Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Travis Thompson and I’m a rapper and director from Burien, WA. I make music and videos with my friends.
So we know you’re local. Can you tell us a little bit more about Ambaum and the meaning behind your brand?
I’m from Burien, WA, which is about five minutes outside of Seattle, and the street I grew up on is Abaum. That’s the street that connects Burien to White Center, and then that turns into a street that connects to West Seattle. It means a lot to us, and where we grew up, and it represents the kind of people who come from there, the things we do, where we kick it, where we eat. [The brand] is where we’re from and what we’re about.
Can you tell us a little about your team? How important are they to you and the success that you’re having right now?
The team is hella important. Whenever we put something out, I always say “we.” People see it as me putting things out but I’d have nothing without Shelton (my manager), Dylan (my other director), Jordan (my drummer), Mohad (my DJ), Benner Hall (my other manager), and my girl Janessa (she produces everything). It’s this core group of people who I bounce all of my ideas off of. They tell me if something’s wack or not, or if it’s gonna work. Everything that we put out, multiple people had a hand in it.
Can you share a little bit about how you and Macklemore started working together?
I was a kid in his Hip Hop Residency program at MoPop here in Seattle. From there, he heard about me and knew my name and had seen me perform in the program. From there, my friend Tyler became his main engineer for this new album that they were doing. Tyler just put my music in his ear, and showed him everything that we were doing. He really liked my song called “Need You” and told me I should come to the studio some time. A couple of weeks later, me and Shelton were out smoking on the beach and they texted me a beat and asked how quickly I could write something for it.
I was like “Oh I could have a verse for this in 30 minutes” and they were like “Cool, pull up to the house.”
And I was like “Ooooooooh okay, I got you,” and we just hopped in the car and pulled up and did the song. It wasn’t even a song yet. The beat was just there, and I wrote my verse and then they did the hook and their verses. It was tight. Super organic.
What’s coming down the pipeline for you? Do you have any new projects coming up?
I’m putting out a mixtape called “YOUGOOD?” We’re shooting a film for it too. So every single song has a visual aspect, and it’s a background story. So that’s what we’ve been doing the last six months. It’s the same people who were on Ambaum, it’s just all my friends. I’m really excited.
Alright, so now we’re going to move on to some weed questions. First off, why do you choose to consume?
I don’t know, if I’m keeping it hunned, it’s better than taking pills. When I smoke I feel good. I’m anxious and depressed all the time, so it’s a really good constant for me. It keeps me level. What it does for me and the people around me is it calms us down and chills us out, because we go hella hard, so it’s nice to be able to sit and smoke and enjoy ourselves.
So right now, what’s your favorite strain and brand that you’re smoking?
I usually like everything that Phat Panda puts out. Their Chemdawg is fire. We had this strain called Marmalade, that was great. I like a really heavy indica, so I’m just a regular kush dude. Any kind of kush is my shit.
How much of role does cannabis play in your creative process?
The smoke sessions inspire all of the music. You know? Just sitting with my friends and talking. I’m always on my phone writing down things people say, or coming up with little voice memos of things I hear and grab from life. When I’m smoking with my friends is when I have the best conversations. I’ll take inspiration from that, and when we’re in the studio making things or when I’m writing, I’ll just smoke and think about things. Smoking makes me take a step back if that makes sense, and that’s why my music seems so self-aware. I’m talking about myself and it’s really reflective because when I’m smoking, that’s what I’m thinking.
What’s your favorite way to consume?
I’m a stupid kid, so I put a dumb amount of weed inside of Backwoods. It’s very fiscally irresponsible, because you need like a gram and a half to even have a smokable Backwood, and that’s pretty much all we smoke. I don’t like bongs or pipes. I just smoke stupid blunts because I’m a 21 year old kid and I don’t know any better.
What’s your favorite munchie when you’re stoned?
I like to go get aloe vera water and Chester’s Hot Cheetos. That’s my shit.
Have you had those Rap Snacks yet?
I had my first Rap Snacks in Pittsburgh, actually. I had the Dab o Ranch ones. They were fire.
What does success mean to you creatively?
Creative success means being able to live off of being creative. Right now, I guess I would say I’m successful because of the fact that I don’t have to work a real job. Obviously, there are things that I want to attain, and I’m never really going to be satisfied. But being able to live off of music, and eventually being able to direct videos for people is the goal. That’s success to me.
Last question – what’s the best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
My friend Ben Zady (he’s a musician, he’s from Seattle but lives in New York now) told me in the studio “Life is all just moments. If you can string together a bunch of good moments, you had a good life.” Stay happy and level-headed in the moment, and you’ll have a good life. You can’t ask for more than that.