TonyGirl -
                                    Not. To. Be. Controlled.

Tonygirl is an artist I was introduced to by my sister Evie.  Evie called me and said she heard this lady artist with a band that totally rocks. I listened and immediately agreed.  It took Eve awhile to convince her to join IMP but after she did her song Murdering Lights soon went to the top of the play charts and the Kayak Big 25.  The other song on her page became a huge Kayak hit as well and well, it's pretty obvious that Tonygirl is a pretty phenomenal rock act, in an era when there are less and less true hard rockers out there.   Another thing is that the video was MTV quality and Tonygirl brings a visual aspect to her artist persona that few other artists can match.  She does great video promos and I gotta say brings this aura of excitement to her music and song releases that makes me believe she has the potential to get huge in a bigger way.  Having spoken to her some on facebook, I gather that she sort of fronts makeshift bands and sort of has to really work to get her art together, perhaps with a stable musical situation she may really prosper even beyond the raw juggernaut she is now.  Her long-awaited new song called U is upon first listening somewhat abrasive, and then strangely, when you're done listening - that powerful song and statement is left running thru your head.   I must also add that Tony has been generous about helping get the word out about IMP like few artists in our community, she definitely gives back.  She totally comes off as ready for prime time.  She's one of the few indies I've ever encountered where her persona combines with her music to generate an honest-to-god rockstar vibe.  Her tunes evoke deep emotions, Tonygirl seems to possess a direct bloodline from her soul to her sound, you will remember her music when you hear it, this I promise.

  (in case you want to listen while you read)


Scott:      ok first question, describe yourself as a human being. :)

Tony:    I have a severe thinking problem so I tend to stay awake and think stuff, even worry. I process things by writing a lot.

Sometimes I forget to listen to others while they speak because something they said made me think so hard. Sometimes that's the point where people misunderstand me: I do care, I just have adhd. I am open about it and other stuff like depression. Peer support is a huge part of who I am and helping others is near my heart.

Scott:          How did you get into music and how was your band born?

Tony:   I was born with musical genes. My grand-grand-mother from mothers side was a novel writer, composer and a singer. My dad is an actor and also sings. Nearly everyone in our family is involved with music and those who aren't do other forms of art. I wrote my first song when I was 2,5 years old. I have a band background but now I'm working as a solo artist.


Scott:         I've read that you've had dealings with depression. How is that going? Does making music help?

Tony:   I used to deal with depression and there's always a risk to get depressed again. But I'm not depressed at the moment at all and I don't think the risk is that huge with me anymore. My bad days last like one to two days of apathy and that's it.  I tend to suffer from anxiety more if I get stressed out, but I've learned what to do if that strikes. A part of my depression was that I wasn't avare of my adhd, and I was fed wrong meds for years. Making music helps with everything. So does writing and sports. And my lovely peers from different scenes, like music scene and adhd support groups. I hope people would stop being ashamed of mental illnesses and neurological disorders and treat themselves and others with more love. I couldn't have written my songs like ' Murdering Lights ' without the experience. I couldn't sing about the emotions with credibility without the hurt.

Scott:            I was reading a story about how you had Murdering Lights on your PC for a long time, that you were coming back from some sort of hiatus. This made me curious about what happened that caused you into the period of withdrawal?

Tony:    Attention and low self-esteem happened. I wanted to be in a band and make music. To perform, to do my thing. But then I realised I get anxiety if people stare at me when I sing. I suffer from a huge stage fright. I almost faint at times. My old band was a small one, but got some attention that scared me away to think if I want to be a performing artist at all. If I can do it. I'm afraid of attention and I get easily bored of me. Being an artist means talking about you and receiving people's interest in good and bad. I am thankful but at the same time my moments of low self-esteem make me think I don't deserve to be noticed.  I also get anxiety and wish to be unknown and left alone. I feel the pressure if someone likes me: What if I dissapoint them? I wonder why God made me this way: To have a drive to do music and all that stuff artists do ( like photos ) but shy and panicking at the same time. TonyGirl is like a doll I play with and I try to keep that in mind if I start to feel grossed out of me.  I've promised myself this time I'll do this properly and the best way I can even if I faint and puke. The most important thing is the music, not me. And there's no-one else to do my songs so what can you do. I also hope one day I can perform without fear. I sometimes can.


Scott:           You seem like a people person. Is that true or are you also sometimes a loner? Your song says you need no one. Is that true?

Tony:    I'm a loner when I need to process stuff. I like my alone time a lot. But I love my friends and I'm talkative. I'm an introvert-extrovert. I love to hang out with people and I love to leave.

