Tobias Karlsson has always loved producing music, but it wasn’t until 2012 when he overcame cancer that he decided to chase his dreams and make it his life’s work. With a new found look on life, Tobias has taken the Tropical House world by storm with songs like Rooftops and Fast Car. While chatting with Tobias we learned that he cuts his own hair, loves antique road shows, AND he’s single! What more could you want ladies? Alright, we’ll chill with the wingman stunts. Without further adieu... please welcome Tobias, otherwise known as Tobtok!
Thanks so much for joining us today Tobias! Our readers are dying to learn more about you and your music.
Tobias: No problem! Excited to be here.
Sweet, let’s get started. Where did you grow up?
Tobias: In a city called Uppsala in the middle of Sweden.
Very cool. What was your upbringing like?
Tobias: I’d like to think it was pretty standard, like most kids in today’s society. I grew up in the suburbs with divorced parents haha.
We heard you’re a cancer survivor, and at one point almost lost your hearing. Can you tell us how you’re a stronger person from it?
Tobias: Well it's hard to explain if you haven't been through it because it's such a bizarre and awful experience. But it has definitely changed me for the better. I think it made me realize what's important in life and how to cope with difficult times. It's like having a second chance at life!
That’s amazing! How would you describe your sound?
Tobias: It’s like a mix of all kinds of colors and sounds that no matter what it stays groovy and melodic.
We couldn't agree more. What about your new single Not Afraid- where did you find your inspiration for it?
Tobias: Well, it's much more dark than my usual stuff. I always try to tell a story or describe a feeling with my tracks and with this one I felt like I wanted to tell a more serious story. There's a lot of bad things happening in the world today and I guess making that track was a way for me to process it all!
Very True. Why did you decide to make music your career?
Tobias: Music has always been my biggest passion, but I never thought it would be possible to make a career out of it. After my chemo treatment was done, I wanted to do what made me most happy, and that was music. I thought, this is what I want to do with my life so why not pursue it?
That’s awesome. What’s one thing about being a DJ that has surprised you, and why?
Tobias: How much effort it takes. A lot of people think that DJs just push a play button and wave their hands around.. But a proper DJ spends a lot of time finding records and crafting a set- that in itself is an art!
Totally. What’s your favorite thing to order at Starbucks?
Tobias: A cup of black coffee with nothing else. I know it's boring but that's the Swedish way!
No frills! What’s one thing thing you have to have with you on set?
Tobias: Some hair wax! When my hair grew back it was very thin and fine, so I have to maintain it a lot to get the look I want haha.
Nothing wrong with that. Do you play any instruments?
Tobias: I play guitar, drums and piano.
Wow that’s impressive! What’s one cause that you really care about?
Tobias: Right now it's probably everyone's right for effective healthcare.
That's a good one. What have you done to support this cause?
Tobias: Nothing yet, but I have a few ideas in the works that’ll help the cause soon! Stay tuned.
Looking forward to hearing more! What was your first job?
Tobias: This haha... I mean I had a summer job as a gardener when I was fifteen but I didn't really do much. I’m lucky in that sense I guess.
Who was your favorite musician growing up?
Tobias: Michael Jackson!
Nice! What’s a song that gets you turnt in the club?
Tobias: Dancing Queen by Abba.
Haha amazing. What was your favorite memory of this year?
Tobias: I’m going to go with my trip to Mallorca with a bunch of other writers and producers. It was a great learning experience, and a ton of fun.
That’s sick! Okay, switching gears. The next 5 questions are game we call Hot and Cool. Basically, you have to decide whether you would date this person who’s super hot and super cool, but they have a weird condition. You in?
Tobias: Yeah, let’s do it!
Ok, Hot and cool, but they can only skip whenever they walk.
Tobias: Doesn’t seem like a big deal, why not?
Hot and cool, but they are deathly afraid of microwaves.
Tobias: I can't live without a microwave, so that's definitely a no.
Hot and cool, but every Monday they dress up as a pirate.
Tobias: Haha YES! So down.
Hot and cool, but they have 10 pet snakes.
Tobias: Sure, I'm not afraid of ‘em!
Ok last one. Hot and cool, but when they get up in the morning they have to sing for 30 minutes.
Tobias: I'm always a mess in the morning so that would drive me insane. Nope!
Yeah, gotta agree with you on that one. Okay, back to normal questions. What’s your most proud achievement?
Tobias: Probably being in this business despite all the setbacks I've had in life!
Totally. Alright, the ladies in the office are dying to know- are you single?
Tobias: Haha yes, I am!
So what’s your ideal first date?
