Interview With Trigger

Gary Thompson (Trigger)

How did you first get into music? 

As far as listening to it.. I was always one who loved music even as a child. I remember my mam used to be a regular in buying stuff out of charity shops cause as she said herself "there's rare stuff in there where you just might not find in regular shops" That and the added advantage of you could actually afford it a lot more this way haha. I remember getting a guitar at one point in there, and a keyboard which I became very interested in, done a few lessons but they kinda fell by the way side. My mam always loved music as well and used to write poems, so I guess it was an influence early on even since a toddler. 

Who were/are your inspirations? 

When it comes to musical inspirations my first and foremost was Tupac, everything about him I could relate to and admire, his intelligence was by far superior to your average street thug cause he came from that black panther background and his mother made sure she instilled that "think for yourself" type of mentality. When everyone else around me was into their sports and soccer buzz before we hit our teens I was constantly researching as much as I could about how he got shot and who killed him when I first got put on to his music, his music is by far the most influential Iv heard. The Irish scene was obviously another big inspiration but i'll save that discussion for another question later in the interview.

Were you always into rap or did you come to it later?

When I was about 12 I got a loan of a PlayStation game called Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, and on the radio there was a station called Radio Los Santos, strictly 90's hip hop.. That shit changed my life, I didn't have any satellite TV stations or any computer in my house at that age so this was my first chance to really appreciate that Ceol. I used to call to my friends house and ask him to burn me CD's of different songs so I could listen to cause he had access to the internet and a laptop. Every chance I got I used to go to HMV on Patrick's Street and buy a new album, first I started out strictly on 2pac, then Snoop, The Game, NWA, Xzibit, Wu Tang Clan, ODB and my collection grew from there. The older I got the more I branched out, I really got to like the intellectual type of stuff, the Rakim's, the Nas and KRS One's etc etc. Obviously when you're about 13 you're gonna be swayed by the gangster type image because it's "cool" but even apart from that you can somewhat relate to it- seeing similar stuff happening in your own neighbourhoods, teenage pregnancy drug abuse, crime and poverty are all a big part of the social narrative in my music now. I spent a huge chunk of my life up until i was 15 in my nan's gaff in Gurranabraher on the northside. It had a bad reputation ,it was right next to Knocknaheeny -probably the most notorious place in Cork for joyriding robbed cars and antisocial behaviour at the time, so i could relate to what i heard in my headphones coming all the way from America. When I was 14 I started writing verses and hundreds of pages of rhymes over the next couple of years before I even knew there was an Irish hip hop scene. I never done anything with them but I always enjoyed writing, I always done well in school in English class -writing essays and I used to read books in my spare time, still to this day I read them because I think you need stuff to write about, factual stuff which you need to study if you ever want to reference shit. Knowledge is power. But I wonder if i never got into hip hop what I would have as a past time or what I'd be doing with my life. I really can't see my life without it now.

You are considered one of, if not the best hip hop artist in Cork, how do you think the rap game differs from county to County?

