TonyDark is a Houston-based hip-hop producer whose recently-released The Strange Sounds of Vincent Stevens Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 have been making waves on the Internet. I don’t casually compare beat-makers to the late J Dilla, but TonyDark’s old school, minimalist style evokes the reigning king of hip-hop production, whom Tony unsurprisingly cites as an influence (along with other masters MF Doom and Madlib). Tony tells me his Vol. 2, on which Dey Bishop raps, constitutes the “crazy dope” project he’s most proud of. Read the rest of our conversation below.
Labeling Men: How old are you?
TonyDark: Well I just turned 30 on July 21st and yes, I'm still accepting birthday gifts.
Labeling Men: Describe your sound in one sentence.
TonyDark: Old school sound with a new school feel, best of both worlds.
Labeling Men: Your Twitter page announces you as a "vinyl lover" - where's your favorite place to buy records?
TonyDark: Yes, I'm a huge collector of vinyl. I'm a part of a collective of cats that are supporting the vinyl culture here in Houston called The Waxaholics. My favorite storefront is Sig's Lagoon in Houston. My favorite website would have to be fatbeats.com.
Labeling Men: Houston has an important place in hip-hop history, having produced the likes of DJ Screw, Mike Jones, and Travis Scott, and essentially pioneering the chopped and screwed sound that has since become ubiquitous. Does Houston inform your sound?
TonyDark: I've always been drawn too the East Coast "sound,” so I would probably have to say no. I love the city of Houston but from my experience artist and producers have a problem growing. I wanna make music I love, and it just so happens that Houston's sound is not that.
Labeling Men: What was the inspiration behind volumes 1 and 2 of The Strange Sounds of Vincent Stevens?
TonyDark: Well I love comic books and I wanted to do an EP series that kinda had that vibe to it. There's definitely more to come and I want to thank Kon Sweetie and Dey Bishop for helping me make Vol. 1 and 2 happen.
Labeling Men: How did you get hooked up with Dey Bishop?
TonyDark: Twitter. I was up late one night, tweeting telling people to send me links of their or their friends music. One of Dey's homies sent me a link to one of his music videos and I knew after watching it that I had to build with him.
Labeling Men: What are your vices?
TonyDark: Beautiful women and good weed.
Labeling Men: If you could only listen to one album for the rest of your life, what would it be?
TonyDark: Man, I don't know, can I just make a mixtape? Either Midnight Marauders by A Tribe Called Quest, Champion Sound by J Dilla + Madlib, Marcberg, Reloaded by Roc Marciano, or Madvilliany by Madvillian (MF Doom and Madlib).
Labeling Men: What would you eat for your last meal?
TonyDark: I don't know, I'm a sucker for the pork-chop at Perry's Steakhouse but they didn't pay me for that endorsement, so Ima have to say my mother’s steak, garlic potatoes and fired squash.
Labeling Men: Dream collaboration?
TonyDark: Roc Marciano and Black Thought on some TonyDark production.
Labeling Men: Best concert you've ever attended?
TonyDark: I have been to so many dope shows, but every time I see The Roots live it changes my life.
Labeling Men: Favorite song of 2015?
TonyDark: Well 2015 is not over but so far it's probably “Acting Crazy” or “Terry” by Action Bronson.
Labeling Men: When are you most inspired?
TonyDark: No certain time, being around great vibes and dope artist always does the trick.
Labeling Men: What are you working on currently?
TonyDark: I'm working on my EP series The Strange Sounds of Vincent Stevens, an LP with my TrapBang brothers out in New Jersey, an EP with Sundown from Actual Proof and I'm also working on my next beat tape. All will be found on tonydark.bandcamp.com very soon!
By Anna Dorn
Photograph provided by TonyDark