Tonzi is a tumbleweed pixie and traveler. She is a poet who fell in love with Industrial Design and eventually music. Tonzi’s experiences led her through both the super dark and light. She appreciates all kinds of people who also struggle and grow, who get and try again. Tonziland is a collaborative magical music project in Vancouver, Canada and San Francisco.The vision is to spread light through music and solar energy. The goal is also to spread solar panels for emerging Solar communities and decentralized Solarpunk Villages around the world. Tonziland believes in silliness, magic and being yourself…
Interview Meikee Magnetic
Where were you born and where are you now?
I was born in San Antonio, Texas. I’m a Texas girl. I’ve been traveling for about 9 or 10 years, mostly on the west side of the hemisphere- Costa Rica, Bolivia, Italy and Canada. I came to San Francisco because my intuition told me so.
Your music video ‘COCO’ is about your trip to Costa Rica, could you give us the backstory?
I had just experienced my first DMT trip a few days before, and received this beautiful message from the cosmos. I walked into the studio, and the Ableton file was messed up, so I suggested for us to make something up. The producer, Steveo Valdez, was down and he made a beautiful fucking beat. He knew I liked big drums and ancient beats so he put together an ancient Egyptian hip hop beat. I walked into the booth and it just flowed out. We fixed it a little bit, but what you hear is mainly how it came out that night. The story is about the DMT trip and a lover in Costa Rica. I wasn’t planning on making this music video, but there was a director in Vancouver, Mark Hemstock, that I really wanted to work with, and he chose this song over the one I proposed. I really wanted to work with him, so I decided to do this video first. I’m so happy we did, because I do love it. The story in the video is different than the song. It’s about this alien pixie who lives in this tree in the forest. These witch goddesses come to take her through a sacred ritual to become her true self. We intentionally made it cryptic so people can receive whatever message they want to receive, because we don’t want to tell people what to think. If you look at the video in more detail, there’s a lot of symbology within it, from the symbols on the coconuts to the type of crystal each witch-goddess is wearing. The main creators for the story concept were myself, the director, Olivia Josephine, Natania Creatress and Amara Ann. These women are brilliant geniuses. Olivia was also the music video producer and built the main headdress with me, Natania also made the magic healing tools – like the portal and the jewelry. Amara Ann also made the costumes from sketches to completion, she’s beyond incredible. Natania and Olivia are also the witch-goddesses in the video. I just love these women, and pretty much everyone who touched the video and I’m not getting to mention a lot of other artists I work with, but I love the artists I work with, sometimes we party, we become friends often, it just flows and feels good. I keep the balance there in terms of making sure they also feel appreciated. I believe in a future where artists get paid as standard. I take steps toward creating that world. I try to move with karmic kindness as much as possible, I’m also strong but never wanna force or cause harm on purpose. I’m human too, ok? So I fuck up sometimes but try my best to keep growing. I love making music videos so much cause it’s like a giant creative orgasmic explosion with multiple artists at the same time. We get to self-manifest and it’s fucking great. Now I’m putting together a live show and it’s like making a music video and different at the same time and makes me feel super alive in a totally different way.
Explain to our readers who you are as an artist and what Tonziland consists of:
Tonziland, (like Disneyland, but Tonziland) is a music project asking the question, can we be ourselves and heal the Earth? It’s set up kinda like a real-life video game. It has a 3 year goal and we have about 2 and a half years to go. Just like in a video game, the main character has a goal of getting the treasure, or saving someone. They don’t know how they are gonna do it exactly, they just know the goal and they go for it! We’re going for it! They face obstacles, but they go for it anyway. In this “game”, the goal is to solarize a Solarpunk Village by being ourselves and having fun. “Solarize” just means to power with solar panels. Solarpunk is a subculture and I would define it as a radically optimistic vision of the future, bringing together nature and technology in an awesome way. It’s ethical, uses ethical resources and technologies, it cares about people and about the earth and animals and insects, everything really. It’s not only profit-oriented like a lot of stuff in the world at the moment. It’s challenging and utopic, but I’d rather head toward a utopia, then where we are headed now, why not? The subculture Solarpunk is super cool check it out, it’s google-able and the more Solarpunks the better. The word Solarpunk uses “punk” because it’s going against the status quo as of now. Right now we’re living in a way where we have high technology and profit-oriented people in power with big companies using fear to control, or trying to control us. If it keeps going like this, it feels like a dark future, it’s fucking bullshit. I’m not interested in that future. It uses the other word “solar” cause no one can own or block out the sun (unless you’re Mr. Burns). A Solarpunk Village is a place where we bring all the solutions together to live in a harmonic beacon of abundance. It’s like saying: “Hey we have all the solutions to live in a way that would feel great. Why don’t we put them all together and live in harmony with nature and technology?” Solarpunk is interesting cause it breaks down into both a fantasy genre and a realistic practical way of life. Our team is moving from the fantasy side, (expressing as musicians and artists) toward the reality side (a Solarpunk Village) Ok, I know, I know, I’m not talking