Home Music Music Features

Tones and I Almost Walked Away From the Music Industry. This Is Why She Didn’t.

In the latest 'Behind The Rolling Stone Cover' podcast, Tones and I discusses the journey she went on after 'Dance Monkey' blew up

‘Behind The Rolling Stone Cover’ is sponsored by Shure, affordable, durable, and exceptional-sounding microphones you can rely on. Available to watch and listen on Rolling Stone AU/NZ, and to stream on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and all major podcast platforms.

In Partnership with Shure

“The people that listen to ‘Dance Monkey’ are not a reflection of the amount of fans I have. It’s not a reflection of the amount of people that will buy tickets to see my whole show. It’s certainly not a reflection of the amount of people that will listen to my whole album. And that’s something I really kind of like.”

In 2019 and 2020, “Dance Monkey” completed 24 weeks in the number one position on the Australian Singles Chart, beating Bing Crosby’s all-time record for “White Christmas” (22 weeks). The track reached number one in over 30 countries. Tones and I became the most awarded artist at the ARIA Music Awards in 2019, winning four of eight nominations. 

It was the May-June 2020 Rolling Stone Australia cover Tones and I appeared on, with the telling headline ‘Misunderstanding Tones and I’. Speaking to Editor-in-Chief Poppy Reid that year, Toni Watson was at a crossroads. She was one of the most successful Australian artists in the world at that very moment, but on stage in 2019 at the ARIA awards she openly addressed the issues she was facing. 

“No one could have ever prepared me for the whole world judging me and comparing [me] to other artists.”

Now, in the latest episode of ‘Behind The Rolling Stone Cover’, sponsored by Shure, Reid sits down with Watson again to find out how her life has changed since those two incredible years which sent her shooting into the stratosphere, but also almost crushed her. 

Hot off the back of a huge stadium tour supporting P!nk and the release of her new single “I Get High”, Watson reflects on the incredibly difficult decision she faced after the success of “Dance Monkey”. 

“That interview [for Rolling Stone Australia] was the only in depth interview I had ever really done. I have definitely grown into the shoes that, looking back now, were too big for me. I think I was trying to figure out what I was even doing [then]. I’ve definitely become more confident in me as a human being,” she says.

“It broke me, I didn’t like myself at all. I preempted hate, even if I wasn’t publicly doing things, I would see myself through the most hateful eyes. It was really bad for my mental health. I think the hardest part was starting to like myself again. I just wanted to be a busker, I never anticipated my music blowing up.

Tones and I Rolling Stone Cover

“I wanted to stay as private as possible, no one could ever say I went above and beyond to try and push my public figure or career. I just let the hands that would be dealt to me be dealt. Let everything sizzle down and step back to assess my life and figure out if I love this, if I want to do this, if it’s worth it.”

Watson had to look very seriously at whether the backlash she was slammed with as an artist and a person was worth the fame and accolades she received from “Dance Monkey”, “Johnny Run Away”, and “Never Seen the Rain”. In 2020, she toured her EP The Kids Are Coming, with a planned 52 dates announced. But then the pandemic hit and a number of those dates were rescheduled. Her tour wouldn’t recommence until April 2021, followed by her first full length album Welcome to the Madhouse in June. 

“I don’t think I will ever be someone that just gets over it and says, ‘Oh well, it happens, I can get past it.’ I think that’s kind of sad. I don’t want to tell another artist coming up ‘you’ll get used to it.’ The industry is a place where if you don’t want to be in it, it’s fine, because things come and go and you’ll be gone in a second.

“If you don’t want to push for a second shot, no one’s going to wait around for you. But if you have the guts to, and you can understand that the beauty is better than the pain, it’s definitely worth it.”

On the latest episode of the ‘Behind The Rolling Stone Cover’ podcast, Watson tells Reid about how the people she’s chosen to have around her, including her friend and collaborator Macklemore, have helped her find that beauty and how her next album, due for release this year, came together. 

‘Behind The Rolling Stone Cover’ is sponsored by Shure, the premier choice for affordable, durable, and exceptional-sounding microphones. 

Not only is Shure already the brand of choice for musicians everywhere, their reliable and durable microphones also make the perfect choice for podcasters and streamers. With a history of audio innovation spanning for almost a century, Shure has turned a passion for making great microphones into an unparalleled legacy of audio innovation.

Check out all of Shure’s industry-leading microphones here. 

Get unlimited access to the coverage that shapes our culture.
to Rolling Stone magazine
to Rolling Stone magazine