Tones And I tells story of ‘Dance Monkey’, reveals other Byron Bay buskers got angry at her rising popularity

"They just hated how big the crowds were getting"

In a new video telling the story behind her international hit ‘Dance Monkey’, Tones And I has shed light on her time as a busker in Byron Bay, where she attracted crowds that angered other street performers.

In a recent interview with The New York Times for its Diary Of A Song series, which published its ‘Dance Monkey’ on Thursday (February 13), the singer born Toni Watson and her collaborators spoke about the origin of ‘Dance Monkey’ and how it became a hit.

“I was busking day, day, day day,” Tones said of her Byron Bay experience. “In the winter when no one else would busk, in the rain when no one else would be busking, I would be busking. It wasn’t about the money, it was about – no matter what, being able to get more fans.”


When asked when she realised she was becoming an attraction, Tones said she realised people would come specifically to see her if she posted on social media. “Other buskers started getting angry at me,” she said. “Some started a Facebook group and were like, ‘We’re going to run Tones out of town’, like for no reason. They just hated how big the crowds were getting.”

Watch the full Diary Of A Song episode below, which also includes interviews with her managers and collaborators in the studio:

Earlier this week, Tones announced a headline tour of Australia. Taking place in May, the five-date national trek will kick off in Melbourne and wrap up in Fremantle. She also teased a special “anti-bullying” tour, where she will play select high schools for free to advocate against bullying.

In January, Tones won Best New Australian Act at the NME Awards 2020, beating Stella Donnelly, G Flip, Mallrat and Baker Boy for the prize.


The official awards ceremony took place on Wednesday night (February 12) at London’s O2 Brixton Academy. Fellow Aussies Amyl And The Sniffers were nominated in the global category of Best Live Act, but lost to English rock band Foals. Donnelly’s album ‘Beware Of The Dogs’ was also nominated for Best Album In The World, but lost to ‘Norman Fucking Rockwell!’ by Lana Del Rey. Check out the full list of winners here.