch comedies, go outside, take walks with your significant other. Just try to enjoy the time you have. And if you struggle with addiction, don’t be afraid to get help. Look around and count the people that care about you and would do anything to help you get better. Work the rehab programs and stay around people that actually care about you.
Any last thoughts?
Nothing really except thank you again for checking your inbox and clicking play on our project. I really appreciate you taking the time to listen the music and caring enough to ask a bunch of great questions about it. This has been awesome.