Seattle’s Tony H on his Twitch channel, what makes him successful as a DJ, and his label Late Night Munchies.
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It’s early in the evening in Seattle, yet Tony H just hopped off Twitch to spend some time with me. Now into the night in the Midwest, chatting with Tony H (Anthony Henderson is his birth name) is like hanging out with a good friend: personable, engaging, and very knowledgeable about DJ culture. Tony just finished performing a set as a part of a virtual DJ festival, a concept that is becoming more popular on the online streaming platform. He has more on his schedule before clocking out for the night. Much more! Tony H lives up to his own siren call—LG (“Let’s Fucking Go!”).
Since the pandemic began Tony H turned to Twitch to adapt. Two weekly streams that he continually hosts are “The Drive-Thru” on Wednesdays and “Sunday Funkday” on, you guessed it, Sundays.
“When Twitch happened, I thought, how can I maximize that experience? More streams, getting the green screen to create overlays, being more creative on the stream, making more music, throwing the festivals, and just finding the next thing to do. I treat my channel on Twitch just as that—a channel.”
“The Drive-Thru” and “Sunday Funkdays” were both originally set up on Soundcloud as a podcast that coincided with a Wednesday residency at a local club. But once the pandemic shut everything down, Tony converted that live experience into a worldwide streaming community. Now, he is considering bringing back the podcast as an accentuation to his Twitch streams, a 180 from his original intent. But Tony loves to find meaning in everything he does and repurposing ideas as they become valuable. Everything at some point has meaning and purpose, and that is how his record label, Late Night Munchies, began.
Late Night Munchies
“One night, I was super high in my apartment eating Twizzlers, which I love to eat. At the time I was thinking of starting a podcast and calling it ‘Late Night Munchies.’ I did four episodes. I don’t even know where those episodes are now. I created Looney Tunes artwork for it with different characters being high and eating food. And the concept just kind of died. But like every idea that I come up with and does not immediately work, I just pocket it thinking it will be good later on.
“I was thinking of starting a record label and thought, damn Late Night Munchies! That would be great! I had a bunch of friends who were making really dope shit but had no idea how to get their music out. They did not understand any of the logistics. If I create something then they have a platform and that platform will be on a bigger scale than like soundcloud free downloads or free download self releases. It helped some of those people get gigs and get noticed a lot faster.”
As a subsidiary to Late Night Munchies, Tony launched Munchies After Dark with a focus on the weirder side of eclectic dance music. It was a way for him to release music that did not necessarily fit into the Late Night Munchies philosophy, but it was music he felt important. Bands like CHZBRGR and AMP Techno to producers like Deljoi reside here for the insomniac to digest.
Between Late Night Munchies (fans can participate in the Munchies Gang), Munchies After Dark, and the Twitch crew, his hunger to understand and adapt to various styles help shape him as a musical artist.
“Thankfully for me, my parents were both big music heads who listened to everything from rock to blues to jazz to hip hop and spanish music. A lot of the people I hung out with throughout the years have been strong advocates of listening to different music. I still have burnt CDs from friends from ten years ago that they gave me for my birthday or music they wanted me to hear. I feel lucky to be around a lot of friends who have good music tastes.”
A LOOK BACK
In Panama where Tony grew up, he was introduced to Reggaeton and different kinds of techno and tribal house. “It was like the Wild Wild West, you could be 16 and go to the club.”
This is where he got his first taste of DJ culture. In Panama, you either knew a DJ promoter, were a DJ promoter, or knew someone at the club. This was Tony’s logical progression, and he became a club promoter at age 17 until he left the country for college.
“At house parties, I always brought my iPods when iPods were a fucking thing. I would be the one who would play the music all the time. ‘Tony, bring your iPod!’ There would always be a couch next to the boombox, and I would be sitting there with my iPod waiting for the next track to play.”
At college, he worked at a hostel. He would play music for guests, and his boss invited him to perform in the main area as a test. He saved up enough money to buy a Numark controller and ended up with a Wednesday night spot. He turned it into a college-themed night. “I used to get super drunk there,” he laughs, referring to the dollar tequila shots and bottles of champagne that accentuated the theme. “The hostel would cut a deal for all of the kids, and we would crash there.”
He was experimenting with artists like DJ Chuckie and Fedde le Grande, and quickly tested out his skills at some of the clubs where he was promoting.
“What was cool with the hostel was that you are getting people from all over the world. They would refer to artists from their country, and it had me collecting music from all over the world. I spend a lot of time digging. (DJ) Foxy (McLeod) and I have talked about this. Digging is one of my favorite things to do with music and always finding that track that is going to hit a certain way when you play it. That moment is one of the best moments. I enjoy digging a lot for that reason.”
He then moved to Alaska, first in Fairbanks and then in Anchorage. Here, he spent time building up his brand. The first handful of releases were from Alaskan artists. Then he and Foxy moved to Seattle where they now call home. Through his experience in Alaska and Seattle, he developed a virtual approach to DJing where he can walk into any booth and be comfortable.
He consistently is evaluating, re-evaluating and making music that is both creative and invigorating. With recent releases on Chub Rub, just released EP on Half Lemon Records and later this year on Desert Heart Records, for example, he is capturing the attention of Beatport charts and other DJs mixing his songs into their sets. This has helped with his ability to adapt, which is why Twitch has been a great resource for him.
“What I have learned from this and the pandemic—and Foxy and I have talked about it—is that Twitch has been good for the introverts who did not want to be in a public space with other people and now can be in their house with their friends and family or significant other. . . or just by themselves and just chilling, watching a stream, cooking and cleaning or hanging out with their kids. They can still have that family time or alone time and still be able to watch a DJ whenever they feel like watching.
“When I tell people I stay busy, I truly mean that I am working on a new track for the stream. Between this year and last year, I have been able to really level up and get my production in a space where I am super confident in it and getting picked up. It’s been a boost for that and helped me make even more music now.”