Fresh Beat

Tony Belonog explores his passion for music

Jacob Edwards, Staff Wielder Supreme

The beat starts. The chords come in next. Percussion. Acoustics. Then, the melody and vocals. Behind the computer is Tony Belonog, a junior with a unique passion: music production.

“I never really focus on the vocals, it’s more on, like, actual music,” Belonog said. “And I’ve always been curious, like how is that even made? So ever since then, I was just like ‘I gotta figure this out.’”

True to his word, Belonog, a junior, has continued to focus on the instrumental part of music, and he’s got it figured out pretty well. In addition to making remixes of songs, he produces his own, original music as well.

“I make a lot of urban music that features like Latino and reggae,” Belonog said. “And at the same time like moombahton and dance hall, at the same time mixed with like R&B and pop.”

The process of making the music is long and complex in its entirety, but Belonog was able to break it down to the basics fairly easy.

“The first thing I normally start with is chord progressions. Then from there I move on to drums, any kind of percussion, and stuff like that,” Belonog said. “And then, I move on to the melody. Or, if there is no melody, that’s when I start adding in vocals. And then it’s just kind of adding effects and symbols, and I just kind of fill the quiet stuff.”

Junior Hunter Bowman, a long-time friend and collaborator of Belonog’s, gets to see his music from a unique perspective. When he collaborates with Belonog, Bowman gets to see how it is made, what goes into it, and even the thought process behind what goes into it.

“I get to see the behind-the-scenes of his music,” Bowman said, “So it’s really incredible to see how much effort and work he puts into all of his tracks.”

Belonog isn’t the first to make music this way, though. Other musicians have helped pave the path and be role models for Belonog.

“I would say Diplo and Major Lazer [influence me the most],” Belonog said, “pretty much that kind of range [of artists].”

Junior Kobe Thambyrajah, a friend of Belonog’s, has heard some of his music,  and was absolutely blown away by it.

“What makes Tony different from other music makers is that his music is really unique,” Thambyrajah said. “It’s a different vibe that you get from it. It’s more like chill, rather than the upbeat music that lots of people listen to today.”

For people who just aren’t fans of those types of musics, Belonog also makes remixes of famous songs, changing the beat and tune of the music to his own personal style, while also keeping the lyrics the same.

“[My favorite song of his] is actually a remix,” Thambyrajah said. “It’s ‘Money’, by Cardi B. It gets you in that mood, it’s really hype. And just like, you know, you really want to just jump to the song.”

As musicians grow and get older, their music also grows, ages, and matures along with them. For Bowman, who has gotten to see Belonog’s music from the very start, it is both impressive and astounding at how much can change in a person’s music as the years pass.

“I think it would have been in seventh grade [when I first heard his music],” Bowman said, “So it’s been quite some time, and he’s definitely evolved. His music is a lot more mature now.”

While his music is at times chill and easy-going, it is also oftentimes loud, upbeat, and full of life, excitement and passion. In particular, his remixes, like ‘Money’ by Cardi B, are really vibrant.

“It gets you in that mood, it’s really hype,” Thambyrajah said. “And just like, you know, you really want to just jump to the song.”

Thambyrajah, a neighbor of Belonog’s, has known him for almost as long as Bowman, and has gotten to see the passion and excitement that Belonog works with firsthand.

“I was in eighth grade, and he invited me over. And he had just got this program,” Thambyrajah said. “And he really just wanted to tell me about it, and then we started making stuff on it.”

While some producers see their music as just a hobby, and do other things as full time jobs, Belonog sees his music as a way to achieve all of his different dreams in life.

“I have other thoughts of what I want to do in the future,” Belonog said, “But, as for music, I always aspired to be famous. And I think that music is the best way to get there.”

Some artists, like Diplo, Cardi B, and Major Lazer, have stage names that they go by, as opposed to their real names. Belonog, however, does not.

“I was thinking about it, because a lot of people had complications with my last name, Belonog,” Belonog said. “I didn’t want to pronounce it ‘belong’ or ‘baloney’, and so I was thinking about it, but I’m just going to stick with my name.”

As of late, Belonog has not been able to release much music, as he is focusing on school. He has been able to release some, however, in his free time and over the last summer break.  This summer, Belonog plans to release some more music, as well.

“Right now, my name is out on many platforms, especially ones in different countries,” Belonog said, “But mainly Spotify, iTunes, Beatport, YouTube and Soundcloud.”

I always aspired to be famous. And I think that music is the best way to get there.”

— Tony Belonog