Antwon Talks About His New Album, Ahead Of Another European Tour
Interview photo by Alice Baxley, Words & Interview conducted by Rakim Kaldas
Antwon needs no introduction, talked about multiple times on the WTP podcast, he’s a pioneer to this modern day rap game even if he doesn’t want to admit it. Being incredibly busy already this year, he picked up the phone and answered some questions ahead of his latest European tour taking place next month. Read our talk below from a week ago *Bobby Shmurda dance* while big ‘Twon was out in New York with some friends.
How are you today?
I’m good, I’m good. I’m just in New York, just chillin’.
What are you doing out in New York at the moment, what are you up to in the big Apple?
Ah, finishing a secret circle record and playing some shows with secret circle.
Speaking of Secret Circle, I saw Wiki a few weeks ago at Laneway Festival in Australia, is there any possibility of Secret Circle coming down under?
Oh my God, I fucking wish. I love Australia. Hopefully I can come back and that would be great to have Secret Circle come, I would love that.
With yourself, Lil Ugly Mane and Wiki; you must have a really interesting creative energy in the studio. Can we expect a full length project or is that off the table?
You can expect something different and sick, I guess, probably like. It’s gonna be like different, but everyone is gonna like it. I feel like it’s going to be different, but it’s going to be familiar.
You’ve got the Escape From America tour kicking off soon and no doubt you’re a vet when it comes to Europe by now. Is there a city your keen to set foot in again or for the first time?
Yeah, I’m going to Vienna Austria, I’ve never been to Austria at all. So that’s pretty crazy. Vienna’s gonna be sick and that’s the one I’m like, whoa I wonder what that’s gonna be like.
What’s different to a tour in Europe compared to the US?
*Phone cuts out* I feel like the venues, they treat you a lot better in Europe than they treat you in the US. And like they make you feel like you’re really appreciated, like you’re a real star.
You’ve been around the world, you’ve been around for a long time, you’re an OG in this underground rap scene. What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen at a show or while on tour?
Oh well thank you. Shit man, I seen a lot of crazy ass shit. But I don’t know, nothing that comes to mind. One time, it was in LA, I wasn’t even anywhere crazy and I seen these like girls fight these dudes on the front of stage while I’m playing. I didn’t stop the set, like they were just beating up these dudes in the middle of my set and like I just kept playing. That was crazy.
So chicks fighting dudes doesn’t really throw Antwon off?
Nah, nothing really throws me off. I’m all really down for the experience with everybody else, so I’m in tuned I guess.
You have an album releasing this year, Downtown Tony. What can we expect and how does it compare to your last release Sunnyvale Gardens?
Oh man, Downtown Tony is just about to be the like, the other one but just more concentrated and super crazy. You know what I mean? It’s probably going to be the one that brings people back. Like, “oh yo, this is lit, you know I remember ‘Twon, this man’s style has matured and gotten way better in this whole shit”. That’s what I hopefully get people from it. So the difference, for sure, is that it’s more different you know what I mean? You know it’s not no dick and fart jokes.
What was the process like for this album compared to the other albums, since you said that you feel like it’s more refined?
I recorded it with Lars Stalfors first, he’s done a lot of people’s stuff, it’s just a better process. And then I recorded most of the stuff with Dave, he was in the studio too. I call him Studio Dave. And it’s just like, I don’t know. I felt like I just said what I was saying for so long and people kind of just pinned it on me as one thing. So I just said man, fuck this, I’m just happy to be alive you know what I mean, happy to get as far as I am you know what I mean? Why don’t I just explain where I came from one time, so people know what it is. Cos’ I feel like a lot of people just kind of read me wrong, you know a lot of people read me wrong. They think I’m one thing and they’re surprised I make songs with Wiki and Lil Ugly Mane you know what I mean? They think that I’m like some shitty fool, but it’s like nah I’m a fuckin’ person just like everyone else dog. I go through shit and nothing was given to me, you know what I’m saying, I had to grind for everything my whole life to get this. So I just want people to know that.
When you go into a project do you have a vision for the project, whether it be an album, clothing or a zine, or does it just work itself out off a vibe or feeling?
It just works itself out around the vibe and feeling, because I’ve tried to be like, “yo let’s do this”. But the stuff doesn’t, like you gotta feel something and then just go with it and focus. Focus a little bit more on it, instead of just throwing it out there. We’re trying to focus, put something out there and push a train behind it. Not just have it be out there, dangling in the wind. We go with the good feeling, keep on it, keep focused and push it to where it should be to, its fullest potential.
Sounds like you guys have a very organic way of pushing through and making it as best as it can be.
Yeah totally. We just made a beat today, we made some songs today for Secret Circle.
You’ve been an OG in this scene and you’ve been consistently putting projects out since 2012. How would you describe your discography to new listeners and where should they start?
