“Scholar: A Scholar in Progress”
Words: Ashley Onzuka | Photos: Mark Galacgac | Video: Jenelle Ho
“I was always kind of into the music. It never really occurred to me that that was possible.
Thomas Gausepohl, also known as Scholar, was born and raised on the island of Kauai. Although music has always played a significant role in his life, he never discovered his true calling in music till later on.
“The beauty is in the process,” Thomas explains as he talks about overcoming the struggles and obstacles in life.
Growing up in Kauai, listening to hip-hop was more common than actually performing hip-hop. Artists such as Lupe Fiasco, Nas, and other underground artists were some of the inspirations for Thomas’s appreciation for rap and hip-hop. Today, some of his favorite artist include Kendrick Lamar, Mac Miller, and Drake, who are very talented and successful artists.
Music may have run through his veins from birth. However, rapping actually wasn’t his initial interest. Rather, it was school — hence the name Scholar. After graduating high school, Thomas decided to study pre-medicine, in hopes of becoming a doctor, and moved to Washington. He later continued his schooling on Oahu and in California, where he decided to go into physical therapy. After realizing that that was no longer his interest, Thomas moved back to Oahu, where he discovered his true calling of music.
“I was always kind of into the music. It never really occurred to me that that was possible.”
Although one of the common misconceptions in Hawaii is that everyone knows everyone, sometimes that just isn’t the case.
“Moving here, I didn’t know anybody, so it wasn’t like I had a lot of hook-ups. Being able to create something from scratch, I think it’s been pretty cool, and the journey throughout that.”
In August 2015, Thomas, with the help from local producer Malakai, dropped his first mixtape, The Process. Since then, he has continued to release new music and new music videos.
With more upcoming features and events on the way, Thomas continues to share his positive vibes through music. “I’m not trying to be the hardest, or anything like that. I just kind of want to preach something positive,” Thomas explains. As an artist, the message he wants to provide to the public is hope and the event of overcoming struggles.
“I believe in hope a lot and always staying positive,” he said. “I believe that struggles kind of always happen, but I believe in overcoming it.”
Wanting to put out a positive message is one thing, but actually write that positive message is another. Just like any true artist, the beauty in their art is just as exquisite as the process to get there.
“I usually don’t write while I’m in the moment, I usually write after it happens, and go back and reflect on it. That’s kind of where I write from,” Thomas explained, “It’s kind of changing nowadays. Trying to do it from different perspectives so it’s not always the same, but trying to be more creative as much as I can.”
Over time, Thomas believes that he has not only grown as an artist, but as a person. The positive vibes he continues to put out into the world truly makes its impact.
“Don’t focus on what other people are doing, that takes away from your artistry,” Thomas advises. “There’s going to be a lot of criticism, but just keep going. Always just keep going. Somebody told me the other day: ‘It’s not about who’s the best, it’s about who’s left.’ It’s about persistence. If you really want to do it, you just keep doing it. And if it’s really what you want to do, then you’ll get to where you want to be. Make sure that your motives are right. It’s not necessarily fame-driven or trying to get all this money because it’s not really fulfilling. Just keep trying, keep believing.”