Tobias: A few drinks in a cosy pub, I'm a simple man haha.
Fair enough. Where was your first kiss?
Tobias: At some party when I was fifteen. It was very awkward and all my friends were watching.
That’s brutal! What’s your favorite fast food?
Tobias: Hmmm… all of it haha.
If you could play at any festival or club, where/which would it be?
Tobias: It would have to be somewhere in Tokyo. I've always thought that city is so cool, even though I've never been there!
What’s a show you have coming up that you’re super stoked about?
Tobias: I'm going to a few places in the US which I'm super excited about! Stay tuned.
Sweet! What’s your favorite drink?
Tobias: Coca-Cola Zero- I have a serious addiction I'm trying to work on.
PREACH. What do you do to relax?
Tobias: Turn on a Netflix show and let it run while I doze off haha.
Definitely done that before. What’s the best way to start the day?
Tobias: To lay in bed for an hour and not doing anything!
What’s a fad or trend you hope comes back?
Tobias: I would love for cowboy boots to be fashionable again. I bought some a long time ago and never wear them haha.
Haha what’s your favorite thing to cook?
Tobias: Pasta Bolognese.
Yum! What’s your favorite weather?
Tobias: Warm, but not too sunny- I like wearing a light jacket.
What was your favorite moment of the past year?
Tobias: There's been a lot of great moments but the best must have been when Donald Trump became president, right?
Haha that's not funny! What was the best compliment you’ve ever received?
Tobias: That my hair looks like it's been cut by a barber even though I do it all myself!
That's so impressive. What is something you thought you’d grow out of but haven’t?
Tobias: Popping zits... I still do it.
If you had to change your name, what would you change it to?
Tobias: I would change it to Oliver Nelson haha! The first time I went abroad with him apparently I said "I'm the new Oliver Nelson" in my sleep.
Haha not a bad name to pick- we love his music too. What personality trait do you value the most?
Tobias: Learning to not dwell on things for too long.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Tobias: To do whatever makes you the most happy.
Wise words. If you could time travel to any time in history, when would you travel to?
Tobias: Hmm that's a tricky one. I would say either travel back 3,000 years to like ancient times, or just go back to the 70s. The 70s sound awesome.
If you couldn’t be a musician, what would you be?
Tobias: A barber or a graphic designer I think.
What keeps you up at night?
Tobias: I usually work on music late at night way past my bedtime. When I finally go to bed, I can’t stop thinking about the tracks I just worked on- it’s probably not the healthiest strategy haha.
If it works, it works! If had to give up one of your five senses which one would it be and why?
Tobias: Probably the sense of smell, giving up one of the others would make everything super difficult.
True. Do you write the lyrics for your songs?
Tobias: I've been a part of a few writing sessions on my records, but I've never done a whole topline myself. Not yet at least.
What’s one of your past songs that still gets you super stoked when you play it?
Tobias: I’d have to go with my John Newman remix. It’s one of my productions I'm most proud of to date!
Who’s your celebrity crush?
Tobias: Hmm probably Anne-Marie, the singer.
Nice. Who’s someone you look up to in life?
Tobias: Quincy Jones, he's a boss!
What is one thing you’re glad you tried but would never do again?
Tobias: Probably World Of Warcraft. It was a fun period but I got totally hooked, and it’s such a waste of time.
Yikes sounds dangerous. What are you super interested in that most people haven’t heard of?
Tobias: Probably antiques? I'm not a collector, but I absolutely love the Antiques Roadshow haha. I’ve seen like every episode.
Haha no way! Where is the most interesting place you’ve been?
Tobias: Bali! I was really sick at the time, but I found the culture fascinating. I really loved it there.
What are 3 things that are on your bucket list?
Tobias: Hmmmm… grow a full beard, travel to every continent and do a track with Daft Punk.
All great choices. What do you say more often in life: yes or no? And why?
Tobias: Yes! That movie Yes Man changed my life haha. I would like to think I’m a very open minded and optimistic person.
What’s the best thing you got from your parents?
Tobias: My green eyes haha.
What’s your favorite song to exercise to?
Tobias: Right now it's Sigala’s Came Here For Love.
Alright, only a few more. Is there anything you regret not doing?
Tobias: Probably not giving a few really great people more of a shot while we were dating.
That’s hard. When do you feel the most confident?
Tobias: To be honest, after a well-received gig! It brings you so much positive energy, and it’s great to know people appreciate your work.
Last one. What is your biggest pet peeve with modern technology?
Tobias: That people judge you a lot from your social media presence. It’s not who we really are!
This interview has been edited and condensed.