Tones And I’s ‘Dance Monkey’ is king of the jungle right now. But like all great “overnight” success stories, this was many months in the making.
Originally from the Mornington Peninsula and now based in Byron Bay, the rising star (whose real name is Toni Watson) this week completes an improbably high climb to the summit of the ARIA Singles Chart with ‘Dance Monkey,’ swinging 3 to 1 in its eighth week on the survey to become the first homegrown chart-topper this year.
Tones’ dynamic vocals and swagger is just what Australians need right now.
Tones And I, ‘Dance Monkey’:
Tones And I is “simply incredible”, says Regan Lethbridge, co-founder of Lemon Tree Music, the artist management company which also guides the careers of Tash Sultana, Pierce Brothers and others.
LTM has a co-management deal for Tones And I with Jackson Walken-Brown at Artist Only. Walkden-Brown discovered her busking, worked on a bunch of songs in the back-end and everything fell into place, recounts Lethbridge.
“I got sent a video of her busking in Byron Bay, tracked her down and harassed her, got a meeting and her and Jackson welcomed us into the family and spent a good few months setting that up,” explains Lethbridge.
“She’s just got an incredible voice and she’s an incredible live performer and came from that busking background. We knew she had the work ethic.”
Tones And I, ‘Johnny Run Away’:
Tones And I’s co-manager Jackson Walkden-Brown told TIO:
“We all really feel like we’ve got a dream team on a dream run. From the moment I saw Tones busking on the street I knew she was an incredibly special artist and could have an amazing career if she was keen to give it a crack. Luckily she was, and we couldn’t be more excited about how everything is playing out.”
The song has enjoyed a big push on commercial networks and triple j. Like its predecessor, the platinum-certified ‘Johnny Run Away,’ which is still riding inside the top 20, thanks in part to Tones And I’s warmly received performance at Splendour in the Grass in her hometown last month.
The third single, ‘Never Seen The Rain,’ this week rises 38-32 on the national chart.
Tones And I, ‘Dance Monkey’ (at Splendour):
Tones And I’s recordings are released in these parts through Bad Batch Records, with distribution through Sony Music, and her upcoming national headlining tour is a sell-out.
Lethbridge also heaps praise on the teams at several streaming platforms, including Spotify and Apple Music. “We gave it to everyone really early and made them feel they all had ownership over it. It resonated with audiences and its showing.”
On Spotify alone, ‘Dance Monkey’ has bolted past 30 million hits. “It’s growing at a rate I can’t even fathom,” says LTM co-founder David Morgan. “We’re finding now more than ever with a streaming playlist, if it’s a good song with a great vocal it cuts through.”
Tones And I, ‘Never Seen The Rain’:
Plug N Play’s Dave Toethuis co-manages the rising singer in the U.K. and Europe, where ‘Dance Monkey’ is gaining traction and is the fastest rising single on the national chart.
Update: The Tones story keeps building. With the publication of the ARIA Singles Chart on Aug. 24, ‘Monkey Dance’ entered a 4th consecutive week at No. 1, with the track now double-platinum certified.
Global monthly streams are flying at about 80 million, and the single is a viral hit, opening at No. 3 on Apple’s first Shazam Discovery Top 50 chart, a global survey which tracks the rising stars.
An overseas label signing is expected to be announced in the weeks ahead.