Interview: Australia’s Tommi Nagai is Motivated by the Negativity Around Him

One of my greatest fears growing up was social anxiety (to an extent, it still is now). The crippling dread of not knowing whether the people disliked me or it was all in my head. It left me an awkward mess and led to me retreating into the comfort of writing (so yay to Turntable Thoughts!).

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Australia’s Tommi Nagai, on the other hand, has no such worries. Brazenly admitting that the people who inspire his music are “the haters, the naysayers, the people who tell [him] [he] can’t do something”. These are the adversaries that act as the primary driving force behind his latest single “Fresh Fuel”.

At only 15 years old, the song is an great launch pad for Tommi to build his sound. So make sure to give the track a listen, and find out more about the motivations behind said sound in our interview below.


Turntable Thoughts:

Tell me about yourself.

Tommi Nagai:

My name is Tommi Nagai, I’m a 15-year-old artist from Adelaide, Australia. My whole life has been filled with music. I started playing the piano when I was 3 and used to write small 5-line songs on the back of my mum’s grocery list.

After 9 years of piano, I began to create my own music using apps like GarageBand. Once I started using music as an outlet for my feelings and emotions, I began to write songs. Then during COVID lockdown in 2020, I made a song and decided that I wanted to release it. From there, I’ve continued to evolve and progress in my writing and recording skills and hope to continue to release music in the future. Everyone’s a star but only some are prepared to take the risks.

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Turntable Thoughts:

You’ve put out your latest track “Fresh Fuel” a couple of weeks ago, could you tell me more about it?

Tommi Nagai:

Yeah, so Fresh Fuel was a song I started working on around July or August of 2020. The idea of the song was to draw a line between my, “toddler,” faze of music and my more matured music. One of my early songs, “Dear Baby”, wasn’t really received well, so in “Fresh Fuel” I say, ‘got a brand-new mind, fresh outta the mountains. Forgetting the L, just like a Real Phantom.’

Which was sort of saying that I’ve taken a step back and like ‘gone into the mountains’ or hidden away for a while and come back stronger and essentially, I’ve come back with fresh fuel in the tank.


Turntable Thoughts:

What were the inspirations that went behind the song?

Tommi Nagai:

Besides drawing a line between my old music and my newer stuff, “Fresh Fuel” was one of those songs where the words and lyrics started flowing from my mouth when I heard the beat.

There are certain lines like, ‘Yeah, now the haters they fuel me…’ that are inspired by me just trying to prove the haters wrong, and other lines like, ‘got a history with you, but you never come through…’ that refer to bad experiences with girls, where the girl I was with never followed through with her plans. In a sense, this song was influenced by the idea of putting bottled up thoughts and feelings into a song. I’d done it before with my more affectionate feelings, but not with my negative emotions and drives.

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Turntable Thoughts:

The song is entirely self-produced and mixed, right? Was it all self-taught?

Tommi Nagai:

This song was actually produced by Mouhi, more commonly known as Beatsbymhc. Him and I were just casually talking about music when I checked out some of his beats. We started talking about the money side of things and he was able to do a really good deal for the beat used for “Fresh Fuel”. So, I got it and immediately knew that this track was going to be a whole new vibe.

In general, my music has been both self-taught as well and being taught by others over time. From age 3, I was doing piano lessons weekly, sometimes twice a week, for around 9 years, so I gained a musical ear that really helped me hit certain notes or create better melodies. Vocally I’m still continuing to learn both by myself and from others. I’m lucky to participate in school musicals, and be surrounded by musically talented people, including family and friends, that can help me and critique me when needed.

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Turntable Thoughts:

Who are the inspirations behind your music?

Tommi Nagai:

People that inspire my music, and pretty much anything I do, are the haters, the naysayers, the people who tell me I can’t do something or the people that say I’m bad. Sometimes, it can negatively affect me, but it also drives me to do better and prove people wrong.

Musically, my inspiration is so broad. There have been many artists who have inspired me to try different styles whether it be MGK, YUNGBLUD, and Post Malone inspiring me to make a rock-style song, or Kill Jasper with his melodic rap, or even YouTube artists with the evolution of their careers.


Turntable Thoughts:

What are your plans for the future?

Tommi Nagai:

I want to take this to whatever level I can. In the future I’m trying to improve and improve and constantly evolve my music, tapping into different genres and styles. I hope to get my music played in stores, on Spotify, and on the radio. Best believe, this is just the beginning!

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Based in Melbourne and Malaysia. Jensen is a part-time journalist and full-time music fan.

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