Earlier this year, Anthonie Tonnon released his latest studio album'Successor'; the first under his own name after retiring the moniker Tono and the Finance Company.
One of those tracks from the album 'Water Underground', has found its way as a 2015 Silver Scroll finalist - which is decided tonight (Thursday September 17th) at the Vector Arena in Auckland.
I caught up with Anthonie ahead of the awards show.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Dunedin. Musically kind of came of age playing in this amazing wonderful music scene, where we often have like 300 people at shows. We thought it was a small music scene, but when I came to Auckland I found it was actually a big music scene. The trouble was it was all just happening in Dunedin and I guess we were invisible. When we tried to do tours and everything, it was hard to get any attention or press. So eventually I moved up (to Auckland).
When did you first start performing music?
There was school stuff... it all gets a bit hazy. I was late to music. I learnt piano as a kid and I hated it. I was more into history... and went on to study history at university. One day my friends were starting a band and for whatever reason my sister decided to give up guitar and there was this guitar in the house. I got out a book from the library that had all the chords and then got the ‘Best Of Bowie' double CD, and started learning the Bowie songs. That combination of influences, and the fact that I'd played the piano before, very blind without knowing any of the theory, but by transposing learning guitar it was like a light went on and I discovered song writing. It was like a powerful force that just sucked me in very quickly.
Who were your early influences?
Bowie, Radiohead, The Strokes... at the time I was really into Fat Freddy's Drop, reggae and everything... and drum n bass. I've tried to get more diverse influences ever since, and get away from music that is so Euro & American-Centric.
But Bowie is a good example of somebody that looks widely for his influences.
How would you describe your sound?
I'm a narrative songwriter. I write songs and I need a good strong story and interesting characters otherwise there is nothing else there. But when it comes to expressing that musically, I like to be inventive and I like to do something that expresses life.
Musically I love folk, but musically I don't do folk. It's like I write folk music, but then I want to play it like Lou Reed or Brian Eno. That's what I consider urban folk music... folk music that comes from cities and has the sounds of layers and skyscrapers (laughs). Yeah, folk music with lasers!
And your song 'Water Underground' has been nominated for a Silver Scroll!
I am very excited about that. It's such a compliment, I know how strong that field was. I could make a list of songs that I would have voted for, so I was so surprised that people took the time and made the commitment to vote for me. I think maybe part of it is that it's political and has an intelligent story behind it. I try to say that humbly because a song like that I don't really know where it comes from... it came really quickly and it felt very direct. It's almost not singing most of the time, it's like a voice speaking about a character. And I'm very excited about the night!
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
I'm in the studio all the time now. I have one day a week where I'm chipping away at my new record. I've got a bit more to do with this record and am going to CMJ in October in New York. And am hoping to do a lot of touring on this record next year. And going to be doing MacLaren Falls, that's going to be really cool.
Will also be doing a folk tour with Nadia Reid and a songwriter called Darren Hanlon from Australia. We're going to play some songs which are folk songs and do a Tuning Fork show, and some others around the country. Some more folk music with Lasers!