For me, you should start from the beginning and start from Fantasy Beds. I mean I put out rap before Fantasy Beds, but I think that’s just the one to start with.
With your releases, does each one capture a moment in time or your career, or a certain feeling at that time?
Yeah I feel like when I put out Fantasy Beds I didn’t really think about it, also I didn’t really care I just wanted to make music. Then by the time I made Heavy Hearted Doldrums I didn’t really know what I was doing that much. I was more visual and stuff, but I guess everything does kind of show where I was at. To me it does, I don’t know if anybody else really notices, like if they did a timeline and broke down what I was doing for each album it’d probably be crazy.
Yeah, I feel like that would be an interesting infographic for the fans.
Yeah, that would be sick.
I know you’re a fan of skate 3, have you heard about the Skate 4 rumours?
Fuck yeah, I heard that’s not coming out. I would love for Skate 4 to come out, that would be sick. I’d love a skate 4 bro. I grew up on that shit, I grew up on skateboarding you know? That’s how I heard Black Flags for the first time, that’s how I heard fucking Gangstarr for the first time. That’s how I heard Company Flow for the first time was from skate videos you know? That was like before the internet, that’s how I was getting my music. That’s how I heard songs. Skate videos was the ones where I heard the songs, I’d go check the little credits and go on napster and download the song.
So, besides music, you’re the man behind Nature World and it seems like you keep yourself busy. What’s the process like for each drop and does it compare to the process of creating music?
Nah, it’s different. We get some inspiration and shit, see what kind of designs we wanna do and we get all the information together and make designs. Then we go get the shirts done, then they come back, then we shoot them on models and we shoot product shots. It’s way different from music, but it helps me because I’ve been making music since I was like fifteen you know. I’m 31 now. If I were to do music everyday I’d hate it, that’s why I gotta do something else like Nature World. It kind of helps me, I try to be hands on with Nature World as much as I can so that I have something else to do that doesn’t make me dislike my job which is making music. I love my job of making music and I don’t wanna hate it. So making Natureworld, doing creative stuff, doing other music with other people instead of just focusing on Antwon stuff is great. It helps me build as a person.
Do you think you’ll ever start doing the zines again, possibly a Nature World zine?
Oh yeah! I kinda wanna do a zine collection, I always grew up taking pictures. I used to steal mad film from fucking Rite Aid and shit. We used to steal tonnes of film, and all weekend I’d steal disposables, I’d steal rolls, I’d steal cameras. It was so much easier back in the day, now you can’t really steal cameras, they keep it behind the shit. But before they used to just leave the cameras out, like a thrift store. Bro we’d steal all this shit, all I ever paid for was getting them developed at Target because it was really cheap back in the day. That was kind of the thing, I couldn’t afford to get them developed so I would take hella pictures and I’m still trying to develop rolls from back in the day now. I really wanna get back into doing zines, I got like a bunch lined up. If I get around to it, I could do it right away you know, keep em all on my computer stacked up.
That would be dope. It’s impressive you’ve hung onto rolls from back in the day man.
Oh no doubt. I really wanna do some big book, later on. Just like release a book of all the shit, all my old stuff. You know, we got a lot of jail drawings, like a lot of letters and stuff from jail, kid pictures and stuff. I just want to eventually make a book with all that shit.
So we could possibly expect a visual memoir Antwon in the near future?
Oh, definitely. I’m gonna get that shit together for y’all, yeah we’re gonna get it poppin’ dude.
On another note, how did Nature World Night Out go?
That shit was fire man. That was great, it was so sick seeing Warriors, More to Pride and HateBreed and stuff. I grew up listening to those bands and I was like, “Man, I wanna see these bands again”. It’s been so long since HateBreed has played with other hardcore bands, they play with big metal bands, like Iron Maiden and shit. You know what I mean, I wanted to bring HateBreed back to the kids. It was me, Conrad, Andreas and Chase who made the whole thing together, made Nature World Night Out what it is today. I think we achieved that, I think we brought hardcore back to the kids, ‘cos you know hardcore’s for the kids, for the youth and that’s what we did with Nature World Night Out. That’s what we were trying to do each time, like get it so kids could go, kids, adults, everyone could go and have fun.
I know you used to DJ, so was curating the lineup similar in a sense?
Oh yeah totally, it’s fun though. It’s super fun, it’s easy to do that shit though it’s so sick.
Would you ever take a Nature World fest overseas, say Europe for example, and do a European invasion and pull talent from there?
Oh my God, that’s what we wanna do, we really want to go to Europe. We’re trying to do it now, all over America, Canada and shit. But that’s literally the future, it will be like a travelling tour for Nature World Night Out, it won’t just be in one city. Like it’ll be everywhere, hopefully one day.