Heavily influenced by ’90s and early 2000s R&B, TONYB. is a singer/songwriter from Nashville whose latest endeavor is his new 18-track deluxe version of his acclaimed album Flashing Lights.
Created between Nashville and Los Angeles over the last few years, TONYB. has amalgamated a collection of sonic stories of coming into adulthood.
The artist explains what the project has meant to him, saying: “I wrote Flashing Lights over the course of coming into my 20s, so itʼs sort of a documentation of some of the most important relationships and moments during that time.”
He added, “Flashing Lights is also a symbol of how life can be ever changing and not everything will always be clear. Even in some of the most challenging moments, even when everything is dark, thereʼs still that chance to find light.”
Leading single “Worst Way” is a collaboration with female artist Paris Laná and was added to Spotify’s Best of 2020: Fresh Finds: The Wave (R&B) editorial playlist and has racked up close to half a million streams alone.
Take a listen to the album and check out the story behind the songs as TONYB. gives American Songwriter readers the Track-by-Track breakdown.
In 2017, I met one of my now closest friends and frequent collaborators, Jon OʼHara, here in Nashville.
This song came about in one of our sessions in LA about a year or so ago. Thereʼs an ease creating with Jon because he knows exactly what I need musically and production-wise when I have ideas. And I always write from personal places, so itʼs also a comfortable environment for me to lay out whatʼs on my mind without any kind of judgement, which is so important in creating anything authentically.
I wrote the song about a love I wasnʼt ready for in college. Like when youʼre young and donʼt want to be tied down, then you realize what you actually had as you get older. Thatʼs a real intense adult feeling that Iʼd never felt before. So it means a lot to me that people connect with it so much.
When the song released, it kind of had this immediate interest and impact that I donʼt think any of us were expecting, but Iʼm so grateful for all the doors itʼs opened and continues to open.
Most of the songs on Flashing Lights are about the same love, but from different angles and perspectives. I wrote this song when I was in the thick of it all. A lot of those thoughts and feelings that you can have for a person come at night. It just goes into a lot of those feelings in detail.
This is actually one of my favorite songs on Flashing Lights because the production and vocal production is so minimal and unique. I think weʼre conditioned to make sex this super taboo thing, but in most cases itʼs a big part of our daily lives, so I wrote this to break that ice, like, yes I have sex, and yes iʼm going to write about it. (I still donʼt let my parents listen to it though)
“Take A Loss”
I wrote this in LA back in 2019 about this crazy 3 week whirlwind romance that literally had red flags all along the way. And got from it personally one of my favorite songs lyrically.
I wrote this song such a long time ago in 2016, but people have enjoyed it so much over the years that I had to include it on Flashing Lights. So long ago, that I was still serving tables and wrote this about a heavy thing that I had for one of my friends/servers. I think at this point they know who they are.
This is one of the more deeper songs on the record where Iʼm sort of struggling with finding my way. I wrote this at a time where I was really lost. I was just sort of coming into my 20s and didnʼt know what I was even doing (as most of us feel at that age).
I included a clip of a voicemail from my little brother at the end of the song because a lot of that song was a conversation with my family, myself, a conversation with God, just a lot of things that I needed to say to a lot of people in my life at the time.
This song is me sort of in the thick of a lot of those lost times and goes hand in hand with “Reckless” as far as where I was at that point in time.
I love the production on this track because it actually musically depicts what that time felt like for me.
“Say It To Me”
This was actually the first song Iʼd worked on with Jon OʼHara. When we met a few years ago, he sent me a track and just told me to spend a few weeks with it to see what I could lay down. The next day I sent him the song exactly how you hear it there with a full vocal arrangement. That was the start of our collaboration.
I love this song for many reasons. It was the first song I wrote when I moved out to LA. I was sitting in a parking lot in my car and there was this airport in front of me with an accompanying mountain view. I saw all of these planes taking of and just realized that Iʼd finally done something Iʼd wanted to do my entire life (move out to LA). And I recorded a little voice memo and demoed it out later that night.
It just perfectly depicts what that feeling was.
This song is hands down one of my most personal songs. My aunt passed away when I was in high school and it was a sudden thing for our family. Then a few years later, my grandmother passed away. I deal with things through writing, and Iʼd been trying to write something for them for years, and nothing would ever really come about.
Then one night, actually after having writerʼs block for a few weeks, I had this rush of inspiration, and everything literally just started pouring out. I wrote the entire song that same night.
Itʼs for them. Itʼs a tribute for them because they both always so heavily supported me with my music growing up.
“And Iʼve always hoped, one day that youʼd get to see just what I turned out to be, but I know my angels never leave” is my favorite line.
“The One That Youʼre Missing”
This song is about putting so much into a relationship, but realizing that person isnʼt necessarily doing the same and actually is in a whole other relationship with someone else.
But again, I got a great song out of it.
“Take A Loss” – Stripped
A stripped version of me getting my heart broken.
“Worst Way” – Acoustic
I love this version of “Worst Way”, because you really get a chance to hear the
writing of this song and the raw voices front and center.
I wrote this as a bonus track for the deluxe. I had a few producers send me a package of beats and I really vibed with this one in particular. It was my first time writing this way and not really being too involved with the pre production. But it turned into one of my favorites.
“Faded Dreams (My Time)”
This was also a bonus track, but I actually wrote it a while back in Nashville. Itʼs about being at a crossroads in a relationship and wondering if you should stay or leave. And asking “if I gave you my time” would it work out. If I gave you everything, would I get it back.
“2AM” – Reimagined
This was another bonus track for the deluxe version. This is actually how the original demo sounded when it was written. Just piano and a vocal. I love versions where it gives the space for the story and writing to really get across to the listener.