The song ' Whatever Happens ' like all the songs are a one emotional moment captured. It means I was dissapointed and tried to manage and wrote the song. The song is a tool for the listener to use in different ocasions. Like if you need to get away from a horrible relationship you can listen to it and sing along: ” Need no one! ” And then go somewhere to cry. I tried to sing that part with some vulnerability and like I only half mean what I sing. It's about a person who's trying to convince they need no one. But is it true? Of course not. We all need someone. At least I def do! Thanks to my friends I still exist.

The song was written in two parts. It originally didn't have the choir: ” Let haters hate, never hesitate, just be yourself, never be afraid ” and I added the part to be another layer in the song. If you get bullied you can use the song and mean: I need no one who makes me feel bad about me and I can do this on my own!

So it's about whatever you need at the moment in order to survive. Aaaand it's a bit sarcastic too. ;)

Scott:            Tell us about your songwriting process.

Tony:   In a nutshell the song starts to play in my head and then I write the lyrics down and record the melody by singing.

Almost every time the melody and the lyrics come at the same time but not always. I sometimes write the lyrics as if I'm a machine that experinces emotions and one day they have mixed up in my sub-conscious and just need to be printed out. The song can come up anywhere and anytime and then I need to find a way to immediately write it down. I've written music in weird places like bathrooms at work and while sitting in a bus. Afterwards it's not only you who's asking what do the lyrics mean. I'm also wondering what I mean at some points and find new meanings from my own lyrics as time goes by and I experience more. I sometimes forget what they were about and I'm like, did I really wrote this...? Some songs are so old and I have written so many of them. The upcoming one I wrote when I was 17 and partly when I was 23 and I changed a small part of the lyrics this year.

After the birth of the song lyrics and the melody I need others help to do the guitars and so on, since I do not play any instruments. I'm involved in the producing of the song all the way and I try to make other musicians involved to understand what I mean by sending them links of songs from YouTube with notes like: ” I like the guitar sounds in this one ” and ” I like these drums. ” And sometimes I'm a bit funny and say stupid things like: ” I don't like that repeating sound that is like crickets. Can you take it away...? ” And the person I work with replies: ” Oh you mean the hi-hat...? ” And I'm like I guess so... :D I've also wrote melodies to existing guitar riffs by singing. ' Murdering Lights ' was that type of a song but my upcoming one, U., was done my melody etc first and then the guitars by picking up the notes from my melody.

Scott:            What's the music scene like where you are from?

Tony:    We have a strong metal scene in Finland. We also have a strong folk culture with some depressed dude singing with a guitar about how he drank his marriage and everything and life sucks. In here if you make a fuss about yourself and sing happy songs you're a fake and egoistic piece of shit. One singer-songwriter called Saara Aalto was even forced to leave the country because she was too perky and happy. We just hate positivity here unless it's rap music about drinking and pretended high self-esteem. So TonyGirl should be okay here with depression but I secretly want to get naked and sing about happy stuff so let's see. And I always accidentally make a fuss so...

Gladly, I don't give a fuck! Whatever happens it's for the best.

           Are Nirvana and Hole an influence for you? How about the Beatles?

Tony:    I don't think you get to decide is The Beatles your influence or not if you are a musician born after them so I'll have to say yes. I like Hole but I relate to Kurt Cobain more. I miss the comfort in being sad. However Nirvana is not my biggest influence or the reason I make music. I do not think ” Oh, I want to be like this and this musician ” when the songs pop up in my head. I think about sounds later when the songs are produced and I try to do what describes the feeling of the song best and not what I want to be or who I sound like. Although, I've experienced that I've been compared to Courtney Love when there was no TonyGirl yet so when I recorded ' Murdering Lights ' I tried to avoid sounding like a Courtney or a Kurt copy. I just sang the song with the emotion I wanted to. Afterwards I still got compared to them both but with positive vibe. ” Sang with the authority of Love but no harshness ” is a comment I cherish in my heart.

Scott:            What is the greatest and worst experience you've had so far involving your own music?

Tony:    The worst one was when my old band had to quit and I didn't know what to do with my stage fright. It's hard to trust your songs to new people and I loved my old bandmates like my brothers. I felt safe with them. It was like losing a part of your youth for good. The experiences with them were great and without them there also wouldn't be TonyGirl but now I guess I'll have to pick from the new ones. I'll say the best and greatest experience is that I've noticed some people have been touched by my song ' Murdering Lights ' and got empowered by ' Whatever Happens '. So I've succeeded in my main purpose: To give peer support with my music. The experience that it was a right thing to do to continue in music is great.

Then there's great stuff like winning a Golden Kayak for ' Murdering Lights ' and being on ' Lady Voices of indie ' , making the video for ' Murdering Lights ' and getting my songs reviewed by lot's of people. It's hard to pick one! So I'll just say big thanks to everyone involved and send lots of love to all the listeners of mine!

