Premiere: Get Ready To Play CLICHE's New Single "Pew Pew!" All Weekend
19-year-old rapper CLICHE, otherwise known as Thomas, likes to claim he’s from another dimension, and it might very well be true. With bright eyes, big hair and a kind of rare, contagious energy that can take over a room, CLICHE is unapologetically himself and he’s poised to takeover New York’s music scene one smile at a time. Coming off of a show at the Bowery Electric, we sat down with CLICHE to talk about why he goes by the name Thomas, getting people to take you seriously and the style notes he’s learned from anime. Listen to his newest song “Pew Pew!” below.
Tell me about your shirt. Do you go by the name Thomas?
I came up with this shirt design in 2017 around the time I was at SXSW. It began because when I would meet people, they would assume I was white. Like straight up caucasian. I’m fully Dominican, Puerto Rican, Honduran, but because of the way I talk and my pigment people would just assume I’m white. One day I was like with the sound that I’m making, why don’t I just give myself the most generic white name ever and why don’t I just mix it in with where I’m from. People don’t expect that from Washington Heights. So I dropped my first project in 2017 called Thomas. Then months later, when I went to SXSW I made the shirt 24 hours before my flight down there. I have a sister, and I was like yo sis, I’ll do anything if you embroider this shirt. Months later we got a manufacturer to ship them out, and I got a matching tattoo right after a festival in October. In my spirit I was like wow, I’m Thomas. Thomas is who I’ve built myself to be, and it’s really me, while CLICHE is my artist name.
Who and what inspires you?
I’m inspired by weird things. I like stuff that isn’t normal or pleasant to the eye. When everyone is going right, I want to see what’s going left because there’s a whole other world there. It’s refreshing and helps me tap into my awareness. A lot of what I wear is inspired by anime, and I draw manga and anime myself. I’m very inspired by things that just happen and experiences in my life. That’s huge. What you went through and how it shaped you. In terms of artists, Marvin Gaye is my all-time favorite artist. Eminem is my favorite rapper. I was the biggest Eminem stan going into high school—I even dyed my hair for two or three days. I love the Rolling Stones, Mac Demarco, Flying Lotus and Tyler the Creator. I used a snippet of an interview with him in my first project.How do you get people to take you seriously at 19?
I’ve always been someone who is very aware of myself, who I am and the people around me. If you want to be taken seriously, you really need to be about your shit and have your foot down and create an honest, firm, and mature presence. Life is just going to get more serious. A lot of my friends my age are definitely none of those things [laughing] so I hang out with a lot of adults. Watching how they do things and how my managers take meetings, I’ve learned a lot from them. If you know what you’re doing, people will take you seriously. I’m an aries, a fire sign, so when I step into a room you’ll feel the flames. I’ve always been very expressive and outgoing, like “yo! I think this! I think that!” It’s just my nature.
You have a really specific visual aesthetic, and in certain ways it challenges expectations of masculinity and someone so heavily influenced by rap music who is from uptown and has a hispanic heritage. Can you tell me about how you get dressed everyday?
A lot of my style is inspired by anime and influencers on Instagram and models. Right now fashion is at an all-time high. People in Japan are on a different wavelength and I like to study that fashion. They know what’s good. I love Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren. I’m not really big on brands, but I like designs and how people make themselves stand out. Goodwill is probably my favorite store.
Look, everyone does the same shit as everyone else, but we all do it differently because we’re ourselves, so that’s where CLICHE plays in. You’re yourself, and that forms a style or a ‘fit that you didn’t quite see coming. It’s like looking at different inspirations and clothes that eventually build up an outfit.Tell me about your new project Robot Jesus.
This is the one that kind of slipped out of nowhere. Before this I was working on a project called BUTTA for a year, but around the same time I was also working with artist and producer Jachary, who produced the whole project.
There are 4 songs on Robot Jesus, and we worked on each song probably four months apart. When the project was done and I was listening to it in order with my manager and stuff, we were like yo…I think this is it. I think this is the keys to open the doors. It’s cohesive and doesn’t have any features, so it’s a sound that’s all me. Jachary understood everything and understood the sounds and the textures, which then influenced the writing a lot. This project is like crack, it’s like a drug.
What do you want people think of when they hear the name CLICHE?
I want people to see me as a musician who is unapologetically himself and speaks his truth through many different colors. I want people to see the world through my rainbow, and I want to influence young people. I want them to see me as the 5th dimensional icon. That’s where I come from!
Images courtesy of @melomakesmovies.
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