If you’re a fan of good, heartfelt music that feeds the soul, it’s hard not to fall in love with Tone Stith. A true creative at heart, the singer-songwriter boasts one hell of a voice, with a falsetto that can move mountains. Hailing from New Jersey but now calling sunny Los Angeles home, the rising star is ready now more than ever to debut himself as a recording artist, creating those same hit records he’s created for some great names in the music industry.

Tone Stith’s impressive resume includes co-writing on Chris Brown’s “Make Love” and “Liquor,” opening on H.E.R.’s I Used to Know Her Tour, and all-star cosigns from the likes of Drake and Justin Bieber. Beyond that, he was discovered by Jas Prince, son of Rap-A-Lot founder James Prince, who went on to sign him to his own label Young Empire Music Group. 

In 2021, Tone unveiled his critically-acclaimed project titled FWM, with guest features from Kiana Lede, H.E.R., and Lonr. Later that year, he followed it up with Still FWM, with appearances from Chris Brown, Maeta, and Kenneth Paige. In any case, Tone’s goal is to keep that feel-good, nostalgia golden era of R&B alive — while adding his own modern day twist.

Sheen Magazine caught up with Tone Stith ahead of his exclusive, intimate performance at Soho Warehouse, giving us the inside scoop that his forthcoming project will be named 26.

How does it feel to be here today at Soho house?

It’s a blessing because where I’m at in my career, it feels like everything’s on the move. Everything’s really taking off and lining up. I’m happy to be here spreading love, spread my energy to other people. Hopefully they receive it well.

You’re originally from New Jersey, do you miss it? You live in Los Angeles right?

I live out here. I can’t lie, I’m saving up. I’m saving up my money to buy me a good chunk of New Jersey land. I want to move back eventually.

What’s your favorite part about Jersey?

For me, where I grew up is a small town called Marlton. It’s just so quiet. It’s the woods, it’s literally the woods and it’s so out the way. Growing up with that, I was used to that. You know, the city is a vibe. But I like to be in the city for what I need to do, then when I’m going home it’s like [deep sigh]. I can hear the crickets.

You started out producing, did you ever think you’d be here today?

So, that’s a crazy question. Nah, I really thought that I was going to be a producer or songwriter. I was in a group for a while, that was the only ambitions I had of being an artist. Once the group broke up, “oh I’ma just produce and write. I’m cool with playing in the background.” But when I met Chris Brown, he actually said “yo, you need to be an artist bro.” I’m sure you know, I worked with him a lot. I produce a lot of songs for him.

“Liquor” is my $H!+

[laughs] Right, on the Royalty album. After working with him, he was the one that really encouraged me to be an artist. I’ve got one of my favorite people right here telling me to be an artist, I’ma go for it. 

What were those sessions like with Chris Brown?

It was amazing. For me, I wouldn’t say starstruck, but I was like “wow.” This was the moment where damn, I really made it here. I remember being in high school telling people “yo, one day I’ma work with Chris Brown.” And them being like “man, shut your ass up. You ain’t about to do that.” But when I did it, oh snap! I’m here. It was a lot of motivation for me.

You said you were producing and songwriting, you’re such a vocalist though. When did you discover that?

You know what’s crazy? Even for me with vocals, my mom and dad would always ask me as a kid like “are you ever going to put lyrics to your music?” I’m like “no! I’m just focused on these beats, that’s it.” [laughs] Not realizing my mom’s a singer too. I learned a lot from her and what she played around the house, but I didn’t realize how much of a vocalist I was until later. Almost in my adult years.

How has the success of your projects FWM and Still FWM changed you as an artist and a man?

It’s been incredible. “Fuck With Me” was the first song for me that not went viral, but it was like “oh, you’re the ‘FYM’ guy.” Oh, I’ve never had that before. It was weird because damn, this is new for me. Now, I’m really falling into that. Okay, let me really, really be an artist now. Everything else before those projects was testing, we’re figuring out what it was. But when I caught one with “FYM,” okay. Alright, we’re here now.

You dropped “FYM” in 2021, beause I think I saw you open for August Alsina on tour.

In 2017, yup. I was dropping music back then too. That’s what I’m saying, even back then, it was super experimental. Man, I’m an artist now. We’re going to make music and put it out, see what it does. Making “FWM,” there was more of a plan behind it. The fact that it worked, oh wow, alright cool. So the next project was “man, throw this with that, this with that. Boom.” Some of those songs took off, the one with Chris took off. 

Now, this next project that I’m working on, I’ll give you a little inside scoop. The name might be 26, because I’m 26 years old in my life. That’s pretty much what the project’s about. I’m not going to go all the way into it, but it might be 26. This project now, I’m super dialed in. I’m super focused on my artistry, The look, the feel, what I want the consumer to take away.

What does R&B mean to you and how does that reflect on your new project?

R&B for me means everything. Growing up in a Black family, that’s all that was played in the house. Besides gospel music, R&B was played in the house. That’s my childhood. That’s the music where yeah, I need to shine in this section because it’s me 100%. To start getting that recognition and being somebody that’s on track to being considered one of the greats, yo that’s crazy. That’s the reason why I’m doing it, because it was instilled in me.

I know you get this question all the time, but getting the Drake and J Prince cosign. How did they find you? 

