Photo by Hotel Party
The PNTHN experience is one rooted in personality. There’s the group’s collective personality– Texas-tinted, chaotic in its beauty, and with unwavering dedication– and then there’s the personality that each individual member offers, of which there are seven. Gulfwey, Kenny Casanova, Trevon Tex, twohorizonra, dc4prez, Tony Tone, and Otto.
Seeing PNTHN live in Boston on February 29th, I came to realize that in adding a dimension to the music, the group’s collective personality is what brings fans to the shows, while the individual personalities are what pulls them further in. PNTHN, as a whole, is simply a sum of remarkable individual talent, all of which stands strong on its own, but even stronger as a team. And for this reason, among others, they’ve become an undeniable force out of Texas, most recently sealing their reputation with a nod to the Southern culture that influenced them, the Project Pat-featuring “JULIUS.”
In a night marked by moshpits executed, water bottles thrown, and memories made, February 29th brought the PNTHN vision together, allowing each pillar to shine without dulling the excitement of the whole. Tony Tone electrified the crowd as an unwavering source of energy, Gulfwey offered his signature, effortless style both on the mic and off, Kenny Casanova didn’t miss a beat, and so on and so forth.
Music (especially as a group) is one thing, but live performance is another. Luckily, PNTHN has a hell of a grasp on both.
In a haze of thrifted gear, laughs, and rum and cokes, Greg Gaffney and I were able to speak with PNTHN before their electrifying Boston show. Read our conversation below:
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Lightly edited for content and clarity
This is your first headlining tour! How’s it feel and how’d it come together?
Tony Tone: It’s going good, it’s going good. I’m sleepy, but we’re here.
Kenny Casanova: I mean we booked it ourselves! We’re going to all these cities we’ve never been to, putting on our own headlining tour. Like damn, this is real [laughs]. We put together all the openers, too — lowkey just so we could watch some of our favorite artists perform.
The opening act for each date on the tour was handpicked – what did that process look like?
Tony Tone: It was simple, really. We all talk about music and we all have favorite artists from these cities, so we just looked at it from a fan’s perspective. We threw out names that we fuck with, tailored everything to fit a good overall energy, and went from there, regardless of genre or anything. It’s all about just finding good energy with these artists in their home city that we can learn from.
twohorizonra: Yeah, it was a really natural thing, because these are all people that we listen to already. It’s just about picking the right artist with the right pull in their city that you already fuck with. In some cases, though, it was also fun because we had to look deeper into the local scenes to find new artists to listen to.
Tony Tone: A big focus was also to shine a light on underground artists, because we understand how annoying it can be when your city ignores you for opportunities to perform at bigger venues. We wanted to make sure the spotlight gets spread out a bit. Like this is your city, we want to make sure you get a chance to shine in your home city.
Kenny Casanova: It was crazy, for some of our shows, I found out that it would be the opener’s second show ever. And they went off, they killed that shit. It’s just about giving people opportunities to show their city what they can do.
How do you piece together such unique personalities to create a group dynamic with PNTHN?
dc4prez: We all bring these raps and we all bring energy to the stage. It’s not really about being stressed to make it work; we all just be ourselves, and it meshes naturally from there.
Gulfwey: It’s the same shit as finding a group of friends or doing a class project. Naturally, you just figure out how to fit into the dynamic, because we all have a common goal. If you let everyone create slowly and freely without getting put into a box, it slowly starts to come together.
Trevon Tex: It just comes down to everyone being authentic and everyone genuinely wanting to see eachother shine and succeed.
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Do you guys ever feel an added individual responsibility to contribute to the group or bring the group forward?
twohorizonra: We try not to put too much pressure on eachother, because we know what’s expected of everyone and we know what everyone brings to the table. If one of us feels inspired, we all trust that they’re going to go through their creative process and kill it, no matter how long it takes.
What does the creative process look like for you guys?
Tony Tone: You can’t really box it in. It’s sporadic, it changes all the time. And we understand that life doesn’t just stop because we want to do something, so we’re all constantly growing on our own and growing together. Sometimes, everyone is one fire and songs are coming together one after the other, but other times, there’s a drought. The creative process is just whatever is in the air, whatever you’re feeling.
Kenny Casanova: For me, I take 3 liters of ayahuasca and then go rob Por Vida at gunpoint for all the beats.
twohorizonra: Kenny always colonizes the beats. I’ll find out about a beat and he already put his verse down, so everyone gotta catch up [laughs].
Trevon Tex: That’s honestly how it is sometimes. Once one of us gets a verse down, the rest really just flows from there.
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As for “JULIUS,” how did the Project Pat feature come together? Why Project Pat?
Tony Tone: Why not Project Pat?
Trevon Tex: Project Pat really answered that question in his verse, too. My man said “Project been pulling moves, I ain’t just rapping in this bitch.” It’s deeper than rap.
Tony Tone: That verse really answers any questions you have about life; anything on your mind, just listen to Project Pat. To get the beat, I went to Project Pat’s house, and before I could even knock, he opened the door, handed me the USB, and shut the door. No words, he already had it done without hearing the song.
Being DIY artists, what are some “by any means” moments that you guys have had together?
twohorizonra: We had our setup on an ironing board in an AirBnB once. We also recorded in a laundry room at one point, setting the mic up on top of the washing machine. It’s really by any means – as long as we got a mic, we’re recording.
Kenny Casanova: We put everything together even beyond the music. The shows, everything. We’re not just rapping in this bitch [laughs]. It’s all on our shoulders, but it’s fun, because this is exactly what we wanted. It’s hella fun.
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How have you guys been able to balance your solo music with PNTHN? Does one work off of the other?
Trevon Tex: It’s really like a hyperbolic time chamber. We’ll all go off into a training room by ourselves, upgrade to the next saiyan, then come back together ready to fight.
Gulfwey: Sometimes I’ll make like sixty solo songs, not show anybody, and then say ‘Okay, now I’m a better rapper. Let’s make some PNTHN songs.’
Tony Tone: Everybody’s hard drive has some crazy solo stuff. There are times when we’ll each be in our own zone, leveling up in private, and then we’ll come back together and the whole group is better.
Kenny Casanova: At the end of the day, we’re making music for ourselves. So a lot of the solo stuff we just make to listen to and try new things, not even necessarily to release it.
Tony Tone: It’s all up to the artist. There have been times where someone has been working on a solo track and it eventually becomes a group song – and vice versa. Whatever makes the best music.
As PNTHN continues to grow, has the process changed at all? Are you conscious of the growth?
Tony Tone: Honestly, nah. We’ve all grown a lot, but at the end of the day, we’re just making the music we want to listen to. If you like it, thank you, but this is just the music that I wanna hear in my car. The growth doesn’t change that.
Gulfwey: I really feel like as we get attention, new listeners are only seeing what we last put out. A lot of the time, we’ve already leveled up way past that. Shit moves fast; we’re always 5 steps ahead, and the fans will hear that when it’s time.
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Any aspirations for 2020?
Tony Tone: I wanna see everyone eat. Fat as shit, stomachs full. I also need new shoes.
twohorizonra: More shows, more music. We’re tryna see the whole turkey.