Ten months ago, Tony DeShayes and I sat down for the first time together. It was the first interview either of us had ever done. During that 45-minute conversation, he exuded confidence in his multi-talented arsenal. An artist who had little-to-no music released to that point conducted himself like a veteran - his work in his music, video production and styling coupled with his global ambitions and fresh, international sound as a Venezuelan-American made for a special combo.
During our follow-up interview last week , one thing became abundantly clear to me during our talk:
The lifestyle has changed.
The mindset has not.
Since we last spoke on record in June 2019, Tony has netted a number of connections, as well as numerous live performances. Tony’s stock has risen exponentially.
Shows in Philadelphia, Brooklyn and Costa Rica, upcoming collaborations with Guapdad 4000, a night at the Dreamville House, the night of the Grammys, and Soy Sunday’s - a weekly single released each Sunday by DeShayes.
Still, the budding talent has yet to release a full-length project - he expects to release his debut album this summer. If Tony’s hard work and musical patience are any indication of what to expect from his first project, look out for this one.
Read the Tony DeShayes interview below:
CF : Has your creative process changed at all since the shelter-in-place order was issued nationwide? If so, could you elaborate?
TD : I just haven't been able to go to New York, so I haven't been able to link up with some people for work, but I've been trying some studios in Philly - they’re alright - but right now I'm kind of just in the process of getting my home [studio] set up.
CF : You’re building a home studio?
TD : Yessir. We’re about to build an entire home studio in the backyard.
CF : You’ll never have to leave then! Last time we spoke was last summer, and obviously a lot has changed since then. Could you give me a brief timeline of big events/shows since our last sit down?
TD : Since June, I dropped "Smoking Kills "and its music video. We flew to Costa Rica and performed a few club shows down there. After we came back, I started doing “Soy Sunday,” so once a week for four months I dropped a record every Sunday. I had a crazy night show in Brooklyn, and a show in Philadelphia as well. The Philly show was crazy - Benzy & I. We sold out a 400 person venue, capped it out.
CF : I saw video clips from that on social media, it looked like a packed house. Anything else?
TD : I had my first line of merchandise selling at those shows. We’ve got the 777 sweatshirts, as well as the “Smoking Kills” pieces. It’s really good stuff.
CF : Could you tell me about your night at the Grammy Awards? I also heard something about you at the Dreamville House?
TD : Oh yeah. Grammy weekend was crazy. I was fortunate enough to be with one of my homies who lives a block away from me - he’s an assistant stylist for a couple of the Dreamville artists, including Guapdad 4000. My boy who I was talking about was actually on house arrest at the time, so it was the week of the Grammys that he was seeing if he would be granted access to go. A day before the awards, he was granted permission to attend, so we got our tickets and flew one way out to LA. When we get there, we’re running around the city picking up pieces from a bunch of little stores for everybody to wear on the red carpet.
CF : How surreal was all of that? Are you processing what’s going on around you at this point?
TD : The day of the Grammys was eye-opening. Really, the whole weekend - I’ve been to LA before, but this time was completely different. I’m around people whose music I fuck with. People that I was fans of are becoming my peers, that’s a wonderful feeling. There’s this line I keep thinking about - I can’t remember the artist - who says “he was scared to tell his favorite rapper that he was his favorite rapper.” That’s like how I felt when I was out there, the day of the awards in the Dreamville House; hanging around guys like Cozz, Buddy, Earthgang, JID, Guapdad, so on.
CF : That’s got to be a humbling experience.
TD : Absolutely. The day of the Grammy awards, we’re all chilling at the house, everyone is getting ready. At this point, most people are ready, so it’s about time to head over to the Staples Center. That’s when somebody got a call - this dude Barry Hefner - he’s one of the Spillage Village managers. He finishes the call, and says “Kobe died.” That hit everyone really hard. Keep in mind, we’re about to head to the Staples Center. That was a pretty awful moment. Seeing the house's mood change like that. None of us will forget where we were when it happened.
CF : I know I won’t. You were in the Dreamville house, so I know that’s gonna stick with you. What a profound, saddening blip in history.
TD : It was heavy. Definitely did not feel real for a little while.
CF : I’ve been told you are working on something with Guapdad 4000. Would you elaborate a little on how that came into fruition?
TD : So we had conversed in the past, but I didn’t actually tell him I was going to be in LA that weekend. I’m in the Dreamville house backyard chopping it up with some guys and Guapdad comes out. He was completely shocked to see me. He was like “What are you doing here bro? How in the world are you here?” It was cool though. We got to strengthen that connection. A couple minutes later, I got to see my friend give him the infamous durag.
CF : That durag was CRAZY. What an iconic moment. I’m very excited for that collaboration - primarily because I think you guys have complimentary styles. Did you feel that chemistry when he sent you his verse?
TD : Yeah, it was dope because when I originally hit him up, I sent him a couple records and asked him which one he wanted to hop on. Within like 6 or 7 days he got back to me with the whole project pack. The feature we’ve got locked in was like eight bars, and he had that shit recorded and sent to me within the next day. It was crazy seeing how fast he was able to get that feature back to me. I’ve been around people who’ve worked with other artists so I know that people can take months to get back for collaborations. He got that done quick.
