Michael: Hi Toxie long time no see - thank you soo much for taking time out to do this interview with Toggle For Music.
Toxie: My pleasure Michael, and may I say thank YOU for all that you do to keep us all musically connected and Informed!
Michael: Soo - First off something I have always wanted to ask ...why the name Toxic Darkmatter ?
Toxie: Well ..My first avatar was a fledgling builder with store name Toxic Designs. Toxie was actually created to be the bank for that store. The name Darkmatter however has a more special meaning and I deliberately chose that because of its meaning. Darkmatter is matter not yet directly detected by astronomers that is hypothesized to exist to account for various observed gravitational effects. Theres no solid direct evidence of dark matter. Motions of the stars tell you how much matter there is They don't care what form the matter is, they just tell you that it's there. I just thought it was rather fitting that my presence in the cyber-scheme of things was aptly named for something that isn't a tangible thing but its presence is felt.
Michael: Wow! A lot more to Toxie than meets the eye! Now something you must be asked a lot - You come over as a sane, balanced kind of individual - how on earth did you get involved in the crazy world of Second Life?
Toxie: the sane one? Oh boy are ya'll in trouble!! *smirks*.....Ok, Ok the long and short of it is I was involved with another 3d platform many many years ago called Keneva. It was a fun place except, I was in my 30's and kept getting hit on by 13 yr old boys! SO I left that in search of a more adult platform and found Red Light Center, which later changed its name to The Utherverse. It was a relief to be around people my age but to be honest, I wasn't very comfortable there. At the time.. ( its since gone thru some changes over the years) There really wasn't a lot to do there but be social and interact in a very adult sexual way. Not that thats a BAD thing per-se but sex isn't all about hardcore animations for me, it was missing something. A friend brought me over to SL and showed me cuddles and hand holding and I fell in love with the intimacy and the basic simplicity of those small acts. This is what was missing for me. I left Utherverse and never went back.
Michael: So after a while you decided to have a go at singing live in Second Life - can you remember your first gig - the venue and how it went ?
Toxie: I don't remember the name of the venue I first sang publicly at but I do remember what resulted from it. The venue owner wasn't a very pleasant guy. I had maybe 5 people there and 3 of them were staff..lol.. but it was after that first show that two of the staffers broke off and made their own club and invited me to be their first singer. The club's name was Zydeco run by Cloey Bechir and Rajun Cajun. I stayed with them for almost 5 yrs when the club closed its doors. I had already made the decision to not go back to that first place and it was such a unpleasant experience that I really thought to not continue singing in SL... but then that door opened for me and I was shown what professionalism truly was in the music scene and I stayed with it.
Michael: Following on from that is there a gig you remember above all ?
Toxie: Gosh theres so many "highlights' Ive had over the years! I think Id have to go with my most recent one tho. I got the opportunity to sing at the newly created Linden NFL Alumni Stadium built by the Moles, as a half time act for an online Madden Challenge that pitted real life football players against college teams all to benefit the American Cancer Society. It was streamed live by ESTV.com who is the first ever dedicated channel for esports and gaming personalities. They are worldwide, and are distrubted by some pretty recognizable names like Amazon, Roku, Twitch, Samsung, Atari, Playstation, LG and Vision just to name a few of the big names I could remember. It was truly an incredible experience. I also had a bit of bragging rights as I was the only vocalist invited to perform, and had the largest crowd there (60 people in attendance) And it was filmed by one of my Idols, Strawberry Singh ,and was also attended by Dion Mole and Brett Linden. I felt like I was an unexpected surprise. I know I wasn't their first choice, but some other management teams sorta dropped the ball and it landed in my managers lap and with the utter professionalism that Troy has, he was able to help them procure 3 of 5 entertainers to assist with their project. After hearing some samples they chose me to be a part of it and I think we all walked away feeling happy with the choices made for that event and its overall success.