about music, but this is the driving force behind the music, that’s why I’m so passionate and the project itself, attracts very passionate and driven people too. It’s not about just one person, it’s something bigger than us. It’s challenging ourselves and knowing that our art is going towards a positive future. It feels so good. The music and art isn’t always about a Solarpunk future, we are just making art we believe in and feel, but our goal is to show a different way forward. Me and my team’s part in it, is to provide the solar panels. My buddies are working on the other parts, I can’t wait to visit them. They are developing open source software to solve for how to run a community autonomously and compassionately and make decisions together without one head or one leader – it’s more about joining with like-minded individuals with common goals. It’s a social operating system for communities and neighborhoods. After that we would take steps towards, integrating with nature like smart farms and vertical farming, and earth-ships (we are mainly coders and artists so if there are any permaculture buddies out there or in Vancouver (holler at me) that will be down the line and I can connect you to my friends there, hit me up through Instagram if you feel this. Even though my friends and I want our own spot, we are keeping in mind to solve it in a way to keep the costs down and use raw resources so people all over the world can work with the code, and it can be spread easily and people can make their own villages if they want to. With this stuff, people wouldn’t have to pay as many bills – like electricity and can live off the earth more, and be more freeeeeeeeee! We would still be able to order things online, not let go of all the lovely conveniences of our phones and computers. I don’t know if you can tell, but I’m a futurist and a de-centralist, but I can tell you about that another time. I’m friends with some pretty cool people in the Solarpunk community that inspire me all the time. Two of my favorite people from both sides are Connor Carbon (a brilliant writer on the fantasy side), and Leif Holt (the Facebook administrator for an amazing Solarpunk community with a positive vibe).
What producer are you working with to make music and tell us a bit about the process:
I’m working with Don Hanson a producer based in Oakland. We’re collaborating on a song or two, he’s totally from the future I love it. We were hanging out the other day at my studio and he sprawled all his equipment all over the floor, it was a lovely thing to look at. We ate tacos and listened to some music that inspired us and then he played some stuff he had been working on and it inspired me and some stuff came out. We’ll meet again and do more stuff. It’s hard to explain how it happens and it’s different each time, but one thing I always do before working with an artist is have an artist meeting. This is where I approach them with the project and share what it’s about. Before I do any of that, it’s really a time for me to listen to the artist, to hear about their passions and goals, to hear about why they love what they do and what inspires them. If I have this, then we can feel together, if there is good alignment. I make sure there is alignment for us to lift each other up just by being ourselves, to make sure that us working on the project will help them go more towards their dreams too. It flows good. It’s an extra step but it’s worth it.
How was your first live performance recently?
It was amazing and crazy, Clyde Always hosted us, thank you Clyde! We had projections, our magic drum, “Luna,” that took us two weeks to build, props, costumes and live instruments plus backing tracks. Shane Izykowski, one of my favorite visual artists in the world and our production designer, collaborated with me and our guitarist on the overall look of the live performance. This was the first appearance of Mystics Cove our band. The core group consists of Oliver (the greatest violinist in the world that I’ve been searching for for two years!), Mysleepyhummingbird (the guitarist and also our logistics/visual concept wizard) and Isaac Pond (our percussionist, who plays the drums like a beast, a gentle beast, also an inventor of percussive instruments). We’re a collective of individual musicians and the core group of the music now. I never want to control or force music, and right now, it’s drawing me in this direction. We’re transforming the beats into live performances, and making up new songs as we go.
You said to me that your into magic, could you go a bit deeper into this:
I don’t follow any exact rules, I just follow my intuition. I love crystals, I love energy, I love good vibes, I also love healing internally and being there for my friends to help them too. I love my friends, they’re pretty magic. I believe making music and music videos is magic, I believe making magic drinks is a type of alchemy and magic potion creation too (I’m a barback at a wonderful magic bar). I believe there’s lots of magic all around us, we just don’t see it or consider it magic. I believe a lot of people reading this are also magic and do their own forms of magic, too. I do believe that magic is science and science is magic. We approach the project kinda scientifically mixed with natural weird craziness.
Keep making magic. Magic magic magic magic. How many times have I used that word so far? To keep manifesting with amazing artists. Feels too good to quit. I’m looking for a local magic makeup artist. There I used it again!
What does Dark Beauty mean to you?
I believe what you guys are doing is one of the highest forms of art. Avant-garde art and fashion, to me, means being creative, doing your best, being your best and not giving a fuck what anyone thinks. Beautiful beautiful art. I’m very attracted to what you guys are doing. It reminds me of home (like a creative heart home). I’m really connected to fashion and design from studying in Milan so when I see you guys, I’m like thank you. You are doing it and makes me feel more comfy about doing what I’m doing. I feel connected and inspired at the same time.