Articulate Q&A: Anthony Vincent
Anthony Vincent is best known as the creator of Ten Second Songs, the hugely popular video series in which he covers hit songs in the style of a bunch of wildly different artists.
More than a few of Vincent’s videos have gone viral, thanks to their maker’s creative arrangements, casual charisma, and uncanny ability to impersonate other musicians.
In his recent remake of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ 1991 hit, “Give It Away,” Vincent offered his take on the Chili Peppers, as well as 19 other artists—including Depeche Mode, Frank Zappa, and Sly and the Family Stone. As of this writing, the clip has garnered more than 13 million views on Facebook, as well as an additional 1.2 million hits on YouTube.
We recently caught up with Anthony Vincent to find out a little more about the man behind the viral phenomenon. Keep reading for his thoughts on side-hustles, passion, and the importance of never letting dreams die.
Where'd you grow up?
I grew up in Port Chester New York, I'm still here.
What kind of teenager were you?
I was an introvert when I wasn't on a stage. And not much has changed.
What role did music play in your life growing up?
Well, I started playing the bass guitar when I was 11, playing in basement bands with my friends and my brother and his friends. I was also brought up in a family of musical theater fanatics. My father is also a singer and actor. He would encourage me and my brother to take part in school plays, etc.
These viral videos started as a way to promote your business writing custom jingles (which was, if I'm not mistaken, a side-hustle itself), which leads me to believe you're a pragmatic guy. If you had no bills to pay, what would you be doing?
I would be doing everything I'm doing now. Because, since my viral success, the business model, if you will, changed from it's original purpose (custom songs and potentially jingle writing) to creating content for entertainment purposes. I have managed to make a living off of that and I couldn't be happier. My job is to play to an internet audience that likes my singing and production, and I'm my own boss, and I have the freedom to sprinkle in my own songs when I want to, I think that's a pretty cool gig. I'm happy to say, confidently, that if bills weren't a thing, I'd still choose this life.
Are you self-taught with all these instruments and softwares, or do you have some training under your belt?
I'm all self taught. I'm what I like to call a “street engineer.” My education is fiddling with things until it sounds the way I like. Not exactly ideal, and I'm sure real professional producers/engineers would scoff at some of my techniques, but it does get the job done. And I am learning more and more every day. As far as instruments go, I'm self taught with all of that as well, but I do plan on taking guitar lessons. I keep putting that off, I just get so busy! But I really do want to expand my musical knowledge, I think it's very important. And believe me, I don't take pride in being self taught. I'm not ASHAMED of it. But I don't ever brag about it.
How long does it take to put together a Ten Second Songs video?
Anywhere from two weeks to a month.
Does any one video stick out as the most fun to have made?
Linkin Park - “In the End.” It was a magical time for me. I remember getting chills, because working so intimately with such an anthemic song, and breaking down it's parts and forcing myself to hear it in different interpretations, gave me this new found appreciation for the song.
How about the most difficult?
Rap God [by Eminem]. [Warning: contains some explicit lyrics]
When you’re not creating music videos for YouTube, you also sing and play guitar in the band Set the Charge. Compare the experience of performing in a small club to reaching millions of fans you’ve never been in the same room with.
Well, playing in small clubs will always be a lot of fun for me. There's no possible way to compare the two. Because I can't even comprehend actually seeing 20 million eyes, physically in front of me. It was a rush to go viral, especially that first time. I can't describe what it's like, it changes you. But even then, all you see are numbers, comments, likes, and messages. It's all a completely different experience when you see people face to face.
Does it ever frustrate you, even a little, that your creative cover songs enjoy a much bigger audience than your original material?
At one point, yes. But I've learned to let go of that frustration, because I understand the landscape of music and entertainment in the year 2017. Bands aren't what they used to be. People don't consume music the way they used to. Music means something different to every new budding generation, and if you can find ANYTHING to cut through the noise at this point, you should run with it.
And Ten Second Songs happened to be the thing that did it. Sure, at first I struggled with the idea that people find me singing in every other voice but my own more entertaining than my own music. But that's ok, because if a small percentage of people know that I actually DO my own stuff, that's enough for me. Putting time aside for my own creative adventures in my experimental rock band, or whatever future original projects I might start, is what will keep me sane. And if I can support my freedom to do that with Ten Second Songs, I can't think of a better definition of success.
You’re approaching 2.5 million YouTube subscribers, as of this writing. Aside from continuing to do what you’re doing now, at the same level, what do you still hope to accomplish?
I wanna see them. Face to face. I want to perform for them. I want them occupying stadiums. I want to hear melodies in unison, I want to connect with them outside of this digital world that brought us together. That's the next step.
Any advice for aspiring musicians out there, looking to balance their desire to be creative with the need to make ends meet?
Ignore the discouragement. It's ok to feel it—we all do—but don't give into it. Don't be embarrassed by failure. If anyone gives you a hard time about it, chances are they wouldn't have the guts to even try. Keep an open mind, follow every potential opportunity. If you have an idea that excites you, follow through with it without even thinking about it. Don't tell anyone about it. Just do it. Don't second guess.
And you'll fail, and that's normal. Everyone does. Remember though, you can settle into a safe place, and work professions that may or may not leave you financially secure. But if you have a burning desire for something more, you'll never forgive yourself if you let the dream die. There isn't a how to guide, or a right or wrong way to success in this business.
So yeah, some might say my message here is pretty vague, But I promise you, stay in the game and you'll be amazed at how fast things could change in a blink of an eye. You can come up with a life changing idea like I did.