Artist Interview: Travis Thompson, Seattle’s Rising Emcee

Following last year’s Ambaum mixtape, Travis Thompson continues to build momentum with a series of singles and features. The Seattle-bred emcee holds us down with his catchy verses and witty flows, most recently teaming with the likes of Nima Skeemz on “Father Forgive Me” and “Need You.” Travis has also shared the stage with the likes of W&V mainstays Dave B and Michael Christmas, and will also be at Seattle’s Upstream Music Fest later this year.

I had the pleasure of chopping it up with Travis on how he dove into the music industry, his advice for fellow Lil B fans, and his plans for the future. Check out our conversation after the jump:


Thanks for taking the time for this interview! For starters, who is Travis Thompson?

My name is Travis Thompson. I’m a rapper from Seattle, Washington.

What got you into making music? Was music always what you wanted to focus on?

When I was super young, my dad showed me Green Day, and for a long time that was the only music that existed to me. I used to pretend my vacuum was a mic, because I was hella short and it was the perfect height. I always knew music was something I wanted to do. But around 7th grade I started writing raps instead of poems in my middle school english class, and then started going back and writing to all my favorite Lil Wayne beats n’ shit haha. Lowkey wrote raps all through high school and didn’t show nobody. And then about 2 years ago, I decided I wanted to start taking shit seriously. At first I wrote poems. I competed in poetry slams around Seattle, and won a bunch of em’. I used to do my own poetry shows n’ shit and they flew me around the country for different stuff. Like Brave New Voices, or to film a poetry video. That was in high school too.

You recently dropped a track with Michael Christmas titled “Pipe Down.” Tell us a bit about how the track came together.

One time we got super high, listened to a bunch of Cool Kids, and made the beat and hook in like 15 minutes during a random Ambaum session. Wrote the verse the next day. And then we sat on it for hella long. At least a few months. Then I saw Christmas was on tour with Warm Brew and as soon as I seen he had a Seattle stop, I hit my manager and told him we should try to open that show, because I had been fucking with Christmas’s stuff for awhile. We got the show- he fucked with our set, and said yeah to being on the song. It was cool. Super organic. He’s tight.

A good amount of your tracks are produced by Nima Skeemz—how did you two link up?

Well when I first knew I wanted to start taking music seriously, I didn’t know where to record. My homie Shelton Harris told me about Nima’s studio. I recorded all of the super early shit there. And then simply from being around each other hella, me and Nima started making music together. Eventually he ended up executive producing my Ambaum mixtape. He’s super talented and easy to work with. Fire with the keys. He ugly though.

With artists like yourself, Dave B., and Sol carrying the torch high for Seattle, can you tell us a bit about the music scene there? How has the city shaped your career?

The music scene here is cool. Super small. Everybody knows everybody kind of shit. And even if you don’t, you probably went to church with one of their cousins or something. Fairly supportive. The city shaped my career because there was so many outlets as a young person for me to take part in. Theres a lot of art’s programs for young people in Seattle. The Blue Scholars were the first local acts that ever really made me dive into the scene. I was a youngin’ going to local shows n’ shit. However musically, the city doesn’t really have a sound. Everyone is hella different. But yeah, Seattle is definitely a city to keep an eye out for. It’s a lot of fire ass kids in this new generation that want it hella fuckin bad. I’m excited.

What do you want listeners to take away from your music?

I wan’t anyone that listens to my music to be able to laugh at themselves. To laugh at life. At the really hard, fucked up, moments of life. Even my more serious music always has bits of humor sprinkled in because like, I always want people to remember that life isn’t that serious. Even when it is. You’ll be dead way longer than you’ll be alive. So make the conscious part of existence as fun as possible.

Any advice for artists out there?

Listen more than you speak. Invest in yourself. Like every last dollar. I’m doing this interview with 30 bucks to my name because of music expenses. Be yourself to the fullest extent. Authenticity literally always works. Conduct yourself as business. Learn how to send a proper email. Always pay the people you work with. Don’t throw your music in people’s faces. Let them find it. And I know I said invest in yourself…but don’t pay to play a show. That’s sus. Don’t pay for any blog placement. Also sus. Keep your publishing. And most importantly take notes from other people doing it. I watch how my peers move and figure out what works and what doesn’t- then apply that to what I do. Don’t be lazy. Make something every day. There’s free game everywhere. Go find it.

Any dream collabs?

Kanye. Green Day. Chance The Rapper. Bruce Springsteen. Lil B. I think that’s about it.

What’s next for you?

Hella shows. Hella new music. Hopefully, I can quit my real job soon haha.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I always get this question in interviews and I never know how to answer it so I’ma just put some opinions I believe strongly in:

Nacho Cheese Doritos are trash.
Forest Gump is the best movie ever made. Like ever.
House parties with Facebook event names are 9/10 the ones that get shot up.
Gym Class Heroes were one of the best music groups of all time, and don’t get the proper credit they deserve.
And last but not least, Fuck Donald Trump.

Keep up with Travis Thompson on Twitter and SoundCloud, and stream Ambaum below.