“My kids are going think its super weird that we even had these issues. I try not to breed negativity. I hope everyone can come together on LGBT issues soon; we are exhibiting a really unintelligent, obsolescent human behaviour”.
Anthony Polanco is a 23-year-old singer/songwriter and hairstylist from California. He’s spent his life studying music, touring in heavy-rock bands across the United States, and now he is writing his own music and running a website where he discusses not only his experiences in the world of music, but also his battle with clinical depression, spirituality, science, and more.
He’s unsigned, but we love him, and are positive you will too.
In typical LGBTicons fashion, we stuck our foot in his door and forced him to have a chat with BCW. We were delighted to find him open, humble and just a little bit mischievous.
So Anthony, tell me a little about you and how you got into music
I’ve been a musician since I was 4. I was born with a jazz bassist for a dad; he’s been playing since he was a kid and he’s got a whole clan of musicians on his side of the family. My parents started putting me through piano lessons when I was 4, I did that for about 8 years and I actually have yet to stop learning everything I can about music. I do hair, I’m addicted to playing basketball, I eat a ton of pizza and I’m a hopeless romantic, but music is who I am; it’s what I do.
Pretty cool lifestyle
Music wasn’t something I thought that was cool, or something to be proud of when I was growing up. Nobody ever told me it was cool to play music; it was a lame, inconvenient, family tradition.
Did it come naturally?
I always had a natural talent for it; its really the only thing that I’m good at, but it wasn’t until maybe middle school that I realized my music skill could make me popular, and cool, or charming. That’s probably a pretty unique realization, because I’m sure most people who learn to play music are expecting to be at least a little bit cooler. I was born into it, forced through it and am so thankful that my parents never let me quit. It’s in my genetic encoding. It’s who I was born to be.
Genetics aside, who influences you creatively?
Probably people who are pushing the boundaries of what is reality. They inspire my creativity the most, I think. Whether they’re my friends, or people I’ve worked with in other parts of the world, or people I do research on and read about who are trying really exciting new theories in science or music or sports medicine or I don’t know, metaphysical research; there are so many things unknown about our reality, and I am really influenced by people who are testing those limits every day, and trying to see how far we as humankind can go; wherever we want to go.
I hope that my music or my creative products reflect my very, very strong belief in pursuing the yet-unimaginable.
A lot of my creative influence also comes from things my two older brothers were into when I was little. They were in high school in the 90’s and I was about 6 so, you can imagine I soaked up their swag like a sponge. They were pretty cool hip hop dudes; back then being a hip hop head meant you do something; rapping, breaking, graffiti writing, turntables. My brothers always had their crew over the house; I lived it, man. I never got into breaking, but I mean I’ve always been ‘into it.’
But they weren’t just into hip hop though; they put me onto a lot of deep roots reggae and dub as well as some really cool rock bands that impacted me a lot musically. They showed me that any type of music could be cool, and that really stuck with me.
I think the 90’s were a bit of a cultural wasteland in terms of music. What artists inspired you? Who actually had the ‘cool’ factor in an un-ironic way?
I would say there are a few quintessential 90’s artists that are still my biggest musical influences. Bjork, John Mayer I guess is 90’s, there’s a lot of 90’s rap that influenced me; Big L, Tribe, Eminem of course, he was my rap hero growing up…I don’t know, I just like to think everything I do has a bit of 90’s b-boy swag. I hope I never lose that; that’s my mojo, man.
You have more of a rock sound. Swag’s not really a word I associate with that.
I know. I didn’t end up doing hip-hop music; I don’t know maybe that makes people think I’m a poser. I did the rock thing. After that I got really into pop. Like, today’s top 40s-style pop; that’s all I wanted to write music like or listen to in the car. Country even. I’ve done some other things. I just tend to move through different phases. I’m always going to pursue what I’m passionate about at the time, because that’s how I’m going to give the world my best.
What doesn’t work?
I’ve tried playing music that wasn’t me. I pulled it off and made it my own but it wasn’t easy. It really messed me up creatively and I feel like with my new music, I finally found my way out of that horrible groove. A lot of artists are trapped in it, man. I don’t really believe in sitting on music or even a whole project, for a year or more.
I know many of my friends and colleagues and even mentors and people I look up to who have so many bangers sitting on their hard drive. They could be getting a couple hundred thousand plays on YouTube or whatever, and they’re just saving them for the day they can get signed or get a budget big enough for a good production or music video or a publishing deal or whatever million reasons.
I almost died in a crazy car crash a couple of weeks ago on a Monday. By the following Sunday I had two new songs out on my Soundcloud. I’ve got about a hundred songs too. If I had died that day, nobody would ever hear any of them.