CF : I feel like that shows a level of respect from an artist-to-artist standpoint. That’s super valuable.
TD : I agree.
CF : When we spoke briefly a few days back, you were mentioning what has changed for you as an artist. You seemed particularly stoked on your progression from a production standpoint. How would you say your production has improved?
TD : Right now, I feel like the production has improved a lot because I’ve really only been working with a few in-house producers. My good friend Isaac does a lot for me. He’s creating his own plug-ins. I just really love his sound. I’ve also been doing work with my little cousin. Also, I’ve linked with my man Eric out in Philly, we do a lot of live production stuff together. He’s really into natural instrumentation (chords, keys, drums, etc.) - that’s a feel I’ve been trying to work into my music more and more.
CF : Has your mindset changed on trying to reach for a global fan base or has that stayed relatively the same?
TD : Same thing. Same mindset. Really, the goal is to create an ultimate, multicultural perspective through my sound. I like listening to music like that, and I want to hold myself to that standing. Once I achieve that, then it’s like, “okay, if I like it, then shit, hella people all around the world are gonna like it.”
CF : Wonderful. Speaking of global, could you tell me about the Costa Rica trip?
TD : The Costa Rica shit was lit. We went down there for a bigger show that ended up falling through, but we still did a couple really dope club shows. It was a cool experience with the team - we got a bunch of new content. We shot videos down there as well too - that stuff hasn’t even come out yet. It was all-around a really great time.
CF : Let’s talk about the music and the upcoming mixtape this summer. Could you elaborate on what sounds you’re going for? Will there be any features?
TD : The mixtape is going to be a mix of a bunch of stuff - i’d call it a sonic experience for sure. I make all types of music, so expect a little rap/hip-hop shit on there and definitely some reggae among other styles. It’ll be something you’ll want to listen to straight through rather than diving into random songs. As far as features go, there will be none on my mixtape. It’s going to be a lot of stuff that people who’ve been really tuned in might be familiar with, along with new, exciting music. So far, none of my released music has been mixed or mastered, so honestly, I see my content to this point as sort of a test.
CF : Is there any particular reason why there will be no features?
TD : I want to showcase that I don’t need to rely on features and other artists to help carry weight right out of the gate. I feel like I’m more than capable of creating on my own. Since this is my first mixtape, I feel like it has to be an introduction of myself in a way. No one can do that as well as I can - I’m myself.
CF : Well I’m excited, I see big things in the future. Okay, I have a couple more questions for you. These are ones I asked you last time we spoke. It’s interesting to see how perspectives and influences change.
TD : Let’s hear them.
CF : Give me your day-to-day essentials right now.
TD : Shit man, not a whole lot. Some gas, organic rolling papers, and music.
CF : Facts. That’s all you need. Who are some recent artists you’ve been really into/inspired by?
TD : Recently, it’s been all Smino. I remember some girl picked me up from the train station in Queens. She played “Anita” for me, and I was like “who is this?” Since then, he’s all I've been listening to. Blkswn is super dope. I briefly got to chat with him at the Dreamville party. I was thinking to myself, “this bull is it man, he’s got it.” You know how you just know from talking to someone? That’s the feeling I got.
CF : Any others?
TD : The new Brent Faiyaz album is one of my current favorites. Also, Pop Smoke was a big listen for me. His songs make you feel ruthless. For me, it’s not as much the sound, it’s more the feeling his music gives listeners. I think that’s rare when an artist can invoke that.
CF : Okay, last one. What is Tony DeShayes thankful for at this very moment?
TD : Right now I’m thankful for my health. I’m thankful to be a healthy ass 22-year-old man with no complications. There’s a lot of people who are really being affected by this virus.
CF : Wealth and health brother. I appreciate your time Tony, I expect big things from you this summer. Thanks for sitting down to chat.
Tony gave me a feature quote after we finished the interview.
He said, “The dictionary is the only place where success comes before work - 777.”
I’m sure you’ve seen this quote before, I know I have, but when I was sent this, it felt as though Tony had come up with it on the spot. He owns that phrase, and he has every reason to. This past year-or-so in Tony’s music/artistic venture has been nothing short of hectic. It is, however, a direct byproduct of DeShayes constant motor. Despite no official projects under his belt, Tony DeShayes has proved that patience and mastering your craft at a young age are vital to an artist's progression. The time is now almost here, and I can’t imagine he’s not prepared for that moment.
When Tony explained to me how Smino made an impression on him in their brief exchange - how he knew Smino was special after their interaction - I couldn’t help but think to myself, “who's going to see that edge in Tony? That standout factor?” That moment could come at any point, just like it did for Smino a few years back.
It’s leaving it up to hard work, rather than chance, that drives an artist like Tony DeShayes.
I also have a quote. It’s from Pele, the Brazilian football legend.
It goes, “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you're doing or learning to do.”
Some of you may think you know what that means.
I know Tony knows. He lives it.