If Kanye West and Pharrell joined forces to produce a rock group co-fronted by Jesse Rutherford and Lana Del Rey, it might sound something like Not a Toy.
Not a Toy is NOT a band. It is a collective of four creatives, Branson Hoog [lead vocals], Jeremy Marmor [guitar], Benji Spoliansky [drums], and TJ Wessel [violin, keys].
This interview is being done with Jeremy Marmor the guitarist and one of the producers in NOT A TOY
Tell us a little bit about the band and how long you have been together for some of our readers that may not know about the band?
NOT A TOY is a collective made up of 4 creatives: Branson Hoog (vocals) Jeremy Marmor (guitar) Benji Spoliansky (drums) & TJ Wessel (violin, keys). All 4 of us are also producers and we all have a hand in the creation of our music. NOT A TOY is more than just a band, our goal is to push the envelope in all aspects of art and culture, this includes designing our own clothing brand and diving into the world of fashion. We all met and started playing music together in High School and we evolved into NOT A TOY in 2018, when we ventured to Portland to record our self titled EP.
2. What got you into music and what keeps you going night after night playing?
I have always been a very artistic person, and once I decided to try guitar at age 10 I was hooked. The first time I held an electric guitar I instantly knew I wanted to be a rockstar. Music is such a powerful form of art because it evokes emotion and is such a great outlet to express yourself. The sonic world is endless, and I love exploring it. Once I got the opportunity to play shows it was eye opening. A concert is an environment where everyone is unified over a shared love of music, and for that period of time it feels like there are no worries, it is just a really powerful moment you share with everyone in the venue. So that is what keeps me playing night after night.
3. So, what is new with the band?..New Album out? New Videos?
NOT A TOY is constantly putting in work behind the scenes. We have been working on designing our streetwear clothing brand which we can’t wait to share with the world. We also are always writing new material (music/videos) so the fans can definitely expect some new content in the near future.
4. If you didn’t become a musician, what would you be doing right now?
If I wasn’t a musician I would probably be doing something involving art. Maybe a graphic designer or an art teacher. I think art is such an important thing to keep alive in the world.
5. What is the weirdest or funniest question you have ever been asked?
Probably question 11 on this interview haha I don’t think I have ever been asked what color crayon I would be.
6. If you can have your fans remember you for one thing, what would that be?
I want to be remembered as an artist that always created with passion. Creating art takes hours of dedication and hard work and I hope that it shows in our music. Also I hope it helps people get through hard times.
7. On a scale of one to 2593, How good is your new single compared to your last single? (my attempt at humor, but please still answer)
That is a tricky question because all of our singles are vastly different. I think I would say all of our singles score a 2593, and we are planning on scoring a 2594 on our next single. The goal is to keep topping your last release!
8. What do you feel is the best song you have released to date and why?
Although I love all of our music, I think our best song to date is “J Cash”. I chose this song because I think it is very unique and innovative. We blended a lot of genres that aren’t usually paired together. A mean southern style acoustic guitar riff mixed with hiphop influenced drums felt like a really cool new vibe to us, and it’s been awesome seeing the response.
9. Do you think you can get any better as a musician/singer? And if so, How would you achieve that?
I think there is always room for growth. Part of what has helped me improve as a musician is surrounding myself with other great musicians who challenge me. I think it’s important to not get stuck in your own bubble because there is so much to learn from other talented people. Also practice practice practice.
10. If you could give your fans one random fact about you that you think they should (or
should “not” know) about you what would that be? Before I got into music, I wanted to play in the NHL and I played on a traveling hockey team for a number of years. Most people don’t know that about me because my identity has been being a musician for so long. 11. You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?
If I was a new addition to a crayon box, I would be an orange crayon. Partly because orange is my favorite color but also because it resembles fire, and the goal with our music is to create straight fire. Haha
12. Who are you inspired by?
The list is endless but as a guitarist I am very inspired by Stevie Ray Vaughan. I think he played with so much emotion and passion and when you hear him play guitar you know it’s him because he found such a distinct voice in his playing and that has always been a goal of mine. As a producer I am very inspired by Kanye West because he is always pushing boundaries in music and creating new trends.
13. What’s an average day like for you? I am a guitar teacher, so an average day for me usually starts with teaching students. Also fitness is very important to me so I try to make sure the gym makes it into my day, and lastly I am a glass artist so I tend to make at least one new art piece a day which feels very therapeutic & of course sitting in my home studio trying to create whatever I’m feeling at the time.
14. Please discuss how you interact with and respond to fans? Fan interaction is very important to us because without them we wouldn’t exist. Bands need fans just as bad as fans need bands. We try our best to respond to every DM that we receive. We also sent out free stickers worldwide to everyone who reached out to us the day we announced our signing with Fearless Records because we wanted to welcome them properly to the NOT A TOY family 🙂
15. Have you ever dealt with performance anxiety? I was very shy growing up, so one obstacle of being in a band was definitely overcoming stage fright, but it actually went away fairly quickly. I am so grateful to be in this band because it helped me come out of
my shell and discover who I am. I think sometimes the scariest endeavors hold the greatest rewards so although it can be scary chasing the music dream, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
16. Tell me about your favorite performance venues? There are so many great venues that we have played but my favorite venue so far has been the Whisky a Go Go. Mainly because it is such a legendary venue and has such an awesome history of rock legends starting out there. A venue that I definitely would love to play is Red Rocks in Morrison CO. It is an incredible atmosphere and is so unique.
17. What advice would you have for someone wanting to follow in your footsteps? I don’t think anyone can follow exactly in someone else’s footsteps. It is important to create your own path, but for someone wanting to pursue a music career I think my best advice is to never give up. There is no formula for “making it”, it all comes down to doing something you love out of passion and if it resonates with other people than you can continue to reach more people by putting in more work. Also do not let anyone tell you what you can and cannot do. The world is full of opportunity and it is up to you to get as much out of it as you can.
Not a Toy does NOT fit into a genre. Rather, the quartet crafts whatever it wants and goes where the music takes them.
Not a Toy does NOT just make music. These four creatives also make their own clothes, artwork, and videos.
Not a Toy is NOT playing around. No, they have big and bold ambitions on their 2020 Fearless Records debut EP.