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Life & Work with Tonya Denton

Today we’d like to introduce you to Tonya Denton. 

Hi Tonya, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
After growing up in a small town in North Carolina, I set forth after graduation to pursue music. At the age of 18, I started my first rock band in Saint Louis, where I opened for bands like Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. Later I met guitarist and husband, Cody Denton, former guitar player for The 45, another local Saint Louis rock band. After marriage, we moved to Indiana to live with family as a half-way-point to save money to relocate to Nashville. During our time in Indiana, I unexpectedly became pregnant, haunting our move to Nashville. After nine months of prep work for a new addition to our family. Cody and I lost our daughter, Lydia, a week before our due date. Devastated by the tragedy, we became even more determined to follow our dreams and move to Nashville, so we did. A year or two after settling in, we faced a new challenge- COVID-19 and its shutdowns. During the lockdown, Cody and I began to write music together for the first time, which later led us to form the band, Lydia’s Castle, and eventually meeting our drummer, Jon Wysocki. The name is delicate and heartwarming. It’s a symbol of hope and love. It’s a beacon of light in the darkest hour. When Cody and I lost Lydia, we had to create a new identity for ourselves. You know, you go nine months thinking you’re going to be this person and when it doesn’t happen, we had to rebuild the life we wanted to live. Lydia’s Castle is about strength. It’s about encouraging others to rebuild themselves, including the life they’ve always wanted to live. It’s about building your own Castle. Being a part of the band has allowed me to write songs like “Phoenix” that advocate against bullying and songs like “Falling into Place” that places positive light towards “you’re not falling apart” but “fall into place” and becoming the person you were always meant to be. Managing Lydia’s Castle keeps me very busy. On Saturday, December 18, the band wrapped up their first album at Sicktones Studios with Producer Jack Daniels in Cape Girardeau, MO. We wants a unique rock sound to being to the table in Nashville. We knew what we were looking for and Jack had it. The band plans to release music in 2022. Since the band started playing out in 2021, we’ve opened for many National acts like Diamonte, Renee Phoenix from Fit For Rivals, and If I Die First. 

As if working full time as an IT analysis for a healthcare company full time and managing a band full time wasn’t enough, Lydia’s Castle led me to create CastleBuilt Printing in May of 2021, and entity under Lydia’s Castle, that prints merch for bands. I originally started by just doing Lydia’s Castle but once bands took wind of that, it caught fire and grew rapidly. It’s been a great way to meet new people, become integrated within the community, and allow low-income bands to profit with high-quality merch. We’re in a band. We get it. We don’t care too much about the money but rather seeing you to succeed. We’re just helping you build your castle. 

Towards the end of 2021, I started CastleBuilt Photography, just for giggles because I go to mannnny shows. As an iPhone photographer, I’ve been able to provide bands with content to help promote themselves. My main love is for flat black and white photos but I send bands colored ones as well. 

Between working full time, releasing a record, scheduling interviews with radios and podcast, photoshoots and music videos, printing merch, editing and taking photos- I still find time to make a good dinner for my husband and I, visit our eight sets of parents, and write new music. 

I believe what you put into the universe; you will receive in return. I want to see my friends succeed. I don’t care how long I sit on the sideline cheering for them because I know one day my time will come. 

Losing Lydia was tragic. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through mentally and physically. But I know in my heart if I can overcome that, and make it out alive, I can do anything. So, I push hard. I grind hard. I can do hard things because I’ve done them before- and I’ll do them again. At the end of the day, I know she’s proud because I’m doing my best and helping people along the way. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not, what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It has not been a smooth road at all. Lydia’s Castle has been through a lot of challenges in just a year but our relationship as a band is that of a family. We hang out and eat dinner like a family, it’s not just business. We’ve overcome so much, 

With CastleBuilt Printing, it was a challenge doing everything on my own, I recently brought in help, which had been phenomenal. 

CastleBuilt Photography, same thing. I brought my husband in on this with me to tag-team photos and editing. 

Asking for help isn’t a symbol of weakness but strength because a wise person knows their limits… 

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
Well, I work for a healthcare company that offered medicated assisted treat enemy for opioid and alcohol disorders full-time as an IT analysis. 

Then I manage and front Lydia’s Castle. 

Manage and create band merch for CastleBuilt Printing. 

Manage and do photography/edits for CastleBuilt Photography. 

What sets me apart from others is that I’m not scared to put myself out there and hit rock bottom. I’ve been there before when I lost Lydia. I’m not scared to go there again. I know how to crawl out, I know how to bounce back. I know I can, so I am. 

We’d love to hear about any fond memories you have from when you were growing up?
I grew up with three sisters and when I was a little older, a brother. But as a child, my sisters and I would get locked outside, in our privacy-fenced back yard, and play for hours. If we were thirsty, there’s a water hose. There were times I thought this was punishment. As an adult today, I’m so thankful for this experience, no phones, no iPads, no internet. We just played outside and made mud pies, played survivor, pretended to be different Pokémon. My best memories where the ones outside before so many distractions creeped in. 

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Nita Ann Photography
Cap2Red Studios
Laymen’s Lense
CastleBuilt Photography

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