Tokyo-based OneTwenty has recently launched his latest single and video, the quickly impressive Tokyo Flavors. In addition to making music, the military vet also produces his own YouTube show – Just Tokyo Tingz.
We caught an interview with him to celebrate the new release and to find out more about his journey and what drives him. Here’s how it went.
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Hey – thanks for the interview, how are you doing this April, 2020?
Pretty good. I’m healthy and I am working from home.
For those who don’t know, where did this musical journey begin for you?
Well, I was always into the arts but my grandmother pushed me to pursue my creative streak early from the age of 7. When I met my father for the first time as a pre-teen, the music really took hold as the center of my life.
Tokyo Flavors is a quality track and video. Good vibes, impressive bars. How long have you been rapping, and how do you choose which producers to work with?
I got into rapping when I met my dad. I did poetry already and he suggested that I might consider putting my poems to a beat. It’s been a non-stop love affair since. I branched off into singing simply because I was jealous of my sister’s ability.
I actually stock instrumentals from friends who are aspiring producers and work more with them rather than new producers. So many artists get handouts from producers when they’re first getting started and through time that relationship grows for those who stick around the business.
Whenever it comes time to make a new song, I usually have a catalogue of producers who know what sort of sound I like and they’ve catered more to my preferred sound over the years.
For me, versatility is the most important thing when it comes to a producer. I come from a background in theatre and arts and I enjoy when the producer and I can hear the same things.
How important is live performance to you as an artist, and in terms of your plans for the future?
I used to think it was the most important thing. But with the growing influence of SMS, I think it’s equally, if not more important, to have good social media coverage of said live performances as well as a marketing plan that grows with you as an artist.
What’s the indie live scene generally like in Tokyo?
It’s really underground. The scene here is so much more about who you know. Especially since Japanese society is very tough about appearances. Living in Tokyo for a while you start to see who the cool kids are and those cliques are hard to get into for an outsider. Many of the indie musicians here grew up as products of progressive thinking locals and foreigners forming relationships.
Can you recommend any other indie names we should know about?
YES!! I have to plug the homies! Names you should know about: Cirrcle, Tokyo Gal, Hyottoko Jr, Eihou, Dopeillganger, Lokyo, Yungn Voorheez, IAMCITI, Ami Ide, Draco Rich, SlickaRudi, Blake Wzrd, Kositheshinobi, LGE Sheesh, DeadTrunks, Montana Joe Carter, Huey Geronimo, Drew Deleon, DLabrie, Bishop XL,Shurland Ayers, ODD Williams, LDot, Unkle E, Chris Taylor, Kira Kokoro, Kymcci, Soco Tha Kahn, Marshmallow Kingdom, Wzrdblvk, Dubbski, Keaira Renee, Wil Make.
Given that you branch out between music and YouTube, other creative ventures, how would you describe yourself or your role as an artist?
I’d describe myself as simply a creator. I’ve found the process of putting out a whole project much easier when I can do the bulk of the work in-house. I think my role as an artist is to be the most professional and efficient artist I can without compromising my personal values.
What can you tell us about Just Tokyo Tingz – what is this, why did you start it, and where have you been taking the content during the recent lock-down?
It’s a pet project I started for a few reasons but the main reason is because I just turned 30 this year and wanted to make some real changes to how I spent my free time outside of work. So I started filming things I do on a regular basis and other things I had access to in my free time. I want people to know me better as well as show off Tokyo to those who cannot be here in person. This gives me plenty of work to do in my free time when I’m bored and when I’m not working on projects that pay real money. Just Tokyo Tingz as a title is not Jamaica related.
The lock-down has definitely made an impact on my posting schedule but I have quite a few episodes ready to go and will resume posting regularly after I’ve gotten decent engagement on my new music video Tokyo Flavors. It has forced me to be more creative and I’ve even seen YouTubers around my city come out of the woodworks trying to collaborate. I’ve got episodes in store that I wouldn’t have thought to create at this stage in my YouTuber career, were it not for the recent surge in people posting content.
What’s your vision or your greatest ambition?
Financial freedom. I’d like my wife to be able to quit her job. I’d like to take my family on a nice vacation or buy really nice presents for everyone. Where I’m from; it’s easy to see the ceiling in terms of opportunity. If I could retire early and help out the folks closest to me when they need it most; I’d be happy. I’m sure everyone’s mother could appreciate a new car.
What’s your songwriting process like – are you a frequent writer, do you make yourself work at new tracks, or do you just create whenever inspiration strikes?
It’s a combination of both, you know. When I hear a track I like; I’m writing whether I have plans to create an instrumental or not. It’s just good to have those ideas lying around. You may have already written the best song you’ll ever write. I try to make myself go search for new music as well to hear what the popular sounds are but its mostly for reference. I create what I feel. I also understand the importance of consistency.
If you could sit down to lunch with anyone at all, past or present, who would you choose, and what would you ask them about?
Prince – I would ask him what making music was like for him. What did it feel like?
Is there a longer project or any more music to come after this single?
Definitely. There’s a theme song coming for Nintendo Switch this year, supposedly. There’s also a few commercials floating around Tokyo as well as a cameo in the second shooting for Akihabara@Deep avail on Amazon Prime this year. As far as music I plan on releasing a series of strategically placed singles with the label I work with, F.A.R.M. records. Then a large project is due to drop late 2020 early 2021. By the time the Olympics come; I aim to be a trending topic on this earth.
What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given as an artist?
Take your job as an artist as seriously as your other job. If everyone took being an artist as serious as college; we’d all have a million views.
What’s the best thing people can do to support you?
Is there anything else we should know?
I’m a veteran Marine. So for anyone thinking about leaving the military; know that you can use the GI bill to attend school in nice cities like Tokyo. The video I’m promoting for this interview will also be monetized on youtube. The proceeds from the music video will go towards helping victims of Covid-19.
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