Quote: “I want to stay real to me.” –Tony Reavis
Song: My Life in Second Grade by Tony Reavis
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Alright my bloggers! Today we have a special blog with actor and musician, Tony Reavis. Reavis, who lives in Los Angeles, released his EP, So Grown, TODAY, but still had some time to interview with me! Read the interview and check out his EP. Links are at the end of the article! If you don’t want to read the interview but want to hear some amazing music, just scroll to the bottom!
GO: Where are you from Tony/where do you call home?
TR: I’m from a suburb of Seattle but I just say Seattle because if you’re not from there, no one knows. Seattle will definitely always be home.
But shout-out out to Kent, if people know what it is, because I definitely wear Kent with pride as well. But again, if you’re not from the area, you have no idea.
GO: What inspired you to start in music?
TR: I’ve always done it as a hobby since back when I got into the arts. I’m definitely an actor first, and a comedian, but it’s always been something that I’ve been interested in and thought I was good at. (And had people tell me I was good at too!) When I moved to LA, I used it as a way to express myself and my stories. I have a lot of stories to tell, even if they’re goofy. This is a way for me to tell those stories and you know, that’s the goal.
GO: You said “back when you got into the arts”, have you not always been involved in the performing arts?
TR: No. Looking back on my life, I can see the seeds that were planted and how I always wanted to be but it wasn’t until I was about 20 years old. Before that it was always about baseball and sports and when I was done with baseball I was like “What do I do now?” Then I kind of fell into it and fell in love with it, and now, here I am.
GO: Let’s get into the EP itself, where did the inspiration for the EP come from?
TR: Well, the main thing I always want to do, whether it’s with my comedy or writing, or anything like that, at the end of the day, I want to make people laugh, smile, and feel good. But, when it comes to music, the most important thing to me is realism. When you look at me and hear that I’m doing a rap album, there can be a lot of raised eyebrows at that. So the most important thing was being real to me.
GO: You definitely don’t look like most rappers. You actually look like a pretty clean cut guy. Will your music reflect that too?
TR: My music is very different from other rap music but not in a parody way like Weird Al. It’s more story. I’m never going to rap about anything I don’t believe in. It’s never gonna be about guns or money because that’s not the world I live in. I have a song called My Life in Second Grade because that to me is silly, fun and no one is ever gonna have a song about that. It’s just my kinda thing. I want to stay real to me.
GO: My Life in Second Grade is hilarious and was released about a year ago. Was that your first song?
TR: Yeah, I released it because I’ve been working on this for a year and a half and when you’ve worked on something for so long, you want to share it. I released it kinda quietly. I didn’t promote it or anything, I just shared it. Just so people who heard I was doing this music thing knew what I was doing.
GO: Where did the idea for the EP title, So Grown, come from?
TR: Basically the idea of the EP being titled So Grown is in light of itself because I feel like I’m still a child and that goes along with a lot of the songs. They all tackle important life things but the satire of the songs is that I’m not grown at all. So the song Grown Ass Man is that I list off the things that make me a man but they’re silly things that probably prove that I’m not a man. Worst Valentine’s Day, I tackle love, but at the end you see maybe I’m not as mature as I thought. Or in My Life in Second Grade, I think that might be the first time in rap history that someone raps about second grade. Because it’s not just an anecdote, the entire song is about a day of my life in second grade. So it’s all a wink wink but in the end you see I still have a lot of growing up to do.
GO: Your song Worst Valentine’s Day… it goes through a bunch of stories that happened on Valentine’s Day….are those real stories that happened to you?
TR: Ha! Um, they are based on true events. It’s not exact. I took liberties for the art and sake of the story, but they’re definitely rooted in truth. Not exactly verbatim. There are definitely people out there, that if they listen to it, it’ll sound familiar to them.
GO: What’s your favorite song on the EP?
TR: Ummmm. It changes. It always changes. Used to be Dope Ass Day because that’s kind of the single per say. If one of my songs were gonna be on the radio, it’d probably be that one, plus I have the music video for it and it encompassed what I’m all about. Great vibe. But it changes. I have a song called The Party which may be my favorite song now that the EP is finished and I’ve listened to it all the way through. It’s an anti-rap song. I’m straight-edge and so it could be called anti-rap. I don’t do drugs or go to the club. And this song is about me at a party and how it was a rough time. It’s the most story driven so that might be why it’s my favorite song now. It’s a very interesting take on a rap song. But I’m sure everyone will have their own favorite song and you can make a good case for each one.
GO: I heard that you’ve never had a drink in your life, is that true?
TR: Yes. Very true. Never had a drink in my life. 25 years. Never done a drug that’s not medicinal… as in pharmaceutical… not what some people call medicinal. Yepp, just my lifestyle.
GO: Most rappers don’t live this type of lifestyle. You’re beating against the grain of a stereotypical rapper. Are you scared?
TR: No. I mean, it’s just who I am. It makes me different but I don’t think different is bad. This goes back to why I even do the things I do when it comes to music and stuff. I just want to be true to myself. I don’t want to make a song about something that I don’t believe in. That’s why I’ll never make a song about gang violence. I never grew up that way. And some people did. Kendrick Lamar grew up in Compton. We have a very different background. And I respect those stories, but I didn’t grow up that way. It’s not me. And it’s very important to me to never pretend to be something I’m not.
