It's so hard to know where to start with Tom Scott. One of the many Auckland Hip Hop enthusiasts from Avondale, he played a big role in cleaning up the local scene. A statement that would no doubt piss him off. Starting with the fantastically controversial group 'Home Brew' (consisting of himself, Louie Silk and Haz Beats), he's since moved into new group: '@peace' with Lui Tuiasu, Christoph El Truento, Hayden 'Dandruff' Dicky and Brandon Haru. He also co-founded the record label; 'Young Gifted and Broke' a mellow mind-hive that's constantly adding artists from all sorts of mediums to the roster. The label recently released @peace and the Plutonian Noise Symphony, Team Dynamite - Shepherd's Delight and Third3ye's - On3ness. A solid set of releases, from such a consistent label.
To learn more about Tom and YGB I decided to flick the man a few questions to ponder whilst in Bali of all places.
YGB's done well in culminating the best local artists and providing premium quality music. It is always growing not only in artists, but mediums in which artists use. What made you want to incorporate artists that operate in mediums other than music and how do you guys decide if you want to add another artist to the label?
When we started YGB, it was really just a group of friends. Still is that really. But back then I was living with a dude Sam Montgomery from a crew called GZR. GZR was a crew of artists that were really pushing boundaries with what they were doing (pacman, rush t, guy brock) rebelling against the popular graffiti culture of the time. And they just so happened to be in our group of friends. They were influencing what I was doing as much as the musicians I was hanging with. Almost more. So when YGB started I felt it was important that we could all have a place to go to see each others work and get inspiration every day. I still use it for that. That group of people still influence me more than any international artists. As far as getting into the crew, it's just your classic walk the line association.
In the new @peace release you use Plato's Cave as a metaphor for 21st Century city life. Do you struggle with the effects of living in the city and how do you fight these effects?
Plato's Cave is a thought experiment / metaphor for how the reality you know could be an illusion. As for the struggles of 21st century life, I'm in Bali while I type this, I haven't had to deal with any of those struggles.
Do you wake up and think @Peace, YGB, both or more?
Usually I wake up and wonder how the fuck I'm gonna pay the rent this month. Then I go down stairs and Lui's waiting in the lounge (or if it's Saturday, I wake him up cause he's probably coming down from whatever height he climbed to the night before) then we go lock ourselves in the shack outside and write till we get bored. As for YGB I'm always thinking bout what I can do to help. I think the next move is going to be a compilation vinyl. And gang patches.
What's the big picture in your eyes and as you see it; the power and reach of YGB?
The dream would be that we're noticed on a global scale. I always thought we were stronger as a collective than individuals. Like the way you can see the great wall from space but not individual bricks. But if that doesn't happen I'm not worried. I just wanna keep making music with my friends. I think the biggest strength YGB has is to inspire the artists involved within it.
What local tunes are you digging at the moment?
Still love Truent's latest album. 6 months on. Can't really think of anything else that's moved me like that since to be honest. Apart from beats I get sent, K-Saba, Dicky, Haz, Ben Jammin, Si-Res etc etc etc. I don't get enough time to listen to music. I really should set aside more time to do that.
What international tunes are you digging at the moment?
'My little dog' - Mo Kolours been on repeat for a while now.
When collaborating, what do you find essential in liberating natural tensions?
Mutual respect. I'll put my ego away for someone who I respect. Then you can start experimenting with stupid ideas. Liberated of pride. Without filtering through the stupid ideas I can never get to the good ones.
YGB has solidified New Zealand Hip-Hop as being of a great standard, emulating Neo-Soul and Dillaesque sounds, do you feel a responsibility to your country/ fans/ other artists on the label, in keeping the bar high and keeping the label going?
Not really. I feel a responsibility to myself to keep improving and challenging myself. Just to keep my will to live alive basically. But as far as Dillaesque, Neo Soul shit, if anyone in YGB is still emulating that sound, we've failed. No offense to fans of that sound, or creators of that sound, I just think that if Dilla was alive, he'd have moved on from that a long time ago. We need to start experimenting like he was at the time he created that sound.
How do you come up with a topic to write to?
Basically, I just need to go through my day. Find an experience to write about. I struggle creating fictional stories. It's hard to imagine a colour you've never seen before. Just walking to the supermarket down the road from us throws about a million different experiences at me. And they all slip into my music somehow. Subconsciously or not. My music has always been like a diary. A way for me to deal with the impending doom of my rotting goldfish memory.
Can you/ do you play any instruments?
Nope. Not well.
NASA recently released a study, estimating that our planet has roughly three decades left. Is the destruction of the planet something you and those around you have considered and potentially made peace with? Do you think technology/mankind's will to live and adapt, has a chance of combating this demise?
Like George Karlin said, 'the planet's fine. the people are fucked'. Earth has a will to live and adapt as well. Whatever we throw at it it'll get over. Whether it's still inhabitable for human's to live on within 30 years, I don't know. I don't really think about it. I'm at peace with the fact that humanity is a greedy, selfish race that only act out of necessity. People only want shade if they can sit under it.
What kind of effects do you see music having that other people don't already see?
Good question. If I see an effect it's having it's only cause I've thought about it more. Not that I'm some avant-guard musician or anything. I think music has the same effect on us at every level. From simple to complex. If you get that feeling in your gut, it's achieved what it set out to achieve. For me, nothing's ever beaten that feeling 'This DJ' gave me when I was in primary school. I have a higher tolerance now though. I need to find stronger shit to fulfill my cravings. I've developed an immunity.
I think music makes us feel connected. Less lonely. It evokes some kind of chemical reaction. I have no idea how. And when you're creating it, it gives you a real sense of spontaneity. It's the closest I can ever get to NOW. No dreaming of the future, regretting the past. Just being stuck in the moment. Creation always has the potential to be something totally new that you've never experienced. It's the now manifesting itself through you. I think that's my favourite part about it.
Who in the world would you most want to collaborate with?
To be honest, at the moment I really just wanna get back to making music with my dad. We've got an EP we're working on called Avondale Bowling Club. There's nothing like that feeling of working with your loved ones. Same goes when we make music as @peace. It's 5 of my favourite people in the world. As far as other lyricists, there's nobody I enjoy making music with more than Lui Tuiasau. Dude inspires me everyday and the foundation of our process is still HAVE FUN. We're working on a side project at the moment. Bit more laid back cooled out shit. Philosophy hidden within it but you won't need a periodic table to translate it.
What strikes you first about Tom is his stubbornness to agree, but maybe that's just part of a perfectionist work ethic. His group @peace are constantly pushing the boundaries of what's considered good enough. Recently starting a kickstarter account for a trip to Pluto claiming, 'Pluto's a planet, we can prove it', they are always finding ways to stay original. Tom asked me to promote their single 'Amor Fati' as it competed on theaudience.co.nz for funding (that they really needed). Unfortunately I couldn't get this published in time. But since the chick who won it still believes in Jeebus, I thought it would be fitting to let her know what Tom thinks about all that.
Published on June 05, 2014 by Barret Helander