Speaking with Tony Appleseed is like having a conversation with a musical dictionary and it's extremely fascinating stuff! The art and craft of musicianship is something that's woven deeply throughout his very being; imprinted upon his DNA from the very beginning.

     Growing up in a musical household, Tony has had formal training (from classical to progressive) as well as hands-on experiences working with musicians in his father's gigging band. His parents were very supportive of him exploring the keyboard and various instruments, and his home was always filled with  the latest music technology. Some of his musical influences include: The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Chopin, Nine Inch Nails, Radiohead, Sufjan Stevens, Yes, James Blake, Steven Wilson, Porcupine Tree, and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez. This passion for music took him right into the Berklee College of Music where he earned a degree in Music Production and Engineering.

     His current involvement in music includes not only singing, songwriting and producing his music, but also recording, producing, and mastering the music of others at his very own AntFARM Studio. He's heavily involved in teaching where he instructs students on various instruments and composing. Tony is also the bassist in the band Accidental Seabirds, and regularly collaborates with many musicians and groups he's known for years. 

     There are several qualities that make Tony such a masterful musician. One is his expansive knowledge of music theory as well as his ability to play so many instruments: piano/keyboards, mellotron, guitar, bass (electric and upright) drums, ukulele, and banjo. He adds, "I fiddle around with other stuff like harps, autoharp, mandolin, and sitar as well." His 2019 album, Entropy,  was a blend of all of his musical instruments along with the largest ensemble of musicians he's ever included on an album. The musicians contibuting tracks to Entropy include: Jon Francis (bowed acoustic guitar-track 3); Daimon Santa Maria (flute-track 4, accordion-track 8); Joe Makoviecki (trombone-track 8 & 9, melodica-track 13); Lilli Robinson (bass clarinet-track 8); Brendan Krog (trumpet-track 9); Alex Letizia (drums-tracks 9, 10, & 13), modular synthesizer-track 10); Jen Santa Maria (vocals-tracks 11, 12, & 13); and  Jimmy James Cutrera (guitars-track 13).

     Tony doesn't shy away from innovation and experiments with various forms of technology to enhance, alter, and magnify his compositions.  In speaking about the mellotron, Tony said, "I love how technology influences music as much as anything else. It’s such a unique sound ... the unnatural sample/loop of voices/flute/strings played through little tapes triggered by keys. And I love that it is a sound unto itself, I have the means to use a real flute or string, or even a synthetic one that will sound real, but nothing can replace the unnatural color/attack & decay created by those sounds being played through tapes."

     

Tony's insistence on attention to detail is evident in absolutely everything he does, right down to the beautiful watercolor artwork on his album covers. For years, he has worked closely with artist Gregg Bautista whom Tony trusts "implicitly" to create the artwork that represents his music. 

    Below, you'll find our full interview, along with several conversation highlights.

INTERVIEW

CONVERSATION HIGHLIGHTS

Q: I know this is a loaded question for any musician because you don't want to be pigeonholed into one category, but is there one genre you identify with more than others?

A: "I don't know if it's an advantage or a disadvantage that I don't fit into one category. I can't necessarily be pigeonholed into one genre. Playlisting is a huge thing today. When you get into a playlist, it can help you get new followers and listeners. So I'll listen to them [the playlists] and think 'What do I have in my repertoire that would best fit into this?' And I realize that I can pitch to the alternative playlist; some of my songs can fit in the indie rock, the progressive rock playlists, or the electronic. On Reddit they have an Indie music community that I'm a part of, and they gave me a Grammy this year for the "Folk-Rock Song of the Year;" so I said, 'Ok. If you say that's folk-rock music, then that sounds good to me!' So I've been described as experimental, alternative, electronic, progressive, Indie, singer-songwriter."

Q: In 2019, you released your fourth album, Entropy, and that word can have several definitions. What meaning of the word were you working from to choose that as the title of this album?

A: "Some of those songs were written at the same time as Metanoia in 2015 and didn't really make sense to  that album for me, so I held onto them for a while. But a lot happened in my life between 2015 and 2020; one of the biggest things being the birth of my son. So I think that album [Entropy] has a lot to do with becoming a father. A lot of the songs were written in anticipation of being a parent and how my life would change. And if I could say something to my unborn son what would I say. I was thinking from simplicity comes chaos and everything has the tendency when you don't touch it to become more complex and we as human beings, we tend to the garden, we repair the house, we do all these things; but the universe is going to do what it does anyway. So there's a few different themes, but that would be a big one of the album."

Q: What musicians and instruments went into the making of Entropy?

A: "Well with Metanoia, I approached the songs,  I wrote them from the piano first with the exception of a couple on the ukelele. When I got to Color Blind, a lot of that was moving toward more of an electronic sound. Somnabulist was purposely more of a guitar-based album with more rock sounds. Entropy, I didn't want it to be pinholed into one specific instrument so I tried to write all the songs with different instruments and approach it in different ways. Even the way I'll approach a song is different; like sometimes it's melody first, sometimes it's a lyrical idea first, sometimes it's a riff or rhythm first. Whatever hits me I'm putting notes in my phone. I'm always jotting little bits and pieces down to pull the songs out of a subconscious muck."


Q: I'm fascinated by the spoken vs. the sung lyric in your music. It seems that the spoken lyric might punctuate your message more. What prompts you to decide which lyrics are spoken in your music?

A: "I've written poetry for a long time. And everything in there is fair game and some of my poetry has found its way into my songs. Sometimes I have to tweak it to be a song and other times I want to preserve it and leave it as it is in a song. I don't wan't to put it to a melody. And a lot of the spoken word stuff in my music is usually a poem that I wrote. Whether it came before the rest of the song was there and I'm thinking this is exactly what I'm talking about [in the music], this really fits so I don't want to set it to a melody. I want to leave it as it is. So it's usually from my poetry."

Q: It sounds like you have a lot of music in production that's close to being finished. Is there new music coming soon?

A: "Yeah, I finished Entropy in July of 2019 and I hit the ground running again. I started writing more music. the newer album, it's 6 songs; it's going in a more electronic direction, probably more electronic than anything I've ever done. The songs are written more around a Fender Rhodes piano and also the bass guitar. When I went to Berklee, you had to declare an instrument and at the time I was playing bass most of the time so that's what I declared as my instrument. So I feel very comfortable and confident to compose that way. I decided it's time to write some songs from the bass first. So there are a few songs that are a lot of electronic piano first, bass first and then I would lay on my drum machine. Some of the songs are drum machines, but acoustic drums as well. I like that mix of acoustic and electronic sounds."


MUSIC

ENTROPY

COLOR BLIND

METANOIA

SOMNAMBULIST

BANDCAMP


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antFARM Studio

Tony's antFARM(studio) offers the warm sound of analog recording in the digital domain, as well as analog mastering services. He offers artists quality recordings produced in a comfortable environment.

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