In case you haven’t heard of TOMM¥ €A$H, you need to get out from under that rock you’ve been living under for the past two years. This viral sensation is the unicorn you never knew you needed in your life. The self-proclaimed “Kanye East” continues to resist classification with his vision of trippy and surreal worlds drenched in hyper-aesthetics, and he’s pushing his audiovisual works—including a cover of Enya’s Only Time (which resulted in Prorapsuperstar)—into the upper reaches of liquid modernity while providing just enough lifebuoys to cling to as you float into his lawless universe.
Let’s talk about horses.
Yeah, I love horses, I love riding them. I think horses are some of the smartest animals, and I love how they represent power and loyalty. I mean, horses have taken people to places for hundreds of years.
Speaking of going places, where are you right now?
I’m in Estonia. It’s my home, you know, my roots lie here. I’m always inspired by the nothingness around here, and I feel secure and hidden away in Tallinn. In a way, I want to be like Drake.
Like what Drake is to Toronto?
Absolutely, although I don’t feel as if I’m famous or anything. Every day I wake up as if nothing ever happened.
What was it like growing up in Tallinn in the ’90s?
I grew up in the middle of this “post-Soviet” shit; it goes into poverty and blah-blah—but it was the only life I knew. Before the Facebook and Instagram era it felt as if Estonia was far behind when it came to culture, and it took years before we caught up with the trends. But my parents used to bring stuff over from Russia that we could sell at markets, like Adidas Originals and things like that.
Is this how “post-Soviet rap” was born, as a countermovement?
Actually, someone else put this label on it. I think it’s best to not put any labels or names on stuff.
Still, it seems that your music is grounded in some kind of irony that revolves around money-obsessed social media presence and hyper-commercialist Western views, right?
My music is always changing, and I’m just mixing stuff up. But every day is different, and I always try to show something other than what’s already out there. Sure, a lot of times I’m laughing at stuff, like in the Little Molly video. Here, we tried to make the most belittling song we could, and to break with the stereotypes surrounding it in the video.
Yeah, tell us about your video works.
I always want to explore a new corner I haven’t been to, or a new planet even. I want to achieve some kind of orgasm for the people watching the videos, spark an emotion and bring something aesthetically new every time. I also have Anna [Hima] to thank for that. She takes care of the visual part; I come up with world and she builds the aesthetic around it. She’s amazing.
How do you come up with these mad worlds?
It comes with reaching new heights in my music, I already see the next level around the corner while I’m working on it, and the more I work, the more I see its progression. I think that imagination is one big toolbox we can draw from. I mean, even a businessman has a great imagination.
If your music were an emoji, which one would it be?
[Laughs] The guy in the wheelchair, from the new emoji series. Although I haven’t been sending emojis much. I love sending dumb pictures as my emojis, so my mood would be like Caitlyn Jenner before surgical operation, that’s my emoji. Just Jenner without lips will do.
Would you undergo plastic surgery?
My lips are pretty good. I’d like to have elf ears though.
Who’s your favourite person in the world?
Myself! And I think that everyone should say that. I mean, I wake up with myself every day, and I have to do all of this shit by myself. It would be weird for me to not like me.
Do you see yourself as a personification of popular culture?
I’m some kind of filter for sure. I like this thing that Warhol did; before him, no one painted soup cans in that many mad colours, and just by taking so much basic stuff, he succeeded in turning it around—this is what I’m going for. And I’m loving it.
What’s this obsession with American pop culture with you?
We all have this obsession! We were born in this shit. Everybody has the American dream in the first place.
Fair enough. Who is Kanye West to you?
Kanye was my big inspiration when I started out. But right now, there’s Drake who I relate to a lot; I’m a Scorpio too, and I just fuck with his music. Drake is an amazing musician. But Kanye can go harder.
The reason I asked was because earlier this year you launched your own clothing line, unofficially dubbed “Kanye East”. How did this come about?
The fans were waiting for the merch line for quite a while and so this line came out under this bootleg thing. I’m currently working on new designs and trying to find better production places to make even slicker stuff. This is also why I closed the shop for now, we want to keep the collection hot.
And what about your modelling career?
Rick [Owens] asked me about my music for his show in the beginning of this year. After that, I think a month before the show, he asked me to walk for him—and because he’s my homey, I’ll do that for him. So that morning I went to Palais de Tokyo, knowing nothing about this modelling shit, and then I was the first to walk. It was more like a one-time thing, I would only do it for some designers. But Rick is my friend.
I hear that Rick was at one of your shows as well?
Yeah, he came to my show in Paris, dancing in the crowd and sweating like hell. It was sick.
Any more memorable moments from the tour?
We kind of sold out everything, that was crazy. I never sold out anything before—at least, not like this. The brightest moment was the date of Kurt Cobain’s death, when we had a show in Prague and played Smells Like Teen Spirit for more than a thousand people. People just got mad.
No, it was amazing. I cried at the end.
Any final words to our readers?
Don’t fake it until you make it.