So, let’s navel gaze. If you had died, what would you have considered your greatest success?
My greatest success in life has been realization of who I am as a person, and how I’m supposed to contribute to the world. Maybe one day I’ll be able to tell you my greatest success is that I achieved some great, world-changing accomplishment, or have many riches or sums; but until then, I’m just so proud of myself and relieved to have found the right path.
I don’t like to believe I’ve ever achieved a great success, because I have to believe every day that I am capable of achieving far greater things than the things of yesterday.
OK, let’s go the other way. What do you consider your greatest failure?
My failures as a friend, as a son, a brother, an uncle; those are the failures in my life that I consider great. I wish someone had taught me to be mindful when I was growing up. I was always showered with affection and praise as a kid. I became very self-focused and self-centered. I didn’t know my friends, my girlfriends, or my family the same, intimate and personal ways that maybe someone like you knows the people important to you.
It was hard for me to conceptualise the idea that everyone has their own lives when they weren’t around; as if they just walked out of the scene from my story and stopped existing, you know? That sounds really bad, but I think everyone has to be that way to some degree.
I would definitely say I’m more self-absorbed than 75% of people. Maybe 80%.
Ha! I bet it’s tough work being the centre of the universe! But… joking aside, from that wonderful vantage point, if you could change one thing about the world, what would it be?
That’s an interesting question; I think the world is a pretty freakin’ crazy place. I mean, the world could be anything, but it’s this.
We got these freaky looking, relatively hairless bodies. We drive unnaturally fast metal death boxes and kill each other every day over nothing. We fall in love with strangers and I mean, humans multiply literally at a bacterial rate. That’s a really strange reality we live in.
I guess if I had one wish to be granted toward changing the world as we know it; I would wish for all international hostility to end. Conflicts like the one between Israel and Palestine are of critical world-importance: Those guys have been fighting since fighting was a thing.
All human-to-human fighting has to end in order for us to succeed as a race, and progress onto the next stage of human development. Like; total world peace, man.
We aren’t the only ones that matter. Humanity isn’t the only thing going on. Let’s come together as one and stop being so divided and negative towards each other. We’re all humans…we’re all of the same kind…
Wow, we’re getting heavy here. A few quick questions to lighten the mood… So let’s assume you’re now superhuman. Chosen superpower?
Telekinesis for sure. I’ve always wanted to be able to move stuff with my mind. I’d also like to be able to heal on command. I could heal all of the sick people in the world. If you found a way to heal all the sick people in the world on command, just by touching them with your hands; that would be awesome life to live.
Madonna or Gaga?
Madonna didn’t really personally impact me (BC-W signs the cross). I was pretty oblivious to Madonna growing up for some reason. I really respect her career, her brand and its longevity, but I can’t say I prefer her musically. I have; however always enjoyed Lady Gaga’s music. It’s always really creative and well-executed, and frankly quite inspiring.
I don’t want to have to choose because I really do appreciate them both, but I’m going to have to go Gaga on this one.
What’s your favourite swear word?
I keep my swearing pretty childish; ass, butt, poop – I’ve always gotten a lot more delight out of using those than any others. I’m very ‘Bart Simpson’ when it comes to mischief. Check out my twitter; I’m not very mature.
I’ve just spent a whole weekend watching Orange is the New Black. What are you watching?
I try to not watch too much TV, but TV is so good now! It’s so hard to not be tuned into what’s going on with all the shows that people are into.
Right now I’m watching every Lakers game; which has been pretty rough but it’s a commitment I try to keep every season. I’m also REALLY into Once Upon A Time, Nashville, Arrow, Flash, New Girl, and Cosmos.
Mmm.. Arrow. Finally an excuse to publish a pic of Stephen Amell. Thanks.
What job would you least like to do?
I’ve had a lot of jobs. Physical labour jobs, boring office jobs, really fun jobs like teaching at a beauty school, or being a guitar teacher for a while – I definitely wouldn’t want to work somewhere smelly. Like some factories, a garbage plant…I can put up with a lot, but if I had to be immersed in bad smells every day, that would be hell.
I feel for people who work in smelly places, man. I’ve been a hairstylist for a few years now; I’ve got plenty of great smells to choose from every day.
I once went out with a fishmonger. The smell permeated the furniture in my house. He had to go. Now. Tell me something no-one else knows about you.
I’ve always wanted to be an actor. I don’t think anybody knows that about me. I think I’d be a damn good actor. That’s just one of those things I think people are embarrassed to admit about themselves; I bet a lot of people think they’d be great at something they just never got a chance to get into. I hope I’m never too embarrassed to answer this question.
