By Sabrina Weiss
Under the alias Tokyo’s Revenge, this youthful rapper’s prestige supersedes his TikTok fame. The anonymous musician’s track “GOODMORNINGTOKYO” blew up on TikTok and topped music charts, but his raw talent and earnest personality translate beyond the app. With his new song and music video “GOTHAM” and new album 7VEN, Tokyo continues to maintain his unique style with anime and comic-book inspiration.
With humility and honesty, Tokyo navigates his quick rise to fame with his friends, who double as his musical team, by his side. The young talent spoke equally as transparently about his previous struggles with homelessness, personal approach to mental health, and favorite flavor of Starbursts (pink). All the while, Tokyo giggled and challenged us to video game battles. Even beyond his musical talent, Tokyo’s personality gravitates listeners and a loyal following.
When did you begin your music career?
Well, I did some free-style rapping in high school a bit, but that was mostly to fit into different friend groups. Then, for awhile after high school, I was homeless and ended up couch hopping at different friends’ houses. At one point I stayed with some friends who were constantly making music but didn’t know how to engineer it. It was from these friends that I got the inspiration to learn how to engineer the music. At first, I just engineered their music. But, I only started posting my stuff on Soundcloud about two months into me learning how to mix music. I’m not sure why it took that amount of time, something just clicked at that point.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, you were on your As Good as Dead Tour. We saw all the love you give your fans, particularly when you surf the crowd and jump in the mosh pit with your listeners. What was your most memorable moment of the tour?
Oh man there were a lot of good moments. One of the most memorable times would be when I had to lie to security about whether I was going to get in the crowd. If I were to say yes then they would chase me in there. They go in and grab me as quickly as they can when I tell them I’m going to crowd surf. But, lowkey, I hate when they do that. The crowd is where I get my energy from. So I lied so I could be in there with my fans for longer.
There is a Discord ping in your new song “Gotham.” Do you actually use the chat app?
Well, it’s funny you ask that because I have my Discord open right now. I am constantly in my Discord with thousands and thousands of my supporters. I’ll hop in there and play video games with everyone and chat with all of you. I was actually just in one right before this interview and my buddy knocked on my door and said, “Hey man, you’ve got that interview right now, hop off real quick.”
After you blew up on TikTok, we are all wondering what you will do next. How do you plan on maintaining long-term relevance?
By doing whatever I feel like. I learned early on that I am not striving to have fans and followers based on trends. I want fans, followers, and family who support me through any medium I choose because I feel like I am connected to them more than just musically. Whether it be through YouTube videos or making music, I just want to continue to be connected to my fans. My fans are one of my major support systems.
What made you decide to be anonymous?
The idea of no one really knowing about me and trying to figure me and my personality out through clues in my music, rather than social media, is really appealing to me. I am not super attached to social media because if you try to over present yourself through social media, then people won’t be into your art. I want my music to get my face out, not my social media. Some artists are more focused on being social media influencers rather than their art and I’m just the opposite. I don’t talk much about me, I just talk through my music and let my listeners figure me out.
Along the topic of the modern musician, what do you think the industry is missing right now?
Actually, I don’t think the music industry is missing anything right now. If anything, I think there is too much of everything. A little while ago, I had an epiphany and thought to myself, “The biggest problem we have right now is that we are overexposed to everything.” And I feel the same way about the music industry.
Only two years ago, you were couch-hopping at friends’ houses and now you have quickly risen to fame. How have the struggles of homelessness made you successful in your career?
It taught me not to get comfortable, ever. Being homeless gave me this huge hunger to never stop doing something, because back then I wasn’t focused on music immediately. I was focused on finding a place to work and to sleep. But, if I was comfortable just living like that, then I would probably still be doing just that.
I always wanted to do something bigger and better than couch-crashing, bigger and better than finding a shitty apartment to stay in and just making enough money to survive. I wanted to level-up to a point that my friends and I can be comfortable forever, and that’s how I got here.
You’ve spoken honestly about your mental health in the past. What do you do to get your head right?
I wake up and take a super long, burning hot shower. And then I think of everything but music. I don’t try to force myself into the music. I wake up and remind myself that I am a regular person who came from one place to this place with my best friends.
We all focus on each others’ mental health more than anything else, and the music is tied into that. I try not to think of music as a job, because it wasn’t a job to us prior it was an outlet for all of our feelings. We play Smash Bros, go out and do something, and then if we are in the zone to make music, then we make music. If not, then maybe tomorrow! There’s no pressure.