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Tones And I Discusses ‘Dance Monkey’ Origins on Nile Rodgers Podcast

Appearing on the latest episode of ‘Deep Hidden Meaning’, Tones And I opens up about her global hit was written in a closet, and almost never saw the light of day.

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Tones And I has spoken to Nile Rodgers about the early days of her massive hit, "Dance Monkey".

Giulia McGauran*

Tones And I has appeared on the latest episode of Nile Rodgers’ Apple Music 1 podcast, Deep Hidden Meaning, to discuss the origins of her global chart-topping hit, “Dance Monkey”.

The Australian artist was just one of the guests on Rodgers’ recent podcast episode, with the likes of Jack Antonoff discussing the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Lorde, Rodney Jerkins discussing the writing of Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name”, and Rodgers himself opening up about the creation of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”.

However, it was Tones And I’s “Dance Monkey” that saw the conversation directed towards the last two years. Originally released in May of 2019 as her second single, “Dance Monkey” became an instant hit for Toni Watson’s Tones And I project, with the track topping the charts in over 30 countries, breaking countless records, and gaining well over a billion streams since its arrival.

In her appearance on the podcast, Watson discussed how the origins of the track were far more humble than many could have imagined, with the single originally being written in the close confines of a closet.

“The reason that I wrote it in the closet is because I was living in my van, busking on the streets,” Watson explains, “But then one of my friends had a property about an hour and a half away and it had a little, tiny cabin on that property, and said I could use it if I wanted to go back and write music.

“And I had this real big fear of the neighbours hearing me screw up while I was writing, so I didn’t just sit in the cabin, I sat in the wardrobe so there was double walls between me and the neighbours. Now if I’d gone back I’d realise nobody can bloody hear you!

As she continued, Watson also revealed how “Dance Monkey” almost never came to be, with the track emerging out of the ashes of another discarded song.

“Here’s something that no-one really asks so I don’t tell,” she began, “But I already [had] the chords and wrote a fully different melody to the exact same music because I was frustrated with my friend – who is sitting right here – at the time.

“I wrote this song and played it for her and she started crying and she was upset about it and I told her, ‘I’m not going to release that song, I’m going to throw it in the bin. Don’t worry, like, I feel so bad that I wrote it.’ It wasn’t really mean but it wasn’t nice. It was like [sings] ‘Said you’d dance for me but you just hadn’t got the chance. ‘Cause now you’re all decked out there’s no need to pretend.’ And it was very different but it was the same stuff.

“Then I thought, when I got back to writing, ‘Well I’m not going to waste the chords. I’ll just write another song over these chords because I like them.’ And then I wrote ‘Dance Monkey.’ Thank God she didn’t like the song because ‘Dance Monkey’ probably would never have been made.”

Tones And I last released new music by way of “Ur So F**kInG cOoL” back in May. In a press conference in early September, Watson revealed that her debut album would likely arrive in just a matter of months, though no specific date was given.