Q&A: Tano Brock

in SF Local Bands by

How would you describe your sound?
Clean, groovy pop.

When did you first become interested in playing music?
I’ve apparently been interested in playing music since I was an infant. There’s an old photo of me hitting a bunch of drums when I was just a few months old.

What’s the strangest or funniest thing that’s ever happened to you at a show?
I once played at a Renaissance fair in central California and was almost kicked out for not dressing and acting “authentically.” When I first arrived, it seemed like a normal Renaissance fair, but I soon discovered otherwise. The band and I began playing our set but were cut off after a few songs because the “King” wanted to perform a knighting ceremony in which he slapped the knight-to-be across the face before embracing him with tears.

We were understandably a little shocked and caught off guard, so we decided to just pack up and change back into our regular clothes. After changing, a furious “guard” came up to us, yelling and screaming because we were not wearing our Renaissance outfits – he even threatened to put us in “shackles.” The strangest part was that people there didn’t seem like they were just acting and having fun. It seemed a little too real…

What are you listening to these days?
I’m listening to SO many different things. To name a few: Cautious Clay, Khalid, The Weeknd, Rosalía, Ozuna, Hozier, George Ezra, Maroon 5, Chance The Rapper, Laço Tayfa, and Yemen Blues.

What are some of your favorite Bay Area music venues?
Good question. Some of my favorites are: the Great American Music Hall, SF Jazz, The Freight & Salvage Coffeehouse, The Ivy Room, The Red Poppy Art House, and Studio Grand.

What are some of your favorites hangs in the Bay Area and why?
I grew up in Bernal Heights, so going up to the top of Bernal Hill will always be one of my favorite places to hang in the city. I also grew up spending a lot of time in Inverness, and going up there to escape city life is something I still really love to do.

What does music mean to you?
Music is everything to me. Pretty much everything I do in my life can somehow be traced or connected to music. No other topic or activity brings me as much pure joy, raw emotion, and excitement about life. Music-making is the only thing I can spend hours on end doing and never get tired or bored. Music is such a diverse art form—there are so many avenues within music, that when one specific activity starts to feel monotonous, there are always other roads to take. From performing, writing, recording, producing, teaching, and more; I love it all.

What inspires you to write?
This is a hard one. Lots of things can inspire me to write. Often it’s just a specific sound or vibe that pops in to my head. Sometimes I hear a particular instrument in the background of some song and think “wait, what is that?” and then I’ll take the idea of that sound and make a song out of it. I usually begin the writing process instrumentally – the lyrics and vocal melody come later. Often I just mess around in the studio for a while and produce an instrumental track, and eventually something I create inspires me to write a melody and lyrics.

What’s your favorite neighborhood in the city and why?
The Mission. As I said earlier, I grew up in Bernal Heights so the Mission was my backyard. There is so much vibrant life there; there’s no other neighborhood like it. Unfortunately a lot of that is changing now with the tech boom and all the gentrification going on, but I think it’s still retaining some of its charm.

Is there anything you’d like to plug?
My new single, “Move,” is the first song I’ve released in 5 years, and I’m incredibly proud of it. It features up-and-coming reggaeton artist and fellow Bernal-native La Doña. I hope you guys like it as much as we do!

Having released albums under Digital Nations, a label founded by Steve Vai, music critic Louis Raphael has remained deeply connected to the pulse of the San Francisco music scene. Following his tenure as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he embarked on creating Music in SF® to authentically highlight the vibrant offerings of the city's music scene.