Los Angeles, CA | August 2017
words by Rheanne Cruz
Zac and Matt, the LA based duo behind Toyko, are currently on the road to releasing their first (hopefully) of many EPs. Toyko, not to be confused with Tokyo, is the official project of years of their collaboration. The dynamic duo has tremendous musical experience working and rooming with each other, so it would come as no surprise that their music is pretty darn good. Before they amass thousands of fans, give their latest singles like "Golden Ones" a listen, and you’ll have 100% bragging rights that you found them first.
I heard you guys met on Craigslist - can you describe your first impressions of each other?
Matt: I definitely remember posting like, ‘I’m looking for people that like to stay up late’-
Zac: Yeah I remember the quote, it was like ‘In the music industry with night owl tendencies’ or something.
Matt: He was really quick to reply and he just fit the bill.
Zac: There were a couple things. When I first moved in, I pulled into the parking spot and I totally bumped your car. I thought it was super uncomfortable because you were like, there, scoping it out. I also remember springing Lola onto you, she’s a 10 pound Chihuahua, thinking ‘so is this a dog friendly apartment?’ and kinda feeling it out. I have dog; she’s super nice, quiet (she barks all the time).
Matt: I let it slide for a day, and I just fell in love with the dog.
Zac: I think we had generally good first impressions. I feel like within three or four days we were already working in the studio together.
Off the bat, did you know you wanted to work together?
Matt: Not really.
Zac: You (Matt) didn’t even know I made music. I just knew you made music from the post, and then it was just kinda like ‘oh there’s open time in the studio’.
Matt: I wanted somebody creatively minded. It didn’t have to be a musician, it just worked out that way.
How long have you two been making music together?
Zac: Three years! We’ve only been doing Toyko for 6 months. We worked with up and coming artists, producing their records, and helped co-write. And then we were like, ‘Alright, let’s just make something for ourselves’.
What’s the most memorable moment from recording your EP?
Matt: Late nights. Some of these songs have just been ideas that have been lying around for a while, and we went back and revisited this song, Magnetic.
Zac: Yeah, and that’s something we started 3 years ago. It started just as an instrumental, and we were sifting through old material and thought, ‘this is actually really cool, let’s revisit it’. We reapproached it with the Toyko mindset, like stylistically. That one has more of a hip hop/R&B feel, so it’s definitely a different track.
Why do you want to keep your faces off of social media right now?
Zac: We don’t know if that’s what it is, we just want to do it the right way. And we don’t know what the right way is yet.
Matt: We didn’t want that to be a distraction or something we wanna put forth as who we are; we just wanted to put the music out by itself. We happened to find an artist who vibed with our work, and we’d rather just have that as any type of visual.
Zac: We’re not shying away from it. We really want the music to speak for itself, and we also want to play to our strong suit; our strong suit is making solid records. Our strong suit isn’t the live thing yet, nor is it social media. So, it’s like let’s lend ourselves to the strong suit first, and we kinda figure out the rest and what’s the best way to do it.
Do you have a shared musical inspiration?
Matt: 90’s alternative, maybe?
Zac: I didn’t miss the early 90’s scene, but for some reason 6 or 7 months ago I really got into Nirvana, Red Hot Chili Peppers, etc.
Matt: and Smashing Pumpkins.
Zac: All that stuff strikes a chord for us. Also, there are some crazy producers these days and we definitely resonate with that. Our musical taste is all across the board; I’m a sucker for weird pop.
Matt: He’s always showing me music.
Are there any music styles you want to try in the future as Toyko?
Zac: With this EP, it wasn’t like, ‘Oh this is going to be our debut EP’. We’re actually toying with the idea of not even calling it an EP at this point. It’s like a 4 to 5 song collection of things that are sitting in this like, understated dark mood pop vein kind of thing. It was more like we have a collection of songs that fit well together, and we should put it out as a package, instead of a single release thing. In terms of trying new things, we definitely have happier, indie, alternative records.
Matt: When we started, we were into all sorts of stuff.
Zac: It was actually more rock.
Matt: And that took a turn, and we started doing more pop and moody things.
Zac: It changes with the season. I don’t think we set out to do one thing; we more like stumble into something and we do that a bunch until we’re burnt out on it.
Matt: We’ll definitely do some rock.
Zac: We have rock songs, but if you listen to them you’re not like ‘This is Toyko’. It’s nothing even close to what we’ve been doing now, but it’s still something we’ll revisit at a certain point. Like whatever, here’s a rock EP.
Do you have any fears of any aspect of future success?
Zac: I think my biggest fear is losing creative control. We’re at this stage where we barely have a following, and we’re barely getting plays, but in the same token we have complete freedom. We can do whatever we want, we have full control like, ‘We like this song, we’re gonna put it out’. I don’t know, as much as something like a label sounds enticing, the idea of potentially losing the freedom of ‘we love this song’ and having to jump through hoops to potentially get it out, scares me a bit.
Matt: And the pace of it too. We can just drop them whenever we want, and when you’re on a major label, you have to just carefully campaign, market it, etc.
Zac: Right now, we’re just putting out music. A single a month kind of thing, two to three EP batches a year. That’s the rough strategy we have in mind. We could be pushing it, doing by biweekly releases just because we have a lot of content. We just don’t want to oversaturate it.
Matt: I like having time to do other things on the side as well.
Zac: Yeah, we still do all our coproduction and co-writing, just behind the scenes without the Toyko attached to it.