No Rome is a busy lad. When he’s finished chatting with Dork, he’s off to Japan to shoot ‘a video’ – no word on what it’s for yet, it’s all top secret. As are most things surrounding Rome Gomez. For an artist that has two tracks out in the world in total, there’s definitely an air of mystery around the guy, and a colossal amount of hype.
Rome has been making music since MySpace was around (crikey), and started taking it seriously about five years ago. He was an OG SoundCloud artist too, putting out demos on the platform and working with other artists he’d met on the internet. “I’d just upload them for the sake of it really, nothing more nothing less – and apparently you got people who like the way it sounded.”
Rome is an interesting character. Hearing his music, you’d hardly expect the influences he lists as his own. “I guess the irony of getting influences from bands and a lot of music from the past especially, and me having the capability to time travel with the internet to hear songs from when I wasn’t even born yet, is I can get inspired from them.
“Growing up listening to like My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, and then having electronic artists like Bjork and Aphex Twin coming up as well so, they kind of like made that sound. Those are the kind of bands I genuinely listen to, and you could say I get my inspiration from.
“But lyrically I guess it’s Frank O’Hara. He’s very interesting in the way that he’s very honest with his poems but at the same time it’s fake, so the honesty is there, but at the same time you question; ‘Yeah I get what he’s trying to say’. It’s there, but what does it really mean? That’s kind of how I wanted to tell a story with that EP.”
The ‘wow they came out of nowhere, and now they’re gonna be a massive pop star’ is an age-old way of selling a new artist, but sometimes with good reason. “I guess it kind of made me work hard by force, you know?” Rome says. “The DIY culture there [in Manila, where he was born and raised], a lot of things aren’t as culturally updated as it would be, but with that kind of strive of getting what you want made it a bit more extra. It was a drive. It was definitely a drive.”
Aside from an EP – ‘RIP Indo Hisashi’, coming ‘soon’ – there’s not much else on the way from Rome. It’s really a drop in the ocean that’s made a bloody massive wave. “The album has always been on the way, it keeps changing and changing through time, and I just wanna get to the point where I think this is something worth listening to as a fifteen track that’s gonna come from me – or at least that I’m saying right now.
“It’s just changing the place of songs and having a theme to it as well. So I just wanna hit that and while doing that I guess making EPs would be right to kind of place things together, then a whole album. But hopefully, by next year, I’d be able to be done with that one.”
He hasn’t even toured yet – yep this is a properly millennial rise to fame. “Live shows? Not at the moment, not that I know of. I guess trying to build a sort of stage set up that I could bring along with me, then I’d be able to start doing shows. I just wanna be a bit intricate with it before I start playing small venues and have my visuals set up, just because it works both ways with the music and stuff.”
So how does a 21-year-old from Manila, end up getting signed to the most exciting record label in the world, Dirty Hit and living with The 1975’s Matty Healy?
“I met Matty about last year – he found me through Samuel [Burgess-Johnson], his roommate, who I’m a huge fan of as well – he’s a graphic designer that just does amazing stuff, and I’d seen his profile over the internet for a while.”
Oh yeah, the internet. Rome and Samuel spent a while emailing each other (<3 cute) about music and art; then Matty heard his songs. “He wanted to fly me in, got me in touch with Dirty Hit, and we kicked it off really.
“I ended up living with Matty for quite some time and helped him out with the album, and he was helping me out with my music, and it became like a very brotherly thing. I think it’s pretty cool for a young kid like me coming up from somewhere random and meeting across the platform of the internet, I guess makes a lot of sense.”
‘Pretty cool’ is probably the most understated way to describe the whole situation. Remember when Sean Parker put ‘Royals’ on his Spotify playlist and within a few months, Lorde was top of the charts worldwide? That’s the level of hype anything associated with The 1975 can generate. Christ just look at our magazine if you need any evidence.
Taken from the August issue of Dork, out now. No Rome’s debut EP ‘RIP Indo Hisashi’ is out ‘soon’.
Words: Abigail Firth