I used to be an actor. Getting into it I studied it as an aside to media training; because of exactly that. You don’t want to admit your dreams in case people mock you. And then you get older and you learn the power of self-deprecation and get a little braver with your choices because you can mock yourself.
I think the lyrics in my music portray the best version of myself; I’m not afraid to be transparent with people, but I also think I get a lot more credit than I deserve. It seems like the more transparent you are with your flaws, the more people can respond to you, because everybody’s got problems…nobody really cares what your problems are when you’re giving them something more valuable; which, in my case is hopefully the music and the blogging and videos and stuff. I truly hope that those things are helping more people than they are boosting my reputation or making me seem cooler in some way.
You are cool. And I’m pretty sure influential. As a boy who loves girls, what are your thoughts on LGBT equality?
I just feel like, whether someone is gay or straight, those lines aren’t important to me. It doesn’t affect me. I’m not into men; that’s not going to affect the way I treat other people. I’d hate it if someone made fun of me for liking chicks. It’s nobody’s business who I’m in love with or who I have sex with, right? And I really don’t like seeing a guy and girl making out in public any more than if it was two dudes. I just never saw it as something people should care about too much: Nobody’s ever going to make you become gay or get married to somebody gay, or even go to a gay wedding if you don’t want to.
It’s not okay to be racist at all. It’ll ruin your life, your career, everything. I think it’s becoming that way with being homophobic. I’m sure it could be different anywhere you go, but I know when I’m in public and someone says something crass about gay people, everyone gets tense and awkward. So, I see that as a sign of that sociocultural change.
I’ve also been harassed by gay guys at shows or in bars, the same way you see guys harass girls on the street, and it’s like whoa; makes me step back and think about how there’s some social justice issues that over time will become less volatile; from both sides. I think the rules of understanding and respect for one another will come with time.
Interesting that you’ve touched on that. It’s definitely something I’ve witnessed and people are generally too concerned about people crying homophobia to tell old ‘party hands’ to back off.
It’s a very interesting time we live in; where people are waking up to these social issues that are extremely obvious, to us in this generation. We’ve transcended a period of humanity when issues like that weren’t important enough to humankind to be brought up, and I think it just takes time for the older way of thinking, the more primitive way, to fade away. It’s just like any period of time in history.
My kids are going think its super weird that we even had these issues. I try not to breed negativity. I hope everyone can come together on LGBT issues soon; we are exhibiting a really unintelligent, obsolescent human behavior. We’ve got to treat every person we interact with as the eternal spirit they are – living inside of a temporary human body. People gotta learn to lighten’ up, man! It ain’t that rough out here these days; let people be happy.
What do you want our readers to know about you?
I want your readers to know about me what I hope I show every person I meet. That I’m somebody who explores the unimaginable every day. I live every day like it’s my last opportunity to give the world something special. I’m never going to stop being a kid, and I hope that’s rubbing off on everyone. I hope my music and my career continue to attract and inspire people with that type of mindset.
You said rubbing off… 😉
I’ve really enjoyed this chat Anthony. I like to wrap things up by asking subjects who we should interview next.
Thank you for having me and letting me share. I had such a fun time doing this! I’m really impressed by your following, the work you’ve been doing, and the mission you’re accomplishing. I hope you continue to profile people with enlightened ideas about the human experience and what it means to change the world. I think each one of us capable of changing the world; imagine a world where we all wake up to that realization.
You should talk to some artists in the hip hop community. I’ve been hearing about some really cool forward thinking hip hop artists lately. I think that’s a world where being homophobic has been acceptable forever, and now the community is feeling more and more comfortable addressing LGBT issues. Hip-hop is a tricky place to take a stand and say it’s not okay to call somebody gay, or make fun of a rapper or somebody for being gay. But I see it happening…that’s change.
Thanks Anthony, now, what are your hopes for the future?
I’ve got an album I’ve been working really hard on for a long time; that’s coming out soon. I try not to think of my music as separate from my life goals or my career or my future. Money comes and goes, but doing what you love IS being successful.
The album is really important to me, but I’m always going to release songs in hopes of reaching a new person every day, so that one day in the future I can have a strong worldwide network of dreamers; freethinking, imaginative adventure-loving people who can reach out to me on a daily basis via twitter or my website or whatever and we can learn from each other. People who hopefully can benefit from my music, my movies, my blog: The worldwide web is a great place to build your own world-wide ‘web’. I want to tour a lot too. I love playing shows; I miss it: I can’t wait to get back out in front of people.
And we can’t wait to see you. We’ll be front row.
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