Chinese Cooking and Winnie the Pooh: Tomu DJ’s Online Obsessions

West coast producer take us online rabbit holes

Dazed Favorite is the series where we talk about all things online — the surreal meme account you obsess over, the subreddits of your weird conspiracy theory, the ASMR YouTubes, or the Slime Instagrams.

Tomu DJ crafts dreamy soundscapes that draw on ambient and foot elements to create tender compositions that, despite their somewhat disparate influences, can be hypnotic, coherent, and beautifully intimate. After releasing a series of EPs on Bandcamp throughout 2019 and 2020, all of which were taken off the internet, the Bay Area producer has released her debut in 2021. Feminist, an intimate record with fresh age and pop melodies that drift somewhere between ambient and techno. Inspired by DJ Rashad’s groundbreaking Teklife album, it is her second studio album Half moon, main part of a building arrived the following year, following a similar format with soft, upbeat tracks made to sizzle, and featuring fellow foot artists DJ Manny and SUCIA!

Self-released on Bandcamp, her latest offering If you are so awesome, how can no one love you? It leans more on ambience, drawing on themes of grief and Tomu’s own struggles with mental health. “I often feel this pressure to show people only the more structured parts of myself as often happens online, but it was a freedom to share a raw, emotional project that captures where I really am, and to get people to relate to that,” she says. “I feel lost and frustrated at times, but I’m still grateful to be here and to have survived everything I’ve had up to this point.”

Although primarily seen as an online artist, Tomu describes her relationship with the internet as fraught, and even stressful at times. “Sometimes I wish I could enjoy the internet like a lot of other people do. Not that I don’t enjoy spending hours on YouTube like the next person or whatever, I just think I’m really sensitive and not designed to absorb information at that rate.” But, she asserts, “At the end of the day, I’m really grateful to everyone I’ve been able to connect with in real life through music and the Internet — and everyone who has listened to my music.”

for him: I’ve found myself really falling for ’70s music this past year, especially Donna Summer. I feel like I can’t really say much about this song that it didn’t really express on its own. I’m also really into Steely Dan and Stevie Wonder again. Classics never fail!

for him: I finally watched Effects on foreign exchange this year. Everyone in the cast absolutely kills it and it’s a totally refreshing and exciting watch. I know I watched it recently but it’s hard not to call it my all-time favorite. I’ve been having fun lately too AtlantaAnd Better Call SaulAnd Unsafe (also Embarrassing black girl on YouTube!)

for him: This is definitely one of the most useful things I’ve found on the internet. Rarely has an online series helped me in my everyday life as much as this one. He has a lot of different recipes, and probably the best taste in royalty-free music I’ve ever seen.

for him: My favorite Twitter account is @employee. This is a great place but it always reminds me of when I used to play Chinese Pokemon cartridges with the shit they had as a kid and they were always the funniest thing. Come to think of it, I must have learned English partly from those.

for him: My favorite meme is the evolving Pooh Bear. I almost used it as the album cover but I didn’t want to get sued. It is one of those rare memes that is very applicable in almost every situation. You don’t really need to explain anything about it, but it’s so funny. I’m actually laughing now just imagining it in my mind.

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