Next Wave #1112: Tommy Saint

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In recent years North London has helped shape the future of UK rap. To earn one’s stripes means fierce competition, a climate that 21-year old Tommy Saint is perfectly comfortable with. Since 2020’s debut single ‘Could You Please?’, the slick rhymer has offered an alternative sound, crafting stone-cold verses with grandiose sound palettes that skip between trap, indie, and soul. “I like a lot of big, cinematic sounds. A lot of it is dramatic – I like impactful music and I like it to feel empowered.”

Speaking on his early work, he explains “it sounds cliche but my sound just found me; it came out through me.” 

Today, the music is an homage to the artist’s life-long influences, spanning between 070 Shake, James Blake, Labyrinth and Young Thug. The more technical subtleties of classical music are equally present in his production.

 “Growing up there was a lot of classical music being played. At the time I didn’t really appreciate it but as the years have gone by, I love classical music now.” He continues, “whether it’s just me taking samples or listening to the structure and how everything’s made, I take a lot of inspiration from there.”

A background in performing arts instilled ambition and a determined work ethic, leading Tommy Saint onto the arduous yet rewarding path of creative autonomy. The end of 2022 saw the release of debut EP ‘SAINT SEASON’ – written, produced and performed by the riser himself. “I was just doing vocals at first but I turned to production because I didn’t know anyone who could supply me with beats and I was tired of looking on YouTube. Now the production is such a huge part of it for me.” 

Self-sufficiency is a key component to ‘SAINT SEASON’, a project that harbours the peaks and troughs of the rapper’s journey thus far. “I want people to understand where I am and who I am, as a musician and as an artist,” he says. Continually rising, Tommy Saint embraces UK Rap as a moving target, consistently heightening the risks and longevity of his sound. Reflecting on the broader impact of his work, he concludes: “I feel like the UK is really great at pulling from different directions. It’s not as strict or boxed in as it used to be, it doesn’t have a specific sound as much anymore. It’s been exciting to see, I’m glad to be a part of it…”

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What: Next-gen rap riser
Where: North London
3 Songs: ‘Saint’, ‘City’ and ‘Elixr’

Fact: One of the first albums that Tommy Saint recalls listening to is ‘Bridging The Gap’ by Black Eyed Peas.

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Words: Ana Lamond
Photography: Bella Howard
Fashion: Sabrina Soormally