Within the first 30 seconds of Tones and I’s music video for Dance Monkey, you get a sense of the kind of artist she is: a force to be reckoned with and the kind of voice that forces you to sit up and take notice.
The track is currently enjoying a second week at Number 1 on Australia’s ARIA Singles Chart – she’s the first female artist to land a chart-topper in the country since Delta Goodrem in 2015. She’s also the first Australian artist to reach the summit this year; last year only 5 Seconds of Summer and Dean Lewis managed it, and in 2017, no Australians reached the top.
The tidal wave impact in her home country is now rippling across the globe: Dance Monkey has so far hit Number 1 in Norway and Sweden, and it's currently scaling the Official UK Singles Chart, currently up 11 places from its Number 82 debut on last week’s chart.
"The song's about when I was busking and how people are impatient,” Tones and I told Sydney Morning Herald. If we're not entertained in the first minute we just scroll on. I could see that was reflected in me busking in the street. People wanted you to perform, to keep going, more, more. So I wrote a song about the pressure of live performance now that we have entertainment just at the click of a button."
Last year, Tones – real name Toni Watson – was busking on Australia’s Byron Bay, having moved there from Mornington Peninsula in Victoria to pursue performing full-time. “I pretty much bought a van and took two weeks annual leave because I wasn’t 100% sure that anything would work,” she told abc.net. “I came up to Byron and on the first night of busking a guy walked past and he was like, 'Here’s my card.' A month later, I was like ‘what have I got to lose’.” That person, Jackson Walkden-Brown, is now her co-manager.
While the effect of Dance Monkey is still to be fully felt across the world, Tones has already proven she’s more than a one-hit wonder at home: her song Johnny Run Away reached the Top 20 and her latest release Never Seen The Rain is currently at Number 24 and climbing.
Johnny Run Away was inspired by her best friend, who was struggling to come out to his father. “It was really confronting because he’s such a strong guy and he’d never spoken about that to me before,” she told ABC.
Expect to hear more of Tones and I in the coming weeks. Her six-track EP, The Kids Are Coming, is released on August 30. She plays her first UK shows in London on November 15 and 16.