First off thanks for that title, the Cork rap scene was really big right before I hit the scene, you had these guys like B-wonder, An Buachill Dana, Bony, GMC, the Dutch Gold Kid, Nash, Samir, Mickey Gatch and loads more, performing at big gigs and getting radio play on all the pirate radio stations - and a few national ones also. But when they would have been in their late teens and early twenty's and ripping up the mic I would have been only about 13/14..I thought these fellas were the shit and I always wanted to meet them, little did I know I'd end up working with them all on some level years later. Me and a close friend of mine named Corey who used to rap under the nickname Basic always idolised them, because they done it from what was viewed as a professional level. They were street, they were educated and they flowed as good in my eyes as all those MC's I'd listened to from America just with a few differences-they rapped with their own accents and incorporated their own real life experiences into their 16's. To me and Basic -we wanted that, we seen how they controlled that stage and gained respect and a reputation around the city for being the sickest at what they did. Basic unfortunately never got to show us his full potential as he died due to suicide two weeks before his 21st birthday in 2013, he had recorded only just one song a couple of years prior but it gained the respect of all the music listener's as it was such a classic. We had planned to release a collaboration project called Double Perspective, but it never came into fruition. So I named my second album with that title in his memory. A lot of who I mentioned who influenced me on the Irish music scene were getting older and sort of left the music to further their own lives, so from like 2012 there wasn't much hip hop on the big scale of things happening at all anymore in Cork, I thought to myself "I gotta rep this for Cork, for Basic and for myself to keep what we all worked for to stay alive and be remembered", I put a hell of a lotta work, time, and money into this as a career over the last 5 or 6 years and took it seriously since then, although I was involved with the scene since 2009 and was a fan since 2005, 2013 was the first year I made my mark, releasing my first music video Top Gear, followed by my biggest track and video "Let 'em Know" which got major reaction and radio play, which to me was the biggest accomplishment as it was something the main stream media stayed away from when it comes to topics. I was doing gigs throughout Ireland and getting major props for my first album which I released at a full to capacity launch gig in October 2014. I continued releasing music videos, appearing in documentaries, doing interviews and live performances, I even got contacted to do an interview over the phone to a New York radio station! I still think sometimes I don't get the recognition I deserve after all I've accomplished and carrying this city on my back for a few years- now let's get it clear i'm not saying I was the only one to put the work in no diss to others who might have been doing their thing but I was definitely the work horse over those few years in Cork and put Cork back on the map! Now thankfully the scene is becoming big and blossoming again thanks to a lot of MC's DJ's promoters and bloggers once again. As far as different styles from County to County I would agree to some extent, Cork MC's used to have a stigma of rapping faster while Limerick MC's were known for comedy hip hop, but as the scene expands and more artists emerge we are all just unique individuals with our own styles. But I would say a north city Dublin MC wouldn't be rapping about the same type of stuff as a Tipperary or Sligo MC. To each their own, we need different styles to develop the industry anyway and I respect people who stay true to themselves.

How would you describe your style of writing? Is writing autobiographical lyrics important to you?

Very.. I believe each artist must portray THEM.. Bring their style and vision to life, I may not like or agree with that style whatever the case may be but it's necessary for authenticity. There's nothing worse then people using an American accent and acting like it's OK, there is still hundreds of these clowns doing it and it just makes us all look like a novelty joke act, you don't see Stormzy putting on a yank accent do you? No because he never would have got peoples respect and blowing up if he was like all the other sheep. I talk about everything in my music, the good the bad and the ugly. Some from peoples perspectives that I knew, some from my own and some with a moral behind. My mother is from the northside of Cork City, my dad from West Cork, so I brought two completely different sides to the table growing up, West Cork is very IRA influenced and history oriented, Michael Collins is a big figure in Cork and he was born very near my dads house and murdered not too far from there. Both my mam and dad were brought up in severe poverty but they always made the best of it and I think that influences me as far as just get on with it, and that comes through in my music. I don't talk about it much but when I moved out on my own at 18 I was literally living on nothing..Pot Noodles and cans of beans was my dinner day in day out, proper broke no joke. I got evicted from my rented flat and was homeless for a short period of time,about 4 months I guess, relying on homeless shelters for food, I was too proud to ever ask any family or friends for help and I got back on my own two feet and now I feel that experience helped me become who I am today as far as both a man and an artist..those stories gave me material to write about my life and make some dam good songs hah. Always be yourself and you will succeed if you believe in that person. 

You supported the legendary Outlawz at the Tivoli Theatre in 2015, how did that come about?

I heard bloodshed records were bringing a lot of top notch talent over here and long story short I asked for a chance, since then I've not only supported the Outlawz but Onyx on two separate occasions, the last Onyx gig I feel being the best performance from myself because I went up there all on my own in front of hundreds and rocked the crowd. I was nervous as hell because normally most acts have someone on stage to support them or be their hype man which I normally had myself, but I did this one alone and I feel it made me a better performer in the long run. Shouts to Rew and Paulie for the opportunities!

It was announced last week that the Tivoli Theatre is set to be demolished, given such a pivotal moment of your career happened there, how does that make you feel?

Really? That's my first time hearing that! That's a real shame it was a great venue, it was such a big venue and I always wanted to perform there again..that's a shame.

Your relationship with the group has seen you support them, they appeared on your latest album “Double Perspective” and now you are going to be in one of their music videos. Were these things discussed and planned or how did they come about?

