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Getting to the roots of Tommy Genesis

Monday 27th, July 2015 / 14:19
By Thalia Stopa
Gender confusion, anime, sci-fi, sculpture, Angelina Jolie, and more have helped inspire Vancouver-based rapper Tommy Genesis.

Gender confusion, anime, sci-fi, sculpture, Angelina Jolie, and more have helped inspire Vancouver-based rapper Tommy Genesis.

VANCOUVER — One look at her website and it isn’t much of a leap to assume that Vancouver-based rapper Tommy Genesis is a fan of some anime. She describes her own theoretical animated persona as “the spawn of an arc angel and a demon…[with] powers both good and evil.”

Wings and horns aside, there isn’t much difference between the woman rapping in the video for “Execute” (off of debut album World Vision) and the “mixed ethnic Canadian school girl with ripped tights and a plaid skirt” anime version of herself.

It’s trickier to picture the beautiful young female musician confidently staring down the camera as the tomboy of her youth, who would get mistaken for a boy. “I grew up kinda confused about my gender identity. I cut off all my hair…played sports and wore baggy clothes.” Prefacing her given name (Genesis) with the chosen one, Tommy, is her way of embracing her androgynous side for her latest musical project.

Although her voice is full of a combination of self-assurance and laid-back swagger, Genesis’ background is in art and film, not music. She studied at Emily Carr University where she majored in Film and Sculpture. It’s no wonder then that her inspirations are less musical and more diversified, ranging from literature (she cites sci-fi as a favourite genre), to conceptual theories and heartbreak. The “film nerd/punk kid” used to be a part of an art collective and gallery, A-H, and “was really into minimalist sculpture [and] installations.” Her album on Atlanta’s Awful Records evolved out of another of her artistic pursuits: experimental audio pieces. The artistic side still comes out in her live performances, which, like a recent show at Vancouver’s Crack Gallery, are an immersive experience and might also include her own visuals and sculptures.

One thing that Genesis’ roots don’t explain is her apparent interest in actress Angelina Jolie, who was the muse for the track simply titled “Angelina” on World Vision.

“My boy always calls me Angelina,” she explains, although Genesis doesn’t see the resemblance herself. However, when prompted to pick a Jolie-themed tattoo for herself (at the time of the interview, husband Brad Pitt has just gotten a tattoo dedicated to Jolie and their children) there is little hesitation: “It’d be the Gia Angelina on my ass cheek, her naked against the fence.”

Tommy Genesis performs at the Alexander Gastown on August 4.

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