Scott:        Have you been in online music long enough to be frustrated that things aren't happening fast enough for you? What's the status of your musical dream?

Tony:    I've been long enough in the past to notice it's getting harder to get noticed. There are so many social media channels and so many artists, so many new rules. But I'm not frustrated and I don't think things aren't happening fast enough. The pace so far has been tolerable. I only started with TonyGirl a year and a half ago and here I am answering to your questions as a Golden Kayak winner, for example. I've also asked to do gigs but unfortunately I've had to say no and I'm sorry for that. So there's a lot I can still do before I get to say I'm frustrated. TonyGirl must try harder at first!

The status of my musical dream is to release a few more songs and start a band to do gigs. And then to release more songs. I also dream about interesting collaborations. There's also this tv show here in Finland called Vain Elämää ( means ” it's only life ” ) and to be there one day crying when another artist is singing my songs is the ultimate goal of my music career. I also dream about Dancing with stars.

Scott:        Was listening to Whatever Happens and a picture came up with somebody with a bloody mouth. Who got punched in the mouth and why? More on that song, that's a pretty optimistic point of view. I can always re-build my life. That's a great line. Have you ever had to rebuild your life?

Tony:    That somebody was me but it wasn't personal and I'd rather not talk about it so, bygones! But, I think the pic was perfect to be used with ' Whatever Happens ' to symbolize that no matter how hard life hits me I will survive and that negative stuff can be turned around to be positive. At least I want to believe I will survive. But to be honest, when I made the decision to use the pic, I didn't know that later I'd get post traumatic stress disorder. If I'd had those symptoms when ' Whatever Happens ' was released I couldn't have used the picture. It's not easy to look at it, so I don't. Human mind is interesting: Post a photo and don't look at it that much again!

Thank you for saying the line ” I can always re-build my life ” is great. I feel like I've had to re-build my life so many times and all over and over again I just really need to believe that I can in order to stay sane. Doing it at this very moment. There have been moments I've felt the song is stupid and I hate it. It's not for all ocasions and moments.

Scott:  So what was it like coming across a site like IMP that you'd never heard of and basically being thrust into the limelight there very quickly? You've had amazing success on our site, could the world be far behind?

Tony:    It has been a blessing. Without IMP there wouldn't have happened that much. And even without the sudden success I'd still be happy about the people I've met ( online ) through IMP and for all the new good music I've found. So thanks again!

I don't want to think about success and what if's. I want to concentrate on my artistic work and to do my best one day at a time. To follow my vision and leave the speculation to others. I believe you're only as good as your latest work and you can't stop to cherish your success and how awesome you are. Let's see if you like my new song ' U. '  Let's see if the listeners stay to wait for another song after that one.

Scott:        I ask this question to all Spotlight interviewees. Have you ever had any experiences of high strangeness like with UFOs or the supernatural (ghosts, etc) ?

Tony:    Yes I actually have had a few. I've spent a night at an apartment where there was a case of a poltergeist. I tried to find another reason to what happened there but had to believe it was a ghost. I was so scared and tried to convince myself it can't be true. Years later I watched Ghost Hunters and realised it probably was true but I'm not scared anymore of that stuff. I'm surprised how many people I've come across with those experiences. It usually just can't be talked about. Nobody wants to be considered crazy. But hey, do dogs understand how a television works? No. But the television still exists. Have people always had a television? No. But they invented it. If we had a time machine and we'd throw a television to Middle Ages they'd think we are UFO's and the television is some sorta witchcraft.

 I believe one day science can prove ghosts and it's not anything special anymore. We just don't understand everything yet. And not everyone get's to experience the same things. It doesn't mean other people who get are crazy or stupid.

I don't have experiences of UFO's and I hope I will never have. I think people shouldn't try to contact any other possible civilizations because probably they would just kill us all. Although, I'm not sure if that would be necessarily such a bad thing after all considering how humans treat eachother and the earth. Whatever happens it's for the best!

Scott:         Are there more great TonyGirl songs coming down the pike?

My new song called ' U. ' is about an abusive relationship. About a situation where your spouse is threatening to commit suicide if you leave. It's about someone trying to control the other and to make you forget your dreams and live only for them. Never let anyone do that to you! Hope U like it!

Scott:  (a week or so later)  ok, I've heard it and I do like it, it rocks!   is that about somebody in particular?

 It's about two different relationships I've had with same theme. There will  not be a third one like that. I think I've finally learned my lesson.    I wrote the song mostly when I was 17 years old.

And I was surprised I had one similar kind of relationship over ten years later.

Some people are very clever to pretend.