From humble origins in Adelaide, Tom Gaynor has wrought a successful, goal-oriented career for himself as Allday. But achieving the success he sees now hasn’t always been straightforward.
Prior to the release of his highly anticipated second album Speeding, Gaynor set aside some time during the Easter long weekend to chat about life, love and the journey that’s taken him to where he now calls home – Los Angeles.
Gaynor recounts a time not half a decade ago where his job in a call center had him hungry for any adjustment to the mundane drill of being on the phone for eight or nine hours a day. Gifted with a knack for words and rhyming, he began to rap, sourcing beats and production from a few friends and connections he had locally.
“Production-wise, everything was pretty rough and I couldn’t see a clear path to getting my songs out on the radio, which was kinda my main goal at the time,” he remembers. “It definitely wasn’t a time when I had control over the production and often how I envisaged the end product looking wasn’t how it would always come out.”
After a number of mix tapes and a short spell of releasing music online for free, Allday came into his own, releasing his 2013 EP Loners Are Cool and then his debut studio-length Startup Cult, which garnered a top three ARIA chart placement in 2014.
Three years on, he insists Speeding is unlike anything he has put out before – stipulating that unlike his other releases, Speeding is born in a time where his “maturity has grown to match that of his musicianship.” The 12-track LP has been carefully curated by Gaynor, who spent ample time ensuring that it is exactly as he foresaw. “I think the biggest challenge for me was when I thought to myself: ‘If you wouldn’t listen to this, don’t make it.’” Allday insists that “it definitely didn’t used to be [that way].”
Thematically, Speeding explores the familiar motifs that he has entertained throughout his career. “There are certain themes that any artist will lean on, because they’re the most comfortable talking about them. For me, the easiest and hardest thing to speak about is love,” Gaynor explains, “especially in a nostalgic sense – it’s very easy to look back on what you’ve had and feel great, but sometimes accepting the actuality of your reality is the hardest thing to do.”
No song from the album better showcases these feelings than In Motion. Complete with a feature from Japanese Wallpaper and a gorgeous video clip to boot, the instrumentals are unique, delicate and perfectly matched to Allday’s Frank Ocean-esque flavour of downbeat melancholic rap.
“With [‘In Motion’] I was also trying to comment on how generationally we’re all at a weird spot with love and monogamy right now – all the choices we have, like Instagram, Tinder, Snapchat, all these different mediums for finding love and finding other choices have really changed the way we look at ‘love’ and finding ‘the one’.”
“I just wanted to acknowledge the way love is changing. These days you can DM someone, you don’t have to work up the courage to go up to their face – as long as your social media image is attractive, that’s all you need now. We live in an age where these things have never before been ‘things’, so in that sense, I think our generation in some respect is a social experiment.”
As the conversation takes a deeper turn, delving into Allday’s personal love life, he quickly mentions that, “[though] I don’t have a girlfriend at the moment, I grew up infatuated by romanticised stories of true love – so in that sense I’m a bit of an idealist, and a bit more traditional with my views on love.”
After a brief heart to heart we return to the music – more specifically his friendship with the increasingly popular Amy Shark. Shark’s EP Night Thinker also drops on 21 April, the same day Speeding is set to release. Allday features on Shark’s track Worst Girl.
How did that collab come together? “Actually, it’s pretty funny. Her brother listens to my stuff a fair bit and has me on Snapchat – so whenever something of Amy’s comes out he always sends me a snap. She and I have a few mutuals and have hung out a couple of times. I think one day either she or I hit the other up and things came together quite organically – which was really nice.
“She told me she had written the verse with the hope that I would sing it – she had thought it out and premeditated me working with her. [Working with her] is incredible because she issues me little challenges, like: ‘I don’t want you to sing it like that, sing it like this…’ Which is testing for me but in a good way.”
Alongside Shark, Gaynor enthuses that some of his favourite sounds right now are coming from Australia, and that the inclusion of exclusively Australian artists on Speeding was very deliberate. “Australia is flourishing right now. Brisbane is crazy – its really getting going musically. Mallrat who has a two-track feature on Speeding is from there. From Melbourne there’s a dude called Dex and also a guy called Lonely Speck from Adelaide – those are two guys I’m really into right now. Unfortunately, due to the lack of gigs in Sydney, there’s relatively less new music coming from there as opposed to the rest of Oz, which is really sad but I guess that’s just a product of all that lockout law shit.”
Though true as it may be about Sydney, Allday isn’t sticking around for a shift. In February this year, Gaynor moved to LA, a decision he explains is all part of a bigger plan for success in more than just the Australian market. “I want to become known as being on that level with the top rap makers and step it up to that higher echelon of music. Also, with Splendour coming up that’ll be fun too – it’s the first Splendour I will have played, and to be able to play alongside big international acts is certainly a goal and stepping stone I’ve been looking forward to for a while.”
Speeding signifies a new step forward for Allday – intentionally focusing on emotional expression and carefully curated lyricism. “One thing I have tried to stop doing is feeding this consumerist capitalist market – I’ve really tried to stop making music that doesn’t really communicate anything. Just because you have a nice beat and good production doesn’t mean you have a great track.”
Groovin The Moo 2017
28 April, Adelaide Showground, Wayville, SA
29 April, Maitland Showground, Maitland, NSW
30 April, Murray Sports Complex, Townsville Cricket Grounds, Annandale, QLD
6 May, Bendigo’s Price of Wales Showground, Bendigo, VIC
7 May, University of Canberra, Bruce, ACT
13 May, Hay Park, Bunbury, WA