Interview: Wes Tank
We recently sat down with Milwaukee actor, director and creative artist Wes Tank to talk about his YouTube Channel, his new children's show StoryRaps on Kidoodle TV and his experiences while creating during a pandemic.
For those who don't know, who is Wes Tank?
How did you get started rapping children's books & nursery rhymes?
I spontaneously rapped One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish over a Dr. Dre beat at a party and after the response of that I began working it into my act. After performing it for years I decided it was time to put it on YouTube and that ended up changing my life.
What is the best part about making your videos?
I have two favorite parts. First I’ll spend hours listening to a track. Sometimes I’ll go for a walk with my headphones on and notebook in hand. I’ll write a few bars and walk until another idea pops into my head and by the end of the walk I usually have a song.
Then, we get to making the video and that is where the magic of collaboration takes over. I've got a great team who have collaborated on various projects prior to StoryRaps and I believe our organic chemistry is what takes it to the next level.
Obviously music is a HUGE part of your videos, how important is the music in your videos?
For StoryRaps we make all original beats, and my inspiration for a song often starts with the music. I’ll often have a story in mind while auditioning beats, but it doesn’t start to become a song until I find the right vibe.
Staying on music, you wear Koss ProDJ200 headphones in your videos, how did you get involved with Koss?
I got my first pair of Koss headphones at the 2016 Milwaukee Film Festival. I had a music video playing in it and all of the artists received a complimentary pair of ProDJ200s.
Since then I have used those headphones when recording sound on set and in the studio recording my raps. They have good bass and a comfortable feel that enhances the recording experience, and I like that I can connect longer aux cables to them so when I’m filming the engineer can sit further back.
Now we have multiple pairs and everyone on set wears them.
What has been the most challenging part?
The most challenging part has been having more ideas than I have time to realize. I’ve had to learn to pace myself as I go. Making StoryRaps for Kidoodle TV has been extremely rewarding and I hope to keep making them for a long time.
Since my production company TankThink has moved into the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum the inspiration has really exploded even more.
If you weren't creating your videos, what else would you be doing?
Playing basketball and reading probably.
What's one thing most people don't know about you?
I like to cook Indian food from scratch and watch Fraggle Rock.
Let's talk about your outfits. What goes into the fun and unique sweaters and costumes your wear in each video?
It’s all about comfort and style, and living in Wisconsin, that means staying warm. Colorful cardigans, vintage sweaters and fanciful hoodies are my every day in general, which is why I prefer winter to summer.
I’m always on the hunt for a sweater I’ve never seen before, whether its on Etsy, Serpentine Salvage, Ragstock or Goodwill.
You've gained notoriety fairly quickly, where do you see yourself 5, 10 years from now?
I hope to be producing a full-length children’s show, touring the world and starring in feature films.
How has the pandemic played a part in creating as well as reaching new audiences?
The pandemic has obviously been really hard on people throughout the world. When it first hit my business was faced with nearly all of it's projects being put on pause. I decided to put the uncertainty of this time toward something positive, a passion project that I had been meaning to do for a long time, and I was lucky to find people related to it.
I’m guessing a big part of why it connected is because people were relieved to find something online that wasn’t scary, sad or horrible.
Where can people find your videos and on social media?
StoryRaps is on Kidoodle.TV, which is an app you can download on all streaming devices.