Check out our exclusive interview with Portland based musician Toño about their debut album release “songs i can’t listen to anymore” right here on Rock the Pigeon!
Portland based hyperpop rapper Toño has been releasing music since 2019 with their debut single “Sign,” and has since released 9 more singles, 5 EPs, and 1 joint mixtape with fellow Portland rapper Yuck, and now, their first full length album. Toño’s debut solo album “songs i can’t listen to anymore” was released back in June, which is what I’ll be covering here with a track by track summary.
Toño is no stranger to melodically rapping over hyperpop styled songs nor are they a stranger to singing and rapping separately on different sounds. This debut album truly showcases Toño’s ability to genre switch across different styles, showing immense versatility in everything they do.
The album starts with the “CUB/DRIP” mix of one of their singles “Wreck It Ralph” where we find fellow queer artist hunterdrips singing atop the immaculately produced hyperpop track as well as gay cubby rapper Bryce Quartz also rapping melodically over the instrumental. Here, Toño sets the tone for the album, giving us all the energy we could want from a hyperpop song while lyrically sticking to their roots.
The second song “Zack & Cody” continues with that iconic Toño and hunterdrips sound as a duo, with the song starting with a fun and lighthearted sample turned pop. hunterdrips comes in with catchy lyrics and references to the hit Disney show Zack & Cody. Once Toño enters the track with their soft vocal approach, we’re sold on the song from the vibes alone. Toño also has a rap verse on the track, bringing catchy and lighthearted lyrics that match the vibe perfectly. This is the perfect track to smoke and chill with your friends to.
“WHO’S IN THE CLUB RN?” brings a slightly darker tone to the album, with a buildup in the beginning combined with a whispery vocal approach from Toño that leads directly into the first verse. Toño raps with an attitude in the verses, and the hook puts you right in the club with them.
“Last Call” brings an emotional vibe to the album, starting with a low key vibe that leads into a hyperpop sound. Toño raps and sings melodically atop the instrumental, putting you right into the headspace to drink and have fun, dreading that last call of the night out at the bar. I personally love this addition to the album, because it combines that classic feeling of being out with your friends but not wanting the night to end, all in one song.
“Crowd” starts with an icy sample in the beginning and jumps right into the swagger that is Toño’s rap approach, combined with some melodic rapping and singing throughout the song. The pre chorus and chorus to this song are such a vibe that it makes it a perfect dreamy song for any commute or pre-game moment.
“Hear Me Out” is probably one of the most emotional tracks on the album, where we find Toño rapping over an R&B type beat and spilling out all their emotions. It also features Michael White, who sings atop the chorus really setting the tone for such an emotional track. You can feel the heart that was poured out from both of them onto this track, making it an unforgettable breathing moment on this album.
“How Ur Feeling” carries some of the emotions from the previous track instrumental, but then picks up the energy immediately with the percussion and vocal approaches from Toño. Here, Toño sings and raps atop the instrumental with such a clever lyrical approach, going back and forth vocally between both approaches. Through and through, this song was a joy to listen to.
“FINE (WAY TOO HIGH FOR THIS)” picks up the energy, bringing that classic hip hop feel to it with a heavy bass line and quick witted lyrical approaches from Toño’s rap verses. It also features fellow Portland based rapper Yuck, who not only produced the track, but also gives a solid verse himself to the track. The switch ups between the two of them solidifies them as a duo to look out for.
“t i m e” is one of the golden tracks from this album, starting with a slow buildup instrumentally and a beautiful vocal approach from Toño themselves. Produced by hyperpop artist Sneakyseabear, the instrumental really showcases so much energy with the buildups and melodies. As the song builds, we hear Toño sing with so much emotion, giving us a power ballad in the form of hyperpop. I truly love this song from start to finish, making it a must listen from the album.
XXXL – SUPERSIZE Mix (feat. Sneakyseabear, Boy Bowser, and Nathan Piland) is quite possibly my favorite track on the entire album, with so much power and energy behind every second of the song. It features guest verses from fellow hyperpop artist Sneakyseabear, rapper Boy Bowser, and pop punk gay bear artist Nathan Piland. Toño’s verse starts the song, which is the perfect appetizer for what’s to come. Toño then eloquently carries the hook throughout the song leading us from verse to verse. The instrumental absolutely SLAPS, with genre switches for each feature.
First, we have Boy Bowser bringing an intensely clever pack a punch verse atop a trap inspired instrumental switch up. Then, we have hyperpop artist Sneakyseabear singing atop an intense hyperpop buildup moment, with clever lyrics that are unforgettable. Lastly, we get to the pop punk instrumental switch up where Nathan Piland serves the perfect emo verse we could ask for. By the end of the song, you’ll be wanting more of the song from the catchy hook alone, not to mention all the instrumental switchups and vocal approaches from the features making the replay button an immediate must.
See Me Again! Is the closing track, which is not only a phenomenal follow up track to the previous song, but a perfect closer that really brings all the energy from the album back to the forefront. Produced by Wintermoot, this hyperpop track is reminiscent of a song you would hear Charli XCX sing on, but put Toño’s rapping on it AND some singing in the hook? This bubblegum hyperpop track only makes you want to replay the entire album. Personally, I want to hear this one live.