GO: What is your goal within this industry?
TR: Oh geez, that’s a tough question because I’m a very ambitious person. My goals kinda change every day because there’s so much that I wanna do. This whole music thing started out as a hobby but, now it’s something that I could see myself doing for a very long time. I’m always an actor at heart but, working on this music and working hard on this EP, this is something I want to continue doing. This is the first step into this world and I want to see where this takes me before I set any solid music goals, you know what I mean?
GO: I totally do! Since this was/is your first step, what was your process for making the EP?
TR: Process, oh man. Um. It was really weird. When I started it, I pretty much wrote about 9 songs in like a 5 day span. I don’t know what hit me but you know, the motivation came and I just couldn’t put the pen down. About 4 of those songs made it onto the EP.
One of the things about me as an artist, I always want to be doing something. It’s important to make your own work. Especially as an actor. So it just hit me and I showed a few people and they were like, “Yo this is really good.” So then it became something that actually started to happen. I took my time with it and that’s why it’s taken me a year and a half.
When I first went into the studio, my engineer gave me some good advice. He told me to have a plan and not just release it; otherwise only 500 people would hear it and then no one else. He said to listen to it until you’re sick of it then, release it when you’re ready with a plan. Like, Dope Ass Day, by the time the music video came out, I had heard that song so many times, I would have been okay if I never heard it again. But I’m glad I waited until the video was done rather than simply releasing the song, because now I’m in love with the song again. The first time people heard the song was with the music video and that’s what helped it become what it is, so I’m glad I waited past the initial excitement of just the single. Wouldn’t have had the same impact if there was no music video.
GO: What was it like making the music video for Dope Ass Day?
TR: It was a lot of fun! It was my first music video. It was a very light-hearted video and a lot of fun to make because it’s just a lot of fun, even when you watch it. And it was kinda my first step into this world. I was really really pleased with how it worked out. I worked with great people on it, Tilted Screen Media. They really brought my vision to life and I didn’t have to work hard on being like, “No this is what it’s supposed to be like.” We were on the same page from Day 1. You know it’s gonna be a successful thing when there are happy accidents- when something happens in the shoot and you think, “Oh yeah! We can use that!”
GO: I’m guessing there was a happy accident then?
TR: Oh yeah! Brent [White], who is my hype man, we didn’t know what he was going to do in this video so we were like, “[Brent] go hang out for a while.” So someone buried him in the sand and we were like, “Hey let’s use that!” And that may be my favorite part of the video now!
GO: Do you plan to tour or perform live?
TR: I mean, that would be one of my goals and a dream come true to do that. You know, being an independent artist, it’s never easy. The first step is trying to gain an audience and demand. Because you know, if no one is listening, then there is no one to perform to. When you listen to the songs, they’re all story driven and the goal is to get music videos for all the songs. When you hear it, it’s funny, but when you hear and see, it’s funnier because you can see it play out. But I did a show in LA and it went way better than what I thought it would. And I think that’s because I’m an actor so I know to perform the song, not just sing it. So, it’s definitely great hearing it live because you can see me perform it. So that’s the long answer for yes, that’d be a dream come true.
GO: Before the interview, you told me about something that happened during your live performance, will you share the story for our readers?
TR: When I performed Grown Ass Man, where the title of the EP comes from, which again, is a satire where I list off things that, in my eyes, make me a man. At the end, there is a trumpet solo and I say that’s one of thing things that make me so grown because I enjoy finer things like jazz. There’s a bit in it that I want to start rapping again but the trumpet keeps cutting me off. I was worried that it wasn’t gonna work but it actually worked so well that the DJ actually thought something was wrong with the track and that the trumpet wasn’t supposed to keep playing. So I was scared it wasn’t gonna work and it actually worked too well. So that’s a good thing.
GO: Tony! We need to know… is there more music on the way?
TR: Yeah, always! I released the EP today, but I’m already back at the studio working on new stuff, getting beats ready.
GO: Do you do all of the writing/creating yourself?
TR: That’s something I’m proud of. I don’t buy people’s beats. I make everything I do. I make it myself or I work with my buddies and they help me out.
GO: So, when should we expect the next album?
TR: This EP took me a year and a half but I don’t want my next one to take as long which is why I’m back in the studio already. It might have a bit of a tone shift. Not as funny and comical. Definitely won’t be serious like Eminem, but might not be as comedy driven, like this EP. So we got a long way to go before the next thing is ready.
GO: Okay, I have to ask, Trump or Hilary?
TR: Oh geez. (laughs) I will not get involved with this. Elections make me sick. I know it’s important for our country but all I ask is that people are informed because people just listen to sound bites or twitter headlines and listen to that instead of actually being informed on what either platform is about. And I made this decision before even coming into this industry, that if I ever became someone with a big enough voice that people would listen to, that I’d never name drop like “Oh you should vote for them”. I say be informed because we all have different values and it varies what’s important to us. So it’s more important to vote for what you believe in rather than who Kanye West likes and who he told you to vote for.
GO; Some wise words indeed my friend. Tony Reavis, thank you for coming in to chat with me today and best of luck in your career!
TR: Thank you Gina and thank you for having me! Thanks for the support!
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