TOMMY NEE: 

With RawThawt.

After a refreshing and not long enough holiday, I have come back from the dark side and decided to take charge of my work.

I’ve always been a huge believer of the uprising of underground artists, cos the mainstream is a little too stream for me, I’m more of a cave-pool kind of girl. I love local music. It has so much depth and thawt & doesn’t cater to the desires of the audience, but the desires of ones soul…And – since I have the opportunity to write for Big Mouf, I decided that I’m gonna do something more for people who are on the same page as me.

So, my first interview for 2016 was with a curious-about-life presence named Tommy Nee, who is 22yrs of age, currently doing his Post-Grad in Teaching, already graduated with a Degree in Music and in any time he does get, working on his EP. I met Tommy last year, we were both involved in a project with The Creative Souls, led by Malcolm & Deahne Lakatani, and I was sort of forced to freestyle, and I’m real shit with free styling aye, so I look at Tommy like “Bruh, can you help me?” and he’s like “Yo!” – jumps on the mic and just has the most empowering words to give to the world, freely spoken without a tempo or structure – just deep and meaningful phrases. Then he seriously jumps on the mic, grabs his gat and has a mean jam.

He’s quite a meaningful person you know… This interview has not much to do with music, as much as it does have do with music.
I am more interested in “Who you are…” And what I noticed, is that he has a box with mysterious findings of which he hopes to be the answers to life but he has no key.. And the mission is to find that key cos he is curious to know “What is life?…”
His sound in music, is not familiar at all, it’s like a mix up of – (in his own words) “pop/rock sort of thing with pacific influences and funk..”

So, however you want to answer this question: What is music to you?
It sounds so cliché but music is the international language like – a universal language that everyone can understand. Personally, I believe that music has the power to relate to everybody; it can save people’s lives, you know what I mean?

Hearty.
It just sits in the background, always humming away, always influencing society. Look at artists like Lauren Hill. Look at Bob Marley; he’s one of the most historical figures on earth. Look at the impact he’s still making on the world, even after death. Regardless of his colour, and at that time to be black was a big “no no,” Bob spread that universal love. No one even cared about the colour of his skin. So, to me, music is the cure to society

And is that what you are doing?
Yes that’s what I’m doing.

How?
At the moment I’m recording an EP. I can’t wait to release it and spread my feelings with the world.

Do you want to make it into the charts?
Yes definitely! I wanna spread my music to the whole world; most importantly by doing something different! I don’t wanna be an artist who makes a beat, sings a line and turns that into a track. I wanna spread my roots to all genres, an entrepreneur of music. I have my own identity. And I can’t wait to show it to everyone.

So what would be some titles of your songs?
The single is called Run Away; it’s a summer jam. Its about falling in love and – and – and trying to get away from the troubles of the world.

Has that happened to you?
Yes all the time, cos I’m a – I’m a – what am I? (He sits there with his hands cuffing the words in the air) I don’t know how to say it… Um… I gotta big heart. Like I always just – fall easily you know what I mean? I always go ‘oh yeah lets just go for it.’ (Laughs) so it’s a song about that, I don’t usually tell anyone about the meanings of my songs cos I’m not exactly an open book you know what I mean? haha

Will you be all right for me to put that in the write up?
I don’t mind you can do what ever you want.

So Runaway, what are the lyrics?
(Starts thinking about them and then whips out the gat and starts singing. I’m like ‘He’s pulling out the gat!!! He’s got the gat guys!’)
I wont settle for nothing less than. Loving everyone so I can – Read you, open you up to understand.
Which means: You will read ME by the way I am towards others, and in turn I will read YOU. I’ll understand you and open you up like a book, one page at a time.
Seasons come and they go and will change,
Life is ever changing. You can have all the plans in the world and from out of nowhere they’ll be flipped upside down just like that.

Like Auckland weather.. (lol to myself)
Loving every moment will make
Reasons to pack your bags and run away.
To sum it all up, it’s saying. Look at all the feelings we have, look at all we’ve got – let’s just pack our bags and run away.
Love is universal. This is a song for everyone.