Michael: And the future? Clearly you have reached the absolute peak of live performing in SL and the world is at your feet. Have you any remaining goals or are you happy with what you have achieved and aim to keep up your exceptionally high standard into the future?
Toxie: Well, I dont know if the world is at my feet so to speak but...I do feel like Ive been around long enough that Im pretty well known in the music scene. I don't know what happens from here but I do know I have two goals in mind. The first being continuing to sing and connect with people. I have an amazing group of people that support what I do here. They have no idea how much their love, friendship and support has saved me! The second is, I am hoping that the Lindens maybe start seeing vocalists as viable options for special performances around the grid
Michael: You know the Second Life live music industry inside out by now. Do you feel it is in a healthy state at this moment in time ? If you could do one thing to improve it - what would it be?
Toxie: I think its in a fairly healthy state but I also think its on the verge of....something. You know, with this pandemic, many performers that had left the grid have come back. I think there is a real opportunity there to turn what basically has been a worldwide crisis into an amazing musical opportunity. SecondLife seemed to start thinking outside of the box with the outreach and collaboration with ESTV like I mentioned before. Id love to see some sort or virtual music event OUTSIDE of SL that includes SL performers. A new way to reach people that normally would have no idea about SL or the music scene within. Also in the same vein, with the pandemic and so many having lost their jobs, the music scene suffered a bit with venues having to close. I saw many people really pull together to keep this from happening. I myself went to tips only for some venues that used to pay me a fee or I reduced my fee in half just to try to ease the pain of paying out to another performer. I think with performers giving back as much as they can it keeps this place healthy and something really beautiful to see when it all comes together.
Michael: Conversely what would you say irks you the most ? (aside from annoying interviewers)
Toxie: Oh you might have touched a nerve here Michael..lol. I dislike the connotation that people consider vocalists to be "glorified karaoke singers" Theres a bit of a division that exists altho its not nearly as prevalent as it once was, that pitted vocalists against Instrumentalists. Im not some hack singing on Smule using auto tune to sound better. I dont use 1980's style midi tunes to sing from... I SCOUR the net looking for high quality music to sing with. Sometimes I get lucky and have friends with greater talent than I to make songs for me. Sometimes I find obscure songs that I have spent years looking for to be able to sing. I know many vocalists sing a lot of the same songs and I try hard to find different renditions of songs to stand out. I also practice, just like anyone who plays an instrument.. I have to hone my skill with vocal warm ups.. repeated singing of songs to learn them and then mold them into my "style" of singing. I get a little irritated when I hear that a instrumentalist complains about the kind of crowds that we get as vocalists.... My response to this is.. I may not be the best singer on Sl.. I KNOW I am not. But, I am a damn good entertainer. I connect with people whether thru my music or being a clown and telling one of hundreds embarrassing stories about myself that allow people to laugh and loosen up. You can be a BRILLIANT musician on here but if you have the personality of a plank of wood, you will lose the interest of the crowd.
Michael: Finally, I'd like to ask you for some personal advice. At Toggle For Music we are now 3 months into our crusade, with our blog, to promote SL live music in any way we can. Could you give us any advice on ways we could go about this?
Toxie: I think you are doing a great job so far! Any advice I could give would probably be to go to many of the venues that so many current performers started out at. See the influx of brand new talent that is coming in. We all know you dont walk in off the street, command 6K a show and have 80 people show up being an unknown name here. ( hell I dont do that now and ive been singing here since 2009!) Honing that takes a lot of work. But there are some really great people that have found SL lately that have some incredible talent. Ask your favorite musician who their favorites are or if they hear someone new, to let you know "Hey you gotta come here this person!" I think the fresh flow of new talent is much nicer to read about than "that toxic chick" again.. lol
Michael: Thank you!
Toxie: Thank YOU Michael, not only for giving me the chance to speak with you but for everything you do as well to continue to make this incredible community we have here as cohesive and informed as you do. It's been a pleasure working with you and getting to know you!