I had contacted them a week prior to them coming to Dublin in Tivoli Theatre and introduced myself. I wasn't expecting a response to be honest but I said it was worth a shot seeing as I was on the card right before them. They hit me back to my surprise and when I got to meet them backstage it was a dream come through! We got a few photos, passed around a few blunts and had a laugh. I handed them my first album "Triggernometry" and Young Noble said it looked dope. It was great to also meet Hussein Fatal also as he sadly died two months later in a car crash. I was chatting to them here and there over the following year and we finally got to talking about making a song together for my second album "Double Perspective" entitled "Soldier's Story", which you can get on Bandcamp.

How did you feel when you found out about the music video? 

Over the moon, I mean think about it who would of thought that about 12/13 years ago when I first started listening to 2pac and the Outlawz that one day I'd be flying to LA, California to be shooting a music video with them. Going from literally in the depths of poverty eating at a homeless shelter to shooting a big time music video with my idols, it's any kids dream come don't get any bigger than that in my eyes!

Do you think this will lead to further collaborations?

 I'm Hoping so, time will tell but I'm optimistic that it will open more doors

Will you be recording some tracks while you are over in LA? 

I'm not sure yet as it's still a few months away but a guy I know out there said he can hook me up with what I need, so all going well I would believe so.

You had a role in The Young Offenders, Is acting something you want to get into?

I was always into acting, I played a few lead roles in plays as a kid but never took it too seriously, the part I got in the young offenders was minor, maybe even more so after the editing process haha. I've just been cast as a lead role in a short movie in the last couple of months but it's early days on that project as of now. The script etc is still not 100% finished.

When can people tune in to hear your radio show on Klub FM Cork? 

It's a weekly hip hop show called the Boombox! strictly hip hop, ol' school and new. Catch me every Thursday from 5-7 on 87.5FM on the radio. The station has got revamped as of the new year so I've been told my first show will be before the end of the month. Keep updated via my Facebook page. 
Battle Rap is once again becoming a popular form of entertainment amongst rap fans in Ireland with promotions like Rap Is Full and DFI, is this something you would ever get involved in?

I done one or two battles before, but it was freestyles and I was only about 18, if I was to do it now I'd take it more seriously, DFI was the shit hopefully the Rap Is Full lads will become as popular, I've heard good things and their event in February looks tops. 

What Irish artist do you currently enjoy? 

There's quite a few, top of the list is Jambo! I finally got to work with him on a track called Observations from my new album , I've known him for about 5years and always thought he's the best this country's got and I recorded half my first album in his studio, top guy. Watch out for that video over the next few months. I like Sons Phonetic but I don't think they will be releasing anything new as a group again from what I've heard. Red The Future, Lawrii Craic, Kreo Ghost are that new sound that are emerging and I gotta say i'm feeling it. There's alot more obviously but their the first names that come to mind.

What up and comer would you recommend as one to watch?

There's a kid in a group called Flowstate named Skripteh who's only 16 and already a beast. He's one to watch.

What has been the highlight of your musical career? 

I think either this LA trip or my second album launch which was for Double Perspective. I booked a big named venue "Cyprus Avenue" in Cork city for it..long story short the buzz coming up to it was by far the best I've seen in years and everyone who was anyone in Irish hip hop made an appearance. MC's came from Waterford, Carlow and Costello and the crew drove down from Dublin, much respect to them all. I had fans who got busses from three hours up the country to see me perform there's no better feeling than that! No money can buy that respect and love. That and people who write to me from different parts of this country and across the world asking for advice or thanking me for getting them through tough times just by listening to my music. I love that shit! 

What was the first album you bought? 

All Eyez On Me on my 13th or 14th birthday. I never looked back, Shorty Wanna Be A Thug and Tradin' War Stories made a lasting impression.

What was the best gig you’ve seen? 

Hmm thats a tough one..the best live gig I've been to was probably either Wu-Tang Clan or Snoop Dogg, both when I was a teenager, both sick.

What was the last live gig you saw? 

The last gig I think I seen was my own album launch haha. I really enjoyed watching all the other Irish hip hop acts who performed. There's nothing like that buzz where you see a full house rocking on to homegrown music. Just proves we belong and we're here to stay.


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