Mmm. Is that all you write about?
Nope, I also talk about the struggles of the world today, the struggles of our people. Let me get this straight, by our people, I mean brown skinned people; we are born into a world that is designed for us to fail.
One of the songs on the EP is called Colour Blind. Its about being blind to colour you know. I wrote that song based on an experience I had with a police officer…I was pulled over at a cop stop in Remuera in the middle of the day. I have no criminal record; I have a full license; my warrant and registration were fully up to date, there was nothing wrong with my car and I was completely sober. But apparently its okay to pull me over for 1 hour (while letting everyone else pass) yell at me like a criminal, alcohol breath test me three times, and open my boot to do a full check inside the car (with no search warrant). Something just doesn’t add up for me there. And this is an everyday issue for our people.

My reaction…Bruh, is there a “No Brown People Allowed” law in Remuera?
I didn’t complain or anything cos I had nothing to hide you know I was just like – What do you have against me?
So yeah, that’s another one of the themes I talk about. Yeah.

And that’s such a beautiful story, especially cos you know yourself and your people know you as well. So for you to have to go through that like “They don’t know me, they only saw the colour of my skin.” Hmmm.
Yeah, oh man I just saw an article the other day, what’s the Maori flag called?

Tino Rangatiratanga Flag..
Yeah I saw an article the other day about the harbour bridge talking about how Maori have been fighting for years to get it flown for one day a year (Waitangi Day). And they might have just got it approved? That’s a representation of the original people of New Zealand you know – and then John Key clicks his fingers and the flag (that isn’t even official), gets flown every day. That’s a prime example of white privilege. Now that sort of shit pisses me off.
… Am I talking too much?

No. You’re talking enough!
I think one of the main impacts on me is my family history. Without trying to sound righteous, I am proud to say we have a played a part in standing up for Maori/Pasifika rights since we came to NZ. My father and uncles were members of the Polynesian Panthers, which stood up for that evil time in NZ history. Its identity, and being proud of it; Who you are, and not being ashamed of it.

Mmm. So who are you?
I am….

Wait, that’s too broad – how would you identify yourself in this world?
I’m a half-caste. I’m not white. But I’m not brown either. I’m not what society says I am. I don’t belong to a category. I am like everyone else.

Mmm. So when I asked you to identify yourself – you started off with the colour of your skin…why is that?
That’s the first thing you see. When someone see’s me, I don’t automatically fit in you know

Fit in where?
Society’s color spectrum? When I was in high school, I never fit in with the islanders, or the white boys because of my fear skin. So I made a place for myself in my own world you know?

Mmm. I feel you. I often get mistaken for Indian haha. So where to next, do you tour or gig?
Well I’m not touring or anything at the moment because of Uni, but I do gig regularly. Also been rehearsing with my band, just getting everything really tight and then were heading into the studio!

What’s the band?
No name yet – haven’t really thought about it at all just been focusing on writing good music…

Mean. That’s exciting to look forward to. Now, (looking at some writing on his door window) what’s GP?
GP is an organization that I started. It stands for Global Prosperity. Its about making the world a better place and making people aware of all the troubles and crisis going on today, through original music. It’s ‘Music BY the people, FOR the people’, everyday people.

Now I’m real shit at ending things, and I’m gonna be killer buzz and end it there…
All I can say is – Tommy is such a beautiful being.
He’s such a curious and giving spirit.
His heart is obviously where it should be to catch dreams and give them to the community, to the people in our world, in our struggle…

You can find him on his Facebook page as he uploads almost on the daily, just jamming on his roof under the curtains of leaves that hang over his room. He reckons it’s the best place to jam for him. It’s his free space. I can imagine him in a field of endless grass. No rain or barely even a drop – just a pristine breeze under the sun. That,and his SoundCloud page as well, where he updates tracks for your listening.

Thank you so much for blessing me with your being Tommy, all the best for your music and studies. We shall work together soon.

Loves,
Raw Thawt x

Written By
Raw Thawt