Bear World Playlist Featured Artist: Toska Bear

Toska Bear’s Songs on Playlist: “Ground Control (ft. Java Bush)” and “Chemicals in Overdrive”

Current City: Columbus, OH

Hometown: Tomahawk, WI

Photo by Kevin Schwartz

Bear World Magazine: What can you tell us about the songs?

Toska Bear: “Ground Control” is about that feeling of isolation and disconnectedness from the world around you, but places it in an outer-space setting. You’ve got this person who is literally floating out in space, calling out to Ground Control for some sort of assistance, but getting no signal back. I think everybody can relate to that feeling, but rather than just write about something literal, I thought it was more effective to use this big, outer-space landscape and design the instrumentation around that feeling. I used a lot of unique synthesizer sounds to try to emulate that feeling of “sci-fi isolation” I was going for. Who hasn’t felt disconnected from their friends, their family, or the entire world before?

“Chemicals in Overdrive” was a song I wrote after staying at a beach house with some friends a few summers back. It’s about the thrill of being in an exciting place with the people you love, to the point where the chemicals in your brain are just bursting with excitement, longing, euphoria, etc. All of our emotions are really just chemical reactions in our brain. I wanted to contrast how intense emotions are translated in your heart, with how they are actually occuring in your head. All with an upbeat Summer Beach House aesthetic to drive the point home. 

BWM: Your first concert was at a bear bar, right? What was that like?

TB: Yeah, it was incredible. I always saw myself more as a “bedroom musician,” or somebody who wrote and recorded music but didn’t really play it live much. A bar in town (shoutout to Steelmill Tavern) had a Bear & Pup Invasion Night and wanted to add a live music component, so they asked me to perform there and I showed up! It was definitely one of the highlights of my musical journey, and I had the out-of-body experience of hearing people in the audience singing along with me to my own tracks. It’s something I’ll never forget. Now I’ve got the itch, and I want to make live shows a crucial component of my output. 

BWM: What is a physical trait in a guy that drives you wild? What is something non-physical?

TB: Oh man, I’m a pogonophile at heart. Facial hair in any way, shape, or form has always been something I’m attracted to. Whether it’s just some light scruff, a bushy mustache, or a full beard, I just love the way it complements somebody’s face. Other than that, somebody’s eyes really captivate me. If you’ve got beautiful eyes and some facial hair underneath, you can guarantee I’m going to be interested. 

When it comes to the non-physical, I guess the biggest turn-ons for me are creativity and motivation. I think it takes a lot of self-discipline to set your mind to something big and actually go out there an achieve it. Writing music, filming a video, learning a new language… I love to see people push themselves to accomplish or create something just because they want to. I feel like after we get out of school we don’t push ourselves to continue learning or creating as much, so any guy who dedicates a part of his life towards that is just really attractive to me. 

Photo by Gabriel Carnick 
BWM: We’ve had Java Bush on the playlist before and your sounds seem nicely compatible. Do you and he have a lot of the same influences? Have you thought of touring together?

TB: Yeah, actually we are already planning on doing a big live show to promote the release of my second album this summer. We both love indie, electronic, pop, and dance music so I think we both pull from a lot of the same influences. I think our overall objective is the same, to find a sound that can balance the mass-appeal of pop music, with the uniqueness and cleverness of indie music. 

BWM: Are there particular themes you tend to revisit in your lyrics, and if so, why?

TB: Most of my music deals with the challenges that come with approaching middle-age. A lot of pop music that we consume seems to hit on things you experience early in life: your first love, your first heartbreak, partying and having fun, etc. I’ve experienced all of that, but I like to write about the unique things I’m experiencing now. What are the challenges that gay men face in their mid-30’s? What can I write about love, life, relationships, and aging that hasn’t been said before? Overall, I like to describe my sound as pop music for people in their 30’s, with a dash of existential dread mixed in.

Photo by Gabriel Carnick 
BWM: What are two mainstream and two indie artists you are listening to right now?

TB: Mainstream influences would have to be Kylie Minogue (her latest album, Disco, is a masterpiece), and Tame Impala (Currents being my favorite album of all time). As for my smaller indie picks, I’m really into George Clanton (a really stellar Vaporwave artist, his album Slide is phenomenal), and Kero Kero Bonito (their album Civilisation was my favorite album of 2020). 

BWM: What excites you most about your future?

TB: I never expected my first album to get the response that it did. I got bored during quarantine, made a record, and expected a few friends to check it out and that would be it. The fact that I’m now playing live shows, my music is being played around the world, and I have an actual fanbase (small but mighty) just has me totally stoked for what’s next. My second album, Taking My Mind for a Ride, will be coming out this summer and I really can’t wait for everybody to hear it. I really challenged myself as a songwriter on this one, so I’m really excited to hear what people think. 

Photo by Gabriel Carnick 

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BWM Staff

Our Staff Writing Team works hard to bring you great content and share news & events from the bear community and beyond.