From Salvador Dali to Pornhub Home
Armed with my morning coffee-cigarette combo, logging on to today’s Zoom call with Tommy Ca$h is a refreshing change of pace in a sea of virtual bingo nights and awkward team meetings. Having followed the post-Soviet rap sensation for almost a decade, this is a momentous occasion—one I only have a second to fangirl over. Before I know it, three dots slide across the screen, an inevitable fumble with the mute button, then a familiar pencil moustache appears wearing the iconic black Telfar baseball cap. Of course, it’s Tommy chilling on his sofa, with a dreary yet pristine view of Tallinn’s cityscape in the background. GLAMCULT last spoke with Tommy in 2019, and we’re keen to find out how two years of global chaos have been for him.
We’re in the midst of a cultural phenomenon – for better and worse. How is it creating art within this climate?
Like everyone, it’s about doing what you can. It’s a curse and a blessing – which is something I’ve realised in reflecting on this time. Later, when it’s over, I really hope we’ll only see the positive things. I’m almost looking at it like a relationship – you don’t always notice all the good a person has until you break up! For sure, this is a positive train of thought to take – but in looking at it this way, it makes a difference.
Not performing for such a long time is new, though. My heart goes out to the clubs and just the whole entire scene. But I also woke up to the news that a festival in Finland has tagged me, and I’m headlining… so festivals are still happening? I can’t help but feel like concerts and festivals are dinosaurs now.
Well, let’s get digging up the bones. We NEED this.
Your work has a surreal-yet-authentic ‘post-Soviet’ energy. How has this narrative developed for you as you’ve grown?
It was actually someone else who first said it, and I totally took it on and ran with it! I get it: it’s hard to describe someone like myself, and what I really do. ‘Post-Soviet Artist’ seems to fit. However, it’s not everything. My work has many names. I mean, there’s always Kanye East, amongst many other stupid things you can refer to me as. But in the end, myself, my ideas, my creations and the strings I am able to pull don’t take account of my location. The labels, they come and go, but the product stays.
Should we consider ‘post-Soviet Tommy’ as a kind of character, then?
Oh, it’s the truest character. I mirror it, I identify with it, because it is 100% a description of me. It was totally true, and it still feels that way… but times are changing and moving forward – even if I’m still here in Estonia, sitting in one of Tallinn’s three skyscrapers [Laughs]. Tallinn is very small, so my roots remain.
Your work is also filled with symbolism—from horses, to the cross and (of course!) your unbreakable loyalty to those three Adidas stripes. What can we take from that?
There really are so many symbols! And I see it as something we collect, like souvenirs of ideas we have throughout our lives. This eventually creates layers that get piled on top of each other. A symbol is very multidimensional, and it’s rarely one thing.
You live at the intersection of artistic excellence and satirical observation. Are both aspects part of your intended output, or is one a result of the other?
It’s a conscious effort to have this balance… like Dali. Salvador Dali was the world’s first troll; driving a Rolls Royce filled with cauliflower and going on The Dick Cavett Show with an anteater, stuff like that. Creating the most abstract paintings alongside this. Such a genius. This is the kind of balance I want, to be a riddler of some sorts.
Are you a troll?
No, not really. I think I’m just having fun. You have to be more hardcore to be a troll, and I want to have aesthetically pleasing work which still means something… but also, finding the joy within it…
Read the full interview in Glamcult’s The COMING HOME Issue.