What is your name?
Hi. I’m Music Bear Tony Banks
What is your genre of music?
My style isn’t strictly hip-hop. There’s elements of dance, rap and house within my music, straddling a number of styles in order to create my own musical identity.
Give us a little bio about you.
Born in Brooklyn, NY, Raised in Queens, NY. I started music at an early age performing in church with the children’s choir. I then started to write my own songs and create beats at the age of 15, eventually figuring a life behind the scenes was more for me. But over the last couple of years I realized I had a voice and wanted to share it.
Tell us more about your music.
I like to consider myself a storyteller. Giving the listener an insight to my mind, heart and life as a same-gender loving man. Our stories aren’t being told, especially in hip-hop. I’m telling those stories. Joy’s, Pain, Life and Love for all to appreciate and connect with.
Tell us more about ‘ Run’
In today’s political climate speaking your truth is so important. Too many people try to suppress what needs to be said. Black Lives Matter but it’s not just us they are trying to destroy. Sadly this has been going on for decades, but now the world is at it’s boiling point and not just sitting on their hands anymore. That’s what Run is all about.
What was the writing process like?
I created the track while on a plane. I started composing the beat and felt a spark in my body. I knew I had something. That’s when the hook came to me. It then took about 2 weeks to do my verse. I wanted to take my time and make it right. What was the recording process like? I do all my recording at home. Took me a few hours.
You worked on the track with EarthTone and JwlB, how was it?
EarthTone took to it right away after hearing the track and concept. I then shopped it around to a few other artist, but they passed for multiple reasons. Then I got talking to JwlB and she loved the track. She asked if she could be a part and she killed it with the singing. It was what the track needed! 3 lgbt artist on one track. We all did our parts separately, EarthTone in New Jersey, JwlB in Florida, and then I put them all together.
You also have an EP coming out, tell us more about that.
In the hip-hop culture it’s common to hear NO HOMO as a way of offsetting anything that might be deemed gay or soft. So I named my EP YES HOMO! It’s a collection of Hip-Hop, Soul, Dance, Rap and House tracks that deals with different parts of my life, my community and homophobia within the rap community.
Will you be heading out on tour with the EP?
I’m planning on touring the Northeast US the end of the summer and then traveling across EU/ UK this fall. Followed by the South US this winter. I’m very excited.
what is your message you are trying to tell your fans?
That hip-hop doesn’t have to be known as a homophobic culture. We too have stories that are universal and deserve to be heard. Of course while making you move and groove.
What else can we expect from you?
I’m working on hosting an online music show on Revry.tv where I focus on interviewing lgbt musicians. Also working on writing/ producing a web-series next year featuring bears of color. Living Single for Gays Bears.
Are you a signed artist?
No I’m not signed
Who are your influences?
Missy Elliot, LL Cool J, Michael Jackson, Andre 3000, Elvis and many others.
Where do you see yourself in 5 Years?
Touring with my collective of lgbt hip-hop artist. Like Sean Combs with his Bad Boy artist.
When you’re not doing music, what do you do?
Besides trying to be a loving companion to my partner of two years. I’m a choreographer and dancer. I also do video production and editing. I just love being creative. It’s so freeing.
Where would your dream venue to play in your hometown?
Webster Hall in NYC. It’s a beautiful venue that has been home to many amazing acts over it’s history.
Would you be up for collaborating with an unsigned artist or band? If so how can they contact you? I’m always interested in collaborating with others who I vibe with, no matter the country or style of music. They can find me on social media. Info below
What was the song you listened to most that influenced you to go more in to the music scene?
Not so much a song. I’m an 80’s baby but music didn’t start having a real effect on me till the 90’s. I love 90’s hip-hop and house music. That entire era influenced me so much. Seeing that joy, creativity and individuality striped out of music is what influenced me to go more into the music scene as of recent. Bring back the soul to hip-hop music.
Where is your dream festival to perform?
Afro-Punk, Bestival, Coachella, Glastonbury to name a few
What made you go in to music?
My mother was a singer in church. She was in a number of choirs in the New York area. Many of them releasing albums. Seeing her up there performing made me want to perform. I still recall doing a duet with her when I was young. That performance bug never left.
What’s the best advice you have ever been given?
I think it was the title of a book actually. Never sweat the small stuff…(PS. It’s all small stuff).
What advice would you give to aspiring musicians not just about the industry also just as an artist/band?
First…If you aren’t prepared to spend money on your career, real money, then move to the side. Putting sub-par recordings up on Facebook or Soundcloud won’t cut it. You need quality recordings and a budget to market and promote. On another note if this is your dream, then you will find a way to make it work. Also stop chasing record deals. Record deals makes you a product but not an artist. The love of music MUST come first. Lastly, Make every opportunity to perform an event. 5 to 500 people. A great show is a must!
What quote or saying do you always stick by?
Everything happens for a reason. Good or Bad. Lessons are always being learned.
When you are at a gig, what are 5 things you cannot forget?
I must take Aleve. I move, dance and jump around a lot. Don’t want to be sore the next day. Stretch and Do my breathing exercises to expand my rib cage and lung capacity Depending on the length of the show I must have warm tea with lemon Go over my set in my headphones away from the crowd Lastly I brush my teeth before I go on, then only drink water
You come off Tour
1/ Where is the first place you go? Home in Toronto or NYC
2/Who is the first person you see? My partner, if he isn’t on the road with me.
3/What is the first thing you eat. We love pizza so it’s probably the first thing we eat
You work with Quite Great PR, how did that come about?
I was researching PR companies and their names popped up on a top 10 list for a number of months. I looked at the website and the services they provided and my manager and I reached out. I felt a good connection with them and very happy we are working together.
Do you have social media accounts so your fans can follow you?