Double Time: Music Talk With Tommy Guerrero

Tommy G

“I’ll take the dusty sound of a 45 over slick studio tracks any day,” so says Tommy Guerrero, whose name alone conjures two uncommon histories:

On one hand, he’s the storied amateur who defeated fifteen pro skaters at San Francisco’s first Golden Gate Park Street Skating Competition in 1984. For the next decade, he’d pioneer street skating internationally, bringing attention to a sport that seemed to have reached its competitive limits by then. He’s been covered in skate publications from Germany to Japan, and, at the age of forty-one, designs graphics for Real/Deluxe Skateboards, a successful San Francisco-based company he helped established.

On a completely different front, Tommy Guerrero has been releasing instrumental records since 1995. Beginning with his 10-inch EP, Backintheday, the discography he’s quietly built bleeds hip-hop, funk, and soul influences. Playing bass, guitar, keyboard, and vintage samplers alongside drum machines, Guerrero creates music that glides across the streets he used to skate on. Currently, he collaborates with a variety of vocalists, rappers, and musicians as his work is released on Quannum Projects. Later this year, Loose Grooves and Bastard Blues — Tommy’s debut LP — will be re-released to commemorate its ten-year anniversary. While most only garner attention in a single field, Guerrero has balanced two worlds respectively.

Guerrero examines hip-hop’s influence on his music, which legacy he’d rather be remembered for, why he prefers “the sound of a 45,” and other musings on the musical end of his dual history.

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