From Reddit Friends to Collaborating Artists, Tone Troy & Max Parkinson Share a New Single
Social media can be a double-edged sword, but for Tone Troy and Max Parkinson, it proved very fortuitous. The pair first met through Reddit where their mutual passion for music united them. On the heels of their newest single “With Me,” Tone Troy and Max Parkinson talk about their creative workflow, landing music on labels like Toolroom, and what 2020 has taught them. Despite both artists being at different points in their careers, Tone Troy and Max Parkinson share an undying love for the game.
Hi, and thank you so much for taking the time to chat with 6AM. How are you guys doing these days both personally and professionally?
Tone Troy (TT): Hey! Not a problem. Thanks for getting us together to chat about the track! We’re doing as good as we can be in NYC. The lack of shows has translated to more overtime in the firehouse so I am keeping busy.
Max Parkinson (MP): I am thankful that the industry I currently work in (menswear) hasn’t been affected as greatly as nightlife by the pandemic. Any work is a blessing these days from what I gather. I will say that the pandemic has allowed me to explore a lot more music, though, most notably older mixes from the greats like Chez Damier, Tony Humphries, Kerri Chandler, and of course I have been able to spend more time on my producing.
How’d you two meet?
TT: Believe it or not, we met through the r/avesnyc subreddit. At the time we were both kind of feeling out [of] the scene and looking to network. We ended up getting together at Max’s place to DJ over some beers, and it’s been a great friendship ever since.
MP: Back in 2016 I bought a lot of Pioneer club kit, two CDJs and a DJM-900NXS2 (at this point I had been DJing on a small Pioneer controller, the DDJ-SB2, for slightly over a year), and had no friends to share it with. I wanted to make more friends in the club space as all the people I knew were under 21 and had no emotional investment in electronic music. I decided finding a random person on Reddit was the best way to meet someone and lo and behold Tone, the only person to reach out by the way, answered first. What’s the point of having a full Nexus setup if you can’t share it with your fellow DJs? We met later that month and he introduced me to proper house and phase counting. Both of which changed my curatorial technique and sonic palette forever.
What’s helped keep your creative juices in the studio flowing?
TT: For me, it starts outside the studio. I have a private playlist on Spotify that I keep for reference tracks. If someone made some interesting effects or unique arrangement, I want to have sight of that to create something along those lines. From there I free flow some drums and synths to make it work!
MP: I find it difficult to work when the sun is up so making music in the night, even if I don’t see it, helps a lot. Reading interviews with my favorite musicians helps motivate me to continue working as well. Of course, being in the studio with your spiritual big brother is a benefit, too. We both know exactly what the other wants, and it expedites our production process because we are so in sync.
Listen: Tone Troy & Max Parkinson “With Me” (Purple Tea Records)
Before you became artists, you were fasn. Do you remember the first time you heard house/electronic music and what made you jump the fence from listener to creator? (@Tone, you put out fires when not behind the decks—assuming both have their adrenaline rush moments…)
TT: Ironically enough, if I didn’t get hurt through the fire department, I don’t think I would have ever made the jump. Long story short, after a pretty bad leg injury, my group of friends brought me out to a show in Manhattan and things changed for me in that moment. In the grand scope of things, I definitely consider that show to be the start of the whole music career. From there I taught myself how to DJ through Youtube, went through the ranks in the local scene, and finally got the opportunity to perform at one of the bigger venues in Brooklyn (thank you Jon Paul Pezzo). [I’ve] played some shows internationally, had some support in the form of a documentary piece from Toolroom (directed by the talented Mikey Whyte), and learned how to put some tunes together through Ableton. I think that becoming a “creator” was the next step in moving up the ranks in dance music.
MP: The moment I saw RL Grime at Central Park’s Summerstage in 2015 I knew I wanted to produce and perform. His ability to have total control of the audience’s hearts and minds with ease was awe-inspiring. In fact, it was so inspiring that I went home and torrented Traktor that night. Two months later I bought my first DJ controller. It took me a bit longer to start producing regularly as I had dabbled in it briefly, but meeting Tone Troy and working, speaking, mixing, as well as hanging out with him made me take production seriously.
I’d say that somewhere around 80 percent of my tracks that are signed were by submitting through demo drop email addresses to the labels.
On Getting Your Music Heard, Tone Troy
You’ve just premiered your newest track “With Me” with us (ha!). Was this track a product of COVID-19? Can you tell us about the creative process with this one?
TT: I think we finished this tune in December 2019 / January 2020. Saying that out loud is a bit of a surprise for me. I can’t believe it’s been about a year. Max and I got together on it to try and meld some different stylistic approaches together and make something out of both our norms. The energy definitely can be felt.
MP: We decided in the late fall of 2019 to make a song together. Tone Troy reached out first, I agreed immediately, and we both got started right away. We were quick to achieve what we both wanted, and in the end, the track reflects elements of both of our tastes. Tone with those heavy, groove centered bass lines and me with my admiration of 1990s rave.