Through and through, “songs i can’t listen to” by Toño is quite the debut album. I actually had the chance to interview them about it too, check that out below!
Bryce Quartz: Thanks for taking the time to speak with me. How are you feeling now that your album is out for the world to hear?
Toño: It’s good to be here chatting with you, thank you for having me! I’m feeling pretty good now that the world can hear my album and not just me and my small circle of carefully chosen early listeners.
Bryce Quartz: Can you tell us about how long you’ve been working on this project?
Toño: This is an album about 3 years in the making. It’s taken many forms over those 3 years with many different track lists and overall ideas for what I even wanted it to look and sound like.
Bryce Quartz: What was the process like in finding the right title for the album?
Toño: Dramatic life events call for dramatic changes, and I didn’t have enough to get my hair done so I changed the album title at the last minute instead! The original album title for the longest time was “WAY TOO HIGH FOR THIS”, all caps. That title track is even still in the track list (“FINE” with Yuck). After a nasty polyamorous breakup and feeling like I had to start change my whole life around the original name didn’t seem fitting anymore. Some of these songs are downright painful for me to listen to, so I reached out to my best friend Hunter and ran by a new album name. “songs i can’t listen to anymore” just has a way better feel to it don’t you think?
Bryce Quartz: Can you tell us a little bit about any challenges you faced along the way?
Toño: Mixing vocals is a bitch! I don’t wish it upon anyone! I feel like I’m finally getting the hang of it but I can only listen to my iconic voice for so long.
I think one of my hardest struggles was the track list as well. I really wanted to create a narrative within the album and the song themes. From a mask of video games and partying with your friends to revealing the cancer sun crying in the club because he’s got attachment issues and then putting it back up again. Making sure that came across to the listener was something I struggled with but let go of eventually. I get it, so figure it out!
Bryce Quartz: What about some of your favorite moments or memories attached to the process in creating this album?
Toño: That’s a hard one to answer at this moment. If you asked me this a month ago I’d say everything about being in love and finding community and the moments I shared. I’m sure I’ll be able to look back at the times that inspired this album but we’re not at that stage of healing yet. What I can look back on was how fun and meaningful it was to me to be working with so many other artists like Sneakyseabear, Yuck, and hunterdrips. The process of actually making the album felt like the most fun thing I’ve ever gotten to do with my friends.
Bryce Quartz: I love that you intertwine different vocal stylings atop the instrumentals throughout this album, going from hyperpop vocals to direct rap vocal inflections to melodic rapping and then singing. With that said, what does an average studio session day look like for you?
Toño: Like most things in my life it starts off with a bowl. If I’m alone I got my tea, gallons of water ready to go, and I’m recording take after take after take til I get it how I want because I hate re recording! The process is definitely expedited with a partner like Yuck though. He has little patience for my perfection and it does me a lot of good if I’m being honest! The bowl count and drinks offered to me to lighten up the process may raise when I go into a studio session with them though.
Bryce Quartz: I loved some of the behind the scenes videos and pictures from the cover art shoot. How did you come up with the concept for the cover?
Toño: Okay if I’m being totally honest it came from a photoshoot with David Harbour. Daddy Hopper from Stranger Things. He’s in a claw foot bathtub, smoking a cigar, looking hot as fuck, and I wanted to tap into that energy! Me smoking a blunt in the bathtub made a little more sense with the older album title, but I love it nonetheless. Visually it also loosely draws inspiration from SOPHIES “Oil Of Every Persons Un-Insides” album art.
Bryce Quartz: I loveeeeeee the remix of XXXL with Sneakyseabear, Boy Bowser, and Nathan Piland. What was it like hearing this song fully mastered for the first time??
Toño: It was a trip and a half for real! The OG song is pushing three years old now and it honestly WISHES it was the remix. Getting to have my own big boy “I Got It” (or “Lady Marmalade” for you millennial gays) was my absolute dream !
Bryce Quartz: Do you have any visuals planned for this release?
Toño: We got the TOÑO Creative Team (aka Banes.Co) working on some more canvases for you Spotify girlies. Other than that I’m not sure what this era will bring. I have a lot of ideas for things like “t i m e”, “Hear Me Out” with Michael White, “Zack & Cody” with hunterdrips, and even the XXXL remix. Videos just take a lot of time and money and editing but we will see!
Bryce Quartz: Where can we catch you performing live next?
Toño: I am actually going to be co hosting an open mic night at Misfits, a new queer bar in Portland! Me and the amazing Autumn Rainz are going to be judging and picking new acts for a new show from this rostered mic lineup starting on the second Monday in September.
Bryce Quartz: That sounds awesome! That’s something to look forward to, super exciting! Thanks again for taking the time to speak with me today, Toño!
Be sure to stream “songs i can’t listen to anymore” by Toño on all streaming platforms now, and give them a follow on social media below to keep up to date with what they’re doing next!
Written By: Bryce Quartz