Interview: Toys in the Sand
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
Music has always played a major role in my life. From the listening end. It has a tremendous effect on me and I wanted to learn more. Once I started learning and getting things right (notes, chords, pitch, the circle of fifths) then it just pulled me into this vortex and I became addicted (to music, not drugs) and that’s basically the end of any normal life I could have hoped for. I actually have no idea what I would possibly be doing in the universe where I am not making music.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
Volleyball! I love to play volleyball, I could play all day, every day, which is funny because I hate sand. While I think the sport (any sport for that matter) is helpful in making music (collaborating, creating, being persistent, getting up after you shank), volleyball itself does not really influence my songs. But the BEACH TEST is definitely where volleyball helps. When you listen on the portable speakers you bring to the beach to the song you’re working on and play it while peppering (volleyball warm-up) and see if it is groovy enough to continue listening or if it makes you have to stop peppering to go and turn it off. The best is when you don’t even realize it’s on. That’s how you know it’s going to be good.
Where are you based out of and how did that influence your music?
I am based on the beach. I have always lived relatively close to the ocean. It’s just in my nature to be close to the water. My lyrics often mention beach elements.
How did you come up with the name of your band and what does it mean to you?
It’s a play on my name. Sandy Toye is my legal married name.
Tell me about your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
My favorite venues have good bathrooms.!! All kidding aside, I love any place where I can share my music with people. My dream venue is the outdoor stage overlooking the main lawn at the Rosewood Miramar Hotel in Montecito, CA.
If you could play any show with any lineup who would be on the ticket?
Metallica and Nine Inch Nails. Without a doubt. It would be a rather odd concert, but my bandmates would just be floored.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into playing in a band?
Have fun and be respectful of each other. Collaboration is key! Encourage an atmosphere of comfort so that everyone can bring their best to the table. Oh, and bring food to rehearsal. Everything sounds better when your tummies aren’t empty.
If you could go back in time and give yourselves advice, what would it be?
Keep listening. To truly collaborate you have to let go of your own ego and that does not mean not being your true self. It only means that you are one component to the ultimate masterpiece. Trust yourself. If you’ve put in the work, the time, the tears, the sweat, the blisters then when it comes time to record or perform, just let it all go and trust it will all come together.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
My songs are like my children. It is really hard to chose one. I love "It’s All Right Now" and "Staying Breezy Baby” because they both help me reset and that’s all-too-often necessary.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
I love playing the songs where I get to play the guitar. I am not very good but it’s so much fun to play along (and my guitar is really pretty).
What is the creative process for the band, and what inspires you to write your music?
With most of our songs I come in with a lyrical idea. Some story or life changing epiphany I had that I just need to sing about. The guys are so great because they listen to me go on and on and on before they start putting a beat to it. Sometimes Chris will listen to the idea, then just riff along with me when I start describing it in more detail. It’s actually pretty cool how it comes together.
What kinds of messages do you like to get across in your music?
Secret messages to my kids. Like reminding them to brush their teeth, so to speak. I want to share with them how to be mindful and I was hoping that some of my songs would help them remember some pretty decent advice. It helps me to chill out, to stay in the moment, to surround myself with L|R|As (people I Like|Respect|Admire). These are qualities I want them to possess.
Do you ever have disagreements in collaborations, and how do you get past them?
We seldom disagree about much but when we do, we usually listen to the first idea, and then everyone gives that idea their all. Then we listen to the second idea and do the exact same for that. Often it becomes pretty clear which one to elaborate on. Collaboration is key. It’s what makes good stuff great.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
We have a single coming out every two weeks or so until the end of summer and then we are hoping to release our Concept Album which will have between 7-9 songs based on a novel I wrote during my previous career about unlikely folks trying to heal the planet in the only way they know how to.