Londoner Tony As is a charismatic rapper whose style is often described as easy listening Hip Hop. His focus on lyricism is complimented by his love for melody and harmony and in addition to the rapping also sings. Tony likes to paint a picture through his music and also for the audience to really feel what he is saying. We caught up with Tony to talk about music, inspiration and his new single ‘Talk Abt It’.
How long have you been singing for? For at least 10 years I’d say thinking back. In 2001 I recorded my first song (for fun), it had levels all over the place, it was amateur stuff really. In the last few years though I’ve been more professional about it.
What was your upbringing like? Single African mum living in inner London, without sounding too cliché, let’s just say it was interesting. I was a shy child and as a teenager discovered poetry and music which gave me that outlet to express all my built up thoughts and feelings.
Have you always been musical? I’m told I used to always sing and hum to myself as a child but, more in a ‘weird’ kind of way rather than musical child prodigy. I consciously remember getting into music around 10/11 years old though and have been hooked ever since. I still hum and sing a lot, sometimes in inappropriate places.
Why music? Good question, sometimes I wish I could paint portraits of my thoughts but, music probably because of the words. I actually got into poetry first which then evolved into rap. I tend to think, and sometimes over think, a lot. I also tend to keep a lot bottled inside too so when I found my outlet and got into a comfort zone I had a lot to say (and my rambles tend to sound better over an instrumental) hence the music.
Which musicians inspire you? I’ve always been a fan of storytellers – artists that take you somewhere and bring you into their world with their music. I’m a big 2Pac fan, Outkast, Dido and Bob Marley fan.
Which artists are you listening to at the moment? Loick Essien, I’m currently listening to his mixtape, I’m a fan of harmonies and love listening to vocalists sometimes. Iv’e just discovered A$AP MOB and love how they rap about random stuff. Also, Chrisette Michele’s mixtape it’s a nice bit of R n B and Soul. I tend to listen to a lot of old music too but, these are probably the most current in my collection.
Do you have any artists that you would like to work with in the future? There are a few within the genre that would be obvious but, if I could go outside the genre maybe bands like Keane or Fun.
What’s your favourite type of music? Funny enough it varies, big Hip Hop and R n B fan of course but, I also love a bit of Zouk and sometimes even Indie Rock.
If you weren’t a rapper, what would you be doing? Something that involves travelling so maybe a travel journalist, I’d get free holidays around the world and write about them, that’s the dream.
What do you do to relax? Karaoke driving: which is basically where I drive around with the music really loud singing along to my favourite songs. Not very safe because I can’t really hear anything else happening around me but its very soothing. Kicking back on the sofa with a nice glass of Cognac is also quite relaxing.
What is your single ‘Talk Abt It’ about?
On reflection I guess its like a rallying call, a motivator for myself first and foremost. In the past I’ve promised myself stuff but, haven’t really delivered. Ultimately if you ‘talk about it, you’ve got to be about it’ because talk is cheap so just get on with it or shut up! It sounds harsh but, again I start with myself and I’m just being honest, the bonus is if others listen and can relate.
Are any other singles/albums getting released this year? ‘Talk Abt It’ is the first single from a so far untitled EP that I’m aiming to get done by Summer/Autumn this year. I’m hoping the next single might be ‘London’, a song I’ve recorded already with JayJayBorn2Sing and Morfius. In the mean time there’s a free ‘Daddy Day Care’ EP doing the rounds (available at www.sexdrugspoetry.com) and look out for me in a band called Craft.
What are your plans this year? Initially to finish an EP, I’m constantly writing and recording trying to put together something great. I’d like to do more collaborations with other artists also this year, to make some real organic music and finally, probably do some more shows, outside of London. Just continue to grow I guess and also planning to expand my SexDrugsPoetry imprint and other ventures.
What do you want people to get from your music? Ultimately I guess I just want people to relate and appreciate. Everything I talk about is real in the sense of it being my life, my experiences, my thoughts etc and hopefully people find it entertaining for one reason or another.
What can we expect next from Tony As? I’m thinking I might need to do something random, break from the norm. It might well be something spontaneous so I couldn’t really tell you right now. Full throttle might be the buzz word though and I feel like I’m making some good music right now, striving to be making great music soon and shouting it from the rooftops!