Alright so Jas, how he found me was crazy. He was at Justin Bieber’s house. I was in the group at the time and the group covered Justin’s song “Heartbreaker.” Justin found the video while he was at the house with Jas. He said “yo Jas, check out this group.” I guess they talked back and forth, Jas said “yo I’ma hit them up. I’ma reach out.” He said “yo Justin Bieber showed me y’all video for ‘Heartbreaker’,” and then the rest was history. We got signed to Jas, flew out to LA. Was out here working.

What was going through your head when he flew you to LA?

I think even for all of us at the time, we thought “yo, this is it! This is what we’ve been working so hard for.” Being in Jersey and the Tri-state area, we were doing a lot of shows there, but this was a whole new level. Just having somebody like that looking at us: “oh snap, we’re about to make it!” It was incredible.

What ever happened to the group?

So the group, those are my brothers. Everybody’s doing things individually, super successful, but it wasn’t meant to be a group. The good thing about the group is I learned so much about artistry: preparation, rehearsing and being on stage. It worked its way into now, so it all had a purpose.

How would you describe your fashion sense? What are your favorite brands?

I’m just getting new to it. You could look at a young Johnny Depp mixed with a young Jimi Hendrix eventually. [laughs] I’m getting there. Jimi Hendrix has been one of my latest inspirations in fashion alone. Music too, that was already that, but fashion? He was rocking. He was doing some shit.

What is your workout regimen and what do you listen to?

It’s not as crazy as some people, but as long as I make it to the gym 5 days out of the week — even a little bit. Even if I can go for a little bit, I make sure I’m at the gym. Because when I’m there, I’ma do something. It could go from Tame Impala, Bruno Mars to Michael Jackson, then you could go to Chief Keef. You can go to Drake, Kendrick. It varies. When I’m on that pre-workout, it’s different. [laughs]

I saw your post “what’s the worst date you’ve ever been on.” So what’s the worst date you’ve ever been on?

I went to the movies one time. We were there, it was cool. We was chillin’. I went in for the kiss, but it was too early. Back then, I was one of them kids who we just met and I’ma gonna give you my all. I didn’t ease into it, I didn’t set it up the way I needed to. I did that, went in for the kiss, did not work out. Was denied, the whole rest of the movie was awkward and that was it. That was it. That was one of my worst dates.

Did you make a song about her?

I didn’t, I just wanted to forget about that whole moment. Leave that shit in the past, it didn’t even happen. [laughs]

How was it working with H.E.R. on “When You Love Someone”?

That’s my sister. H.E.R., that’s family right there. She’s incredible. How that song came about, she had it already. She said “yo, I want you to cut this song. I got it for you, I’ma play it for you. If you like it, let’s do it.” Of course I said “hell yeah, I love this shit.” She played it for me, I’m like “yo I’ma do it.” When we were in the studio cutting, she was on it! I thought I was a stickler for perfection, nah I didn’t see nothing yet. She was like “nope! Do it again. Do it again.” I was like “yes ma’am.” I was in there sweating bullets, I promise you. It was crazy because that session, from that point on, it made me become a way about my music too. Oh nah, let me get it right. If that’s what she’s on and nobody’s on her to be like that, and she’s just like that, let me get it right. 

How was it appearing on The Terrell Show? How do you feel about Terrell introducing and reintroducing artists to the world?

For me, The Terrell Show is a big deal. I remember he’s been hitting me up for about 2 years, I didn’t do it because I was nervous at the time. Man hell nah, they got all the greats on there. I’m not about to go on there after all these people. One day I thought “man, of course. I’ma do that shit,” so we did it. It was amazing. We had met at the show, but it felt like I knew him forever. I just love what he’s doing, because it’s putting artists on the map. It’s putting R&B on the map, he’s reintroducing that music to a younger generation. There’s a video on my Instagram of a kid, he can’t be no older than 7, but he was watching me sing on the show. The commercial came on and he was mad when it got cut off on Youtube. I’m like wow, the influence! He’s watching The Terrell Show and being influenced.

What are 3 things you need in the studio at all times?

My guitar. I stopped smoking so I can’t say weed anymore. Some liquor, not nothing crazy. I’ll always have my laptop on me, but my laptop full of older music. So I can get inspiration, stuff like that.

Any collabs you’re sitting on, that we should know about?

Ooh, who do I got in the works? You know what, on this new project it’s really all me. There’s things that could be said, but I don’t want to speak too early on them. There are things that could be set up, there could be things that could be moving around.

I love tattoos. Which ones are your most meaningful ones?

My most meaningful one, this is my mom’s birthday: January 9th.

My birthday’s January 9th!!

Wow, so that’s my moms’ birthday. That’s crazy. My mom’s birthday on this side, then my dad’s birthday on this side.

Do you have any goals for yourself?

A lot. If I had to sum it up, just to keep being my authentic self. For a while, I was pretty jaded with the things that people would put on me. The pressures of artists that other people wanted me to be. Now, I got to a point literally at 26 where yo, I just gotta be me. What’s right with me, what feels right with me, really focusing in on that. One of my goals is to keep staying on that path.

Anything else you want fans to know about you, that they don’t know?

I put everything on the internet, they probably know everything about me. [laughs] I guess my love for anime, a lot of people don’t know that. 

What’s your favorites?

Right now, it’s Demon Slayer, Hunter X Hunter, Attack on Titan. If you want to do a throwback, I’d probably throw Inuyasha and Bleach.

Photo Credits: Jon Dailey