Abhi the Nomad is an artist from Madras, India. He lived in 8 cities before he was 18 years old. He spent some time in LA before moving to Austin. He just put his album Marbled on Tommy Boy Records. He just put out a new single “Run” in August. We caught up with him before he goes on his first headlining tour, the American Alien tour, with Harrison Sands.
Daily Chiefers: How has 2018 been for you so far?
Abhi the Nomad: Wild. The most has ever happened in my music career this year. Did my first mini-tour back in May with Carter Reeves, 1/2 of the band Aer. I did SXSW. I’m preparing to go on my first headlining tour, dropping singles the rest of the year. I got my visa to stay in the United States as a working musician. I might go on vacation. That would be tight.
Daily Chiefers: What is your earliest memory of music?
Abhi the Nomad: Backstreet Boys. The first record they dropped way way back in the day. In 3rd grade, chatting with all the cool kids on the playground, saying this is my favorite record. No shit.
Daily Chiefers: How much of a musical history does your family have?
Abhi the Nomad: My mom sings carnatic music and traditional Indian music and old Indian songs from Bollywood and stuff. She would always be singing at home. We had a singer at home. My dad always collected cassette tapes and CDs. He introduced me to the oldies. The Fugees, The Beatles, Michael Jackson. Classic American music.
Daily Chiefers: Do you speak any languages besides English?
Abhi the Nomad: I speak Tamil. I’m from Madras. I speak French which is strange but I do.
Daily Chiefers: What was the creative process behind your latest single “Run” like?
Abhi the Nomad: I do everything at home. I don’t like studios. I could. There’s millions of studios here. I like recording at home because I like being in my own personal space. The process is creating the skeleton of the beat, making sure it slaps a little. Immediately, I’ll start writing as soon as I make a really minimal, skeletal beat. I’ll add the extra stuff, the bells, the whistles. I’ll mix it, I’ll master it. The process took about three to four days.
Daily Chiefers: How was it like creating the video for “Run”?
Abhi the Nomad: I usually like to make homies with whoever I’m being creative with. My buddy Rob directed it. He does videos for people who workout and stuff like that. He’s got a fantastic camera and a really steady hand. The whole concept behind it is to crack Indian stereotypes. Me being in places doing things Indians would do, like playing cricket in a full Indian outfit. Inside of a 711. Classic things you would associate with Indian or brown people and breaking that stereotype by rapping my ass off.
Daily Chiefers: How did you link up with Dance Time Project?
Abhi the Nomad: Every time I find that stuff, it’s insane. Finding how different people interpret my stuff is so interesting. It’s crazy man.
Daily Chiefers: How many unreleased tracks are you sitting on, to be able to give away five to lucky fans?
Abhi the Nomad: Completely, 35 to 40. I can’t reveal too much. I have five singles that are dropping this year. So those are nixed. I’m also working on a project. Those records, they were sitting there, and they didn’t fit contextually or sonically. I thought let’s make something out of it.
Daily Chiefers: What was it like collaborating with Tyler Coolidge?
Abhi the Nomad: Hot Topic. Tyler’s cool, man. He’s from the Bay. He hit me up on Soundcloud and said my shit’s tight. I owed him one, he did a feature on Marbled for me. It was fun, man. Definitely one of my favorite feature songs I’ve done.
Daily Chiefers: How much of a hand do you have in your merchandise i.e. the Marbled long sleeve?
Abhi the Nomad: I pretty much do all of it. I want it to look a very specific way. I’m very selective with what I wear. I only want my clothes to look like something I would want to wear. I feel my fans have a very similar mindset. I don’t want it to look too commercial or corporate. I’m obsessed with micro managing everything. It’s just easier. I do all my album art and single art too.
Daily Chiefers: How much curation was involved in deciding how to rollout the Somebody To Love remixes?
Abhi the Nomad: We had six people who had done some. We kind of had to cut it down because some were just not up to par. It was kind of difficult. I want everything to be perfect. If it’s just okay, it has to be cut.
Daily Chiefers: What was it like creating the Mindset video?
Abhi the Nomad: It was different. That was planned out for months. It was not as on the spot as Run was. We had a budget for it, two people on camera, a whole studio rented out. It was more planned. I think Run turned out better, which is interesting how things turned out.
Daily Chiefers: How do you feel about Nav saying he’s the first brown boy to get it popping?
Abhi the Nomad: You trying to start a war here? Nah, I’m kidding. I don’t know if he knows much about history. I think Heems from Das Racist was first. There’s many other brown artists in the game like Anik Khan who are really starting to kill it. Any brown artist could say that and get away with it. I’m partial on it, really.
Daily Chiefers: How many songs get lost in the mix? Like Warheads?
Abhi the Nomad: The problem is I really had no promotional skills or budget. When it came out, it came out. It’s stuck in stale water. Nobody’s gonna check out old songs except hardcore fans. This only really works for people who are already famous. I think that’s what happened to that song.
Daily Chiefers: What are your thoughts on the music industry today?
Abhi the Nomad: I remind myself where I came from and how far I’ve gotten. It’s so saturated now. People are starting to lose hope. There’s so many musicians and so many people blowing up. I take a step back… or not think about it, play Super Smash Bros, watch TV, do some mindless shit.
Daily Chiefers: Who are your dream collaborations? I see Rex Orange County is one you’ve been vocal about.
Abhi the Nomad: He’s probably really busy. He’s probably never heard of me. That would be fucking awesome. I would most definitely like to collaborate with Beck. Childish Gambino would be dope.
Daily Chiefers: What is the last song you wrote and recorded?
Abhi the Nomad: Booty. It’s coming out pretty soon. It’s coming out in two weeks. I’ll be promoting it. But it’s not about butts. It’s about pirates’ booty. It’s braggadocios.
Daily Chiefers: Dad texted you saying “Sex N Drugs” hit 3,000,000. How has your family received your music?
Abhi the Nomad: They’ve always been supportive. They check my stats more than I do. I think they’re glad a lot of this stuff panned out for me. Any parent, when their son tells them they’re going to be a rapper, they’re skeptical at first. I think they’re really happy with how much time and effort I’ve put in it and what it’s done for me. They’re extremely supportive.
Daily Chiefers: How many albums are you signed on to do and release with Tommy Boy Records?
Abhi the Nomad: I’m doing singles with them for the rest of the year. They’ve been really helpful. I’m not signed to them as an artist. I’m doing a licensing deal. They got Marbled and they have these extra singles like Run and they’re helping promote them for the rest of the year.
Daily Chiefers: Is the new music coming from Marbled sessions or is it recently recorded?
Abhi the Nomad: No, the new music is the new new. The stuff on Marbled, the album cuts, will probably never come out. They’re stuck on my hard drive.
Daily Chiefers: What’s next for you?
Abhi the Nomad: More music videos by the end of the year. People just have to wait. I can’t accomplish much on tour. I’m super busy on tour with all the stuff that’s coming up. All the visual content will have to wait a minute.