In 2012, Montreal producer Tommy Kruise dropped Memphis Confidential Vol. 1, a beat tape inspired by trap and 90s Southern hip-hop. The perfect soundtrack for skating and smoking, it introduced the Québécois beat-maker as one-to-watch in the electronic rap game. After last year's Fête Foreign EP, which featured completely original compositions, today we're premiering the long-awaited Memphis Confidential Vol. 2. While it showcases his growth as an artist, longtime fans of the Canadian producer's sample crate-digging prowess will find plenty here to enjoy.
Kruise's evolution also came from his experiences turning up parties all over the world, including his recent European tour, and undergoing surgery for persisting health issues. His highly satirical video for "SS16," the opening track on Vol. 2, shows Kruise vaping in a white turtleneck in a mansion as his fashion collection is unveiled. "It was made to be corny," he says, but there's nothing tongue-in-cheek about his beats.
Listen to the whole tape below (featuring amazing artwork by Skip Class and layout by Rhek) and read our interview with the man himself.
THUMP: Tell me about working on this new tape, the samples are deep.
Tommy Kruise: This is basically my last musical project done while I was really struggling with my sleep apnea. I thought it would take ten years to make Vol. II. I started looking back at obscure Memphis tapes, finding samples that have never been used. I really wanted to try more composing, but sampling is definitely my first love. I'm not telling what they are, except some Big Hill Management B-side tapes, but I like people to invest the time and seeing if they know the samples.
There seems to be a lot more original melodies and composition on this one.
The first one was more trap and chopped-and-screwed, but on this, the first track is a bit more emotional. There are two tracks that are banging, one's a party track where people can dance. The interludes are a bit more of a lo-fi approach, for the people in the car or the people smoking. This is my first love because this is the first project that I ever dropped. It's like the struggle of Memphis Confidential Vol. 1, it's a beautiful struggle to relive.
So how did you get into Southern rap in the first place?
When I was super young, like 12 or 13, it was my transition from heavy metal. I was listening to Dr. Dre and all those records at the time, but Southern rap was the easiest transition for me to be like "I love rap now and it's definitely consuming me." There's never been a moment since where I'm not listening to stuff from Atlanta, Dallas, Houston.
Is that what made you want to start producing?
Yeah! The sequencing and how they use hi-hats, it's always been an influence in all types of rap. The sounds of DJ Paul and Juicy J are still currently used in chart-topping singles by Future and such. The first time I started producing, I was way more into Detroit rap, Black Milk, Hi-Tech, etc. When I started using FruityLoops, I was way more influenced by J Dilla sampling stuff.
I understand you underwent surgery to correct your sleep apnea? I'm really glad you're feeling better.
Yes. I accepted the condition at first, like this is me, this is how I am, I gotta live like this. I didn't understand I was missing energy every day. But then ASAP Yams' passing was related to that; I saw him struggle and I've been sad because of that. So my mom was like, "Yo, start a treatment." And it took a year and a half of treatment to find the right solution to the problem. Like, am I gonna sleep with a machine or what? But they gave me the surgery and within 48 hours I felt the difference. It's night and day.
Between yourself, Lunice, Kaytranada, and others, it feels like Montreal producers are having a moment.
A lot of the people that are having a moment, we're all related in the beginning. We all went to the same nights and we play each other's sounds and such. It's been amazing because Montreal is a city that is able to put itself out there. A lot of people are afraid to take risks but Montreal shows you how to take risks because people take risks.
There's a lot of illegal parties as much as there are artists really doing something that's never been done, and that can inspire you. Life is short, why not try it? Montreal has amazing talent. It's a good thing it's getting the exposure it deserves. And the winter compared to LA, it inspires me. Six months where you stay inside is good for work. If it's always nice out, you're not gonna stay in and make beats all day.
Isn't that idea of making something new from something old the whole point of "SS16"?
Yes! That video is me outside of my comfort zone. I wanted to make fun of the high fashion industry and rap game, and the mainstream rappers that want to make big life-changing statements in order to sell very expensive pieces of trash. All these fashion experiments take away from the original process, which is putting out good music and making great moments for people. I'm stoked that a lot of people don't even understand the video. Like, what the fuck is this guy doing? Why is he vaping with this white outfit? I wanted people to think it's corny. It's supposed to be.
Have you been skating lately?
I want to get back into it like crazy. I've only been back from Europe for 24 hours, which was a dream come true, but they made me throw my skateboard in the garbage at the airport. I went through security and all that, but then Air France was like, "Oh yeah, this is not coming on the plane." I Kobe'd the skateboard in the garbage. Yeah, I gotta get a new one.
Adria Young is on Twitter.