Interview with Toronto’s Tiny Danza

Meet Tiny Danza, 5 twenty-somethings who draw their musical influences across eras, genres, spaces and places. Motown maestros, Mayer Hawthorne and Michael Jackson. The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jimmy Hendrix. The Roots, Beastie Boys and Outkast. And of course rappers both old and new – from the depths of the underground to the ones that have gone pop.

With so many superstars colouring their music and lyrics, one might question the unity of the final product. Not the case with Tiny Danza. This hard-working and ferocious Toronto band creates synergies on sound both on stage, and on their fresh album, You Could Have It All…

Their Official CD Release show is this weekend at the Horseshoe, where you can pick yourself up a copy and treat your soles to a little hip-hop-soul-rock therapy.

Torontette: I recently read an article with Tiny Danza, where you talked about how it’s difficult to call out your favourite venue in the city since it’s more about the audience than anything else. Therefore I ask, what is your take on the Toronto audience?

Galen Hogg: They say Toronto is the screw-face capital of the world and in many ways it is. You go outside of town and you get a very reaction but I just think Toronto is a little spoiled. Toronto isn’t always screw-faced. We have some really, really good shows in Toronto. And we get some great, great feedback. I think actually all my favourite shows have been in Toronto. We did a show at the Bovine the other day – a tiny, unexpected show that came out of nowhere – and the reaction was amazing. It was one of the best we’ve ever had. You really have to earn the Toronto audience. It’s not just going to come out there jump up and down for you if you’re not doing a good job. You have to really excite them and that’s kind of a challenge I think.

T: If you had to explain your music to someone who knows nothing about music, and they’ve never heard you before – in one sentence what would you say?

Matt Russo: We’re really a combination of five distinct elements. So somehow it comes together, and there’s no real unifying style that you could categorize it as, which is a completely cliché thing to say but I think our individual musical personalities really stay individual in some sense, and that is our strength. There are elements of hip-hop and obviously R&B and some rock and some jazz. It’s all in there and that’s what makes it work to me, that you can hear all the elements. It’s a real struggle to get them to work together but when we do, it pays off.

T: Is there one individual who is mainly responsible for writing the lyrics or is it a collaborative effort?

Galen Hogg: The lyrics are up until this point, and almost entirely on the album that we just released, You Could Have It All were as follows. If Craig was writing, it would be Craig’s lyrics. If I was writing, it would be my lyrics. Only now are we starting to trust each other as lyricists and interact and go in and manipulate each other’s parts and write together. I think that’s going to be a big difference. When you come our to our show you can see a new, unified Andrew Craig and Galen Hogg on stage. It’s a big change for us, and it’s a good change.

T: What was the last show that you guys went to all together?

Nick Shao: We saw one of my favourite bands actually, it’s called Black Dub and it’s a project started by Daniel Lanois who is a guy from Quebec. He produced U2’s The Joshua Tree, a bunch of their other albums and a couple of Bob Dylan albums. It’s his project, he’s playing guitar and he’s got Brian Blade on drums, one of my favourite drummers and a vocalist named Trixie Whitley who is a country singer from Belgium. It’s hard to explain, it’s got roots and Jamaican dub music but it’s got this really interesting kind of electronic synthy element to it as well. It was an amazing show at the Opera House. They all bring their own ‘thing’ to the music making what I think is one of the most interesting sounds I’ve heard in a long time.

T: Do you have any traditions before you go on stage?

Galen Hogg: Craig and I will typically meet at the bar, give a fist pound and do a shot of vodka. Really. We will. It loosens you up a little bit and it’s not obtrusive to the vocal chords. That’s our tradition.

Andrew Santaguida: And we’re usually on stage there, wondering where the vocalists are. And then usually we have to yell into the mic to get their attention. And that’s our tradition.

T: Where do you guys see yourselves in a year from now?

Galen Hogg: To be honest with you, I see a year from now – and this is me be optimistic and very realistic in my opinion – I see ourselves finally getting a foot on the world music stage where we can actually tour to the point where people will come out to our shows no matter where we go. And that’s just starting to get there. So maybe two or three years from now, world tour. Over and out.

T: So what’s next?

Andrew Santaguida: We’ve got a CD release show on August 5th at the Horseshoe then we’re going to Quebec in September for the Envol Macadam Festival, we’re doing the Canadian finals there and then if we win that we go back at the end of September to do the actual festival. And we’re also in a festival in Halifax in mid-October, called Pop Explosion. We’ll have to see if we can swing going out there or not.

Listen to ‘Beat Fly’ by Tiny Danza:







Content has been edited for clarity and length.


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