It feels like Tom Gaynor – better known as Allday – has been around the Aussie hip hop scene for ages. In reality the 25-year old only began uploading tracks in 2011, releasing his debut album three years later. He’ll be taking time out from working on his album shortly to play Come Together festival at Luna Park, something he’s excited about – but conflicted on in terms of its vitality to the Aussie hip hop scene.
He sounds surprised when I tell him that Come Together is in its 11th year, “Yeah I didn’t know it had been going for eleven years, that’s pretty cool. I played it once before maybe three years ago and it was pretty fun. I’m psyched to be part of it again. Whether or not it’s important, I don’t know. I think it might not be important but people listen to hip hop so it’s natural that a festival like this happens.”
Allday is a rising personality in Aussie music, and is developing a reputation for being outspoken about the issues underpinning hip hop in Australia. He’s never one to shy away from questions about why Aussie hip hop is lagging behind the rest of the world, an issue he is clearly passionate about rectifying. As he sees it, it’s an issue of quality more than an issue of passion or effort on behalf of Aussie artists.
Watch: Allday – Wolves
“Australian hip hop is behind the quality of the rest of the world,” he says with conviction, and perhaps a hit of despondency. “And that’s the reason why no hip hop from Australia is popular in the rest of the world. There’s not Australian artists who go and tour and make a profit worldwide, or are listened to or who sell gold records and platinum records in any other country. That applies to me as well. If we want to be considered good enough to mix with England and America and Canada then someone’s got to step up.”
Though it’s not as if the Adelaide-hailing rapper is painting it as all doom and gloom. Allday makes it clear that he can see a future for the genre. He reflects, with his distinctive Australian drawl – “there are so many people that are coming through now with a lot of ability like Tkay (Maidza) and Baro – there’s so much young talent in Australia, and I think now there’s not just one (hip hop) scene any more. It’s just people making rap music, overlapping different styles, everyone is pushing forward. It’s starting to reach the level of our EDM scene in Australia which everyone respects worldwide. It will just take a few people to burst through that ceiling and then people will start to respect the scene internationally.”
“The generations now have grown up on hip hop, people my age and younger than me. Hip hop has been commercially successful since we were kids, so we’ve grown up on that as a part of actual culture. Now the Kendrick Lamar’s are playing stadiums, obviously Eminem was playing stadiums before, but it’s taken a lot of time for acts to get to that level of popularity in Australia. The generations to come are going to have hip hop much more ingrained in them.”
Watch: Allday – You always Know The DJ
Allday’s album Startup Cult was a hugely successful debut for the young artist, but he’s determined to make his follow-up even better. It’s been a hard slog though, he was touting that it was close to being finished as far back as midway through 2015, but then disaster struck – and Allday met a surprising but worth adversary in Justin Bieber. “The stuff we recorded last year was just one kind of vibe, and it kind of got thrown off. I had a lot of jams that sounded like Justin Bieber’s album and then his album came out – so I then I went ‘oh that’s kind of been done now’,” he recalls.
Gaynor realises it might sound silly, but in a strange turn of events Bieber had almost stolen his vibe, so to speak – “Which sounds weird to say but he went for that EDM-R&B-Pop and that’s what I was wanting to do, except I can’t sing as well as Justin Bieber – so that was a bit fucked. So I’m just trying to piece it together, I’m in the studio either making beats or recording the record almost every day – I really don’t want to half-bake it.“
Rather than let such setbacks phase him, he’s working harder than ever to get the record finished, and he’s pretty happy with what’s been completed thus far. “Yeah, I just take it as learning,” he says. “Not many people have heard the new songs other than my brothers and people I live with – the consensus is ‘oh this is way better than the stuff you’ve done’ and that’s the way I feel about it, that I’m stepping up in every aspect. This shit is way better than anything I’ve done so I have to put in those hours. I find it frustrating at times but it’s also rewarding to know that it’s getting better.”
Listen: Justin Bieber – Fortunes (Allday remix)
The past year hasn’t all been downers and frustration, with Allday cracking the top 50 of triple j’s 2015 Hottest 100 for his track Dynamite recorded with the raw talent of Aussie singer-songwriter Asta on vocals. He was hopeful of placing in the top 100 but once it got down to the lower numbers he had all but given up hope, “It’s really hard on the day, you’d think that it would get there, but you never know. You sit there and go ‘oh this would be cool’ and it was really cool that it made it that far. At fifty I was thinking ‘oh fuck it didn’t get in at all’ so that was a nice surprise. That’s what always happens.”
We may not have a release date for the album, but those who follow Allday on social media will already know that he’s put a call out to Shannon Noll for a collab. He’d all but given up until there was some good news recently, “I copped a Shannon Noll Twitter follow the other day so that was a pretty big moment in my life,” he says excitedly. “I’m hoping I can just parlay that into a feature. He never hit me up from the letter I sent but he followed me which means he’s interested in something, I might hit him up on the DM later tonight to say ‘what’s going on Shan’.”
As for what has led to a career-renaissance for Australia’s favourite Idol-runner up? “I think people now have early 2000s nostalgia, and that time feels dumb. The 90s used to feel like this dumb time but now it’s too far in the past. Australian Idol – the first and second season, that is quintessential early-2000s dumb Australiana, it’s just really kitsch and hilarious now. He’s a bit of an Aussie hero. He’s from the country; he had a funny hair-do. It’s all there.”
Allday plays Come Together festival this June. See the full lineup and ticket links below!
Watch: Allday – Right Now
Come Together 2016 Lineup
Tickets on sale now
Saturday, 11th June
Big Top, Luna Park, Sydney
Tickets: Come Together