Branson Hoog, Benji Spoliansky, Jeremy Marmor and TJ Wessel, AKA NOT A TOY, have had a particularly good year which has seen them release some great songs and delight fans on tour. With the year drawing to a close, they’ve just unveiled their last release of 2022, “Dementor”, and spoke to XS Noize about the creation of the track and what 2023 has in store for them.
What sets NOT A TOY apart from all the other bands and artists out there? What’s your USP?
NOT A TOY is more of an artist collective than a band. All the members of the collective are what sets us apart; one member is a classically trained violinist, and another is a graphic designer and tattoo artist; we create everything internally, from the beats and production to the artwork.
How would you sum up your sound and style in a few words?
Alt-pop with Hip-Hop and emo influences.
From who or what do you most find inspiration for your music? How easily do you find ideas coming to mind that you can then turn into songs?
Our biggest source of inspiration is definitely each other. We have been making music together for ten years, so we are constantly pushing each other and challenging each other to grow and get out of our usual producing style. There is a constant flow of ideas, honestly more than we are able to capitalize on. If a member is ever feeling stuck, then we lean on each other to move the idea forward.
Tell me about your new single, “Dementor.” How did it come to be?
Ah, we love “Dementor”! The song came about after flew to LA to work with Morgoth Beatz. This was a long time coming; we originally worked with Morgoth back in 2018 on a track that actually never even made the EP. But after that experience, we knew we wanted to get in the studio with him again. So, in February of this year, we made it happen. Once we got in the studio, we were going through 100s of beats, and we heard the beat for Dementor, and we knew it was a banger. Branson and Jeremy cranked out verses and chorus melodies, and in two days, we had the song. I think the opening guitar part is what really had us hooked, which we later found out was tracked by Tim Henson of Polyphia! We were really hyped about that.
How would you say the track showcases who you are and what you’re about as a band?
The track is funky and doesn’t take itself too seriously – which represents us because we definitely don’t take ourselves too seriously. It brings a feeling that we couldn’t ignore, and it felt so good we knew we had to put it on the album. Also, the collaborative nature of how the song was written showcases what the band is all about. We want to collaborate with as many people and different artists as possible.
Do you have any performances lined up, and if so, where can fans come and see you? What can people expect from a NOT A TOY show?
We just got off tour, and our next one won’t be until next year! We’re always trying to make our live shows feel special and add new elements to bring it to be larger than life. It’s high energy, and cinematic; people love the violin, and it’s a great time. Branson even did some tattoos for fans out of the back of our tour trailer after shows! Tour is always a wild time.
Your social media following continues to grow – how important to you is it that you can be and are interactive with your audience and fanbase?
Our fans are incredible. Without them, none of this would be possible. We’ve had fans lately getting our logo tattooed on them, which we never would’ve even imagined last year. And this last run was special because most of the music we played hadn’t even been released yet, but by the end of the song, people are singing along, which is a crazy feeling.
With the end of 2022 just a few weeks away now, what have been your highlights of the year? How has the year helped you grow and develop as a band? What does 2023 have in store for you?
So many highlights this year!!! NOT A TOY’s first show EVER was at a racetrack, racecars zipping around us while we played; it was epic. Also, our first hometown Denver show was amazing; so many people came out to support us. Past that, we got to do some incredible co-writes and some really fun music videos, and also tattooed some of our favourite musicians! 2022 has helped us really hone in on our creative process, and now that we finally played our first festival and our first tour, we have a lot better idea of who we are as a band. Our plan for 2023 is to drop a song every other month and make it over to the east coast for the first time!