Yuh Dun Kno!: Up Close and Personal with Tosh Alexander

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October 4, 2013


LU: I was surprised to hear what your music sounded like after hearing you on “Twerk It.” After hearing that, I thought you’d sound more like, say, Spice. But your sound is… a lot softer.

Tosh: That is the reaction from a lot of people. And that’s why it was necessary after they dropped that [“Twerk It”] video that I dropped “Killamanjaro,” also known as “Love/Hate.” On that song, I actually sing. People’s first time seeing me was the video. I actually did not want to do [the video] because I thought they’d see me as this crazy, skettel Jamaican girl saying bad words in a song. But it gave me great publicity. People’s reactions were “oh, you can sing.” I am a singer, but I do what the song calls for. That’s me. I can get into character easily. I don’t turn down anything, as long as I’m not saying anything too low, or passes certain moral beliefs.

LU: What are some other things you’ve done?

Tosh: I used to get on the riddims, and do the whole singjay thing, in patois. I used to do that all the time. I had a song that came out on the Dutty Wine riddim. People didn’t know who was singing, but it got a lot of plays. It’s called “Push It Boy.” But that’s not what I wanted my core music to sound like. For the most part, my music is pop. So, I just stepped back. And then I ended up meeting with Tony Kelly up here, and Brian Stanley, the people I work with now. And they have brought out my sound, the sound I’m proud of. An eclectic blend of everything that Tosh is—the American world, the Jamaican world, and just my personality as a whole.

LU: What producers did you work with in Jamaica?

Tosh: Supa Hype, Baby G, Leftside…Leftside is the one that allowed me to get my voice, and he would say “Tosh, just open up your mouth” and imitate a Spice or imitate a Lady Saw, and I love dancehall, so it was fun for me. He helped in that sense, because he’s very talented, but for some reason it didn’t happen there for me.

LU: Tony Kelly, now…. That’s a big man in dancehall.

Tosh: He knows the formula for music. Anyone can make music, but there’s a formula. I know he’s mastered the formula to making not only great music, but friendly music. Friendly to not just one culture. As him say, music with visa—everybody will like it. Tony and Brian have been in both places. They have the Jamaican descent but they have also been in America, and they have a good ear for what people want to hear. Plus they saw my potential. Tony’s been working on my project, since ’08. I was in college when I started recording with him. But music wasn’t something I was focused on 100 percent. And music is something that needs your 100-percent attention, at all times.

LU: What did you go to school for?

Tosh: International relations and communications at Florida International University, in Miami.

LU: Was that how you met Pharell?

Tosh: A friend just told me one day to get dressed but not overdressed. She told me to meet her somewhere, and it ended up being Pharrell’s studio. He knew about me the whole time, but she didn’t want to get me too excited and become disappointed or nervous, so I kind of walked into the situation. I sang for him, and immediately he had me lay some vocals and, when Sean Paul and Busta Rhymes were making a song, he called, and flew me out to LA. It was a very cool experience, one of my best experiences to date. But they never released [the song]. He’s really good at giving philosophical chats, encouraging you about the industry, and to keep your eye open to certain things.

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