Artist Spotlight: Domo Gorille
“I’m at the ocean’s verge, I move it, it don’t move me first”
Welcome to my introduction to Domo Gorille. Firstly, the video for recent single ‘Ocean’s Verge’ opens to a cold day and Domo walking through it with a horse, the calmest of all animals. It’s seemingly unrelated to the content of the track, which is a stern rap song about good power and understanding demonic nature. But then the more I watch it I realise the video is relative, but I was slow to understand. You could call it obtuse, but that could imply insensitive and this track certainly isn’t that. It’s just awake and self assured in it’s being multifaceted.
The reason the track caught our interest was certainly the video. It’s total modern surrealism. But I was also truly enamoured by the idea of someone celebrating by 2 stepping on the curb. The song is an edgy declaration of worth and coupled with a lyrically evident interest in visionary psychedelia. The video isn’t typically psychedelic however, it isn’t awash with pastels against blue skies (You can however find those hues on his merchandise, Domo’s Gallery). Perfectly rendered mirror imagery work precedes inverted film footage which opens the second half of the video and is actually quite haunting, albeit abstract.
There are references to Godism, but that doesn’t undermine that the beat is HARD! The flow is nonchalant but really energetic?! Rhythmic, monotonal yet emotive and still with great use of cadence. It’s a great set up for the transition into Denzel Nonso’s feature, who again leads to more confirmation of the romanticism influences at work.
“Took a fly, flew away, where the moon’s a beauty”
This line in particular from the Afro Comb member against its later reply “blooming like a tulip” was all the confirmation I needed.
We caught up with Domo below to get some insight into this peculiar artist.
Words by Amy Hurford
Tramell: Let’s start from the basics - we know you are an amazing rapper and illustrator, how did those two art forms become your passion?
Domo Gorille: The two came together quite naturally to be honest. Art primarily has been my passion since I could remember and has been a skill set that has progressed along with me. Grateful to say that I’ll be graduating after studying Illustration & Visual Media at LCC for three years. I put my life into my work and use it as a vessel to my let my mind run wild and reflect.
Music came along a bit later. I grew up on a lot of R&B, soul, reggae, and jazz. It weren’t until I got into secondary school where I found a super strong passion for hip-hop. I started writing aged 14 and started recording tracks at 16/17 with my friends. There was a big group of us that made music at the time, so our bars had to be on point otherwise you’d get ‘spun’ by whoever you’re on the track with. From then onwards I started to put more thought into my words and released music slowly as my style developed into what it is today.
You have an incredible merch collection under Domos Gallery that features your own graphic art and has been worn by the likes of Etta Bond, TMJuelz and JiuLing. Can you give us some insight into your visual inspirations?
Domos Gallery (started 2015) came at quite a transitional period of time where I found art styles and concepts that worked really well for me. My visual inspirations come from a number of things. Nature landscapes, sci-fi, comic books. Though spirituality, psychedelia and surrealism are my main focus. I love creating images where the meaning isn’t always obvious. Like a happy looking person who is hurting from within. My work is very vibrant in colour because of that which works really well on garments so I thought I’d put the two together. I’ve been itching to make new merch!
Any hints on what you’ll be dropping next?
All I can say is one of the next drops will be an animated music video, Illustrated and animated by myself. That’s gonna be super powerful when it drops.
Denzel Nonso is one of my long time collaborators (along side TMJuelz & Sprme Ferno) and a very close friend of mine. We went to the same secondary school, we were always cool with each other but didn’t become close friends until secondary was over. From there we started to make music more frequently together. Even at one stage making a rap group called Extra Pills where we’d rap about being young black and wild basically. We’ve come along way and have grown tremendously as artists since the start of our journeys. One of the coldest out real soul brother!
The music video is visually stunning, ambiguous and eye-brow raising all at once! What was your vision going into directing this piece?
My vision for this video was based around power, liberation and standing tall for what you do and believe in. I put this concept forward to the Director, Andy Carnegi, who diligently thought of ways to visualise this idea the best way possible. Not to mention Will Skelton’s amazing editing which gave the video a lot of energy and bounce
What’s with the horse?!
I had the ‘horses in the back’ before Lil Nas X! The horse was one of the symbols that represents a sense of triumph. I feel the horse done it’s job as it set the set the tone and gave the music video a cinematic aesthetic. Likewise for the office and car chase scenes during the second verse.
How do you feel about the UK Rap scene at the moment and where do you place yourself within it?
I feel like the UK Rap scene is flourishing and I’m grateful to see it all manifest. From the resurgence of grime to other sub genres like drill and trap are getting more mainstream attention here as well. This in effect has given artists with a more underground style an opportunity to get the spotlight and recognition that they/we deserve.
If I was to place myself I’d be somewhere in the middle. I’d say my style/flow is influenced by rap/trap and grime. In terms of the sound of my music, I’ve been trying to cultivate a ‘psychedelic trap’ sound which is 808 driven, intense as well as euphoric. I also sing in my songs so once the production side of things develop I will be much closer to making this sound more solid.
Since we last covered you (exactly 1 year ago!) how do you think you’ve evolved as an artist?
Since last year a lot has changed. Last year made me realise how important consistency and momentum is when you’re a musician as we live in times where everything comes and goes so fast. So this year I’ve been way more strategic about my marketing and planning in order to get the best out of releases. I want my music to have an impact on people sonically and visually. So me being able to create music, art and merch to a high standard will definitely work in my favour. Something I would love to evolve more in is the performance side of things. Having a more consistent flow of shows to reach different audiences.
What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
I’m Ghanaian and St Lucian (people instantly think I’m Jamaican). I’m also a very sick skankers/dancer when I’m in my vibe. Definitely gonna see the dance moves come out in the releases to come!
What is next for Domo Gorille?
My debut project is set to release in August so keep your eyes peeled for that. Upon release I will be working towards an exhibition which will comprise of paintings to view and merch to buy. I have so much in store and can’t wait to show the world what’s good.
Check out and support Domo Gorille’s latest offering ‘Ocean Verge’ - he is a gem just waiting to be found. To catch another side to Domo, you can head to the exhibition premiere of his animation work on Weds 19th June 6 - 9pm and then view it until Saturday the 22nd at London College of Communication in Elephant & Castle.