Los Angeles-based producer and singer-songwriter TOMI unveils her new single/music video, “NUN,” a track lifted from her upcoming album, Late Bloomer, set for release on October 13. (The music video is age-restricted and only available on YouTube.)
Talking about the music video, TOMI shares, “We wrote and shot the video in one night – rehearsing the exact lighting, camera movements, and choreography again and again until the story and song intertwined seamlessly.”
She adds, “The song weaves through the video effortlessly as the NUN, who is praying away the gay, ultimately breaks free from self-fulfilled boundaries and becomes her full self. I wanted the video to be playful and campy, visually bringing the audience into an alternate universe – referencing both The Birth Of Venus and “But I’m A Cheerleader.” Julie Pacino seamlessly weaves the song and the video into a psychedelic lesbian nun dreamscape.”
Fresh off opening for KT Tunstall’s 2023 tour and playing Bonnaroo Music Festival, TOMI released her most recent single, “More Time,” in preparation for her first self-released record since being signed to RCA. She has racked up a loyal and dedicated following, accumulating over 2.4 million streams on Spotify, with over 22,000 monthly listeners. Her music has also achieved critical acclaim from elite media outlets.
Guitar Girl Magazine caught up with TOMI to chat about why she makes music, her gear, and her forthcoming album, Late Bloomer.
What three things can’t you live without?
My dog Tonks.
Jazz while cooking.
My Gretsch Bigsby.
Why do you make music?
There’s no way I wouldn’t make music, it’s the best therapy.
What inspired your latest single/music video, “NUN?”
I grew up Catholic and came out when I was twelve. It was hard for me to wrap my head around being gay and being in church. My goal with this music video was to test my own boundaries and to challenge myself, going wayyyyy out of my comfort zone and starting a conversation about Catholicism and lesbianism. Boiling down to…a gay nun.
What do you want people to take away from the video?
I want people to laugh, it’s supposed to be funny!
“NUN” is from your upcoming album, Late Boomer. What can you share about the album?
I wrote and produced this record over the last couple of years. I started writing songs about my twenties, growing up, and the chaos of transformation. I had a lot of learning to do, and this album is an ode to that chapter of my life.
Walk us through your mindset as you entered the studio to record the album.
I had a bunch of demos, and I was like ‘How do I make these sound as epic as possible?’ Then I started layering guitars (some songs have like twenty guitar tracks!) and building out the sonic world one song at a time. When I sat down to produce it, I was hoping to heal a broken heart and to find some peace of mind. I think it did both.
How did you get started in music?
My dad taught me to play guitar when I was a kid, and I couldn’t put it down. It became my little secret place where I could be honest about my feelings and express them quietly. Now I like to belt…
Which singers/musicians influenced your sound?
I grew up listening to Bruce Springsteen (East Coast baby!) and Janis Joplin, PJ Harvey, St Vincent…All the badasses.
What kind of guitar, amps, and pedals are you currently using?
I’ve been touring with my Gretsch Bigsby which I am in love with. I love my Ten Years pedal and my Jam chorus pedal. I play through a VOXAC15.
What is your definition of tone? And is your tone evolving?
Tone is always evolving as our ears adapt to our minds and vice versa. I am heading into a pretty washy phase – double chorus and lots of texture that I find pleasing to the ear. Kind of like a meditative landscape
What inspires your writing? Do you draw inspiration from poems, music, TV, or other media?
A little bit of everything. Poetry is huge for lyrics and emotional communication. If I see a film that hits me, I will definitely weave it into my songwriting. I think it’s a lot of introspection though, a lot of quiet walks and early morning journaling. I am a big dream believer; I write down my dreams and pull melodies from them when I wake up. It’s a practice I’m always pleasantly surprised by.
What can you share about your writing process?
Don’t think, just do. I find a chord or two that speaks to me and just start letting the lyrics flow, the melodies flow. As soon as I start to second guess myself, I put it down and come back when I’m feeling open to the wonder again.
Which artists in your opinion are killing it right now?
I just got off tour with KT Tunstall and she is a BEAST. She is constantly evolving, and her writing is so pure, not to mention her guitar skills! Such a rock star. I love Brandi Carlile and all the powerhouse vocalists that are out there right now.
How do you define success?
I define success by how deeply I connect with a song I wrote. If I connect it is more than likely to connect with others. I think success is the ability to connect with no strings attached, to create a positive impact on others.
What can your fans look forward to over the next six months? Music videos? Live gigs? New material?
Oh wow! I am going on tour with The Crane Wives this November (full band!) and ‘Late Bloomer’ comes out October 13th. I am so excited for this to be out in the world. More wild wacky music videos to follow.
Supporting The Crane Wives
11th October, Bend, Volcanic Theatre Oub
11th September, Portland Oregan, Jack London Review
11th December, Seattle, Vera Project