TT, you have other releases with some distinguished labels including Toolroom, Snatch! and Nervous Records. Can you tell us a little bit about this process for you? It wasn’t on the first submission that your music was accepted…or was it?
TT: Ooof the ongoing process of signing tracks. I consider myself very lucky in this realm of the music industry. I’d say that somewhere around 80 percent of my tracks that are signed were by submitting through demo drop email addresses to the labels. Usually, they are accepted as is, but it’s a case by case scenario. There has been an instance or two where the label has come back to me and asked for a slight change in the mix down or notation placement; but nothing that has changed the original concept of the tune. I’d like to think that I hit the nail on the head here and there haha.
MP, what’s it been like working with TT? Would you say he’s been like a mentor?
MP: Working with Antonio is next level. His [work] ethic is unmatched, and his dedication to making the listener excited and want to dance is next to none. He is so knowledgeable in his technique, it’s unreal. I came from FL Studio, so working in Ableton was a tad bit intimidating for me, but Antonio was able to teach me things I didn’t know were possible. From the jump, Antonio has been a mentor. Both inside and outside the booth he has pointed me in the right direction. He has helped me professionally and creatively. It was Antonio that taught me how to read the room. It was Antonio that taught me about the intricacies of the dance floor; he is truly a walking index of knowledge not just in music and nightlife, but in day to day living. I am not kidding when I say he is my big brother.
When you’re making music do you have a label in mind and work toward creating something that’ll resonate with them or do you free flow?
TT: When I first started making music I did. We all want to hit our target labels at any cost. But in my experience, I’ve made tracks that I thought were 100 percent like the sound of a label, only for it to get passed on. I make a track to make a track now. I can always do some recon and find the right home for it when it’s all said and done.
MP: Since this is my first released original record that is signed, I have to reference Tone Troy, once again, for knowing what the right steps were to take. I suppose though that at the genesis of this production we free flowed. We wanted to make a song together regardless of who was going to sign it if anyone.
Are there any artists you’re keen on working with down the line, and why?
TT: I’ve been pretty busy on that front. I just finished a remix for ShiShi that drops in January. I also have two collabs signed for the first half of next year. The first one is with Ant La Rock, slated for February on Low Steppa’s Simma Black, and the second with my right-hand man Arturo Sanchez on DJ SKT’s STASHED in June. I also started separate tunes with Kyle Kinch and Husko very recently that I’m excited to work on. If I was going to add to that list, I’d totally say KC Lights. He makes phenomenal music, and I would love to make a tune to move a dance floor with him.
MP: PaulWoolford for his passion, and his piano playing. It is just butter to the ears. It’s stunning to hear his productions. He does it all: remixes DuaLipa, creates high octane originals for Houndstooth, works with Diplo and KareenLomax. He’s unstoppable. I would also love to work with LanarkArtefax. He doesn’t miss, ever. You know you have the sauce when Björk has you open for her on her tour. Weapons grade heat, truly Disclosure and Skream without hesitation, too, as they served as a major template for me when I began to transition from DJing trap to selecting house, disco, and techno. Finally, Raito — unreal curator and producer, a master of his craft. He’s a real, proper expert in both the contemporary and the vintage soundscapes that he has become so well known for.
From the jump, Antonio has been a mentor. Both inside and outside the booth he has pointed me in the right direction. He has helped me professionally and creatively. It was Antonio that taught me how to read the room. It was Antonio that taught me about the intricacies of the dance floor; he is truly a walking index of knowledge not just in music and nightlife, but in day to day living.
Finding a Mentor is Key to Continue Developing as an Artist, Max Parkinson
What’s one thing you’ve learned as an artist this year?
TT: I think this year I learned more about myself and the process more than anything. I learned how to step back and think critically of the direction I want to take in the future when things start to seem a little more normal. It’s been the year of self-reflection during most of this quarantine, so in turn, I am hoping to use that energy and knowledge to move into 2021 with some momentum!
MP: When life takes away lemons, remember that you have gin in the cabinet. Make do with what you have and adapt to what’s happening around and to you. Even if it looks like it’s “all over,” it really isn’t. You’ll come out on top a stronger person with the materials that are still available, so to speak. As Tone said, capture and maintain momentum, and lead every day with it.
Anything else you’d like to share?
TT: I have seven releases coming in the next seven months so keep on the lookout for those and remember to check out our new track “With Me” on Purple Tea dropping December 18th!
MP: Shout out to JP Solis for giving me a place to perform and practice (RIP Tin Pan Alley Studios) when I was 19 and treating me seriously when most people thought my DJing was a “phase”. A big thanks to Mitch Camarda for being a true friend, leader, and teacher to me, and showing me the side of entertainment that few ever experience. And of course, I am massively grateful to Purple Tea Records for taking on my first release, “With Me,” with one of my best friends.