25 April 2014

Buy Wellington made

1/09/2010 8:39:00 a.m.

Tommy Ill’s ultimate robot would have a bucket for a head, a tin foil hat, insulation tubing for arms, a human heart and the ability to love.
Photo: David James.

Tommy Ill’s ultimate robot would have a bucket for a head, a tin foil hat, insulation tubing for arms, a human heart and the ability to love. Photo: David James.

Voted Best Artist in last year’s Capital Times Best of Wellington Readers Survey, Tommy Ill has released a debut album that is proudly Wellington-made - from the beats, the recording and mixing, right down to the artwork and the mastering.
“I was also surprised to learn I was a white guy. It was a terrible shock,” says Wellington rapper Tommy Ill, when Capital Times admits mistaking him for a black man after listening to his Come Home Mr Ill EP last year.
“Seriously though, I think there are so many people of different ethnicities making rap music now that it’s not so much of an issue. If I was black, brown, Asian or Jewish my songs would most likely sound the same.”
Newtown-born Tommy Ill remembers having a hard time in high school, when being a white rapper was considered a bit of a joke. But he kept at it and “now days people can see I’m not trying to be anything I’m not”.
The twenty-something says Canadian electronic musician Peaches told him he sounds like American singer Beck (“but I didn’t believe her”). He sings about rocking hangovers and $1.50 t-shirts  - “I don’t rap about guns, drugs or bling. I’m more likely to rap about girls and drinking and phone bills.”
Winning? the last track that he put together for his new album is stupidly catchy and features the upbeat and positive vibes that his music is synonymous with.
“I first started rapping when I was 13, I had bought a Beastie Boys album and learnt all the words, I thought, ‘hey if I can rap their songs maybe I can write my own!’ So I set about making some pretty terrible rap songs on my parents’ computer. It took me a long time to make anything decent.”
Tommy Ill stands out in a crowd at 196cm tall (six foot five inches). He frequently wears high-top sneakers (size 15!) – a throwback to the 80s which take pride of place on his latest album cover.
“I was probably wearing gumboots or bare feet in the 80s, I was a little kid. I’ve only really got two pairs of high tops at the moment, Nike air flight lites.  Black and red ones and white and green ones. I mostly wear desert boots now days though.”
Tommy Ill was voted Best Artist in Capital Times Best of Wellington Readers’ Survey last year, and his mates in the Crack House 5 were rated one of Wellington’s favourite bands (alongside Fat Freddy’s Drop and the Phoenix Foundation) in the same year. Tommy says this shows that he and the Crack House 5 have gathered a “small but loyal” following largely due to their fortnightly Crack Wednesday shows at Mighty Mighty last year.
“[Named Best Artist] made me feel pretty special. I’m not sure if I deserved it but if Mark Blumsky can win Best Dressed then I can get best artist!”
Although Tommy Ill’s tunes have yet to become commercial radio hits, they have enjoyed airtime on another Capital Times Readers’ Survey favourite – Radio Active 89FM.
Two of the songs on his EP Toast And Tea Kettles were nominated for bNet Awards (Best Hip Hop Track and Radio Active Song of the Year).
Tommy Ill usually plays alongside indie/electro bands like Wellington’s So So Modern, and Cut Off Your Hands but he likes the idea of an MC battle with Kiwi hip hopper Savage from the Deceptikonz, who he mentions in Come Home Mr Ill.
“We would both shake hands at the end. We would both wear tuxedos and afterwards we would become best friends and share a milkshake. He’d probably have the best battle raps but I’d probably have the best raps about robots and dinosaurs.”
The lead single Robot on Tommy Ill’s album sees him “professing his love to his murderous robot” and his album art features three pastel coloured robots – he adds that his “dream robot” would have a “bucket for a head, tin foil hat, insulation tubing for arms, a human heart and the ability to love.”
Tommy Ill’s final and lasting message is “Buy Wellington Made!”
His entire record was made in Wellington. He, Buck Beauchamp and Shorty K composed the beats, James Goldsmith did the recording and mixing, the artwork was done by local talents Baly Gaudin and Abby Cattermole, and the mastering by Mike Gibson.
“Do you think that we’re winning?” Tommy Ill asks on his new album. Well, according to Capital Times readers… yes, Tommy Ill, in Wellington you are.

Best of Wellington 2012


  • Making housing affordable 27/03/2013 10:06:00 a.m. With home ownership rates falling and many struggling to play higher rental costs, making housing affordable has risen to the top of the political agenda.
    Joel Pringle, campaign manager for Australians for Affordable Housing, and Charles Waldegrave, from the Family Centre, will address a meeting as part of a public discussion on housing at Thistle Hall on April 8.
    Waldegrave will look at the human faces of housing unaffordability while Pringle will suggest ways to build public support for affordable housing policies in New Zealand.
  • Food to the rescue 27/03/2013 10:06:00 a.m.
    Food rescue organisation, Kaibosh, has been named supreme winner at the TrustPower National Community Awards.
    The Wellington based service group collaborates with food retailers and producers to rescue surplus food that is good enough to eat, but not good enough to sell, preventing it from being discarded into landfills.
    Since its inception in 2008 Kaibosh has rescued over 285,000 meals – that’s 100 tonnes of food redistributed to where it’s needed most.

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