First and foremost, who is Toby Ganger and where does he reside?
I am a hip hop artist, songwriter, gymnastics coach, former child actor, a cynical optimist, and someone generally interested in the human experience and pursuing truth. I am from Los Angeles, California.
For those that do not know you were apart of the ultra dope hip-hop group Inverse with Tunji. In January of 2012, you released your solo offering the Evolutionary EP. Can you describe how your writing approach differs in regards to writing for a group and solo?
The approach to making music as a solo artist is vastly different throughout. First, I have the freedom to direct the composition of the music itself in the direction that I want and I can push certain boundaries in ways I couldn't do as part of a group.
Secondly, I'm able to touch upon subject matter in a more direct, unapologetic, and honest way without having to be part of a cohesive unit. This can be anything from the very personal and emotional to subjects that might be more controversial.
Lastly, and perhaps more obviously, is that I have more verses during the songs in which to express myself so that allows room to tell a story from beginning to end in detail without being limited to one verse per song. Overall, I find it to be incredibly liberating, and the process has provided a tremendous amount of joy, catharsis, and growth that I hope will be experienced on some level by the listener.
Speaking of the Evolutionary EP, how was the feedback for the project and who is featured on the project?
So far the feedback on the first EP has been really good. In this era of devalued and bootlegged music, some have gone out of their way to show tremendous support and I greatly appreciate it.
I want to give a shout out to Deacon The Villain from Cunninlynguists who makes an appearance on the EP on the song "Sunshine Blues". As soon as I wrote the part of the song, I knew he would be the perfect one to perform it and he graciously recorded it for me an exceeded my high expectations.
I know that many people first gave my EP a chance because of his presence so again thank you Deacon! I would say the overwhelming majority of the feedback I've seen or received has been positive even from brand new listeners.
This gives me hope that with more of a promotional push that the 2nd EP will be able to greatly exceed the first in both listeners and reception.
Why should people invest their time and money into purchasing Evolutionary EP?
The music is honest, the lyrics are thoughtful, intelligent, and touch on things that most do not and in a way, it is well developed musically (no samples, much time went in to developing it with the help of great musicians and singers), the hooks are strong, it is different yet approachable, and it comes from passion and the devotion to making something special that people can connect to on emotional, intellectual, and primal levels.
They should invest their money in this project if they appreciate what I'm trying to do with the understanding that all that support funds more music.
Working with musicians, singers, producers, and the cost of recording, mixing, mastering, distribution, CD production, photos, videos, and promotion all take a tremendous amount of time and money to make a reality.
Without the financial support I simply can not afford to continue making music with this amount of heart in it, let alone be able to support myself and my family.
You can purchase the Evolutionary EP on iTunes
You can purchase the Evolutionary EP on Bandcamp
Recently you shared on your Twitter page that you are releasing Evolutionary 2 soon, how will Evolutionary 2 differ from the original EP?
I started working on this project with the intention of Evolutionary being a full LP.
The process took so long for a variety of reasons that by the time I got about 10 songs into it I realized that the last few songs just felt like a different project. The music and subject matter is more intense.
The first EP only touches on certain issues and has a more hopeful vibe.
I think the second EP is still hopeful but deals with the struggle of trying to be hopeful and be happy and still be honest about the world and your place in it. It's that delicate balance of self-definition and trying to be brutally honest with oneself and with the world that underlies most of the 2nd EP.
One of the things that I value about your writing is the honesty that you present. Would you mind telling us who influenced you growing up?
Thank you!. One of the cool things about living in a city like Los Angeles is that if you keep your eyes and ears open you will be exposed to an enormous diversity of culture. I grew up exploring music and gaining huge influences from everything from the Beatles to Beethoven to James Brown.
I listened to a lot of Salsa and Samba music, loved Motown, loved middle eastern music and Afrobeat. The older I got the more I explored and reaped the reward from a wide world of musical traditions. I was a huge Michael Jackson fan also. I listened to hip hop because I always had my ear pressed to a radio. It had already seeped into mainstream pop culture and top 40 stations by then.
But in 1994, in the span of about 2 weeks, I heard Common's album Resurrection and Nas's Illmatic. I had always been obssesed with music and always had a fascination with words. Those albums brought those two things together in a way that captivated me forever.
I spent most of my younger days of rapping trying to be like Common on Ressurrection. As I got older and started finding out who I was as an artist it was the spirit of those artists that fueled my eventual understanding of what made me unique and that I couldn't or shouldn't try to sound like someone else.
When Toby is not rhyming he is...
I teach gymnastics, I sleep, I eat food, I love my wife, I read, I enjoy intellectual conversations and really stupid ones, and I try to grow as a human being.
I generally just try to find moments of transcendence...art, music, beautiful landscapes or women, the laugh of children, the smile on my wife's face, those moments that take you outside of yourself and your worries, fears, and temporary struggles and into a world of pure experience.
You stated in the previous question that you teach gymnastics. Are the students that you teach aware that you are a recording artist? How about the parents?
Some of the older kids know about my music. They've actually been really supportive. I've casually mentioned it to some of the younger ones and they mostly just find it funny.
I've only told a few parents over the years and that's because it doesn't come up unless they really take the time to get to know me. I've only had very positive feedback from parents but I still only bring it up if it comes in the conversation. Most don't care.
Will the world ever witness another Inverse album?
I think the safe bet would be NO. We've both grown in different directions and want different things out of life. Without getting into it further I won't completely rule it out but it's highly unlikely.
What other projects are you working on?
I've started work on my 3rd EP. I'm not yet sure if this will be part of the Evolutionary series or something different.
I can already tell this 3rd project will be another gradual evolution musically and lyrically. It should be another adventure.
How can the masses get in contact with you?
You can check out my music at www.listentotoby.com.
You can follow me on Twitter at @TobyInverse.
You can LIKE my music page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tobyhiphop.
To reach me about booking, interviews, or all other serious inquiries you can hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Any final words?
Thank you to each and every person who has taken the time to listen my music. Every one of you who has bought a record, shared a link, told a friend, or even just sent me a message telling me how one of my songs affected your life, please realize that you make everything I do worthwhile and provide me the hope and purpose that fuels my continued quest for growth and connection with others.